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Advanced Miniature IR Spectral Processor for the Infrared Spectral Monitoring of Spacecraft Vital Life-Support Systems and Remote Astronaut Health Diagnostics
ISSN: 0148-7191, e-ISSN: 2688-3627
Published July 17, 2006 by SAE International in United States
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Infrared (IR) spectroscopy probes the characteristic vibrational and rotational modes of chemical bonds in molecules to provide direct information about both the chemical composition and the bonding configuration of a sample. The significant advantage of the IR spectral technique is that it can be used with minimal consumables to simultaneously detect a large variety of different chemical and biochemical species with high chemical specificity. Currently, various VIS/NIR grating spectrometers are employed to cover the spectral range between 0.3 and about 2.2 (μm. Bulk-optic Fourier Transform (FT)-IR spectrometers employing variations of the Michelson interferometer are generally used to provide spectral measurements above 2.5 (μm. The FT-IR systems tend to be mechanically complex, bulky (>15 kg), and require considerable processing, maintenance and recalibration.
For space-based systems, the important drivers are reliability, power consumption, mass and simplicity of operation. MPBT has advanced its patent-pending IOSPEC™ technology for miniature integrated IR spectrometers to provide high performance comparable to large laboratory spectrometers but in a very compact and ruggedized footprint weighing under 2.0 kg. It also bridges the gap between current VIS/NIR and FT-IR spectrometers by providing continuous coverage in the important 1 to 5 (μm spectral range at a relatively high nominal resolution of about 4 to 8 nm. The throughput limitation of single-slit diffractive spectrometers are overcome by replacing the traditional input slit with a programmable array of 16 slits to multiplex the input optical signal.
This paper discusses recent advances in the binary-coded IOSPEC technology towards providing an integrated chemical analysis system for manned space systems and planetary rovers. An active shutter array is being developed based on a thin-film structure that enables broad-band optical switching and multiplexing at ms speeds with no moving parts for reliable long-term operation. Voltage-controlled optical switching has been obtained at 30 to 40 V. The efficiency of optical coupling to linear detector arrays is also being substantially improved using an integrated-optic condenser at the output of the guided-wave spectrometer to minimize the required height of the detector pixels relative to the height of the system input aperture. A novel, low-power MIR light source is also being developed to facilitate the spectral analysis of solid and liquid samples.
A monolithically-integrated suite of miniature instruments is currently being developed for the Canadian Space Agency based on the IOSPEC™ technologies to enable laboratory-quality remote chemical and biochemical analysis for future planetary explorers, as well as the analysis of liquids and solids for potential biohazards.
CitationKruzelecky, R., Wong, B., Zou, J., Jamroz, W. et al., "Advanced Miniature IR Spectral Processor for the Infrared Spectral Monitoring of Spacecraft Vital Life-Support Systems and Remote Astronaut Health Diagnostics," SAE Technical Paper 2006-01-2178, 2006, https://doi.org/10.4271/2006-01-2178.
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