Physical Sciences Inc. (PSI) and Auburn University propose to develop a smart sensor module (SSM) to enable wireless sensing capabilities in liquid propulsion systems. An SSM would increase NASA’s capabilities by eliminating labor-intensive tasks such as routing and securing cables. It would also improve sensor accessibility in locations that are difficult to diagnose, and enable advanced computing technologies such as machine learning. The SSM is designed to connect to trusted, flight-qualified, and commercially available sensors without altering the measurement technique. In Phase I, PSI will advance our existing long-term data logger to develop a SSM capable of wireless communication in a mesh network. Meanwhile, Auburn’s mesh topology and aggregation methods will be used to integrate the PSI sensor network. The Phase I program will conclude with demonstrations of Auburn’s gateway and a sensor mesh network utilizing PSI’s SSMs. During Phase II, the integrated network will be demonstrated on one of PSI’s rocket engine test stands.
Successful demonstration of a smart, wireless sensor network will have significant applicability to ground testing and flight missions for NASA. Reductions in labor assigned to the design, assembly, and implementation of sensor systems will lead to significant cost savings. Using SSM’s with sensors that have flight heritage reduces the risk of installing the network in existing systems. Wireless sensors allow for diagnostics in previously inaccessible locations and smart sensors enable decentralized decision-making, making NASA systems safer.
The commercial space industry and DoD can use the expanded diagnostics and cost savings offered by intelligent sensor networks in their own propulsion systems. Power and energy industries have similar needs for real-time networks of sensors capable of high-acquisition rates. The proposed technology can be used in aircraft or oil and gas systems that require data from difficult to access areas.