Celebrating Space Sensors on National Space Day

Celebrating National Space Day and Space Sensors

National Space Day is celebrated annually on the first Friday of May; this year Space Day will be celebrated on Friday the 6th of May. The celebration was created to promote STEM amongst young people.1 However, it also offers an opportunity for the public to celebrate the extraordinary achievements and opportunities space exploration provides.

Here at Techcomp, we are celebrating National Space Day by highlighting the fascinating techniques which have assisted in space exploration.

What are Space Sensors?

Outer space hosts an arduous environment for human exploration due to its hazardous conditions and inhumane gas levels. Spacecrafts pose further challenges due to their confined space. Space sensors play an important role in aviation as they can be used to monitor gas levels and ensure those within a spacecraft are at the correct level.2

Space Sensors | Application of Sensors in Space

NASA utilise space sensors for surveillance on a variety of applications, with various portable and fixed gas monitors found onboard the International Space Station (ISS).3

Space sensors offer astronauts environmental information on the spacecraft and the external atmosphere. Effective space sensors will ensure astronauts safety and assist in scientific observations and discoveries of earth and the atmosphere.4

Carbon Monoxide Sensing Technology

Carbon monoxide (CO) detection is vital for a range of applications, including aeronautics. A primary concern on a manned spacecraft is the condition of the atmosphere. An accumulation or rise of trace gases – caused from the crew themselves, or off-gassing etc – can be hazardous. The monitoring of gases is therefore essential and specific limits, known as Spacecraft Maximum Allowable Concentration (SMAC), have been set to ensure a safe atmosphere at all times.5

At Edinburgh Sensors we have a variety of products suitable for carbon monoxide detection:

Oxygen Sensing Technology

Another essential gas that must be monitored is oxygen. Oxygen is crucial for the health, safety, and performance of human beings. Sufficient oxygen levels ensure the safety and productivity of the astronauts. With reduced levels of oxygen, astronauts will feel lethargic, therefore unable to focus, and could lead to serious, perhaps life-threatening mistakes being made.

NASA have developed an advanced oxygen detector, capable of sensing and limiting oxygen deprivation. If oxygen levels fall below a premediated level, the sensor, which is connected to the astronauts will alarm and vibrate, rousing the individual.6

Carbon Dioxide Sensing Technology

Monitoring and ensuring healthy CO2 levels on a spacecraft is not an easy task. It is vital to control the levels of Carbon Dioxide in an enclosed environment, specifically a spacecraft where windows cannot be opened for a breath of fresh air. As it is an enclosed space, the majority of CO2 on board a spacecraft will come from the astronauts. Without the necessary levels of oxygen to balance it out, scientist must work hard to discover ways to not only monitor but also manage the levels of CO2.  Aboard the ISS, there are various sensors dotted about to monitor CO2 levels, along with implemented air circulation that blows the CO2 over a bed of rocks called zeolites and traps it. The CO2 concentration aboard a spacecraft is an ongoing concern; since 2016, astronauts have been testing the use of personal carbon dioxide sensors, which are strapped to the astronauts. Data can be observed by Researchers on Earth and allows for a deeper analysis of the levels of CO2 throughout the spacecraft.8

Further afield, space sensors can additionally be used to monitor the spatial atmosphere. With greenhouse gases being a major concern on Earth, space sensors can help provide vital information and monitoring of such levels. The first mission to space to include an instrument for the measurement of CO2, to specifically monitor greenhouse gases was the ADEOS I Satellite in 1996.9

At Edinburgh Sensors we have a variety of products suitable for carbon dioxide sensing:

Spectroscopy in Space

Spectrometer Applications | Space Sensors | Space Spectrometers

Raman Spectroscopy Application in Space

Raman Spectroscopy is being used in aerospace for the analysis of minerals and chemical compounds. It offers precise analysis, reducing ambiguity without any risk of sample damage. Further applications using Raman spectroscopy are being researched, including biosignature analysis and missions to Venus.10  Back on Earth our Raman microscopes can be used to delve into the samples returning from missions to probe the secrets of space.

Space Spectrometer | Raman Spectroscopy for Space | Aircraft Engineering | Spectroscopy Space

At Edinburgh Instruments we have several Raman Microscopes on offer:

Raman Spectroscopy and the Hunt for Aliens

Curious to find out more about how Raman spectroscopy could assist in the hunt for aliens? Take a minute to read this fascinating article that delves into the topic: Raman Spectroscopy and the Hunt for Aliens.

Space Spectroscopy | Space Sensors | Raman Spectroscopy for Space

Mass Spectrometry Application in Space

A fundamental analytical tool for space exploration is mass spectrometry. Mass spectrometers are involved in various aspects of space exploration. Mass spectrometry was first used for space exploration in the late 1950s at the US Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC.11 Mass spectrometers provide analysis of the composition of the atmosphere and terrain, whilst also ensuring safety of astronauts, as it can be used to monitor the air quality within spacecrafts.12

Mass spectrometers have had a significant impact on our knowledge of Earth and the surrounding solar system. As a reliable, sturdy, adaptive appliance, mass spectroscopy will continue to assist in future discoveries of the universe.

At Isotopx we offer a variety of Mass Spectrometers:

Space Spectrometer | Mass Spectrometers for Astronautical Engineering | Spectroscopy in Space

Find your Gas Sensing Solutions

Explore Edinburgh Sensors’ range of Gas Monitors and OEM Sensors. For further information, please contact us at SensorSales@edinst.com and a member of our sales team will be happy to assist you.

Space Sensor | Gas Sensors | Aerospace Engineering | Sensor Applications in Space

Discover our Spectrometers

View Edinburgh Instruments range of molecular spectrometers, including Fluorescence, Raman, UV-Vis, and Transient Absorption. For further information, contact Edinburgh Instruments at sales@edinst.com and our sales team will be delighted to assist you.

Discover Isotopx world class Mass Spectrometers. For further information, contact Isotopx at info@isotopx.com and our team will be happy to help.

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1 https://www.twinkl.co.uk/event/space-day-2022

2 Space & Aerospace Gas Safety Monitors | Analox Group

3 https://ttu-ir.tdl.org/bitstream/handle/2346/84809/ICES-2019-93.pdf?sequence=1

4 https://appliedsciences.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/2020-11/COVID_NO2_Final.pdf

5 https://www.esa.int/esapub/bulletin/bullet89/tann89.htm

6 https://www.nasa.gov/centers/johnson/techtransfer/technology/MSC-23309-1_Hypoxia.html

7, 8  https://letstalkscience.ca/educational-resources/backgrounders/carbon-dioxide-on-earth-and-on-iss

9 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space-based_measurements_of_carbon_dioxide

10 https://www.laserfocusworld.com/test-measurement/test-measurement/article/16549632/photonics-applied-spectroscopy-planetary-and-deepspace-applications-push-spectroscopy-to-the-outer-limits

11 https://ntrs.nasa.gov/api/citations/20100039433/downloads/20100039433.pdf

12 https://community.sciex.com/2016/04/11/the-connection-between-mass-spectrometry-and-space-exploration/