Iowa State University scientists are developing a device to monitor the quality of water on spacecrafts. Marc Porter directs I-S-U’s Microanalytical Instrumentation Center and says the gauge will initially be used aboard the International Space Station and will eventually go much farther.The device is called a biocide analyzer and it measures the levels of iodine and silver — two chemicals used to treat water in space. Porter says a manned Mars mission is at least ten years away, but this technology will help to make it possible. He says they’re putting a water treatment plant on the space station to recycle water, and this device will help.Porter, who’s also a chemistry professor at I-S-U, tested the device last month on a special NASA cargo jet. It flies very high over the Gulf of Mexico and then dives, allowing for 25-seconds of “micro-gravity” where everything floats, briefly simulating the weightlessness of space flight. The work has more earthly uses too. One of the goals is developing better, smaller, lighter gadgets to be used in making the water from streams drinkable.
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