Miniaturized Time Domain Terahertz Non Destructive Evaluation for In-Orbit Inspection of Inflatable Habitats and Thermal Protection Systems
Picometrix's time-domain terahertz (TD-THz) non-destructive evaluation (NDE) technology could be usedto inspect space flight structures such as inflatable space habitats, thermal protection systems (TUFI-typetiles, SOFI TPS), for voids, disbonds, and damage such as tearing and micron-meteorite impact. In thisPhase I SBIR project, we propose to test the feasibility of three key technological changes which couldsubstantially reduce the volume, mass, and power requirement of the TD-THz instrumentation, making itmore suitable for use by an operator in space. The current instrumentation paradigm is that a multi-purposeTD-THz control unit is used to provide common drive, data acquisition, and analysis functionality tointerchangeable sensors and imaging which connect to the control unit with a fiber-optic/electricalumbilical. However, the current COTS control unit is substantially larger and heavier than would bedesirable for a space-flight capable unit. The proposed developments would enable a control unit for ahand held NDE imaging tool, sufficiently robust for spaceflight, no larger than a small shoebox. It shouldbe possible to reduce the size of the control unit to approximately one sixth of the current values to, forexample, 14 in. X 8 in. X 4 in and 10 pounds.
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