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Technical Paper

Space Life Support from the Cellular Perspective

Determining the fundamental role of gravity in vital biological systems in space is one of six science and research areas that provides the philosophical underpinning for why NASA exists. The study of cells, tissues, and microorganisms in a spaceflight environment holds the promise of answering multiple intriguing questions about how gravity affects living systems. To enable these studies, specimens must be maintained in an environment similar to that used in a laboratory. Cell culture studies under normal laboratory conditions involve maintaining a highly specialized environment with the necessary temperature, humidity control, nutrient, and gas exchange conditions. These same cell life support conditions must be provided by the International Space Station (ISS) Cell Culture Unit (CCU) in the unique environment of space. The CCU is a perfusion-based system that must function in microgravity, at unit gravity (1g) on earth, and from 0.1g up to 2g aboard the ISS centrifuge rotor.
Technical Paper

On-Orbit and Ground Performance of the PGBA Plant Growth Facility

PGBA, a plant growth facility developed for commercial space biotechnology research, successfully grew a total of 50 plants (6 species) during 10 days aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor (STS-77), and has reflown aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-83 for 4 days and STS-94 for 16 days) with 55 plants and 10 species. The PGBA life support system provides atmospheric, thermal, and humidity control as well as lighting and nutrient supply in a 33 liter microgravity plant growth chamber. The atmosphere treatment system removes ethylene and other hydrocarbons, actively controls CO2 replenishment, and provides passive O2 control. Temperature and humidity are actively controlled.
Technical Paper

Mass Transport in a Spaceflight Plant Growth Chamber

The Plant Generic BioProcessing Apparatus (PGBA), a plant growth facility developed for commercial space biotechnology research, has flown successfully on 3 spaceflight missions for 4, 10 and 16 days. The environmental control systems of this plant growth chamber (28 liter/0.075 m2) provide atmospheric, thermal, and humidity control, as well as lighting and nutrient supply. Typical performance profiles of water transpiration and dehumidification, carbon dioxide absorption (photosynthesis) and respiration rates in the PGBA unit (on orbit and ground) are presented. Data were collected on single and mixed crops. Design options and considerations for the different sub-systems are compared with those of similar hardware.
Technical Paper

Novel Regenerable Incinerator Exhaust Purification and Trace Contaminant Control System Utilizing Humidity Swings

This paper offers a concept for a regenerable, low-power system for purifying exhaust from a solid waste processor. The innovations in the concept include the use of a closed-loop regeneration cycle for the adsorber, which prevents contaminants from reaching the breathable air before they are destroyed, and the use of a humidity-swing desorption cycle, which uses less power than a thermal desorption cycle and requires no venting of air and water to space vacuum or planetary atmosphere. The process would also serve well as a trace contaminant control system for the air in the closed environment. A systems-level design is presented that shows how both the exhaust and air purification tasks could be performed by one processor. Data measured with a fixed-bed apparatus demonstrate the effects of the humidity swing on regeneration of the adsorbent.
Technical Paper

Plant Growth and Plant Environmental Monitoring Equipment on the Mir Space Station: Experience and Data from the Greenhouse II Experiment

A three country effort (U.S., Russia, and Bulgaria) has upgraded the plant growth facilities on the Mir Space Station and used the new facility to grow wheat for 90 days. The Svet plant-growth facility was reactivated and used in an initial experiment as part of the Shuttle/Mir program, August to November, 1995. The Svet system, used first to grow cabbage and radish during a 1990 experiment, was augmented by the addition of a U.S. developed Gas Exchange Measurement System (GEMS) that measures a range of environmental parameters plus transpiration, photosynthesis, and possibly respiration. Environmental parameters include cabin, chamber, root-zones, and leaf temperatures. Light levels, relative humidity, oxygen, and atmospheric pressure are also measured. High-accuracy water-vapor and carbon-dioxide concentrations and differences are measured using specially developed IRGA systems.
Technical Paper

Cold Weather Wind Turbines - A Joint NASA/NSF/DOE Effort in Technology Transfer and Commercialization

Renewable energy sources and their integration with other power sources to support remote communities is of interest for Mars applications as well as Earth communities. The NSF, NASA, and DOE have been jointly supporting development of a 100 kW cold weather wind turbine through grants and SBIR's independently managed by each agency but coordinated by NASA. The NSF grant is specific to address issues associated with the South Pole Application and a 3 kW direct drive unit is currently being tested there in support of the development of the 100 kW unit. An NREL contract is focused on development of the 100 kW direct drive generator. The NASA SBIR is focused on development of the 100 kW direct drive wind turbine.
Technical Paper

Engineering a Visual System for Seeing Through Fog

We examine the requirements for on-board aircraft sensor systems that would allow pilots to “see through” poor weather, especially fog, and land and rollout aircraft under conditions that currently cause flight cancellations and airport closures. Three visual aspects of landing and rollout are distinguished: guidance, hazard detection and hazard recognition. The visual features which support the tasks are discussed. Three broad categories of sensor technology are examined: passive millimeter wave (PMMW), imaging radar, and passive infrared (IR). PMMW and imaging radar exhibit good weather penetration, but poor spatial and temporal resolution. Imaging radar exhibits good weather penetration, but typically relies on a flat-earth assumption which can lead to interpretive errors. PMMW systems have a narrow field of view. IR has poorer weather penetration but good spatial resolution.
Technical Paper

