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The Habitat Demonstration Unit (HDU) will be deployed during the 2011 Desert RATS analog field test in Black Point Lava Flow, Ariz. Check out photos, video, and blogs from the field:

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HDU Technologies Demonstrated in 2011 Field Testing

    Model of 2011 HDU architecture

    Proposed HDU architecture under evaluation for the Desert RATS 2011 field testing. The Pressurized Excursion Module (PEM) is depicted in the center. Image credit: NASA

    Model of HDU 2011 architecture with Pressurized Excursion Module

    The X-Hab loft at the top of the HDU architecture under evaluation for 2011. Image credit: NASA

    HDU Extravehicular Activity (EVA) work porchHDU Extravehicular Activity (EVA) work porch

    EVA Work Porch installed to the HDU. Image credit: NASA

    HDU Hygiene Module

    Stowage Area of the Hygiene Module. Image credit: NASA

    A technique used in NASA's capability-driven architecture analysis is analog field testing in the high desert – an environment which simulates conditions that may be encountered on planetary surfaces in space. Running through potential "day in the life" scenarios at an outpost with prototype equipment allows designers insight into the utilization of the proposed systems so that they can refine architecture and operations concepts.

    A series of Desert Research and Technology Studies (RATS) field tests have been held in locations such as Moses Lake, Wash. and Black Point Lava Flow, Ariz. The September 2009 Desert RATS field test included a 14-day excursion in the desert performed with a Space Exploration Vehicle (SEV). The 2010 Desert RATS field test was held in Black Point Lava Flow, Ariz., where two Space Exploration Vehicles (SEVs) operated together and docked with a full scale planetary habitat prototype, the Habitat Demonstration Unit (HDU).

    New HDU Additions for 2011:

    › X-Hab Loft

    The 2011 mission campaign of Desert RATS is set to be the most extensive DRATS testing to date and involves more systems than in previous years, including more HDU systems. The HDU's core module will include improvements to the 2010 configuration including laboratory equipment and work stations. However, the 2011 version of the HDU will have an additional system that really stands out: an inflatable second story loft known as the X-Hab. Developed by the winning team in the X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge, this inflatable second story will provide the astronauts with a means of habitation during the mission.

    The HDU configuration for the 2011 Desert RATS field test places the X-Hab loft on the second story of the HDU core module. The loft will contain habitat facilities for crew personnel. The 2011 configuration of the PEM will also include the Hygiene Module and the Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) Work Porch. The X-Hab loft with these other new elements result in the new HDU Deep Space Habitat (DSH) configuration.

    › EVA Work Porch

    For this year's Desert Research and Technology Studies (Desert RATS) activities, the Extra-Vehicular Activities (EVA) Porch is being created to provide an EVA operations testing platform for planetary surface or deep space habitats.

    The whole subsystem will consist of a main deck, ramp, porch supports, illuminated handrails, and an electric hoist for deployment and stowage. The EVA porch will be installed to the HDU Airlock/Dust Mitigation Module to provide astronauts access to an external work area while providing a safe means for accessing the surface.

    › Hygiene Module

    The Hygiene Module is a new addition to the HDU that will provide the crew with a better means of practicing good hygiene while monitoring water usage rates, hygiene timelines, hygiene logistics of a two-person crew, trash management, and configuration of items that occupy the hygiene module. The Hygiene Module will consist of a General Hygiene Area (wet-bath area, sink area, supply cabinet, and external hygiene water tank and wastewater tank), a Waste Containment System (toilet), and a Stowage Area.

    During the crew's Desert RATS mission, monitoring the use of the Hygiene Module will help the team to understand if the size selected for the module is appropriate, if the methods for collecting and stowing waste and trash are effective, and how much waste (solid and liquid) a two person crew can accumulate over a specified period of time.

    HDU Technologies and Features Demonstrated in 2011:

    In addition to the the new additions to the HDU, the following technologies and features will be demonstrated in the field during this year's analog testing from the Desert Research and Technology Studies (Desert RATS):

    › Logistics-to-Living
    Read more

    This approach recycles and repurposes the logistics systems into useable components and elements throughout a habitat or laboratory; examples include furniture, outfitting, and partitions, to mention a few.

    A concept for reuse of Cargo Transport Bags (CTBs) for water purification then as a radiation barrier is to be demonstrated by developing a CTB that has forward osmosis membranes to purify water in a CTB liner – the CTB will be filled with health and hygiene module (HHM) waste water and the product water will be evaluated.

