Leak detection and location within manned spacecraft has been an elusive goal as was demonstrated on MIR. Manual leak detection, using ultrasonic technology, was successfully demonstrated at Johnson Space Center by a project team within ES using techniques for leak detection in pressurized aircraft. Manual surveys are intrusive to space craft activities and crews. An automated process of leak detection and location is needed. IVC proposes to do this with (a) existing space qualified hardware, (b) an addition of wideband ultrasonic transducers, and (c) new smart software algorithms that process emitted leak energy in a manner that results in detection and location of the leak. The uniqueness of the proposed approach is the use of large numbers of self-powered, miniaturized, stick on ultrasonic sensory nodes that are all synchronized within a radio frequency network and are self calibrating. The network provides the data paths and synchronization. Ultrasonic transducers can act as transmitters as well as receivers. Thus the sensor network calibrates itself thus increasing detection and location accuracy. Numbers of MicroWIS units (organized into such networks) have already been flown on Shuttle and station and have operated in a completely non-intrusive manner in regard to radio frequency, physical encumbrance, and astronaut time.
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