NASA's portfolio of environmental technologies represents a diverse range of innovative solutions for protecting and preserving the natural world. These technologies demonstrate the ingenuity and expertise of NASA's scientists and engineers in addressing some of the most pressing challenges facing our planet. Whether you are looking for solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect natural resources, or improve the quality of the air we breathe, NASA's portfolio of environmental technologies has something to offer.
Berlin, Germany
CubeSat Compatible High Resolution Thermal Infrared Imager
This dual band infrared imaging system is capable of spatial resolution of 60 m from orbit and earth observing expected NEDT less than 0.2o C. It is designed to fit within the top two-thirds of a 3U CubeSat envelope, installed on the International Space Station, or deployed on other orbiting or airborne platforms. This infrared imaging system will utilize a newly conceived strained-layer superlattice GaSb/InAs broadband detector array cooled to 60 K by a miniature mechanical cryocooler. The camera is controlled by a sensor chip assembly consisting of a newly developed 25 m pitch, 640 x 512 pixel.
Wastewater Treatment and Remediation
NASA's system was developed for smaller-scale, space-based applications. However, the technology is scalable for larger industrial and municipal water treatment applications. Implementation of the Ammonia Recovery System could significantly reduce nitrogen content from water treatment processes, meaningfully improving the quality of water. This system offers a novel way to reduce nitrogen water pollutants, while allowing for the nitrogen to be collected and reused- reducing environmental and public health risks and providing an environmentally friendly fertilizer option. NASAs environmental solutions work to sustain life on earth through space based technology The adaptable nature of this system gives it potentially broad applications in a wide variety of industries; it is particularly ideal for on-site remediation of wastewater in places like condo complexes, hotels and water parks. Current methods of ammonia recovery could not meet NASAs mission requirements, so a new process was devised to optimize for high ammonia selectivity, simplicity, low volume , low power usage and zero contaminants in the effluent. To do this, NASA designed a novel regenerable struvite-formation system for the capture of ammonia. This system has three primary functions: 1) Removal of ammonia from wastewater using a media that is highly selective for ammonia 2) Capture of the ammonia for later use (e.g., as a fertilizer) 3) Regeneration of the capture media for reuse in the system
NASA Space Station Image
Multi-Stage Filtration System
While HEPA filter elements can last for years without intervention, pre-filtering systems that remove larger particles before they reach the HEPA filter need to be treated (most often by cleaning or replacement) as often as once a week. These treatments can be resource-intensive and expensive, especially in extreme environments. Glenn's innovative system combines a pre-filtration impactor and a scroll filter that reduces the need to replace the more sensitive or expensive filters, extending the system's working life. The system uses an endless belt system to provide the impaction surface. A thin layer of low-toxicity grease is applied to the impaction surface to increase particle adhesion. A high flow turning angle near the impaction surface causes relatively large particles to impact and stick to the surface while smaller particles stay within the air flow. When the surface is covered with particles - or if a layer of particles has grown to a thickness that impairs adhesion - the surface is regenerated. The band is rotated so that the loaded surface passes by a scrapper, removing the layer of particles and a clean segment of the band revolves to become the new impaction surface. A further innovation is the scroll filter which allows the filtration media to be rotated out of the airflow when fully loaded, providing multiple changes of the filter through a motorized scrolling or indexing mechanism. When nearly fully loaded with dust particles, the exposed media is mechanically rolled up on one side of the filter to both contain and compactly store the dust. The spools that hold the clean and spent filter media are mounted on roller bearings to facilitate the scrolling operation and reduce motor power requirements. Nearly any grade of filter media can be used to meet the desired filtration specification. Additional media rolls can be added after the original roll is spent to further increase filter life.
Green Technology
Estimation of Alga Growth Stage and Lipid Content Growth Rate
This invention, provides a method using light in different wavelength ranges to estimate (i) algae growth stage and (ii) algae growth rates in media (e.g., fresh water or marine water). Absorption of light is measured for a beam having a specified light intensity in each of two or more specified narrow wavelength ranges. Optionally, light absorption is corrected for absorption in the same wavelength range by the medium. Then absorption of light is compared with a reference set of absorption values for the algae at different growth stages. Algorithm is applied to determine differences between measured absorption values and reference absorption values to estimate growth stage. Compensation for light reflection from a liquid (absent algae) is similar. Lipid content of the algae is measured at each of a selected set of growth stages. The estimated growth stage is correlated with a time variable to estimate time for initiation of growth of algae under specified conditions. One or more relevant environmental parameters (light intensity or wavelength, temperature, or nutrients) is varied in the growth medium for the algae and the time required for their grow this determined and related to the system described here.
