Makel Engineering, Inc. (MEI) proposes to develop a highly compact Multi-Parameter Astronaut Life Support Sensor (M-PALSS) for use in the portable life support system (PLSS) component of the new Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU). M-PALSS will consist of an array of low power chemical microsensors for oxygen, carbon dioxide, water vapor, and pressure to monitor the major constituents in the gas stream circulated by the PLLS and/or exhaled from the astronaut in the rebreather loop. Highly miniaturized chemical microsensors will be packaged with compact electronics with a compact physical envelope and low power consumption. Phase I will develop and test a prototype system at PLSS operating conditions. The M-PALSS incorporates a mix of proven solid-state sensors developed by MEI for applications such as aircraft life support systems and for Navy divers using rebreathers. These chemical sensors will be combined with humidity and pressure sensors to provide a compact sensor suite with multi-parametric sensing capabilities, suitable for integration with the PLSS on the xEMU. Phase II will deliver units for use in NASA testbeds and for integration into prototype xEMUs.
The primary NASA application for the technology is to support human exploration activities by providing enhanced sensing capability to new generation of space suit life support systems including xEMU and the PLSS module. The technology is also applicable to ISS, Gateway, and future lunar outpost life support systems.
Non-NASA Applications include commercial and military diving rebreathing systems which have similar sensing requirements. Medical applications for the technology are portable oxygen generators and respirators.