To main content

ISS Technology Demonstrator – ANITA2

Air quality monitoring inside the ISS (International Space Station).

Contact person

  • Atle Honne

    Atle Honne

    Senior Research Scientist Smart Sensors and Microsystems
You can't just stick your head out the window and breathe fresh air if the International Space Station’s life support system is contaminated. A Norwegian-German collaboration has developed a new, rapid monitoring system for checking indoor air quality in the space station, 400 km above the Earth. Photo: NASA.

In manned space, the control of the air quality is of utmost importance for the health and wellbeing of the crew. Therefore, ESA has a long-term programme for trace gas monitoring, where SINTEF has taken part since its start in 1990 with technology selection.

ANITA (Analysing Interferometer for Ambient Air) is a multicomponent air analyser, capable of measuring more than 30 trace gases simultaneously. Therefore, it is well suited for monitoring the atmosphere of confined environments like spacecraft. The measurements apply FTIR (Fourier Transform Infra-Red) technology and novel calibration and analysis software specially developed by SINTEF. This ensures detailed, continuous, and quasi-real time information on the cabin air quality, with a unique combination of high sensitivity, accuracy, and precision. ANITA has no consumption except for power, and no waste. For the measurements, no gas pre-processing or pre-treatment is required. The air samples are taken directly from the cabin air and are returned unchanged.

ANITA1 operated successfully for 11 months onboard the ISS in 2007 and 2008, monitoring 33 gases. The ANITA2 instrument has been built in a contract between ESA, OHB and SINTEF. ANITA2 features a significant reduction in mass, volume, and power consumption, as well as further improved analysis software.

ANITA2 was launched to the ISS in December 2021, and the system is currently monitoring 39 gases in the cabin air.

ANITA2 is also a steppingstone into the future, as a technology demonstrator system for crewed stations, bases, and exploration missions, including the Gateway (planned to orbit the Moon) and to/on the Moon and Mars.

The ANITA technology is applicable to many similar tasks, like in other confined environments (diving operations, submarines), workplace monitoring (laboratories, hospitals, industry), industrial process control, releases to the environment, and environmental monitoring.

The ANITA2 core team:

  • European team: System development, installation on the ISS, start-up for autonomous operation, and flight support
    • ESA: Customer; also, installation on the ISS, and start-up for autonomous operation
    • OHB, Germany: Prime contractor; HW, qualification, system SW, interfaces
    • SINTEF, Norway: Calibration, analysis SW, system testing of gas analyses, reporting of analysis results
  • NASA: ISS operations and end user of the results
    • Information for updating of the gas scenarios (ISS air constituents)
    • Transport to the ISS

Key Factors

Project duration

2016 - 2022

FTIR Multi gas measurements and ANITA - short presentation

Financing

ESA

Cooperation Partners

SINTEF, ESA, OHB, NASA

Project Type

ESA (European Space Agency)

Explore research areas

NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson with ANITA on the ISS at the time of system start-up in September 2007. ANITA is contained in the two EXPRESS rack inserts behind Clay’s right hand and lower arm. The control laptop computer is mounted on the blue box in the upper left-hand corner. Photo: NASA.
NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson with ANITA on the ISS at the time of system start-up in September 2007. ANITA is contained in the two EXPRESS rack inserts behind Clay’s right hand and lower arm. The control laptop computer is mounted on the blue box in the upper left-hand corner. Photo: NASA.
ANITA2 at ESA at Flight Acceptance Review. ANITA2 is contained in a single EXPRESS rack insert, and even the control tablet computer is integrated (compare to ANITA1 in the photo above). ANITA2 was accepted for flight 30.08.2021. Photo: ESA
The atmosphere of any manned spacecraft needs to be continuously monitored in order to safeguard the crew’s health. A rapid response by the astronauts to the release of harmful gaseous contaminants, accidental off-gassing of materials, or malfunctions of the air revitalisation system is essential. And the need for air monitoring grows with mission duration. The air quality aboard the International Space Station is an increasing concern, and ANITA has contributed to better information and much shorter response time for many contaminants. [Illustration: European Space Agency]
The atmosphere of any manned spacecraft needs to be continuously monitored in order to safeguard the crew’s health. A rapid response by the astronauts to the release of harmful gaseous contaminants, accidental off-gassing of materials, or malfunctions of the air revitalisation system is essential. And the need for air monitoring grows with mission duration. The air quality aboard the International Space Station is an increasing concern, and ANITA has contributed to better information and much shorter response time for many contaminants. [Illustration: European Space Agency]