A Spectrophotometric Analyzer for Aqueous Samples in Microgravity 1999-01-2032
The development of a spectrophotometric analyzer for use on water samples in microgravity environments is discussed. The instrument is constructed around a commercial spectrophotometer, the Hewlett-Packard HP8453, with a separate turbidimetric analyzer, here a modified Hach 2100P ratio turbidimeter. Flow-through sample cells were constructed for each instrument to support microgravity use and sample deaeration. Spectrophotometric analyses on aqueous samples on orbit are sensitive to the presence of undissolved gases in the samples. In a micro-g environment, free gas in samples can and does remain suspended, clouding the mixture and interfering with spectral optical density measurements. This paper discusses the design of a spectrophotometric analyzer, with particular emphasis on the merits of two approaches to eliminating free gas interferences in on-orbit water analyses: hyperbaric gas redissolution and deaeration across a hydrophobic membrane. Both techniques mitigate gas loads effectively - membrane removal uses a minimum of sample and time, hyperbaric redissolution takes more time, but provides capability to handle bubbles should gas get introduced into or otherwise evolve in the analytical system.