NASA is developing a third-generation electronic nose (ENose) capable of continuous monitoring of the International Space Station's cabin atmosphere for specific, harmful airborne contaminants. Previous generations of the ENose have been described in prior NASA Tech Briefs issues.

Sensor selection is critical in both (prefabrication) sensor material selection and (post-fabrication) data analysis of the ENose, which detects several analytes that are difficult to detect, or that are at very low concentration ranges. Existing sensor selection approaches usually include limited statistical measures, where selectivity is more important but reliability and sensitivity are not of concern. When reliability and sensitivity can be major limiting factors in detecting target compounds reliably, the existing approach is not able to provide meaningful selection that will actually improve data analysis results.

The approach and software reported here consider more statistical measures (factors) than existing approaches for a similar purpose. The result is a more balanced and robust sensor selection from a less than ideal sensor array. The software offers quick, flexible, optimal sensor selection and weighting for a variety of purposes without a time-consuming, iterative search by performing sensor calibrations to a known linear or nonlinear model, evaluating the individual sensor's statistics, scoring the individual sensor's overall performance, finding the best sensor array size to maximize class separation, finding optimal weights for the remaining sensor array, estimating limits of detection for the target compounds, evaluating fingerprint distance between group pairs, and finding the best event-detecting sensors.

This program was written by Hanying Zhou of Caltech for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

This software is available for commercial licensing. Please contact Karina Edmonds of the California Institute of Technology at (626) 395-2322. Refer to NPO-43988.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the September, 2007 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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