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Trace Contaminant Monitor for Air in Spacecraft, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Trace Contaminant Monitor for Air in Spacecraft, Phase I
A need exists for analyzers that can measure trace contaminants in air on board spacecraft. Toxic gas buildup can endanger the crew particularly during long missions. Some gases are generated by people and emitted through the skin or by exhalation. In addition to carbon dioxide, these anthropogenic gases include carbon monoxide, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, acetaldehyde, and methanol. Plastics used in the spacecraft cabin can outgas formaldehyde, and heat exchangers can leak ammonia into breathing air. Overheating electronics can release carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen chloride and hydrogen fluoride. Thus, continuous air monitoring is required. Mesa Photonics proposes development of a highly miniaturized, highly efficient Fourier Transform (FT) spectrometer for continuous monitoring of contaminant air. The spectrometer will be able to detect a wide range of compounds with response times of about 30 seconds. Our approach combines several innovations that will lead to a rugged and reliable spectrometer capable of space-based operation and having a long shelf life. Spectrometers will be about the size of a lap-top computer, weigh about 4 kg, and consume about 10 W. Most target contaminants will be detectable at part-per-million or lower concentrations. More »

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