Electronic Nose to Return from Space Station (w/ Video)

Sep 11, 2009
The ENose flew for six months on the International Space Station monitoring the air the astronauts breathed. Image credit: NASA/JPL

(PhysOrg.com) -- Sniffing out any potential contaminants on the International Space Station where it was stationed for the last six months, the JPL-built electronic nose, or ENose, is homeward bound.

While on the space station, the ENose sampled the air with 32 sensors that can detect various odors and pinpoint which ones are dangerous to humans. The sleek, shoebox-sized ENose, the third generation of its kind, monitored the air for 10 contaminants continuously.

"Our six-month test went very well. The ENose identified formaldehyde, Freon 218, methanol and ethanol, but all of them were at harmless levels," said Amy Ryan, principal investigator of the ENose at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. Ryan built the ENose at JPL and has managed the project from its early beginnings in 1996. "An instrument like this could one day remain on the Space Station and monitor air quality in real-time."

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

In the future, the ENose could be used in monitoring crew cabins for vehicles to the moon and other destinations or be stationed on a moon base. Other potential applications include detecting a smoldering fire before it erupts, sniffing for unexploded land mines and monitoring for chemical spills in a work area. There are also possible applications in medical diagnosis.

"A human nose is not always as sensitive to chemicals as the ENose and our noses cannot even detect some hazardous chemicals," said Ryan. "The ENose can smell trouble and give people advance warning before contamination levels cause harm."

The ENose was flown to the by the Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-126 mission in December 2008. It is set to return home today on the Space Shuttle Discovery STS-128, after its 13-day flight.

Provided by JPL/ (news : web)

Explore further: Curiosity brushes 'Bonanza king' target anticipating fourth red planet rock drilling

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA's ENose can sense brain cancer cells

Apr 30, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- An unlikely multidisciplinary scientific collaboration has discovered that an electronic nose developed for air quality monitoring on Space Shuttle Endeavour can also be used to detect odour differences in ...

NASA revises shuttle launch dates

Feb 18, 2008

The U.S. space agency has revised the launch dates for space shuttle flights during the second half of 2008, necessitated by the delayed STS-122 launch.

NASA Amends Crew Assignment for STS-126 Mission

Nov 21, 2007

NASA has replaced a crew member assigned to space shuttle mission STS-126. Astronaut Donald R. Pettit will take the place of astronaut Joan E. Higginbotham, who has left NASA to accept a position in the private sector. The ...

Recommended for you

Australian amateur Terry Lovejoy discovers new comet

5 hours ago

It's confirmed! Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy just discovered his fifth comet, C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy). He found it August 17th using a Celestron C8 fitted with a CCD camera at his roll-off roof ...

Students see world from station crew's point of view

Aug 19, 2014

NASA is helping students examine their home planet from space without ever leaving the ground, giving them a global perspective by going beyond a map attached to a sphere on a pedestal. The Sally Ride Earth ...

Mars deep down

Aug 19, 2014

Scarring the southern highlands of Mars is one of the Solar System's largest impact basins: Hellas, with a diameter of 2300 km and a depth of over 7 km.

User comments : 0