MEMS Chemical Sensors for Monitoring In Situ Propellant Production
Makel Engineering, Inc. (MEI) proposes to develop a suite of miniature chemical sensors for process monitoring remote propellant manufacturing systems on Mars. Manned exploration of space may require production of vital elements from in-situ resources for life support (e.g. oxygen production) and propellant production (e.g. methane production form carbon dioxide and water). The systems for in-situ processing will be required to operate for long periods of time with little or no human on-site supervision. Autonomous computer control of these systems will require the use of advanced control systems, sensors, and data fusion algorithms. Exploration of Mars will require in-situ propellant production. The most probable bipropellant combinations under consideration are oxygen/methane and oxygen/carbon monoxide. The objective of this proposal is the development of a lightweight, low power chemical sensor suite to measure carbon dioxide, methane, hydrogen, and oxygen using thin film MEMS sensors. Microfabricated chemical sensors offer the potential of achieving miniature sensors needed for process monitoring for continuous, unattended, propellant production on Mars.
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