Compact Multi-gas Monitor for Life Support Systems Control in Space: Evaluation Under Realistic Environmental Conditions
Alonso, Jesús Delgado
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Advanced space life support systems require lightweight, low-power, durable sensors for monitoring critical gas components. A luminescence-based optical flow-through cell to monitor carbon dioxide, oxygen, and humidity has been developed and was demonstrated using bench-top instrumentation under environmental conditions relevant to portable life support systems, including initially pure oxygen atmosphere, temperature range from 50°F to 150°F, and humidity from dry to 100% RH and under conditions of water condensation. This paper presents the most recent progress in the development of this sensor technology. Trace gas contaminants in a space suit, originating from hardware and material off-gassing and crew member metabolism, are from many chemical families. The result is a gas mix much more complex than the pure oxygen fed into the space suit, and this complexity may interfere with gas sensor readings. This paper presents an evaluation of optical sensor performance when exposed to the most significant trace gases reported to be found in space suits. A study of the calibration stability of the sensors is also presented. For that purpose, a profile of temperature, pressure, humidity, and gas composition for the duration of an EVA has been defined, and the performance of sensors operated repeatedly under those conditions has been studied. Finally, this paper presents the first compact readout unit for these optical sensors, designed for the volume, power, and weight restrictions of a PLSS.