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: Cassini sees sunny seas on Titan

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

Cassini sees sunny seas on Titan

23 hours ago

(Phys.org) —As it soared past Saturn's large moon Titan recently, NASA's Cassini spacecraft caught a glimpse of bright sunlight reflecting off hydrocarbon seas.

Is space tourism safe or do civilians risk health effects?

Oct 30, 2014

Several companies are developing spacecraft designed to take ordinary citizens, not astronauts, on short trips into space. "Space tourism" and short periods of weightlessness appear to be safe for most individuals ...

An unmanned rocket exploded. So what?

Oct 30, 2014

Sputnik was launched more than 50 years ago. Since then we have seen missions launched to Mercury, Mars and to all the planets within the solar system. We have sent a dozen men to the moon and many more to ...

NASA image: Sunrise from the International Space Station

Oct 30, 2014

NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman posted this image of a sunrise, captured from the International Space Station, to social media on Oct. 29, 2014. Wiseman wrote, "Not every day is easy. Yesterday was a tough one. ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.