VSE is tenuous at best, and little information was provided relative to the additional risks associated with longer-term missions.
The goal of the Advanced Environmental Monitoring and Control project is to develop and provide environmental monitoring and control systems for future crewed NASA vehicles and lunar habitats. As part of that development, the project will take advantage of testbed opportunities such as the ISS to gain knowledge and experience with respect to the operation of monitoring and control in space and to use that knowledge and experience to reduce risk. Four specific project elements were reviewed: the Vehicle Cabin Atmosphere Monitor (VCAM), Electronic Nose (ENose), Colorimetric Solid Phase Extraction (CSPE), and Lab-on-a-Chip Application Development (LOCAD).
JPL is developing and will qualify and deliver in late 2008 the VCAM, an air-quality monitoring analytical instrument capable of measuring both targeted and unknown trace gases at parts-per-million to parts-per-billion levels. The Laboratory Standard version of the VCAM is being tested on the ground, detecting simulated mixtures of what would be seen in flight, and it is currently at TRL 5. The VCAM will be operated autonomously once a day, and its measurements of species identities and concentrations will be telemetered to the ground. The project team has been implementing a modular, staged approach, starting with the mass spectrometer for the CEV, then adding the gas chromatograph for the CEV/Lunar Lander Vehicle, then, finally, a full system for lunar outpost and Mars missions.
The ENose uses an array of semiselective chemical sensors. The response of the array can be considered a “fingerprint,” which is deconvolved for both identification and quantification. The device, which NASA stated is at TRL 6 regarding its application to the ISS, runs continuously and autonomously.
The CSPE instrument is currently designed to monitor trace analytes in drinking water; its goals address the needs of the space program for analytical instruments and methodologies that (1) meet the monitoring requirements of ISS and space shuttle missions, (2) acquire the analytical data necessary for further defining the critical monitoring requirements for crew health and safety in future missions, and (3) serve as a platform for the development of the analytical methods and ancillary hardware for the projected monitoring requirements for the lunar, Mars, and other VSE missions. The status of the CSPE instrument, according to NASA, is TRL 4+, and it has already been used in microgravity testing.
The LOCAD integrates microfluidics and microarray technology to assess microorganisms, initially on ISS surfaces and later on future crewed missions. The LOCAD team and its partners are developing chips and a hand-held unit to perform the analyses. The LOCAD Portable Test System will be used by the crew to perform rapid (within minutes) assessments, and the results will be compared with those of the commonly employed method of plate culturing (~3 days for analysis). Cartridges for gram-negative bacteria are already onboard ISS, and work is currently being done to send up cartridges for the detection of yeast and mold and for gram-positive bacteria. This will allow for a complete characterization of the ISS microbial environment. Work is also underway to develop more advanced readers and swabbing tools to better meet future Constellation needs. At the same time, the LOCAD team is having discussions with the exploration medical research community and other Constellation projects to further define requirements for technology development.
No new science is being proposed or discovered on the VCAM; it is an instrumentation effort. The work at the JPL is based on previous flight-qualified instrumentation. The VCAM team is well qualified and understands