Fiber-Optic Micrometeoroid/Orbital Debris Impact Detector System

A document describes a reliable, lightweight micrometeoroid/orbital debris (MMOD) detection system that can be located at strategic positions of “high consequence” to provide real-time warning of a penetration, its location, and the extent of the damage to a spacecraft.

The concept is to employ fiber-optic sensors to detect impact damage and penetration of spacecraft structures. The fibers are non-electrical, employ light waves, and are immune to electromagnetic interference.

The fiber-optic sensor array can be made as a standalone product, being bonded to a flexible membrane material or a structure that is employed as a MMOD shield material. The optical sensors can also be woven into hybrid MMOD shielding fabrics. The glass fibers of the fiber-optic sensor provide a dual purpose in contributing to the breakup of MMOD projectiles. The grid arrays can be made in a modular configuration to provide coverage over any area desired. Each module can be connected to a central scanner instrument and be interrogated in a continuous or periodic mode.

This work was done by Eric L. Christiansen of Johnson Space Center and R.C. Tennyson and W.D. Morison of Fiber Optic Systems Technology Inc. (FOX-TEK).

In accordance with Public Law 96-517, the contractor has elected to retain title to this invention. Inquiries concerning rights for its commercial use should be addressed to:

  Fiber Optic Systems Technology Inc.
  4580 Dufferin St. Suite 402
  Toronto, Ontario, Canada M3H 5Y2


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