A report describes proposed systems to be installed in spacecraft to detect punctures by impinging meteoroids or debris. Relative to other systems that have been used for this purpose, the proposed systems would be simpler and more adaptable, and would demand less of astronauts' attention and of spacecraft power and computing resources. The proposed systems would include a thin, hollow, hermetically sealed panel containing an inert fluid at a pressure above the spacecraft cabin pressure. A transducer would monitor the pressure in the panel. It is assumed that an impinging object that punctures the cabin at the location of the panel would also puncture the panel. Because the volume of the panel would be much smaller than that of the cabin, the panel would lose its elevated pressure much faster than the cabin would lose its lower pressure. The transducer would convert the rapid pressure drop to an electrical signal that could trigger an alarm. Hence, the system would provide an immediate indication of the approximate location of a small impact leak, possibly in time to take corrective action before a large loss of cabin pressure could occur.

This work was done by Stephen B. Hall of Marshall Space Flight Center . For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Mechanics category. This invention is owned by NASA, and a patent application has been filed. For further information, contact Sammy Nabors, MSFC Commercialization Assistance Lead, at (256) 544-5226 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Refer to MFS-31636.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the October, 2004 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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