Planetary Atmospheres Minor Species Sensor (PAMSS)
University of Central Florida
Using a high-altitude balloon, NASA and a team led by University of Central Florida physics professor Robert Peale sent an experimental sensor about 20 miles above the Earth. The flight demonstrated the sensor’s ability to function in the perilous conditions found in the stratosphere, where the temperature can plummet to -75 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Planetary Atmospheres Minor Species Sensor (PAMSS) uses infrared quantum laser spectroscopy to detect trace gases at parts per trillion levels. The technology will allow NASA to monitor planetary and lunar atmospheres for methane and other indicators of life.
PAMSS, however, could also be used on Earth. Possible applications include the detection of climate-changing gases, explosives, or even disease.
The 331,000-cubic-foot helium balloon and its payloads floated at an altitude of 105,000 feet for an hour and 46 minutes. The balloon and its 24- pound sensor apparatus re - turned to earth on a parafoil system.
The PAMSS launch from the Tuscon, AZ airfield was funded by NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program and performed by World View, a commercial venture under government contract.
Funding for the development of PAMSS came from the Center for Microgravity Research and Education — a joint venture of UCF and Space Florida — and the Florida Space Institute, which is managed by UCF and located in Central Florida Re - search Park.
For more information, visit www.today.ucf.edu/ucf-sensor-launch-successful .