Alaskas Pavlof Volcano: NASAs View from Space
Miniaturized Laser Heterodyne Radiometer
This instrument uses a variation of laser heterodyne radiometer (LHR) to measure the concentration of trace gases in the atmosphere by measuring their absorption of sunlight in the infrared. Each absorption signal is mixed with laser light (the local oscillator) at a near-by frequency in a fast photoreceiver. The resulting beat signal is sensitive to changes in absorption, and located at an easier-to-process RF frequency. By separating the signal into a RF filter bank, trace gas concentrations can be found as a function of altitude.
front image
Soil Remediation With Plant-Fungal Combinations
The technology builds on the existing notion that establishment of trees in contaminated soils can be enhanced through the use of ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungi. EM fungi impart resistance to soil extremes such as high temperature, high acidity and heavy metal contamination. This process for soil remediation utilizes specific plant/fungal combinations that are specifically adapted to conditions created by phenolic application to soils, and abilities of ectomycorrhizal fungi to oxidize these compounds. This is done by taking advantage of the ability of native fungi to upregulate enzyme genes in response to changes in host physiological condition and hence enhance natural phenolic oxidation in soils by up to 5-fold. Ectomycorrhizal mediated remediation of phenolic- based contamination through use of specifically adapted ectomycorrhizal fungi and enzymes utilizes the findings that EM fungi in the genera Russula and Piloderma react with positive growth responses to phenolic-based soil contamination. The activities of enzymes that oxidize these compounds increase in activity by 5 fold when the host tree is partially defoliated, which in turn imparts an increase in phenolic oxidation in soils by a similar amount. Defoliation is done by pine needle removal, where 50% of the needles are removed. This process is performed each year on new growth to maintain defoliation.
Activated Metal Treatment System (AMTS) for Paints
Activated Metal Treatment System (AMTS) for Paints
PCBs have been shown to cause cancer in animals and to have other adverse effects on immune, reproductive, nervous, and endocrine systems. Although the production of PCBs in the United States has been banned since the late 1970s, many surfaces are still coated with PCB-laden paints. The presence of PCBs in paints adds complexity and expense for disposal. Some treatment methods (e.g., use of solvents, physical removal via scraping) are capable of removing PCBs from surfaces, but these technologies create a new waste stream that must be treated. Other methods, like incineration, can destroy the PCBs but destroy the painted structure as well, preventing reuse. To address limitations with traditional abatement methods for PCBs in paints, researchers at NASAs Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and the University of Central Florida have developed the Activated Metal Treatment System (AMTS) for Paints. This innovative technology consists of a solvent solution (e.g., ethanol, d-limonene) that contains an activated zero-valent metal. AMTS is first applied to the painted surface either using spray-on techniques or wipe-on techniques. The solution then extracts the PCBs from the paint. The extracted PCBs react with the microscale activated metal and are degraded into benign by-products. This technology can be applied without removing the paint or dismantling the painted structure. In addition, the surface can be reused following treatment.
NASA GOES 13 satellite image showing the US east coast and Hurricane Earl on September 1, 2010 13:10 UTC.
Space Weather Database Of Notifications, Knowledge, Information (DONKI)
The Space Weather DONKI builds a catalog of past, present, ongoing, and expected Space Weather events. The catalog contains both forecaster logs and notifications. DONKI version 2.0 of has a comprehensive web-service API access for users to obtain space weather events stored in the database. The database consists of a backend and a web application. The database uses a framework that allows modularization of code and promotes code reuse. DONKI is the first application to allow space weather scientists to store all space weather events in one centralized data center. The comprehensive database provides search capability to support scientists allowing them to look into linkages, relationships, and cause-and-effects between space weather activities.
Low-Power Charged Particle Detector
Conventional scintillation radiation detectors make use of materials that emit light when hit by ionizing radiation. These large, bulky scintillators range anywhere from 6 inches to 6 feet in size. They are attached to glass photomultiplier tubes (PMTs), which are fragile, require high voltages, and are extremely sensitive to temperature changes. Conventional detectors also include a wave shifter (a material with a dopant to re-emit the scintillator light to match the sensitivity of the PMT or photodiode) which reduces efficiency and introduces unwanted weight and bulk. Glenn's particle counter overcomes these challenges. A prototype was constructed from off-the-shelf components, and features a small scintillator (less than six inches long) and a low-voltage, UV-sensitive, wide-bandgap photodiode as the detector. Careful matching of the properties of the light emitted from the scintillator, and tailoring the sensitivity of the photodiode eliminates the need for a PMT and a wave shifter, not only saving space, weight, and power but also eliminating potential failure modes. By using wide-bandgap detectors, it can operate in changing temperature, vibration, pressure, and gravity conditions without need for a temperature compensation system. Built from solid-state components, Glenn's device is compact and robust.
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