NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Inspection and Diagnostics
PROPOSAL TITLE:Distributed Impact Detection System

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Invocon Inc.
19221 I-45 South, Suite 530
Conroe ,TX 77385 - 8746
(281) 292 - 9903

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Michael   Walcer
19221 I-45 South, Suite 530
Conroe, TX  77385 -8746
(281) 292 - 9903

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Automated impact detection and characterization on manned spacecraft has been an elusive goal due to the transitory nature of the detectable high-frequency signals. The proposed approach for this effort is to use large numbers of self-powered, miniaturized, "stick on" piezoelectric sensory nodes that are synchronized within a radio frequency network. Each node will continuously monitor an accelerometer, acoustic emission sensor, or PZT element for an impact event, such as the foam impact that caused the Columbia tragedy or a micro-meteor impact. When a programmable threshold is exceeded, a low-latency signal acquisition circuit will capture the event as a digital waveform for post-processing and impact characterization. In addition, autonomous collaboration and synchronization between nodes of the network will provide for accurate location determination through amplitude and time-of-arrival analysis. The innovative signal conditioning circuit design is capable of operation in the micro-watt range on average while constantly maintaining the capability to process and acquire ultrasonic acoustic signals. Additionally, the system will provide a general purpose hardware platform on which integrated structural health monitoring algorithms and sensing techniques can be implemented. Such performance can provide operating lifetimes of 10+ years on a single AA battery, or unlimited operation from scavenged power sources.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
This system could benefit many current and future NASA space flight and exploration programs, including the Shuttle, ISS, and Project Constellation programs, or a Moon or Mars habitat, where the risk of MMOD impacts causing critical damage to vehicles or life support systems exists. In addition to MMOD impacts, the basic design of the proposed system could be used for detection of leaks from pressurized vehicles and habitats through the produced airborne and surface-borne ultrasonic energy. The system would also enable the detection of crack propagation in structures through Acoustic Emission techniques while requiring minimal vehicle resources.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Potential Non-NASA applications include asset monitoring during shipment or transportation through the continuous monitoring and recording of shock events for both commercial and military equipment. Such a device could be placed in a shipping container and provide a history of any shock or high-g accelerations experienced including a timestamp and potentially location via GPS. Currently available commercial systems have very limited battery life and only provide an indication that an acceleration threshold has been exceeded with no way to characterize the event through signal analysis techniques.

Form Printed on 08-01-05 13:52