The Environmental Control and Life Support System provides hardware that guarantees
clean air and water to the International Space Station using advanced engineering concepts.
Pathogenic microbe growth in water systems was previously observed and may harm entire
missions' success since plant water systems or dormant water storage are at risk of being
permanently contaminated. The here proposed work will test an in situ sensor platform with
pathogenic specific detection using aptamers. Aptamers are molecules that bind to a specific
target molecule and are commercially available. Tests will be performed under µ-gravity
simulated conditions that utilize a low-shear model. The technique can lead to an autonomous
and low-weight water monitoring platform that requires a minimum of crew interaction.

The proposed research addresses NASA’s 2020 Technology Taxonomy. Taxonomy Area
06 requests technologies that "simplify maintenance and optimize human resources" such as
plant growth and water monitoring systems with microbial sensing functionality to "control the
physical, chemical, and biological environments of crew living areas and their environmental
control systems.” Sensors will be developed and tested in MSUs Montana Microfabrication and
Center for Biofilm Engineering.

Support from Montana NASA EPSCoR would allow us to develop a unique sensor
platform for in situ measurements of low pathogenic concentrations in water systems. This work
would directly translate into proposals to NASA’s Science Mission Directorate with the focus on

Contact Info


Mail Stephan Warnat
Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
Montana State University
Bozeman, MT 59717
E-mail: Stepahn Warnat
Phone: (406) 994-6284
Website: Stephan Warnat


Mail Christine Foreman
Chemical and Biological Engineering
Montana State University
Bozeman, MT 59717
E-mail: Christine Foreman
Phone: (406) 994-2272
Website: Christine Foreman