Lightning Monitoring System Helps Protect Shuttle
- Saturday, 01 May 2010
Genesis HighSpeed data acquisition products
In order to protect the space shuttle from lightning strikes while it is outside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), being transported to the launch pad, and while on the pad waiting to launch, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center employs a lightning protection system that measures induced currents and voltages at multiple points using sensors surrounding the shuttle. The system consists of a metal lightning rod on top of the launch pad that intercepts nearby lightning, and a series of metal wires attached to the lightning rod that route electricity away from the shuttle.
NASA is using HBM’s Genesis HighSpeed data acquisition products and software to monitor the lightning protection system. Requirements for the data acquisition products include the ability to record/measure lightning impulse wave shapes, up to 64 channels per mainframe data acquisition (DAQ) system, and fiber-optic isolation that isolates a test point from the recording system. The DAQ system also needed to maintain better than 250-nanosecond synchronization between channels, and long cable lengths to measure different points throughout the shuttle.
In addition, the system provides a stainless steel type 304 exterior that does not stain, corrode, or rust easily; has extended temperature operation; and meets the MIL standard specifications for shock and vibration of a rocket launch environment. The HBM system includes the 7600 fiber-optic transmitter and fiber-optic receiver; the Genesis mainframe, a 16-slot mainframe; and Perception software that provides real-time display, control, and analysis.
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