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 -
Man-Made Space Leaf Creates Oxygen From Water And Light
'What better purifying machine is there than... grass?'- George O. Smith, 1942.
Revisiting A Cloud City On Venus
I've been looking forward to something like this since 1980.
'Windowless Cockpit' Like Star Trek's Patent Applied For
Wait - you thought Sulu had a window?
NASA's Warp Speed Starship Design
'As Earth's faster-than-light spaceship hung in the void between galaxies...'- John W. Campbell
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.
I'll be back next week...
Origami Robot Finally Self-Assembles, Walks On Its Own
Now shipping flat, but better than Ikea, because self-assembling.
A.L.O. Robot Butler Serves You At Aloft Hotel
'Her idea of what a butler-valet combo should look like...'
Mometum Machines Burgerbot
'One of these gorgeous eating places where we were served entirely by mechanical apparatus...'
Google Lobbies For Autonomous Motorcycles
'He had never ridden any motorized device that lacked onboard steering and balance systems.'
No Cages In Future Zoos Is Zootopia?
'The park... twisted through specimens from every inhabited planet of the known universe.'
Navdy HeadUp Display (HUD) For Your Car
'All displays are thrown on a mirror in front of you...'
Computer 'Aesop' Writes Fables With A Moral
'I handed Tony the master tape and he played it into the IBM'
Artificial Wombs - Ectogenesis Technology - Is On The Way
'Magnificent, aren't they? (Lama Su, in Star Wars II)
Robotic Exoskeleton For Shipyard Workers
'Earth's scientists solved the problem... devising rigid metallic clothing not unlike armor...'
Timeful Appointment App Learns, Optimizes Your Routines
'The [Daily Schedule program] suited its tone to his movements and the combined analysis of his psychophysical condition.'
3D Printing Your Science-Fictional Metals
I love science-fictional materials!
Bespoke Clothing In 30 Minutes
'He sat himself down in a sales cubicle and dialed the code number for kilts.'
Low Cost Spray-On Solar Cells
'It turns sunlight into electricity... you spray it on.'
Survival Seed Vault Low Cost Life Bank
'They existed in the Life Bank, as did virtually every plant...'
PoseiDrone Tentacled Undersea Robot Like HG Wells'
'Its motion was so swift, complex, and perfect that at first I did not see it as a machine...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories