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MPASS to detect smoke from space

US: NASA Glenn engineers worked with academics to develop the Multi-Parameter Aerosol Scattering Sensor (MPASS), which measures and characterises particulates in real time.  To understand how best to detect smoke in space, NASA flew the Smoke Aerosol Measurement Experiment (SAME), aboard the space station. This experiment was originally conducted in 2007 and ran a second time in 2011 along with MPASS.
“MPASS device was designed to not only gain some concentration measurements of the particles, but also to get some size measurements. So you could eventually develop the logic that could tell the difference between smoke and dust,” MPASS developer Paul Greenberg at NASA Glenn said.
The concept may find uses on Earth where knowing about particle size could be critical. Having a small, portable sensor could help in emergency situations for first responders and others where there may be respiratory concerns. “Accurate detection of smoke in these environments can save lives,” Greenberg added.
Researchers can use the data from SAME and MPASS to advance the understanding of fundamental science. By knowing more about the behaviour of smoke and particles in low gravity, better nuisance-free early warning systems can be developed for both spacecraft and homes.
At the same time, the sensor concept could prove useful in measuring air particles in other extreme environments, such as on submarines and in underwater laboratories, as well as in non-emergency environments like mines and factories.
Source: www.space-travel.com