NASA’s Biological and Physical Sciences (BPS) Division uses the spaceflight environment to study the interaction of spaceflight stressors with human physiological systems. Experiments on such platforms examine how plants, microbes, and animals adjust or adapt to living in space, and allow to examine processes of metabolism, growth, stress response, physiology, and development. Most experiments, however, require preserving, storing, and returning the samples to Earth, where detailed analyses are conducted. Consequently, the pace of scientific discovery has been sluggish due to the inability to quickly conduct the iterative process of research that includes the ability to either synthesize or adjust sample composition on-orbit based on real time diagnostic measurements. For animal model-based research, in-situ compact devices for measuring and transmitting data regarding cells, proteins, and metabolites in various specimen types, including blood, saliva, urine, and other body fluids is highly desired. Analysis of exhaled breath is especially attractive as it can be obtained from animals noninvasively and may hold important clues about mammalian physiology. Lynntech has previously developed array-based chemical sensors for the detection of toxic industrial materials, groundwater contaminants, chemical warfare agent surrogates, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), for assessment of seafood freshness and human VOC signature identification. In addition, Lynntech has conducted extensive research to evaluate potential analytical devices that can be used for the fast, inexpensive, reliable detection of VOC biomarkers in exhaled breath. By adapting engineering advances carried out in Lynntech’s array-based chemical sensor, microgravity-compatible, on-board exhaled breath analyzer will be developed. In the Phase I, Lynntech will demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed approach with a breadboard system. An automated prototype will be delivered to NASA during Phase II.
Direct NASA applications of the array-based, microgravity-compatible, on-board exhaled breath analyzer (ABBA) include the in situ exhaled breath analysis for animal model to better understand impacts of spaceflight stressors on the overall health of astronauts. The attributes of the non-invasive and non-intrusive sample collection and the near-real-time analysis will save time and effort conducting experiments on board and allow to quickly conduct iterative process of research.
Successful development of the technology will have a high commercial applicability to a wide range of industries where require the detection of VOCs, e.g., the Gas and Chemical Industries and Regulatory Agencies, environmental remediation, food, beverage, and perfume industries, agronomic industries, medical industry, and homeland security.