Helmholtz Association

Work Package 4200 – Integrated Sensor Systems

The main objective of this work package is to develop modular sensor packages to be used on different carriers for deep-sea research (ROVs, AUVs, HROVs, crawler, autonomous lander and observatories) as well as during extra-terrestrial missions. State-of- the-art and novel sensor technology will be integrated into sensor networks that enable flexible combinations of different sensors under consideration of energy demand or calibration issues amongst others. Sensor systems will be adapted for their use in harsh environments, for example, to expand the temperature range of microelectrodes for their use below freezing temperatures or to optimize sensor response time allowing high resolution measurements in extremely variable environments. Synergies are expected from bringing together already existing concepts of sensor application and data processing in planetary science as well as in oceanography. Another major aspect is the miniaturization of sensors/packages in order to meet the increasing demand for less power consumption, increasing versatility and flexibility of deployment as well as less weight. Chemical sensor systems that will be developed for long-term autonomous in situ deployment include the development multi-parameter techniques such as mass spectroscopy or electro- and optochemistry, miniaturized wet chemical procedures the so called Lab on the Chip technology (LOC), imaging systems as well as smart wheels for lunar rovers.

Under water membrane inlet mass spectrometer (MIMS) for the measurement of dissolved gases such as methane, nitrogen, argon, oxygen or carbon dioxide as well as other volatiles. Although sensors exist for some of these parameters, the MIMS offers the unique advantage of the simultaneous measurement of these gases.

In Situ Ammonium Recorder ISAR Ammonium is a key nutrient contributing to sustain high oceanic primary productivity. Understanding the variability and source strength of seabed ammonium release is important to assess maintenance and further spreading of hypoxia in the ocean. Presently, an in situ ammonium recorder for a maximum water depth of 1000 m is developed.

Lab on a Chip technology (LOC) Still many biogeochemical parameters in oceanography cannot be measured directly using a sensor, instead wet chemical methods need to be applied. This labour intensive and time consuming approach does not allow for continuous, high resolution time series measurements, which is urgently required to understand dynamic oceanographic processes. Together with partners from the NOC Southampton and the Nano Lab Kiel, standard lab methods for PO4-, NO3- and NO2- will be miniaturized on chips and adopted for the in situ deployment.

Smart Sensor In situ sensors require an appropriate electronic system for signal amplification, data processing and data storage. In order to circumvent heavy and expensive pressure housings possibilities for embedded electronic systems will be tested. Such small sensors can be easily adapted to any kind of underwater platform.

Multivariant-Opto-Electrochemical-Sensor Module for the determination of biogeochemical and physical parameters in deep-sea environments. The modular design allows choosing the optimal configuration of high sensitivity, fast response, long-term stability, low energy demand and real-time data transfer when used on different carriers such as ROV, HROV or cabled crawler and observatories.

Modular instrument units for crawler deployments Microprofiling and chamber incubation systems have been widely used on autonomous landers and ROV-operated systems. Crawler operations require a different way of instrument operation but also provide new opportunities. Benthic chamber systems will be developed for multiple incubations and under video control. A microprofiling unit will be constructed offering besides the mobility of the crawler itself improved manipulation.

Underwater Lab Bench Similarly to construction kits this concept provides a technological environment allowing underwater experiments. Sensors but also components that allow taking samples, generating water flows (pumps, valves); reaction compartments amongst others can be freely combined and configured without the need of substantial engineering.

3D Camera system for the optical localization and quantification of object dimensions. It will be used for self-localization and safe navigation of unmanned vehicles through unknown terrain in lunar as well as in deep-sea research.

Smart wheel sensor concept Development of a flexible metallic wheel for extraterrestrial use. It is equipped with sensors, analysis capabilities, control electronics and a stiffening system allowing to vary the wheel stiffness from soft to hard and to adapt itself to different soils.