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Technical Paper

Innovative Schematic Concept Analysis for a Space Suit Portable Life Support Subsystem

Conceptual designs for a space suit Personal Life Support Subsystem (PLSS) were developed and assessed to determine if upgrading the system using new, emerging, or projected technologies to fulfill basic functions would result in mass, volume, or performance improvements. Technologies were identified to satisfy each of the functions of the PLSS in three environments (zero-g, Lunar, and Martian) and in three time frames (2006, 2010, and 2020). The viability of candidate technologies was evaluated using evaluation criteria such as safety, technology readiness, and reliability. System concepts (schematics) were developed for combinations of time frame and environment by assigning specific technologies to each of four key functions of the PLSS -- oxygen supply, waste removal, thermal control, and power. The PLSS concepts were evaluated using the ExtraVehicular Activity System Sizing Analysis Tool, software created by NASA to analyze integrated system mass, volume, power and thermal loads.
Technical Paper

Development of a Test Facility for Air Revitalization Technology Evaluation

Development of new air revitalization system (ARS) technology can initially be performed in a subscale laboratory environment, but in order to advance the maturity level, the technology must be tested in an end-to-end integrated environment. The Air Revitalization Technology Evaluation Facility (ARTEF) at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) serves as a ground test bed for evaluating emerging ARS technologies in an environment representative of spacecraft atmospheres. At the center of the ARTEF is a hypobaric chamber which serves as a sealed atmospheric chamber for closed loop testing. A Human Metabolic Simulator (HMS) was custom-built to simulate the consumption of oxygen, and production of carbon dioxide, moisture and heat by up to eight persons. A variety of gas analyzers and dew point sensors are used to monitor the chamber atmosphere and the process flow upstream and downstream of a test article. A robust vacuum system is needed to simulate the vacuum of space.
Technical Paper

ISRU Production of Life Support Consumables for a Lunar Base

Similar to finding a home on Earth, location is important when selecting where to set up an exploration outpost. Essential considerations for comparing potential lunar outpost locations include: (1) areas nearby that would be useful for In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) oxygen extraction from regolith for crew breathing oxygen as well as other potential uses; (2) proximity to a suitable landing site; (3) availability of sunlight; (4) capability for line-of-sight communications with Earth; (5) proximity to permanently-shadowed areas for potential in-situ water ice; and (6) scientific interest. The Mons Malapert1 (Malapert Mountain) area (85.5°S, 0°E) has been compared to these criteria, and appears to be a suitable location for a lunar outpost.
Technical Paper

Development of a Gravity Independent Nitrification Biological Water Processor

Biological water processors are currently being developed for application in microgravity environments. Work has been performed to develop a single-phase, gravity independent anoxic denitrification reactor for organic carbon removal [1]. As a follow on to this work it was necessary to develop a gravity independent nitrification reactor in order to provide sufficient nitrite and nitrate to the organic carbon oxidation reactor for the complete removal of organic carbon. One approach for providing the significant amounts of dissolved oxygen required for nitrification is to require the biological reactor design to process two-phase gas and liquid in micro-gravity. This paper addresses the design and test results overview for development of a tubular, two-phase, gravity independent nitrification biological water processor.
Technical Paper

Mir Leak Detection Using Fluorescent Tracer Gases

On June 25, 1997 a docking mishap of a Progress supply ship caused the Progress vehicle to crash into an array of solar panels and puncture the hull of the Spektr module. The puncture was small enough to allow the crew to seal off the Spektr module and repressurize the rest of the station. The Progress vehicle struck the Spektr module several times and the exact location, size, and number of punctures in the Spektr hull was unknown. Russian cosmonauts donned space suits and went inside the Spektr module to repair some electrical power cables and look for the location of the hull breach, they could not identify the exact location of the hole (or holes). The Spektr module was pressurized with Mir cabin air twice during the STS-86 fly around in an attempt to detect leakage (in the form of ice particles) from the module. Seven particles were observed within a 36 second time span, but tracking the path of the individual particles did not pinpoint a specific leak location.
Technical Paper

Demonstration of Oxygen Production on the Moon and Mars

Scientists and engineers at NASA are currently developing flight instruments which will demonstrate oxygen production on the Moon and Mars. REGA will extract oxygen from the lunar regolith, measure implanted solar wind and indigenous gases, and monitor the lunar atmosphere. MIP will demonstrate oxygen production on Mars, along with key supporting technologies including filtration, atmospheric acquisition and compression, thermal management, solar cell performance, and dust removal.
Technical Paper

Cryogen-Based Breathing Gas System

Storing breathing gas as a cryogenic liquid rather than a compressed gas has advantages in profile, weight, and safety. The disadvantage of the extremely cold temperature can be turned into an advantage by cooling the user while vaporizing and warming the cryogen. A cryogenic breathing apparatus capable of providing up to two hours of breathing and cooling and operating in any orientation will be available to commercial users in 1998. The same technology can be easily extended to use with liquid oxygen on the moon and Mars, and can be adapted to a zero gravity environment.
Technical Paper

Solid Polymer Electrolyte Oxygen Generator Assembly Life Testing at MSFC - The First Year

A two year test program has been initiated to evaluate the effects of extended duration operation on a solid polymer electrolyte Oxygen Generator Assembly (OGA); in particular the cell stack and membrane phase separators. As part of this test program, the OGA was integrated into the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) Water Recovery Test (WRT) Stage 10, a six month test, to use reclaimed water directly from the water processor product water storage tanks. This paper will document results encountered and evaluated thus far in the life testing program.
Technical Paper

