Research Awards Program (RAP)

The RAP program is supported under the Louisiana Board of Regents’ (BOR) EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Development (RID) award from the NASA EPSCoR program.  This competition stresses collaborative ventures between the state’s researchers and NASA researchers at the NASA field centers or headquarters. The goals of this program are to (a) acquaint LA researchers with the NASA centers and their research personnel, (b) foster development of joint research projects between LA researchers and NASA researchers, and (c) move the state’s researchers up to the next level of competitiveness.

These seed grants from NASA EPSCoR are not just research grants.  The project should be designed to (a) increase research capacity and competitiveness and (b) be scalable to a team approach for a larger endeavor.

When this program is open, Program Guidelines are available on our Current Solicitations Page.

A Notice of Intent (NOI) to propose to the RAP program must be submitted before midnight on Thursday, October 22, 2020. RAP Proposals will be accepted via email ( until midnight on Thursday, November 12, 2020, Proposals will only be accepted from PIs who submitted an NOI. Please review the guidelines carefully. Proposals not following the current guidelines may be rejected without review.

2020 RAP Awards (PoP: 03/16/2020 – 03/15/2021)

Evaluation of Zirconia based Sensors for NH3 Sensing, Louisiana Tech University, PI: Erica Perry Murray, NASA Center Collaborator: Christopher Matty, Advanced Environmental Control & Life Support Systems Integrator, Johnson Space Center

To effectively monitor the air quality on the International Space Station (ISS), sensing devices are necessary to detect and accurately measure gas leaks that may occur from instrumentation onboard. Toxic chemical release is one of the three major emergency concerns determined for the ISS. Solidstate electrochemical sensors can provide immediate feedback on toxic gases over a wide concentration range in a portable system, while offering substantial sensitivity, selectivity, and durability. In particular, zirconia based electrochemical sensors have demonstrated high accuracy with rapid response rates for detecting low concentrations (< 5 ppm) of gases. These and other characteristics make zirconia bases sensors promising candidates for early detection of potential NH3 leaks from instrumentation supporting the ISS. In addition, preliminary studies by the PI suggest potential measures for purging the sensor of NH3, which is currently a significant limitation for other types of sensors that have been considered. Successful purging would enable continuous use of a sensor, rather than requiring new sensor installation following NH3 exposure. The goal of the proposed work is to characterize the electrochemical response of zirconia based sensors using impedance spectroscopy in order to evaluate the sensitivity, selectivity, purge response, and reexposure behavior to NH3 for various operating conditions. The objectives to achieving this goal are to: 1) characterize the impedance response to NH3; 2) determine suitable measures for purging NH3;
3) evaluate response/recovery rates for NH3 sensing; and, 4) perform sensing stability testing.