Spacecraft leak detection system
Conroe, TX

NASA has selected a spacecraft leak detection system from Invocon that would sense and locate air leaks in pressurized space stations or lunar habitat modules caused by micrometeoroid and space debris impact events. Low-cost, ultrasonic sensor arrays developed by Iowa State University are used in the system. The spacecraft structure would be monitored for leak-generated, surface- borne ultrasound by means of a flexible and modular electronics package with fully integrated data sensors, data acquisiti

ImageQuickly and automatically locating a leak will improve the safety of the crew, and also increase the likelihood of being able to repair the leak, thereby avoiding the potential loss of a portion of the spacecraft or habitat. Through cooperation with nearby sensors, the leak detection system will determine the approximate location of a leak using triangulation techniques, and then provide that information to the crew.

The sensor arrays are to be integrated with Invocon’s battery- powered, miniaturized, stick-on ultrasonic sensory nodes that are all synchronized within a wireless network. The signal conditioning circuit design is capable of operation in the micro-watt range, while constantly maintaining the capability to process and acquire ultrasonic signals. Such performance can provide operating lifetimes of more than 10 years on a single AA battery. Micro-sensor units developed by Invocon have previously been flown on the space shuttle and International Space Station.

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NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the August, 2008 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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