IR Sensors Gauge Human Survivability in Space

DEXTER, MI /PRNewswire/ -- Among the 2.9 tons of mission-critical supplies delivered to the International Space Station by the Progress M-13M spacecraft in early November were two tiny but critical infrared thermopile sensor detectors from Dexter Research Center, a Michigan company located just west of Ann Arbor.

The combined weight of the precision noncontact infrared sensors from Dexter Research, the ST-60 and the 2M, is less than an ounce.

The International Space Station is intended to be a laboratory, observatory, and factory in space, as well as a staging base for possible future missions to the Moon, Mars, and asteroids. The successful launch and docking determined that the International Space Station will remain open for business in the wake of the retirement of the U.S. space shuttle vehicles.

Space weather, space medicine, human research, life sciences, astronomy, and meteorology are among the research conducted by a six-person crew that was successfully resupplied by the rocket launch. Data is being gathered on the effects of long-term space exposure to the human body, advancing NASA's understanding of muscle atrophy, bone loss, and fluid shift.

The Dexter Research infrared sensor detectors provide data collection within a new and more effective radiometric diagnostic device for droplet combustion experiments. The NASA package as delivered is expected to be installed and operational early in 2012.

According to NASA, the Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR) "is used to perform combustion experiments in microgravity. The CIR can be reconfigured easily on orbit to accommodate a variety of combustion experiments. It consists of an optics bench, a combustion chamber, a fuel and oxidizer management system, environmental management systems, and interfaces for science diagnostics and experiment-specific equipment. For diagnostic purposes, five different cameras are available for use by the investigator. The CIR features a 100-liter combustion chamber, surrounded by optical equipment and diagnostic packages, including a gas chromatograph. Experiments are conducted by remote control from the Glenn Research Center Telescience Support Center."

The data generated by the Dexter Research detectors and other sophisticated equipment will be used to determine whether lengthy human space flight and space colonization are feasible.

About Dexter
Since 1977, Dexter Research has been the "preferred provider of infrared thermopile detectors for science and industry." Today, the company offers the "world's largest selection of thermopile-based solutions, including high quality, high-output Bismuth-Antimony thin-film and silicon-based infrared-sensing thermopile detectors. Known for their industry-leading reliability and durability, as well as superior signal characteristics, Dexter Research infrared sensor detectors have flown on previous space shuttle missions and have mapped the ozone layer of the Earth, as well as being deployed across the automotive, medical, biomedical, fire suppression, and temperature sensor industries. For more information, email [email protected].

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