This compact, lightweight trap vent is used to minimize the pressure differential of a high-altitude, balloon-borne detector. The vent allows the pressure to equalize rapidly, yet does not allow any light to enter the detector.

The problem solved by this device is venting the detector volume quickly and without admitting any light. Prior techniques include a copper tube “pigtail” — a crude and awkward appendage, or appendages. For redundancy, as many as three or four vents are attached to each detector volume. These pigtails made for difficult placement, were delicate, and a bit dangerous.

The new device is compact, and easy to install and remove if needed. The device can be utilized as a gas flushing point, and can also be fitted with a filtering element (with some loss of flow). The vent has a relatively low-restriction labyrinth that is simple and inexpensive to build. It weighs 32 grams in aluminum and 21 grams in Delrin.

This work was done by Francisco San Sebastian of Goddard Space Flight Center. NASA is seeking partners to further develop this technology through joint cooperative research and development. For more information about this technology and to explore opportunities, please contact Scott Leonardi at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . GSC-17000-1


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This article first appeared in the June, 2017 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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