1. About

    The NASA Astrobiology Program’s Astrobiology Science and Technology Instrument Development (ASTID) Program supports the development of instrumentation that will help meet astrobiology science requirements on space flight missions as well as astrobiology science objectives on Earth. ASTID projects are expected to advance the development of scientific instruments or instrument components to the point where they appear to be ready for a flight opportunity. The ASTID Program does not, however, fund the building of flight-qualified hardware.

    The ASTID Program supports the development of laboratory instruments designed to open new areas of study for the Astrobiology Program and field instruments intended for use in terrestrial field research campaigns supported by the Astrobiology Science and Technology for Exploring Planets (ASTEP) Program.

    The ASTID Program also supports the development of astrobiology mission concepts that may be considered in planetary exploration mission planning, as well as payloads that could be placed on future Earth-orbiting free-flyer or lunar missions. For example, grants from the Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology Program and the ASTID Program supported the development of the Urey Mars Organic and Oxidant Detector to be launched on the European Space Agency’s ExoMars mission.

    Other recent ASTID projects include the development of a Magneto-Optical Phase Enantiomeric Detector (MOPED), a novel instrument for detecting chiral biomarkers in nonterrestrial environments; development of a self-contained, subglacial, native- fluorescence detector for measuring organic molecules and chemicals of life; a technique for measuring total organic and total inorganic carbon on Mars; and a method of organic analysis using pyrolysis/extraction and gas chromatography.

    The Astrobiology Program is developing a new small-payloads initiative that will be part the ASTID Program. This small-payloads program will: 1) support the development of concepts for small astrobiology payloads that could fly on small-satellite and lunar- vehicle missions, to low Earth orbit, high Earth orbit, lunar orbit, or the lunar surface; and 2) identify quick-turnaround science experiments that could be accommodated in small, suitcase-size payloads. Small-payloads investigations might address topics such as exposure of organics and organisms to the space environment, in-situ organics analysis on the lunar surface, and lunar dust characterization and organics interaction.