Feeds

NASA readies remodeled ISS ENose

Smells like Endeavour team spirit

Top three mobile application threats

NASA astronauts aboard Endeavour's STS-126 mission will soon be testing the space agency's latest generation of "electronic nose," designed to monitor the International Space Station's crew cabin for harmful chemicals.

As a humanitarian - or rather, robotarian gesture - we hope they'll install the experimental "ENose" away from the ISS's new urine recycler.

Air quality issues have troubled both the ISS and Russia's former space station Mir. But because the human olfactory system can't detect many substances until they are already at a hazardous level, in most cases the chemicals were identified only after the crew was thoroughly exposed.

The ENose: quite a schnoz

After the shoebox-sized ENose is unpacked in December for a six month demonstration, it will continuously monitor and quantify leaks and spills from chemicals such as ammonia, mercury, methanol and formaldehyde.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which built and manages the device, explained that it contains an array of 32 sensors to "sniff" out organic and inorganic chemicals. The sensors are composed of polymer films that change their electrical conductivity in response to different chemicals present in the air. The unit fits into the ISS Express Rack, which will transfer data to a support team on Earth.

"This ENose is a very capable instrument that will increase crew awareness of the state of their air quality," Carl Walz, astronaut and director of NASA's Advanced Capabilities Division, said in a statement.

"Having experienced an air-quality issue during my Expedition 4 mission on the space station, I wish I had information that this ENose will provide future crews. This technology demonstration will provide important information for environmental control and life-support system designers for the future lunar outpost."

This mission is too important for me to allow you to smell it, Dave.

The ENose is expected to be able to alert ISS astronauts if there are any air-contaminating chemicals on its "watch list." If a toxic leak occurs, the crew can wear breathing apparatuses until the ENose detects the space station's air-filtration system has returned the cabin's air to a safe condition.

The ENose presently orbiting Earth is the third generation of the device. The first Enose flew with John Glenn on the STS-95 shuttle mission in 1998. Version 1.0 could only detect 10 compounds and lacked the capability to analyze the data immediately.

That important feature was added to the second generation of ENose, which was extensively ground-tested but never made it outside the atmosphere.

The third version of the ENose is theoretically capable of detecting several thousand types of chemicals, although it's currently being focused on 10 substances. The ultimate goal is to detect between 20 and 30 substances, in mixtures of up to three at a time. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.