NASA develops 'sensory skin' that helps detect damages outside spacecraft
Los Angeles : In a new development, NASA scientists have developed a 'sensory skin' that will pick up signs of sensory damage in real time for spacecraft.
The innovation, an innovation that could help protect future satellites, aircraft and even habitats on other worlds.
This new invention will use a series of several technologies to create circuits printed on thin layers, then will be embedded in a spacecraft's structure.
The scientists behind the invention said that micrometeoroids and orbital debris pose threats to spacecraft as they travel at very high speeds for trips to the Moon and deep space.
And, the problem is that sometimes a small paint chip moving at that velocity can also punch through several layers of glass so the Flexible Damage Detection System technology has been pursued as a possible solution.
It has been developed under the supervision of NASA's Kennedy Space Centre in the US and 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.
There are only two ways till date for astronauts aboard a spacecraft to know there might be damage- First the impact that causes a leak would set off alarms; Second, a camera inspection or a spacewalking astronaut can look into the problem.
But both the methods do not pinpoint exactly in real-time where the damage occurred so this new sensory system tells NASA where the spacecraft is damaged and the level of intensity.
As per Martha Williams, scientist leading the development team, “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.”
“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.
Currently, the largest square of sensory panel is 6-by-6 inches and it is connected to wiring and a computer that monitors the system. These are foldable and could be used in an inflatable or expandable spacecraft in the future. It could also be applied to the outside of a habitat on the lunar or Martian surface to calculate damage from small impacts.
Its other use include application to the outside of airplanes to tell pilots when their airframe has been impacted and may be compromised.