scripps oceanography ucsd

Scripps Technical Forum

Monthly Meetings

Date: Thursday, 8 January 2015  11:30AM - 12:30PM
Location: Hubbs 4500

Mobile and Miniature Mass Spectrometers for Marine and Space Applications
Tim Short
SRI International

In situ mass spectrometry in extreme environments, such as in the deep ocean or outer space, poses significant challenges. Many of these challenges are common, including the requirements for high reliability, autonomous or remote operation, ruggedness to deal with rapidly changing environmental conditions, and restrictions on size, weight, and power. Other engineering concerns are specific to the particular environment, such as extreme pressure differentials between ambient hydrostatic pressure and mass spectrometer vacuum at depth in the ocean, and extreme temperature ranges in deep space.

We have been developing underwater mass spectrometers and have deployed these instruments on a variety of underwater platforms, such as tow sleds, vertical profiling frames, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). One of the primary targets in recent years has been in situ characterization of underwater natural hydrocarbon seeps and leaks.

More recently, we have begun to design and test a prototype micro-machined ion trap array mass spectrometer aimed at detecting and identifying low-molecular-weight biomarkers, ultimately to be adapted for space missions of astrobiological relevance. We plan to demonstrate that the prototype instrument can detect and characterize water and compounds of prebiotic relevance, such as those on the surface of comets.

Past Presentations:

2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014


The Scripps Technical Forum (STF) is a grassroots effort to make technical expertise and resources more widely available within the UCSD/Scripps community; to enhance communications between technical staff and departments; explore extended opportunities for interdepartmental collaboration, technology transfer, and industry interactions; to explore innovative solutions to emerging challenges; to monitor and disseminate trends and new technologies; and, aid in personnel retention and enhance job satisfaction, including continuing education, and opportunities for job growth.

The group is open to anyone within SIO and UCSD interested in applied technology. We host a monthly midday meeting with free pizza and an interesting program of presentations given by members of the community and industry. Our monthly newsletter highlights events, people, places, and items.

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