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Technical Paper

Monitoring Pre-Combustion Event Markers by Heating Electrical Wires

Simultaneous measurements were made for particle releases and off-gassing products produced by heating electrical wires. The wire samples in these experiments were heated to selected temperatures in a heating chamber and responses to vapor releases were recorded by the JPL Electronic Nose (ENose) and an Industrial Scientific ITX gas-monitor; particles released were detected by a TSI P-Trak particle counter. The temperature range considered for the experiment is room temperature (24−26°C) to 500 °C. The results were analyzed by overlapping responses from the ENose, ITX gas sensors and P-Trak, to understand the events (particle release/off-gassing) and sequence of events as a function of temperature and to determine qualitatively whether ENose may be used to detect pre-combustion event markers.
Technical Paper

Results from the Vehicle Cabin Atmosphere Monitor: A Miniature Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer for Trace Contamination Monitoring on the ISS and Orion

Progress on the delivery of the Vehicle Cabin Atmosphere Monitor (VCAM) is reported. VCAM is an autonomous trace-species detector to be used aboard the International Space Station (ISS) for atmospheric analysis. The instrument is based on a low-mass, low-power miniature preconcentrator, gas chromatograph, and Paul ion trap mass spectrometer (PCGC/MS) capable of measuring volatile constituents in a space vehicle or planetary outpost at sub-ppm levels. VCAM detects and quantifies 40 target compounds at their 180-day Spacecraft Maximum Allowable Concentration (SMAC) levels. It is designed to operate autonomously, maintenance-free, with a self-contained carrier and calibration gas supplies sufficient for a one-year lifetime. Two flight units will be delivered for operation in the ISS EXPRESS rack.
Journal Article

Off-Gassing and Particle Release by Heated Polymeric Materials

Polymers are one of the major constituents in electrical components. A study investigating pre-combustion off-gassing and particle release by polymeric materials over a range of temperatures can provide an understanding of thermal degradation prior to failure which may result in a fire hazard. In this work, we report simultaneous measurements of pre-combustion vapor and particle release by heated polymeric materials. The polymer materials considered for the current study are silicone and Kapton. The polymer samples were heated over the range 20 to 400°C. Response to vapor releases were recorded using the JPL Electronic Nose (ENose) and Industrial Scientific's ITX gas monitor configured to detect hydrogen chloride (HCl), carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen cyanide (HCN). Particle release was monitored using a TSI P-TRAK particle counter.
Technical Paper

Overview of the Vehicle Cabin Atmosphere Monitor, a Miniature Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer for Trace Contamination Monitoring on the ISS and CEV

Work is underway to deliver an instrument for analysis of the atmosphere aboard the International Space Station. The Vehicle Cabin Atmosphere Monitor (VCAM) is based on a low-mass, low-power miniature preconcentrator gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer (PCGC/MS) capable of providing sub-ppm measurements of volatile constituents in a space vehicle or outpost. VCAM is designed to operate autonomously, maintenance-free, once per day, with its own carrier and calibration gas supplies sufficient for a one-year lifetime. VCAM performance is sufficient to detect and identify 90% of the target compounds specified at their 180-day Spacecraft Maximum Allowable Concentration (SMAC) levels. The flight units will be delivered in mid-2008 and be operated in the ISS EXPRESS rack.
Technical Paper

Implications of the VBNC State of B. cepacia and S. maltophilia on Bioreduction and Microbial Monitoring of ISS Potable Waters

Certain Eubacteria enter a viable but nonculturable (VBNC) state upon encountering unfavorable environmental conditions. VBNC cells do not divide on conventional media yet remain viable and in some cases retain virulence. Here, we describe the VBNC state of two opportunistic pathogens previously isolated from ISS potable waters, Burkholderia cepacia and Stenotrophomonas maltophilia. Artificially inoculated microcosms were exposed to the biocidal agents copper (CuSO4) and iodine (I2) in an attempt to induce nonculturablility. Viability was assessed via fluorescent microscopy (direct viable count assay coupled with BacLight™ staining) and metabolic activity was monitored by quantifying both intracellular ATP and transcribed rRNA (reverse transcriptase quantitative PCR). Culturablility was lost in both B. cepacia and S. maltophilia within two days of exposure to copper or high concentrations of iodine (6 or 8 ppm).
Technical Paper

Design and Flight Qualification of a Paraffin-Actuated Heat Switch for Mars Surface Applications

The Mars Exploration Rover (MER) flight system uses mechanical, paraffin-actuated heat switches as part of its secondary battery thermal control system. This paper describes the design, flight qualification, and performance of the heat switch. Although based on previous designs by Starsys Research Corporation1,2, the MER mission requirements have necessitated new design features and an extensive qualification program. The design utilizes the work created by the expansion of a paraffin wax by bringing into contact two aluminum surfaces, thereby forming a heat conduction path. As the paraffin freezes and contracts, compression springs separate the surfaces to remove the conduction path. The flight qualification program involved extensive thermal performance, structural, and life testing.
Technical Paper

Trace Gas Analyzer for Extra-Vehicular Activity

The Trace Gas Analyzer (TGA, Figure 1) is a self-contained, battery-powered mass spectrometer that is designed for use by astronauts during extravehicular activities (EVA) on the International Space Station (ISS). The TGA contains a miniature quadrupole mass spectrometer array (QMSA) that determines the partial pressures of ammonia, hydrazines, nitrogen, and oxygen. The QMSA ionizes the ambient gas mixture and analyzes the component species according to their charge-to-mass ratio. The QMSA and its electronics were designed, developed, and tested by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (1,2). Oceaneering Space Systems supported JPL in QMSA detector development by performing 3D computer for optimal volumetric integration, and by performing stress and thermal analyses to parameterize environmental performance.
Technical Paper

