New Munsell color standard ensures clean air in the space shuttle

NEW WINDSOR, NY — (MARKET WIRE) — 04/18/2005 — The GretagMacbeth Munsell Color Assurance Laboratory announced that it has developed a new color standard for use on the International Space Station. Astronauts will use the new color standard to detect the presence of Hydrazine upon returning from a space walk. Hydrazine is rocket fuel and astronauts can pick up traces of it while they’re working outside of the spacecraft, particularly if they pass near the rocket boosters. “We have to make sure that the astronauts aren’t bringing Hydrazine into the air they breathe, so we developed a contamination detection kit,” says Jessica Bicks, NASA engineer. The kit includes the Munsell color standard and a test pad that changes color based on the amount of hydrazine detected.

Bicks explains that as astronauts return from space to the spacecraft or international space station, they first pass through an airlock chamber. There, they conduct the Hydrazine detection test by exposing the test pad to the air and comparing the test pad color to the Munsell color standard.

The Munsell standard contains eight colors which represent four each of Russian and U.S. Hydrazine test patches. “We worked closely with the Johnson Space Center in Houston to develop the colors that would closely match the color change resulting from various levels of Hydrazine exposure on the test pad,” says Arthur Schmehling, technical manager, Munsell Color Assurance Laboratory. Schmehling adds, “We developed the standard using lacquer paint applied to a special synthetic paper and then mounted it to a vinyl substrate for added durability.”

The standard will be included in the next launch of the space shuttle planned for May 2005.


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