The work of Dr. George Nehmetallah and the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department is soaring to new heights. In March, Dr. Nehmetallah and a team of twelve researchers were awarded NASA’s Group Achievement Award for their development of a novel Non-Dispersive Infrared Gas Analyzer (NDIRGA) suitable for future use in outer space. The team was made up of engineers and scientists from around the world, including Dat Tran and Nicolas Gorius, currently PhD candidates in the EECS Department at the Catholic University of America. Starting in January 2019, the research was funded by two NASA grants that aim to support a future probe mission to the “ice giants” in the outer solar system, Uranus and Neptune.
An NDIR gas analyzer is used to monitor water vapor and carbon dioxide gas partial pressures in space-based instruments. An NDIRGA subsystem is currently in development at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center for the Comet Astrobiology Exploration Sample Return (CAESAR) mission, in preparation for the NASA New Frontiers 5 call as early as 2024. The CAESAR mission aims to robotically acquire surface material from the nucleus of a Jupiter-family comet and return the sample to earth for laboratory analysis. The NDIR gas analyzer possesses sample containment systems that protect samples from contamination or alteration that would hinder their scientific lab analysis.
NASA’s Group Achievement Award is conferred for outstanding accomplishment through the coordination of many individual efforts which have contributed substantially to NASA's mission.