Fabrication of laterally coupled InGaAsSb-GaSb-AlGaAsSb DFB laser structures

The development of tunable diode laser systems in the 2 - 5 μm spectral region will have numerous applications for trace gas detection. To date, the development of such systems has been hampered by the difficulties of epitaxial growth, and device processing in the case of the Sb-based materials system. One of the compounding factors in this materials system is the use of aluminum containing compounds in the laser diode cladding layers. This makes the regrowth steps used in traditional lasers very difficult. As an alternative approach we are developing laterally coupled antimonide based lasers structures that do not require the regrowth steps. In this paper, the materials growth, device processing and development of the necessary drive electronics for an antimony based tunable diode laser system are discussed.
Technical Paper

Self-Sterilizing Properties of Martian Soil: Possible Nature & Implications

As a result of the Viking missions in 1970s, the presence of a strong oxidant in Martian soil was suggested. Here we present a testable, by near-term missions, hypothesis that iron(VI) contributes to that oxidizing pool. Ferrate(VI) salts were studied for their spectral and oxidative properties and biological activities. Ferrate(VI) has distinctive spectroscopic features making it available for detection by remote sensing reflectance spectra and contact measurements via Mössbauer spectroscopy. The relevant miniaturized instrumentation has been developed or is underway, while XANES spectroscopy is shown to be a method of choice for the returned samples. Ferrate(VI) is capable of splitting water to yield oxygen, and oxidizing organic carbon to CO2. Organic oxidation was strongly abated after pre-heating ferrate, similar to the observations with Mars soil samples.
Technical Paper

A Miniature Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer Array and GC For Space Flight: Astronaut EVA and Cabin-Air Monitoring

A miniature quadrupole mass spectrometer array and gas chromatograph have been designed and built for NASA flight missions. Without the gas chromatograph the mass spectrometer is to be used for detection, by astronauts in EVA, of N2, O2, the hydrazines, and NH3 leaks in the hull of the International Space Station, and of adsorbed hydrazines on the astronauts’ suits. The fully-adapted astronaut system, with all software and visual readout, is called the Trace Gas Analyzer. When interfaced with the miniature gas chromatographic system, the mass spectrometer will be useful for a variety of NASA missions involving more complex gas mixtures. The missions include planetary exploration (to Venus, Europa, Titan, etc.), as well as cabin-air monitoring for long-duration human flight to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.
Technical Paper

Lifetimes of AMTEC Electrodes: Rhodium-Tungsten and Titanium Nitride

The lifetime of an AMTEC electrode is predicted from the rate of grain growth in the electrode. The rate of growth depends on several physical characteristics of each material, including the rate of diffusion of the material on itself. Grain growth rates for rhodium-tungsten and titanium nitride electrodes have been determined, and have been used to predict operating lifetimes of AMTEC electrodes. For lifetimes of 10 years or more, RhxW electrodes may be used at any operating temperature supportable by the electrolyte. TiN electrodes may be used in AMTEC cells only at operating temperatures under 1150 K.
Technical Paper

Model for Grain Growth in AMTEC Electrodes

The power produced by an AMTEC is dependent on the porosity of the electrode layers deposited on the surface of the BASE tubes. The elevated temperatures at which these power generators operate result in a slow growth or coalescence of the grains that comprise the electrode layers thereby reducing porosity and effective surface area. The lifetime of AMTEC electrodes is therefore related to the rate of grain growth of the electrode material. A preliminary model has been developed to determine the rate of grain growth over the operational lifetime of an AMTEC. This model examines the conditions for continuous growth as a function of the relative sizes, boundary and activation energies and mobilities of the grains. An assumption of strain-free growth has been made in determining the factors for normal growth. Experimental measurements for titanium nitride alloy electrodes are compared with this model. Predictions are made for performance lifetimes out to 10 years.
Technical Paper

Slow Reversible and Quasi-Reversible Performance Changes in AMTEC Electrodes and Electrolytes

This paper reports several slow reversible and quasi-reversible processes which occur in the porous electrode/solid electrolyte combination at AMTEC operating temperatures. These processes help to elucidate the evolution of the electrode and electrolyte characteristics with time. They also demonstrate that the atomic constituents of the electrode/electrolyte engage in significant dynamic motion. We report the stability of the sodium beta“-alumina phase in low pressure sodium vapor at 1173K up to 3000 hours, and the decomposition of the sodium meta-aluminate (NaAlO2) phase present at about 1% in the BASE ceramic, which gives rise to transient local increases in the solid electrolyte resistivity due to local micro-cracking. We also report slow apparent morphological changes, possibly surface or grain boundary reconstruction, in TiN and RhW electrodes driven by changes in the local sodium activity.
Technical Paper

Mars Rover 2003 Battery Charger

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory Mars Exploration Program Office is currently planning a series of exciting missions to the Red Planet. During each launch opportunity, the missions to Mars will include a Rover mission. During the earlier Rover missions to Mars such as the Mars Pathfinder mission carrying the Sojourner Rover in 1997, the main rover power source was a solar array. The power subsystem of the Sojourner Rover included a solar panel for power during the day, a non-rechargeable lithium battery for power during the night, and a power electronics board for power conditioning and distribution. Starting with the year 2003 the rover missions to Mars will incorporate a rechargeable energy storage device rather than a non-rechargeable power source. Included in the power electronics board, will be a battery controller/charger. The battery controller/charger will be able to monitor and control three parallel 4-cell battery strings.