Development Status of a Low-Power CO2 Removal and Compression System for Closed-Loop Air Revitalization

The “low power-CO2 removal (LPCOR) system” is an advanced air revitalization system that is under development at NASA Ames Research Center. The LPCOR utilizes the fundamental design features of the ‘four bed molecular sieve’ (4BMS) CO2 removal technology of the International Space Station (ISS). LPCOR improves power efficiency by replacing the desiccant beds of the 4BMS with a membrane dryer and a state-of-the-art, structured adsorbent device that collectively require 25% of the thermal energy required by the 4BMS desiccant beds for regeneration. Compared to the 4BMS technology, it has the added functionality to deliver pure, compressed CO2 for oxygen recovery. The CO2 removal and recovery functions are performed in a two-stage adsorption compressor. CO2 is removed from the cabin air and partially compressed in the first stage. The second stage performs further compression and delivers the compressed CO2 to a reduction unit such as a Sabatier reactor for oxygen recovery.
Technical Paper

Top-Level Crop Models for Advanced Life Support Analysis

We have developed top-level crop models for analysis of Advanced Life Support (ALS) systems that use plants to grow food. The crops modeled are candidates for ALS use: bean (dry), lettuce, peanut, potato (white), rice, soybean, sweet potato, tomato, and wheat. The crop models are modified versions of the energy cascade crop growth model originally developed for wheat by Volk, Bugbee, and Wheeler. The models now simulate the effects of temperature, carbon dioxide level, planting density, and relative humidity on canopy gas exchange, in addition to the effects of light level and photoperiod included in the original model. The energy cascade model has also been extended to predict the times of canopy closure, grain setting (senescence), and maturity (harvest) as functions of the environmental conditions.
Technical Paper

Aviation Data Integration System

A number of airlines have FOQA programs that analyze archived flight data. Although this analysis process is extremely useful for assessing airline concerns in the areas of aviation safety, operations, training, and maintenance, looking at flight data in isolation does not always provide the context necessary to support a comprehensive analysis. To improve the analysis process, the Aviation Data Integration Project (ADIP) has been developing techniques for integrating flight data with auxiliary sources of relevant aviation data. ADIP has developed an aviation data integration system (ADIS) comprised of a repository and associated integration middleware that provides rapid and secure access to various data sources, including weather data, airport operating condition (ATIS) reports, radar data, runway visual range data, and navigational charts.
Technical Paper

Crop Models for Varying Environmental Conditions

New variable environment Modified Energy Cascade (MEC) crop models were developed for all the Advanced Life Support (ALS) candidate crops and implemented in SIMULINK. The MEC models are based on the Volk, Bugbee, and Wheeler Energy Cascade (EC) model and are derived from more recent Top-Level Energy Cascade (TLEC) models. The MEC models were developed to simulate crop plant responses to day-to-day changes in photosynthetic photon flux, photoperiod, carbon dioxide level, temperature, and relative humidity. The original EC model allowed only changes in light energy and used a less accurate linear approximation. For constant nominal environmental conditions, the simulation outputs of the new MEC models are very similar to those of earlier EC models that use parameters produced by the TLEC models. There are a few differences. The new MEC models allow setting the time for seed emergence, have more realistic exponential canopy growth, and have corrected harvest dates for potato and tomato.
Technical Paper

Airport Remote Tower Sensor Systems

Remote Tower Sensor Systems are proof-of-concept prototypes being developed by NASA/Ames Research Center (NASA/ARC) with collaboration with the FAA and NOAA. RTSS began with the deployment of an Airport Approach Zone Camera System that includes real-time weather observations at San Francisco International Airport. The goal of this research is to develop, deploy, and demonstrate remotely operated cameras and sensors at several major airport hubs and un-towered airports. RTSS can provide real-time weather observations of airport approach zone. RTSS will integrate and test airport sensor packages that will allow remote access to real-time airport conditions and aircraft status.
Journal Article

Modeling Weather Impact on Ground Delay Programs

Scheduled arriving aircraft demand may exceed airport arrival capacity when there is abnormal weather at an airport. In such situations, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) institutes ground-delay programs (GDP) to delay flights before they depart from their originating airports. Efficient GDP planning depends on the accuracy of prediction of airport capacity and demand in the presence of uncertainties in weather forecast. This paper presents a study of the impact of dynamic airport surface weather on GDPs. Using the National Traffic Management Log, effect of weather conditions on the characteristics of GDP events at selected busy airports is investigated. Two machine learning methods are used to generate models that map the airport operational conditions and weather information to issued GDP parameters and results of validation tests are described.
Technical Paper

Prediction of Weather Impacts on Airport Arrival Meter Fix Capacity

This paper introduces a data driven model for predicting airport arrival capacity with 2-8 hour look-ahead forecast data. The model is suitable for air traffic flow management by explicitly investigating the impact of convective weather on airport arrival meter fix throughput. Estimation of the arrival airport capacity under arrival meter fix flow constraints due to severe weather is an important part of Air Traffic Management (ATM). Airport arrival capacity can be reduced if one or more airport arrival meter fixes are partially or completely blocked by convective weather. When the predicted airport arrival demands exceed the predicted available airport’s arrival capacity for a sustained period, Ground Delay Program (GDP) operations will be triggered by ATM system.