Carbon dioxide (CO2) can cause health problems on Earth as well as in space, with enclosed environments raising the most concern. Many industries require their workers to enter enclosed environments, where environmental monitoring is critical to worker safety - mining, submarines, construction, inspection, and many other fields. The Personal CO2 Monitoring system may be applied to these fields, and with the addition of an alarm system may serve as a warning device for hazardous conditions. The wearable device is designed in such a way as to allow the CO2 sensing element to be replaced by another sensor, enabling a range of personal monitoring applications. The intentional focus on a very small form factor and comfortable body attachment method, make the device particularly well-suited for continuous wear.
Carbon dioxide is a particularly challenging gas to deal with in space. Humans produce CO2 through the natural breathing process, but too much CO2 in the air can cause headaches, dizziness, increased blood pressure, and much more severe symptoms. Human spacecraft must be designed with environmental control systems that remove CO2 from the air that their crews breathe, but the space environment can still lead to "pockets" of CO2 that are difficult to detect and remove. Additionally, recent research has indicated the space environment may make astronauts more sensitive to CO2, meaning symptoms may be more severe or may become apparent at lower concentrations than on Earth.
The objectives of this study are:
- To demonstrate the capability to unobtrusively collect individual crewmembers CO2 exposure.
- To evaluate wearability principles in microgravity.
- To demonstrate Modular Wearable Architecture Base Board, allowing rapid certification of future wearable devices.
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The Personal CO2 Monitor will demonstrate a new capability on the International Space Station (ISS) - continuous monitoring of the astronauts' immediate surroundings. The astronauts will attach specially designed CO2 sensors to their clothing and wear them continuously for days to weeks. The sensors will wirelessly send CO2 data to the astronauts' iPads, where mission controllers can download it for researchers. With this new individualized data, researchers will be able to gain a better understanding of the impact of CO2 on human health in space, impacting the ISS, and future spacecraft designs. In addition to monitoring CO2, the investigation also seeks to learn more about how to design wearable technology for human space flight. Devices that are to be put on the body for a long time must be comfortable. Without gravity and with the changes to the human body in space, designing comfortable wearable technology for astronauts is a challenge. Observation and feedback from astronauts on the "wearability" of the Personal CO2 Monitor in space will help engineers and designers create more appropriate wearable technology for future space missions.
Results will be available at a later date.