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Technical Paper

Development of Optical Trace Gas Monitoring Technology for NASA Human Space Flight

Investigators from three institutions have partnered in a Rapid Technology Development Team whose goal will be the deployment of laser-based sensors for air-constituent measurements on board spacecrafts. The sensors will eventually be based on Type II Interband Cascade (IC) lasers being developed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. These lasers will be used in implementations of both photo acoustic spectroscopy based on the use of quartz tuning fork oscillators as a resonant acoustic sensor (QE-PAS) and cavity ring down spectroscopy (CRDS). In the first year of the program, work at Rice and George Washington Universities has focused on the development of both QEPAS and CRDS sensors for ammonia using near infrared lasers. Simultaneously, the JPL portion of the team has fabricated both Fabry Perot and distributed feedback lasers in the mid infrared that can be used for formaldehyde detection.
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

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.
Technical Paper

Advanced Fiber-Optic Monitoring System for Space-flight Applications

Researchers at Luna Innovations Inc. and the National Aeronautic and Space Administration's Marshall Space Flight Center (NASA MSFC) are developing an integrated fiber-optic sensor system for real-time monitoring of chemical contaminants and whole-cell bacterial pathogens in water. The system integrates interferometric and evanescent-wave optical fiber-based sensing methodologies to provide versatile measurement capability for both micro- and nano-scale analytes. Sensors can be multiplexed in an array format and embedded in a totally self-contained laboratory card for use with an automated microfluidics platform.
Journal Article

Advanced Quartz-Enhanced Photoacoustic Trace Gas Sensor for Early Fire Detection

A spectroscopic trace gas sensor using a distributed feedback diode laser at λ=1.53 µm and based on quartz enhanced photoacoustic spectroscopy technique is described. The sensor is capable of quasi-simultaneous quantification of trace ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, and acetylene (NH3, HCN, and C2H2, respectively) concentrations at ∼100 ppbv levels with a 4s integration time. The sensor design, responsivity, noise, and cross-talk characteristics are reported.