Advanced space suits require lightweight, low-power, durable sensors for monitoring critical life support materials. No current compact sensors have the tolerance for liquid water that is specifically required for next-generation portable life support systems (PLSS). Intelligent Optical Systems (IOS) is developing a luminescence-based optical sensor probe to monitor carbon dioxide, oxygen, and humidity. Our monitor will incorporate robust CO2, O2, and H2O partial pressure sensors interrogated by a compact, low-power optoelectronic unit. The sensors will not only tolerate liquid water but will actually operate while wet, and can be remotely connected to electronic circuitry by an optical fiber cable immune to electromagnetic interference. For space systems, using these miniature sensor elements with remote optoelectronics provides unmatched design flexibility for measurements in highly constrained volume systems such as PLSS. Our flow-through monitor design includes an optical sensor we have already developed for PLSS humidity monitoring, and an optical oxygen sensor with similar IOS technology. In Phase I of this project IOS demonstrated a CO2 sensor capable of operating while wet, and a miniature prototype PPCO2-H2O-O2 sensor probe was fabricated and tested under relevant environmental conditions. In Phase II, in collaboration with Hamilton Sundstrand (Hamilton), we will design and produce prototypes for space qualification, and will conduct extensive testing under simulated space conditions, culminating in validation in NASA systems, bringing the monitor to TRL 6-7. Engineers from IOS and Hamilton will design the new sensor system to be compatible with electronics developed and fabricated for space operation by Hamilton (in particular, the common modular data bus interface unit). This approach will minimize the power requirements and size of the monitoring device, and will tremendously facilitate the infusion of the technology into the PLSS.More »
Advanced Extra-Vehicular Activity systems are necessary for the successful support of the International Space Station beyond 2020, for future human space exploration missions, for in-space microgravity EVA, and for planetary surface exploration. In collaboration with NASA personnel, several needs and potential applications of the multiparameter probe sensors have been identified particularly for space suits. These include the International Space Station (ISS) Extra-vehicular Mobility Unit (EMU), the Orion derived Launch Entry Abort (LEA), and the future EMU Demonstrator development. The ISS EMU requirement is the highest priority, because problems have been reported in the CO2 sensor in use under conditions of liquid water condensation, and because problems reported in the CO2 scrubber system can be solved by a humidity sensor capable of withstanding water condensation. NASA guidance and the participation of Hamilton Sundstrand will ensure that the prototypes resulting from this project are compatible with the ISS EMU PLSS system. The proposed technology will also have application as a monitor for air quality in the pressurized cabins of crewed spacecraft, will significantly improve miniaturization, and has potential for distributed sensing.
Compact high-performance gas sensors have a number of aeronautical applications. IOS has already conducted negotiations with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics for the integration of the sensor probe to be developed in Phase II into fight crew air supply systems. Because of its status both as an aircraft system integrator and as a leading supplier of avionic and aeronautic subsystems, Lockheed Martin is in an excellent position to bring IOS sensor technology to the aeronautics market. Biomedical monitoring is an attractive business opportunity; non-invasive or minimally invasive sensors and miniature probes for measuring and monitoring PCO2 and PO2, have many potential applications for monitoring medical airways during surgery, tissue oxygen supply, and blood perfusion. Sensor elements developed in Phase I have already been used for non-invasive PCO2 and PO2 blood monitoring in animal models, demonstrating high correlation with the invasive gold standard blood gas analysis. IOS has already established collaboration with the UCLA-affiliated Los Angeles Biomedical Research Center to explore this market opportunity.
|Organizations Performing Work
|Intelligent Optical Systems, Inc.
|Johnson Space Center (JSC)