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Department of Chemistry
University of Kentucky

Robert Lodder

Sensing in Astrobiology Using Laser Arrays

Our NSF-funded research deals with computational mathematics and a new paradigm called dynamic data-driven application simulations (DDDAS). We are working on a programmable, networked portable low cost mil-spec sensor-based system using DDDAS in extreme aqueous environments. DDDAS algorithms interact with three data collection components to provide early contaminant detection methods that can be used in remediation efforts to protect coastal facilities and nearby ecosystems from chemical spills. The research in this project will be extendable to other environments. For example, it can be used to send a similar DDDAS rover-based sensor system to extreme environments like an underground mining accident location, or for planetary science missions to Europa, drilling for water on Mars, or anywhere
in which identification of materials is important and must be accomplished with little or no human intervention. Students with a background in chemistry, computers, electronics, mathematics, or biology can easily contribute to this project. With the supervision of Dr. Lodder and the help of graduate students and postdocs, undergraduate students will have the opportunity to collect data from sensors, modify and upgrade existing sensors and networks, and work on programming the simulations. The dynamic simulation will instruct the sensors what to look for and reprogram them for those analytes. The sensors will then report the newly observed data to the simulation. The simulation will then incorporate the new data, update its predictions in a window in simulation time, and finally reprogram the sensors again in a closed loop. This symbiotic system will, when completed, eliminate the humans from the loop. This feature will be particularly important when the system is extended for use in other environments, such as interplanetary exploration, where long communication delays prevent human intervention or render it ineffective.


Further details of Dr. Lodders' work are given on the Chemistry website and on his Pharmacy website.

The Department of Chemistry is in the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Kentucky.