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 Quantum optics allows us to abandon expensive lasers in spectroscopy
22.11.2017 | Lomonosov Moscow State University

nachricht Nano-watch has steady hands
22.11.2017 | University of Vienna

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: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Corporate coworking as a driver of innovation

22.11.2017 | Business and Finance

PPPL scientists deliver new high-resolution diagnostic to national laser facility

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Quantum optics allows us to abandon expensive lasers in spectroscopy

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>