    › "Intelligent" Hab System Management Software
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    Intelligent Software, Integrated Building Systems Health Management, Intelligent Controls, Intelligent Sensors, and Building Management Software. These provide the capability to effectively and efficiently "manage" the Hab/Lab resources—the utilities such as electricity, lighting, air, HVAC, communications, water, waste, etc.

    Implementing intelligent design choices, effective resource management, environmentally smart applications, and optimized environments for the occupants are paramount - An intelligent building—or habitat—must balance these parameters to maximize its overall efficiency, whether it is in terms of mass, power, volume, resource management, or crew productivity.

    › Power management systems
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    HDU Power Management SystemsHDU power management systems. Image credit: NASA

    Exploration elements require more intelligent, safe and efficient power management systems than currently exist. These systems provide power management for applications such as air transportation, marine transportation, a wide range of electric consumer products, biomedical applications and industrial applications, and other Smart Grid applications.

    The HDU power management control system will demonstrate what could be considered the future high energy efficient terrestrial household system. Each major energy using device can be monitored for usage, thereby allowing control of the peak electrical energy demand.

    › Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) System
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    • Suit wipe down (differentiate between suit wipe down externally and internally) and Suit inspection
    • Dust Mitigation Objective
    • Vacuum
    • Grated floor

    › HDU Core Computing, Networking and Communications Infrastructure
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    The capability of an integrated habitat network is to command, control and monitor the critical and non-critical functions of a human habitat in an adverse environment.

    • By evaluating the proper function of critical network, its redundancy, reparability and recoverability in-situ.
    • By evaluating the proper monitoring of systems, subsystems and sensors to maintain the human habitability of the habitat environment.
    • The ability to monitor robust wired and wireless network systems capable of supporting broad communications managed through digital communications, while maintaining Quality of Service (QoS), guaranteed delivery and communication prioritization.

    › Wireless Comm & RFID
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    Wireless and RFID technologies will demonstrate reduction or elimination of crew time spent on inventory management, waste bag data collection, and localization of lost or misplaced equipment or tools. The evaluation will focus on the inventory of waste bags in the Hygiene module from when they are stocked, to when they are used via the trash can, to when they are removed from the DSH.

    An RFID-enabled recycling receptacle tracks inventory depletion and materials available for future use. WLAN technology provides data connectivity in and around the HDU for network devices such as the handheld RFID interrogator, laptops, etc.

    › Communications Service Assembly (CSA)
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    Upgrading to the 2nd generation CSA for the HDU. This provides a modular approach to communications and networking avionics and enables block upgrades. Following this architecture closely aligns with HEFT-2 recommendations and allows for element to element transfer of the CSA in the event of a failure.

    › Standards-based Modular Instrumentation System
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    This approach to an instrumentation system uses a node that accepts ten instrumentation inputs and then wirelessly transmits data to the command and data handling system. The nodes use a standards-based protocol to eliminate multiple wireless frequencies and interference within a wireless instrumentation system.

    Additionally, these nodes will be able to accept multiple types of sensors as inputs. Thus, they can be reconfigured for sensor upgrades or different types of measurement needs. By implementing this wireless node method, the Habitat Demonstration Unit will be able to assess the capabilities of a standards-based modular instrumentation system, as well as provide lessons learned for upgrades to future systems.

    › Flat Surface Damage Detection
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    The Flat Surface Damage Detection system uses a series of two-dimensional detection systems and printed conductive circuitry to demonstrate a detection system for real time damage diagnosis (location and percent damage). This system will provide the ability to monitor the integrity of an inflatable habitat during in situ system health monitoring.

    › Particle Impact Monitoring System
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    The Habitat particle Impact Monitoring System (HIMS) is designed to monitor, in real time, potentially damaging impacts on a space structure, such as the HDU, from micrometeoroids and orbital debris (MMOD) in the near-Earth environment, from micrometeoroids and lunar secondary ejecta (MMSE) on the lunar surface, and from micrometeoroids in interplanetary space (including surfaces of asteroids).

    The main task objectives for HIMS in 2011 include the completion of the fully-automated end-to-end impact monitoring system (software and hardware), the integration of HIMS software and hardware into HDU-PEM1, the development of an impact response procedure for D-RATS, and the testing of the HIMS system, including crew impact response, during the 2011 D-RATS campaign.

    › Food Production
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    HDU Food Production UnitHDU Food Production UnitPlant atrium and plant trays in the HDU's Food Production module. Image credit: NASA

    This demonstration will use a plant atrium in the mezzanine level between the main Habitation Unit and the inflatable X-Hab. The concept is to use under-utilized space for plant growth to supplement the crew's diet with fresh, perishable foods and herbs while on exploration campaigns.

