The proposed technology will apply directly to accomplishing the objectives of the NASA Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) program, contributing to the rapid and effective development of novel EVA systems, and the demonstration of key capabilities for future human missions beyond Earth orbit. Exhaustive testing of prototype systems reduces risk and improves the affordability of exploration missions. The proposed technology will significantly enhance current capabilities for demonstrating, in ground-based testbeds and in flight experiments on the International Space Station (ISS), the prototype EVA systems developed in the AES program. In addition, sensor materials developed in this project will find direct application for life support system monitoring. Luminescence sensors for pO2, pCO2 and pH2O have significant advantages over competing technology for the Portable Life Support system, including reduced size, low power and operation under wet conditions. Today IR technology remains the most accurate and stable CO2 means of monitoring for the PLSS, but it is highly sensitive to free water that can condense or accumulate in the gas sampling area, particularly on optical windows. When NASA astronauts work hard in spacesuits, they sweat, creating moisture that has historically caused IR sensors to fail or give inaccurate readings. Luminescent sensors capable of operating while wet offer an alternative to overcome this limitation.
The potential market for noninvasive sensor patches includes the industries that apply protective packaging to moisture- or oxygen-sensitive goods. Incorporating patches inside packages will enable the users to check gas composition nondestructively throughout the life of the packaged product, assuring the integrity of the envelope. Packaging with gas barrier properties and/or modified atmospheres is used extensively for electronic components, hygroscopic chemicals, pharmaceuticals, food, animal feed, and surgical and dental instruments. Specifically adapting and calibrating the patch sensors will suit them for use in these industries.