Diode-Laser Spectral Absorption-Based Gas Species Sensor for Life Support Applications

We present the development of a semiconductor diode laser spectral absorption based gas species sensor for oxygen concentration measurements, intended for life support system monitoring and control applications. Employing a novel self-compensating, noise cancellation detection approach, we experimentally demonstrate better than 1% accuracy, linearity, and stability for monitoring breathing air conditions with 0.2 second response time. We also discuss applications of this approach to CO2 sensing.
Journal Article

Minimizing EVA Airlock Time and Depress Gas Losses

This paper describes the need and solution for minimizing EVA airlock time and depress gas losses using a new method that minimizes EVA out-the-door time for a suited astronaut and reclaims most of the airlock depress gas. This method consists of one or more related concepts that use an evacuated reservoir tank to store and reclaim the airlock depress gas. The evacuated tank can be an inflatable tank, a spent fuel tank from a lunar lander descent stage, or a backup airlock. During EVA airlock operations, the airlock and reservoir would be equalized at some low pressure, and through proper selection of reservoir size, most of the depress gas would be stored in the reservoir for later reclamation. The benefit of this method is directly applicable to long duration lunar and Mars missions that require multiple EVA missions (up to 100, two-person lunar EVAs) and conservation of consumables, including depress pump power and depress gas.
Technical Paper

Evaluation of the Risk of Circulating Microbubbles Under Simulated Extravehicular Activities After Bed Rest

This ground-based study compared the risk of microbubbles during decompression under simulated space extravehicular activities (EVA) after three days of six-degree head-down bed rest with three days of ambulatory control. Test subjects were exposed to a pressure of 44.8 kPa (6.5 psi), breathed 100% oxygen, and exercised at reduced pressure either in the supine (during experimental) or upright (control) position. Circulating microbubbles were monitored by a precordial Doppler ultrasound device, and were found in 52% (12/23) of control and 26% (6/23) of experimental exposures. Survival analysis using Cox proportional hazards regression showed that there was 0.22 times (95% confidence interval=0.07-0.68) reduction in the risk of high grade microbubbles after bed rest, compared to controls (p=0.004). This finding is of importance in evaluating the risk of DCS during EVA.
Technical Paper

Decompression Gas Phase Formation in Simulated Null Gravity

The incidence of decompression sickness (DCS) in space appears to be less than that predicted to occur on the basis of ground based altitude chamber trials. Our current work uses six hours of chair rest adynamia and likewise produces fewer gas bubbles when compared to standing in a cross over study. Mild exercise during oxygen prebreathe is also very efficacious in reducing DCS and bubble formation (measured by Doppler ultrasound). The effect is postulated to be the result of the alteration in the populations of tissue micronuclei such that the radii are reduced. Surface tension then becomes too great for bubble growth from the existing inert gas partial pressures.
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

On-Orbit Performance of the Major Constituent Analyzer

The Major Constituent Analyzer (MCA) was activated on-orbit on 2/13/01 and provided essentially continuous readings of partial pressures for oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, methane, hydrogen and water in the ISS atmosphere. The MCA plays a crucial role in the operation of the Laboratory ECLSS and EVA operations from the airlock. This paper discusses the performance of the MCA as compared to specified accuracy requirements. The MCA has an on-board self-calibration capability and the frequency of this calibration could be relaxed with the level of instrument stability observed on-orbit. This paper also discusses anomalies the MCA experienced during the first year of on-orbit operation. Extensive Built In Test (BIT) and fault isolation capabilities proved to be invaluable in isolating the causes of anomalies. The process of fault isolation is discussed along with development of workaround solutions and implementation of permanent on-orbit corrections.
Technical Paper

Oxygen From Lunar Soils

We have conducted experiments on 16 lunar soils and 3 lunar volcanic glass samples to study the extraction of oxygen, an important resource for future lunar bases. The samples were chosen to span the range of composition and mineralogy represented in the Apollo collection. Each sample was reduced in flowing hydrogen for 3 hours at 1050°C. The dominant effect was reduction of Fe2+ (as FeO) in minerals and glass to iron metal, with concomitant release of oxygen. Oxygen extraction was strongly correlated with initial Fe2+ abundance but varied among mineral and glass phases. The experimental reduction of lunar soil and glass provides a method for assessing the oxygen production potential for sites on the lunar surface from lunar orbit. Our results show that oxygen yield from lunar soils can be predicted from knowledge of only one parameter, total iron content. This parameter can be measured from orbit by gamma ray spectrometry or multispectral imaging.
Technical Paper

Control of Air Revitalization Using Plants: Results of the Early Human Testing Initiative Phase I Test

The Early Human Testing Initiative (EHTI) Phase I Human Test, performed by the Crew and Thermal Systems Division at Johnson Space Center, demonstrated the ability of a crop of wheat to provide air revitalization for a human test subject for a 15-day period. The test demonstrated three different methods for control of oxygen and carbon dioxide concentrations for the human/plant system and obtained data on trace contaminants generated by both the human and plants during the test and their effects on each other. The crop was planted in the Variable Pressure Growth Chamber (VPGC) on July 24, 1995 and the test subject entered the adjoining airlock on day 17 of the wheat's growth cycle. The test subject stayed in the chamber for a total of 15 days, 1 hour and 20 minutes. Air was mixed between the plant chamber and airlock to provide oxygen to the test subject and carbon dioxide to the plants by an interchamber ventilation system.