A compact and portable system is used to monitor and store real-time measurements of stray energy through a pyrotechnic firing circuit using infrared technology. The infrared sensor is mated to the NASA Standard Initiator simulator, and is calibrated such that the current input through the bridgewire can be determined through measurement of the temperature. Because the sensor is noncontact, if the bridgewire melts during the test, the sensor may be reused.

The entire system can fit into the palm of a hand, and development is being done to reduce the size further. The data acquisition system is programmable and has an internal clock, eliminating the need for synchronization between test articles if several devices are tested simultaneously. The purpose of this system is to enhance the safety of pyrotechnic devices and to support ground tests. Once fully developed, this system can be installed in a space vehicle for ground testing in place of an initiator or detonator. This system may also be useful for supporting ground tests in military applications.

This work was done by Asia Quince of Johnson Space Center and Alexander Stein of Harmon Sensors. 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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. MSC-24733/62-1


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This article first appeared in the September, 2018 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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