NASA offers $100K prize for ‘breathable air’ sensor

NASA offers $100K prize for ‘breathable air’ sensor

Technology News |
By Rich Pell

NASA is working with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) public health philanthropy organization to sponsor the Earth and Space Air Prize competition to design and develop a specialized sensor technology that will be useful in spaceflight as well as on Earth anywhere where pedestrians may be exposed to airborne particle matter. The goal is to promote the development of “robust, durable, inexpensive, efficient, lightweight, and easy-to-use” aerosol sensors for both environments to improve air quality and health.

“Particulate monitoring is a gap in NASA’s technology roadmap to enable future long-term missions,” says Paul Mudgett, Ph.D., of NASA’s Biomedical Research and Environment Sciences Division. “Current aerosol instrument technology is too large. It doesn’t offer the necessary level of sensitivity or longevity, along with the ability to operate in reduced-gravity. Using this collaboration with RWJF, we have an incredible opportunity to close this gap.”

Registration for the competition – which is open to individuals, teams, and organizations – is open until December 13, 2017, and requires submission of a sensor design by January 31, 2018. Three finalists will be named by the end of March 2018, and each awarded $50,000 to build a prototype.

The finalists will have six months to build a functioning sensor and deliver it to the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, by September 30, 2018 for testing and final evaluation. All three prototypes will be tested at once in a chamber and will be exposed to different aerosols. The $100,000 grand prize winner will be announced mid-October of 2018.


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