Wireless Sensors Help NASA Habitat in Antarctica

Invocon, Inc. of Conroe, TX is supplying the sensor units that will measure temperature and solar heating rates on NASA's inflatable habitat headed for Antarctica. The prototype inflatable habitat will use the cold, harsh conditions of the region to test the concept for astronaut housing on the moon.

As part of its plans to send humans back to the moon by year 2020, NASA's Constellation Program is developing concepts for habitation modules that provide protection for the astronauts and are easy to transport to the lunar surface. This inflatable habitat is insulated, heated, powered, pressurized, and offers nearly 400 square feet of living space. During the test, NASA and its partners, the National Science Foundation and ILC Dover, will study improvements in packing, transportation, set up, power consumption and damage tolerance. During the testing at McMurdo Station in Antarctica, Invocon's ELMWIS (Extended-Life Micro-Miniature Wireless Instrumentation System), a wireless data acquisition network for near-static sensing and recording applications, will allow engineers to monitor the habitat's performance.

ELMWIS sensors are small, extremely low-power, autonomous, wireless units designed for extended data acquisition and recording. The units can be configured for any resistive sensor including strain gauges, resistive thermal devices (RTDs), pressure sensors, humidity sensors, accelerometers, etc. Each ELMWIS unit can serve as a relay for any other unit allowing communication with very remote units. Relays can pass configuration commands, real-time data, and post-acquisition data transfers.

Invocon's core activities revolve around the design and manufacture of precision instrumentation and communication solutions for demanding applications in extreme environments. The company has developed electronic systems with a broad scope of applications - from underground to space, from military to commercial, from simple data recording to complex analysis, and from large-scale systems to miniature systems.