Could Albert H. Munsell or even his son A. E. O. Munsell, have imagined that their color order system and color standards would make their way to outer space? Heck…. Who could have imagined space travel back in the early 1900’s when Munsell’s color order system gained popularity!With his propensity toward discovery, the color and science theorist, Albert H. Munsell would have been delighted to know that his color order system has traveled to the international space station. A Munsell custom color standard is used to protect astronauts from introducing Hydrazine, a component in rocket fuel, into the cabin air. Astronauts can pick up traces of Hydrazine while working outside of the spacecraft, especially if they pass near the rocket boosters. Upon return to the spacecraft and prior to entering the cabin, astronauts pass through an airlock chamber where they conduct the Hydrazine detection test, which determines Hydrazine levels based on changes to a Munsell color test pad. The test pad color is compared to a Munsell Custom Color Standard that includes eight colors representing each of four Russian and four U.S. Hydrazine color test patches.
Munsell Color Order in Outer Space
Beyond the international space station, Munsell Color Standards will land on the moon with the next manned landing planned for 2020. The new standard will help ensure true-to-life color of objects photographed on the moon. See the Munsell photographic color standard in action on earth in a photograph by Ingrid Barrentine for Wired Magazine.