    Eight individual plant trays will surround access portal to the X-Hab and be lit by red and blue LED grow lights. Access to the plants will be from the X-Hab crew lift. Crew time will be required for periodic filling of a water reservoir, as well as planting and harvest activities.

    › Medical Operations (Med Ops)
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    The Med Ops portion of this exercise is a three-pronged evaluation. The first prong evaluates how minimally medical-trained crewmembers mitigate HDU-PEM-relevant (i.e. Lunar Outpost relevant) medical issues using a prototype medical kit and procedures (specific to a Lunar Outpost environment) without any guidance from a flight surgeon (FS) in Mission Control.

    The second prong has the crew, again, mitigating a Lunar Outpost-relevant medical issue with the Lunar Outpost-relevant medical kit and procedures; however, the team will evaluate how remote guidance from a simulated Mission Control-based FS improves or hinders medical care.

    The final prong evaluates how Med Ops can improve its communication and procedures to manage the health of an incapacitated crew member while supporting the EVA team in their transport of that incapacitated crew member to the HDU for treatment. In summary, the first two prongs will help Med Ops evaluate the initial design of its medical system specific to Lunar Outpost missions while the final prong will expand work conducted during the Haughton-Mars project to medically manage incapacitated crew members during EVAs.

    › Geo-Science Lab
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    HDU Geo-Science LabHDU Geo-Science Lab. Image credit: NASA

    The GeoLab is the first prototype geological laboratory that is deployable to the field. It is designed to test hardware and operations related to preliminary examination of Astromaterials for sample return and early curation decisions.

    GeoLab includes a customized glove box, pass-through chambers (airlocks) for sample transfers from the outside, cameras, a microscope, and configurable ports for analytical instruments. This year the instruments are the JPL-Arizona State Microscopic Multispectral Imager (MMI) and the handheld X-ray Fluorescence instrument.

    • 2011 GeoLab operations are focused on collecting high-fidelity data on designated samples.
    • We will continue testing the types of analytical data useful for prioritizing samples, including multispectral data and geochemical fingerprinting. This is in conjunction with science team operations.
    • We will test new instrument interfaces and remote displays that can be viewed from mobile devices.
    • We will test sample preparation, and the tracking and inventory of samples when they are split into aliquots and provided to multiple instruments.

    › Environmental Protection
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    • Dust Resistant coatings, Electrostatic Dust Mitigation, Radiation Protection
      • EDS cleaning evaluation
      • Deployment evaluation for vent hood
      • Maintenance operations in vent hood evaluation
      • Ingress procedure evaluation
      • CTB to radiation protection evaluation

    › Advanced life support systems
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    • Crew accommodations will be demonstrated to evaluate the logistics associated with storage and use of consumables and placement of hygiene facilities.
    • The use of a RFID system to track tool and consumable use will be evaluated
    • Crew quarters provided in the XHAB will be evaluated for suitability design for long-term crew habitation.
    • Galley concepts will be evaluated.

    › LED Lighting
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    Flight hardware quality Solid State Lighting Modules, originally developed and flight tested as a prototype for the ISS, operating on 120VDC with avionics control and manual dimmer switches for each lighting module. LED lighting is also used for the food growth system and external lighting.

    › Logistics to Living (L2L) demonstration and use
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    • CA to demonstrate the feasibility of L2L in habitable volumes and receive crew feedback on usability and effects on living conditions in HDU.
    • Stowage bags will be investigated to determine if shelving can be developed (for pantry or other CA items).
    • Stowage bags will be investigated to determine if radiation protection can be provided.

    › Trash management - odor control
    Read more

    • Receive crew feedback on effective odor control for trash (wet and waste). Trash management will keep wet trash and dry trash separated.

    › Habitability / Habitation
    Read more

    • EVA Maintenance Volumetric Assessment
      • Full suit task
      • PLSS-only task
      • Upper torso-only task
      • Lower torso-only task
      • Suit Port Transfer Module task
      • Pressure bladder repair task
      • Leak detection task
    • General Maintenance Volumetric Assessment
      • Avionics maintenance task
      • EVA tool repair
      • LER wheel assembly repair
    • Medical Volumetric Assessment
      • Incapacitated crew member treatment
      • Nominal medical treatment and human life sciences research
    • Geology
      • Human computer interaction while using glovebox
    • Translation paths and interference
      • Interference of one workstation upon another / translation paths; accessibility of stowage items
    • Dust Vacuum
      • Effectiveness of vacuum for cleaning habitat interior
    • RFID readers for Logistics
      • Inventory LER crew supplies before/after 3-day and 7-day LER excursions