Roman Romanenko Electronic Nose 


Hello, I’m Roman Romanenko and I’m going to tell you about a biological experiment Electronic Nose. The objective of the experiment is to study bacterial flora on the surface here onboard the International Space Station in space flight environment. This is a new experiment, it’s the first time that I conduct it onboard the space station. I have completed one experiment (one test run, - Ed.), and now I’m going to prepare for the next test run which is scheduled for tomorrow. 


Before any experiment is run, we perform preparatory operations. The hardware for an experiment, as a rule, arrives in packages like these: in kits, in boxes with their own barcode, with their names, in this case it’s KTsN Electronic Nose (KTsN is a Russian acronym which stands for Mission Payload Package, or, in simple terms, scientific equipment – Ed.)   The kit includes tools and hardware. In principle, we, cosmonauts, are supposed to put the hardware into the place where we are going to conduct the experiment or nearby. This experiment will be conducted on this desk. Which also doubles as a dining table, as well as a bench for experiments. This kit contains a tray. The tray for this experiment. I’ll tell you about it a bit later. Here is the device itself. Its key module is this electronic box consisting of analyzer of various contaminants and spectrum analyzer. They can be used to determine microbial flora inhabiting our environment. 


This device is to be placed here, since it will be showing me the chart, the environmental scanning chart. Also included in the kit is a tube, an air hose, the end of which will be plugged in here. And this device, this main unit will be plugged into an electric outlet. We are not going to run the experiment now. I will just show you how all of this is supposed to work. Here you can see an air sampler. This air sampler with special fasteners is designed for taking air samples off the surface of the tray, which I’ll tell you about later. And as for common flat surfaces - let’s say, of a table, walls, doors, ceiling surfaces – we use an air sampler which looks like this. It is screwed on here, placed on any surface and a sample is taken.   Everything is performed in accordance with onboard documentation and radiogram, which is attached to this experiment for a specific test run. In addition to this, some filters from the Filters kit are installed here. Filter No.2 is screwed on here. 

I almost forgot to mention that a small filter needs to be installed between the air sampler and the air duct to collect moisture which remains on the surface here, onboard the space station. This small filter is put into the gap between the duct and the air sampler. This is an air filter, it extracts moisture from the airflow. The device is ready to take measurements of a sample taken off a surface. It is believed that in the course of our work we leave here some microbial flora, bacteria, all kinds of contaminants. They remain on the surface and they need to be somehow collected, and the data need to be written to a card. Later on, this card will return with us to Earth, so that back on Earth specialists could study the spectrum of these contaminants, bacteria, maybe infected bacteria, some other inhabitants of the environment onboard the International Space Station.  

I can tell you about the operating principles (of the device, - Ed.). It is known that one of the pre-requisites for existence of long-term spacecraft and manned orbital stations is their environmental safety, that is, provision of continuous control over the chemical and biological makeup of the environment, as well as over the microbiology factor. In the course of manufacturing, transportation and operation of spacecraft – stations, vehicles – some germs might be left on the surface, or they may get contaminated with germs. Having found themselves on the surfaces of the materials, these biological entities quickly adapt themselves and start their daily living activities. So these bacteria which actually exist, the so-called technophile bacteria, are capable of causing malfunctions in various devices, as well as damage structural materials, in particular, inducing corrosion in the materials, etc. Colonies of fungi and bacteria release various chemical compounds. 

The objective of this experiment Electronic Nose is to detect smells (and that is why it is called electronic nose). The electronic box will perform the function of a human nose. It will sniff the surface. Sniffing the surface is its function: to take a sniff and determine the chemical composition and the amount of contaminants in the environment. After the data have been collected, it will be up to the specialists on the ground to study them. After that we’ll get some results and those results will be used in further studies. My task is to put together a test setup and start the sensor cleaning mode. Before a surface can be studied, they need to be cleaned – the cleaning mode must be run. I’m supposed to wipe the surface with a decontaminating cloth. After that it will be left alone to dry for 5 minutes. And after that I clean the filters, do a purge, switch on the mode. But during this operation the device just blows air through the system to remove various contaminants, to clean up the channel. After that, measurements are taken.  

The measurements are conducted in semi-automatic mode. My task, as I said, is to put together a test setup, and then press the air sampler against the surface for 5 minutes and take measurements. I monitor these measurements on the display. If everything goes well there, the chart is close to what it is expected to look like, in 5 minutes the device will shut down, and I’ll proceed with measurements on the next surface. This is what this experiment is about.

As I already mentioned in the beginning, besides the surfaces we also have a tray. And now I’m going to show it to you. As a rule, it is placed on various surfaces according to instructions from Earth. In this case it was supposed to stay in the SM (Service Module, – Ed.) on Panel 230. I’ve just brought it from there. It is enclosed in this protective jacket in order to hold the samples in place. Here, every circle on each pad holds various material samples – fabrics, plastics, metals etc. Our task is to use this Electronic Nose device. Using a special air sampler, we open up this tray. This must not be touched (it is forbidden to touch the contents of the tray with hands - Ed.) The samples are being exposed to this environment. This air sampler is fitted over the air hose of the device. After that it is screwed on here in this manner and the measuring mode is activated. For 5 minutes the air is pumped through the system, and thus are recorded the environmental parameters and parameters of these surfaces, that is, the microbial flora, which exists on the surface in our analyzer. After which the measurement data results are sent to Earth so that specialists on Earth could determine our environment, that is, the environment in which cosmonauts stay in the International Space Station for half a year, and sometimes more.

Рассказ Романа Романенко о мед...
Рассказ Романа Романенко о медико-биологическом эксперименте «Электронный нос»





Международная космическая станция Автоматические космические системы logo fka eng baner rsc-eng "Морской старт" и "Наземный старт" "Морской старт" и "Наземный старт"