Members of NASA claim that they plan to test an enhanced fiber optic sensing system that allows performing thousands of measurements along the optical fiber about the thickness of a human hair for application in space. Herewith, such a promising fiber optic technology can control spacecraft systems during missions to the Moon and landings on Mars.
To be more precise, the system based on fiber optic sensors has been designed at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California to obtain strain and other measurement data for aircraft. The researchers adapted the fiber optic system for application in space, where its potential uses contain temperature and strain information essential for space flight safety.
It should be noted that four fiber optic sensing systems are planned to test in space during five months, herewith, such tests carried out will demonstrate whether space fiber optic sensors can pass the hard conditions of a rocket launch. The thing is that rockets and spacecraft are considered to be highly complex systems and they have a myriad of various factors to be measured that is why NASA plans to keep the first applications of space fiber optic systems simple.
The new fiber optic technology based on space-rated sensors enables us to measure distributed temperatures on the Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test. The aim of aeroshell of the fiber optic system is to slow down and protect heavy payloads from the intense heat of atmospheric re-entry. Additionally, the fiber optic sensors monitor temperatures on the backside of the inflatable decelerator, therefore, the researchers “are working on space optical fiber experiment that will travel as a self-contained experiment on a Blue Origin New Shepard rocket through NASA’s Flight Opportunities program.”
The opportunities provided by fiber optic technology also include the decrease of the heat produced by the unit’s electronics and by way of conduction, or moving the heat away from the unit, because of a lack of air in space. The fiber optic system is regarded as self-contained and essentially ready for plug and play application. The thing is that the operating principle of the system is based on fiber optic sensors that can endure severe conditions to measure distributed temperatures in a cryogenic environment that play a crucial role.
NASA is also developing a compact, economically, and hardly fiber optic sensing system version. Thus, the new fiber optic technology based on a temperature-tuned laser is used to overcome the challenges. The researchers continue improving the production techniques of fiber optic sensors and discussing performing a potential test of the sensors at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California to support the study of the new fiber optic technology.
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