Very high-accuracy environmental automatic control, and pollution monitoring and recording. (DIAPASON) - 10.14.14

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery
ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
DIAPASON conducts high-accuracy environmental control, pollution monitoring and particle recording with a simple instrument that captures nanoparticles. Nanoparticles, which range in size from two nanometers to 1 micron, have unique properties that can enable new applications, but they may also pose a human health risk. DTM Technologies developed DIAPASON as a personal-size nanoparticle collector, which uses a temperature gradient to attract and collect nanoparticles with uniform deposition. A diapason is a musical term encompassing an entire range of sound. DTM DIAPASON collects a wide range of nanoparticles of any type, and captures them for later study.

Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Ferdinando Cassese, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.

Experiment Details


Principal Investigator(s)

  • Ferdinando Cassese

  • Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
    Information Pending
    DTM srl, ,

    Sponsoring Space Agency
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

    Sponsoring Organization
    Italian Space Agency (ASI)

    Research Benefits
    Information Pending

    ISS Expedition Duration
    March 2013 - March 2014

    Expeditions Assigned

    Previous ISS Missions
    The scientific instrument DIAPASON has been extensively and successfully tested on ground (several different ambient situations), but not in microgravity.

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    Experiment Description

    Research Overview

    • The research is needed in order to improve the knowledge of the environment where we live, and to understand what pollutant elements are present (type, percentage…). 

    • The resulting images of the collected nanoparticles provide qualitative and quantitative information and besides a chemical analysis can be carried out on them 

    • The main goal of the research is to help provide a better and safer living and working environment. Safer industrial way of operations. Anticipation of potential safety problematic (for instance in the chemical plants, in the off-shore installations…).



    DTM is investigating a scientific phenomena based on nano-particle migration and capture achieved by very small thermal gradients. The particle dimensions that can be “trapped” range from one micron to one thousandth of a micron. This range is very meaningful in many fields. Some examples are:

    • Combustion verification and tuning of parameters in order to improve efficiency, increase fuel savings and reduce pollution.

    • Hostile environment analysis and monitoring due to the instrument’s capability to transmit acquired data via telemetry, and

    • Prevention of pollution via analysis of atmospheric conditions, identification of contaminants, and calculation of percent concentration.
    Due to the above, the applications of this technology can be very broad. The instrument is simple, light and rugged. It can be operated by non-trained personnel.


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    Space Applications

    The experiment analyzes nanoparticles on the International Space Station by studying nanoparticle migration and capture with very small thermal gradients. A micro-pump draws particles into the instrument, where they are captured on grids for later analysis under an electron microscope. The particles range in size from 2 nm to 1 micron, which enables monitoring of combustion-generated pollution, the analysis of hostile environments, and the identification of atmospheric contaminants aboard station.

    Earth Applications

    DIAPASON is simple, light and rugged and could be used in a wide range of scenarios on Earth. It could monitor pollution in large cities, air quality in industrial environments such as chemical plants and electrical stations, and particles present in combustion facilities, nuclear power plants and offshore installations. Studies in microgravity will help technicians improve the instrument’s design.

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    Operational Requirements

    5 sessions required. Particles are collected in the instrument. Removal and study of the particles collected by the instrument  are required.

    Operational Protocols

    Descriptive overview of the investigation on orbit procedures. During the long and very exhaustive cooperation between DTM and NASA before the utilization of Diapason onboard of ISS, a specific operational protocol has been conceived by DTM and fully tuned, taking into consideration all the constraints and consolidated rules of the crew aboard the ISS. During all the months of operation the test sequence has been repeated by following the specs without any difficulty, so we can say the activity with Diapason, performed mainly by the Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, has been perfectly successful.

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    Results/More Information

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    Related Websites

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