Air Leak Sensor For Spacecraft
An air leak sensor under development by an Iowa State research team is finally ready for installation as a prototype on a NASA spacecraft. Air leaks are notoriously difficult to find, because instruments and other gear cover most of the interior surface of spacecraft.
(ISU grad Clayton Anderson in ISS)
At present, astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) use microphones to listen for the telltale hiss of air escaping into space. However, most of the sound energy goes out into space along with the air.
To give you some idea of the scope of the problem, consider the leak that developed on the ISS in January of 2004. The leak, which turned out to be just one millimeter wide, took almost a week to find and patch. If the leak had not been found, the astronauts would have been forced to return home.
(Air leak sensor prototype in 2005 [1" square])
The new air leak sensor uses structure-borne vibration to detect the direction of the leak. The one-inch square sensor includes an array of 64 elements that detect vibration. The different elements pick up vibrations at different times. The data is analyzed by a computer to determine the direction of the leak; multiple sensors reduce the amount of time to detect a leak to a approximately one minute.
The research team is being lead by Dale Chimenti, and Iowa State University professor of aerospace engineering. The other team members are Stephen Holland, an assistant professor of aerospace engineering; Ronald Roberts, a scientist for Iowa State's Center for Nondestructive Evaluation; Ricky Reusser, a recent Iowa State graduate who earned his bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering; and Steven Sulhoff, a senior in aerospace engineering from Avoca.
(Air leak sensor package with backing)
Chimenti's team is now working with Invocon, a company that has already provided sensors to the ISS. If NASA approves Phase II funding, an air leak system will be prepared for installation.
Science fiction writer Robert Heinlein came up with a more colorful method in his 1948 short story Gentlemen, Be Seated, which described life in a lunar habitat.
There were perhaps a dozen bladder-like objects in the tunnel, the size and shape of toy balloons. They seemed to displace exactly their own weight of air; they floated without displaying much tendency to rise or settle. Konski batted one out of his way and answered me before I could ask.
"This piece of tunnel was pressurized today," he told me.
"These tag-alongs search out stray leaks. They're sticky inside. They get sucked up against a leak, break, and the goo gets sucked in, freezes and seals the leak."
(Read more about Heinlein's tag-alongs)
Update Aug-06-2014: Take a look at the entry for the smoke jets from Leo Zagat's 1932 short story The Great Dome of Mercury.
Read more in the Iowa State news release; story via Roland.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/7/2007)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
NASA Misses $5Trillion Funding Boost
'This must be a golden planet—this little asteroid.' - Garrett P. Serviss, 1898.
LightSail Solar Sail Deploys
'This was the first time any solar yacht had ever attained it...'- Arthur C. Clarke, 1964.
Suit Up! Fifty Years Of Spacewalks Video
'I experienced for a few minutes the delicious, indescribable pleasure of being a little planet...'- Garrett P. Serviss, 1898.
Microbes To Terraform Mars?
'Terraform the little rock...'- Jack Williamson, 1941.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Hackers Can Take Control Of Cars From Anywhere In The World
'The car faltered as the external command came to brake...'
Armed Drone Opens Fire
'Each a television eye and a sonic stunner...'
Robotic Exoskeleton Releases Man From Wheelchair
'This man was standing on two corrugated-soled titanium footplates...'
Oh, Just Let Robots Run Airports
I'd like a friendly robot to help me at airports.
How Smart Should AI's Be Allowed To Get?
'Every AI ever built has an electromagnetic shotgun wired to its forehead'
NASA Misses $5Trillion Funding Boost
'This must be a golden planet—this little asteroid.'
Kuwait Creates Mandatory DNA Database For Citizens
And who has the largest DNA database on its citizens?
Please, Please Let There Be Regenerated Teeth
Google AI 'Deep Dreams' Kubrick's 2001
'I was only trying to do what I thought best....'
The BLITAB: First Tactile Tablet for Blind People
Absolutely amazing development - now blind people can read the web!
Why, Oh Why, Must We Develop Robots That Run Faster Than I Do?
'The legs are long, curled way up to deliver power, like a cheetah's.'
Golf Robot Putts Out
'The robot solemnly hit a ball against the wall, picked it up and teed it, hit it again, over and again...'
Computer Finds Cancer Doctors Miss
The computer will see you now.
Would Robot Taxis Ease Carbon Emissions?
'He emerged and flagged down a robot taxi...'
Brainwaves As Biometric Identification
'The doors of Mr. Lars, Incorporated, shut, tuned as they were to his own cephalic pattern.'
What-If Machine Concocts Creative Premises
'Books were just a commodity that had to be produced, like jam or bootlaces.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories