Joel Burdick

Julia R. Greer (California Institute of Technology)

Campus PI

Issa Nesnas

Patricia M. Beauchamp (Jet Propulsion Laboratory)


Project Collaborators:

  • Kaushik Bhattacharya, Jack Beauchamp, Jennifer M. Jackson - Caltech Co-PIs
  • Jonathan I. Lunine (Cornell), George Cody (Carnegie Institution) - External Collaborators


Technical Challenge:

To develop a low mass, low power instrument concept and advance sub-system technologies to produce a high resolution, high sensitivity instrument that has the dynamic range and sensitivity to both provide the required information on the major species and simultaneously find the interesting complex species within the light hydrocarbon soup found in Titan lakes.


  • Perform system level trades and developing the instrument concept
  • Identify specific sub-system technological challenges
  • Develop specific breakthrough technologies to overcome specific technical challenges and enable the measurements to be successfully made in the Titan lake environment
  • Increase the instrument concept TRL level from 2 to 3.

Expected Performance:

  • Cryogenically-operated NMR will be able to detect and quantify the abundance of ethane, methane, propane butane and butene
  • Mass Spectrometer: 1000 Daltons range and 100,000 mass resolution for major and minor species
  • Reduce mass, power and volume of current flight instruments by ~75% (MS, sample acquisition and handling only. No NMR has flown and no instruments operating at ambient Titan temperature have ever flown)