Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



TECH SPACE
Invention May Give Spacecraft Improved Damage Report
by Steven Siceloff for KSC News
Kennedy Space Center FL (SPX) Mar 27, 2017


Martha Williams of NASA's Kennedy Space Center leads the team that is developing the Flexible Damage Detection System. Image courtesy NASA and Frank Michaux.

There are few ways for astronauts to know exactly when the outside of their spacecraft has been damaged, but that may change in the future with an invention that acts like a sensory skin to pick up signs of damage in real-time. The invention uses a series of several technologies to create circuits printed on thin layers and that can be embedded in a spacecraft's structure, scientists behind the invention said.

If successfully incorporated, the innovation could also be applied to a host of satellites, aircraft and even habitats on other worlds.

Micrometeoroids and orbital debris pose threats to spacecraft as they travel at speeds of 17,500 mph in low-Earth orbit, and 24,000+ mph for trips to the moon and deep space. As space shuttle windows revealed, something as small as a paint chip moving at that velocity can punch through several layers of glass.

Under development at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Flexible Damage Detection System technology has been pursued as a possible solution to NASA's problem of figuring out in real-time where a spacecraft is damaged and how seriously.

If something pierces a spacecraft's hull - or the first layer or two - there are very limited ways for astronauts aboard a spacecraft to know there might be damage. An impact that goes all the way through and causes a leak would set off alarms, but otherwise the current methods to detect damage require either a camera inspection or a spacewalking astronaut. Nor is there a precise way to pinpoint exactly in real-time where the damage occurred if not visible to the eye or camera so astronauts can assess it.

"I kind of look at it like a sensory skin," said Martha Williams, the scientist leading the development team. "It's a sensory system that tells us where we are damaged and the level of intensity."

The sensory system comprises several systems from low-voltage electric to circuits printed on Kapton thermal insulation film to unique software that tracks the damage.

"There are a lot of technology systems that we leveraged for this," said fellow inventor Tracy Gibson, a scientist with Vencore.

A big part of the work also includes making the manufacturing methods more efficient so the technology can more easily transfer to commercial companies for potential use, Williams said.

Right now for development and demonstration on the ground, the largest square of sensory panel is 6-by-6 inches and it's connected to wiring and a computer that monitors the system.

Scientists and engineers envision tiling the squares together like a quilt to make a complete sensor network. They could be foldable and could be used in an inflatable or expandable spacecraft in the future.

Depending on the approach, a spacecraft could have a detection layer wrapping it completely, or just covering a certain area over a particularly critical system.

"It's tailorable, so it can be designed to the specifications of the end user," Gibson said Gibson. "You can tailor it to detect small damages or to pick up large damages and depth of damage."

The damage detector could also be applied to the outside of a habitat on the lunar or Martian surface to calculate damage from small impacts. On Earth, the system could perhaps also be applied to the outside of airplanes to tell pilots when their airframe has been impacted and may be compromised.

In fact, one of the sensor's early tests saw it demonstrated on the outside of a habitat module prototype for a mission simulation that took place in Flagstaff, Arizona. Depending on funding, the team hopes to perform more tests and build new prototypes that continue to advance the concept closer to a system that can be flight tested and then applied to future spacecraft designs.

"We want to bring solutions to NASA's problems," Williams said. "We like to solve problems, I don't think we can even stop inventing, it's how we think. It's who we are."

TECH SPACE
New study maps space dust in 3-D
Berkeley CA (SPX) Mar 23, 2017
Berkeley Lab-led research raises new questions about properties of dust in local and distant reaches of Milky Way. Consider that the Earth is just a giant cosmic dust bunny-a big bundle of debris amassed from exploded stars. We Earthlings are essentially just little clumps of stardust, too, albeit with very complex chemistry. And because outer space is a very dusty place, that makes things ... read more

Related Links
Manufacturing and Material Science at NASA
Space Technology News - Applications and Research


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

TECH SPACE
NASA's hybrid computer enables Raven's autonomous rendezvous capability

Trump, NASA and a rare consensus: mission to Mars

COBALT Flight Demonstrations Fuse Technologies to Gain Precision Landing Results

Spacewalking French, US astronauts begin upgrade to orbiting lab

TECH SPACE
N.Korea rocket test shows 'meaningful progress': South

MAXUS - Europe's largest sounding rocket to be launched from Esrange

Spaceport America sets new record for student launched sounding rocket

Satellite launch shelved over strikes

TECH SPACE
Mars Volcano, Earth's Dinosaurs Went Extinct About the Same Time

Breaks observed in Curiosity rover wheel treads

Does Mars Have Rings? Not Right Now, But Maybe One Day

ExoMars: science checkout completed and aerobraking begins

TECH SPACE
China Develops Spaceship Capable of Moon Landing

Long March-7 Y2 ready for launch of China's first cargo spacecraft

China Seeks Space Rockets Launched from Airplanes

Riding an asteroid: China's next space goal

TECH SPACE
Start-Ups at the Final Frontier

Russia probes murder of senior space official in jail

Globalsat Sky and Space Global sign MoU for testing and offering satellite service in Latin America

OneWeb Satellites breaks ground on high-volume satellite manufacturing facility

TECH SPACE
Rare-earths become water-repellent only as they age

New study maps space dust in 3-D

Molecular 'treasure maps' to help discover new materials

Researchers use light to remotely control curvature of plastics

TECH SPACE
Fledgling stars try to prevent their neighbors from birthing planets

Fossil or inorganic structure? Scientists dig into early life forms

Gigantic Jupiter-type planet reveals insights into how planets evolve

Operation of ancient biological clock uncovered

TECH SPACE
ANU leads public search for Planet X

Scientists make the case to restore Pluto's planet status

ESA's Jupiter mission moves off the drawing board

NASA Mission Named 'Europa Clipper'




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement