Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Astronauts to get Norwegian indoor climate check

22.11.2006
Under the terms of a contract with ESA, the European Space Agency, SINTEF and the German company Kayser-Threde GmbH have joined forces to develop an advanced system for identifying and measuring gases in indoor environments.

The new measurement technique is also suitable for a wide range of applications on Earth.

The system is currently in the process of being handed over to NASA. Plans are for the US space organisation to take the unit up to the ISS next summer, using an unmanned cargo spaceship.

After a ten-day test phase, the Norwegian-German system will be trialled in the ISS, at first for six months, in order to provide useful data on gas emissions. If the system passes its tests, the next version will become a regular part of the space station’s monitoring equipment.

Protecting astronauts

The owners of the ISS wish to prevent its inhabitants from breathing in gases that are either unpleasant, toxic or carcinogenic. Just as on Earth, gases will evaporate out of walls, interiors and equipment. Other gases may come from leaks or overheating, while the human body also produces gases.

And out in space, we cannot simply open a window! In the space station, the astronauts are completely dependent on the air purification system.

Through the needle’s eye

Equipment for measuring gases is installed on board the ISS as a matter of safety, so that the astronauts can quickly see whether the air purification system has failed or a leak has occurred, and put countermeasures into effect. But at present, only a few gases can be measured rapidly and frequently. The time taken to identify other gases is measured in hours, while some can only be measured after samples of the air have been returned to earth.

Experts from industry and scientists have been competing to develop the next generation of measuring equipment. Today, the leading candidate for use on board the ISS is the new system from SINTEF and the German company Kayser-Threde GmbH.

“World championship” in gas measurement

A few years ago, in order to provide a foundation for the choice of new measurement technology, NASA organised an unofficial “World Championship” in gas measurement, in which the Norwegian-German solution went right to the top.

The system gained maximum score for its ability to recognise gases in NASA’s text mixtures and to indicate their concentrations. Since then, the Norwegian and German partners have improved the sensitivity of the system even more, and they have produced a more compact, lighter version which is more suitable for the weight and space limitations inherent in space-station deployment.

Works by “seeing” gases

The system, which goes under the name of ANITA, works rapidly and completely automatically and presents its results in real time. During the upcoming trials, however, the astronauts will not have direct access to the results, as all the data will be transmitted via NASA and further processed by SINTEF.

The solution is based on optical technology. The system “sees” gases with the aid of a beam of infrared radiation. SINTEF’s primary contribution has been in the methods used by the system to interpret its own optical measurements.

According to SINTEF’s project manager Atle Honne, this is a field that has demanded a great deal of new development efforts. Honne is proud of the results. Ground-based tests have shown that the system is capable of discriminating between at least 32 different gases in all sorts of mixtures.

The main point of the space station trials is to demonstrate that the system is also capable of functioning under “space-ship” conditions. That NASA wants such a long period of testing is due to the fact that the organisation want to acquire better air-quality data for its space station.

Earth-bound benefits too

SINTEF scientist Atle Honne explains that the new measurement technique is also suitable for a wide range of applications on Earth, which is the main reason for SINTEF’s decision to go in for this project. “We can envisage a whole series of applications, from monitoring industrial processes to use on board submarines and other sites where it is vital to control indoor climate”, he says.

By Svein Tønseth

Aase Dragland | alfa
Further information:
http://www.sintef.no

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Electrocatalysis can advance green transition
23.01.2017 | Technical University of Denmark

nachricht Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin
23.01.2017 | Ferdinand-Braun-Institut Leibniz-Institut für Höchstfrequenztechnik

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis

23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

Electrocatalysis can advance green transition

23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components

23.01.2017 | Process Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>