Integrated Structural Health Sensors for Inflatable Space Habitats


Under this research project we will develop an innovative structural health monitoring system for inflatable space habitat structures by integrating nanocomposite piezoresistive sensors Inflatable structures for space habitats are highly prone to damage caused by micrometeoroid and orbital debris impacts. Although the structures are effectively shielded against these impacts through multiple layers of impact resistant materials, there is a necessity for a health monitoring system to monitor the structural integrity and damage state within the structures. Assessment of damage is critical for the safety of personnel in the habitat, as well as predicting the repair needs and the remaining useful life of the habitat. We are developing a unique impact detection and health monitoring system based on hybrid nanocomposite sensors composed of carbon nanotube sheet and coarse graphene platelets. An array of these sensors sandwiched between soft good layers in a space habitat can act as a damage detection layer for inflatable structures. We will further develop algorithms to determine the event of impact, its severity, and location on the sensing layer for active health monitoring. Our sensor system will be tested in the hypervelocity impact testing facility at UDRI in future.

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