Leak detection in spacecraft using structure-borne noise with distributed sensors
We have developed and tested in the laboratory a method for in-orbit detection and location of air leaks in manned spacecraft that uses only a small number of sensors distributed arbitrarily on the inner surface of the spacecraft skin. Then, structure-borne ultrasound in the range of 300–600 kHz is monitored from each of the sensors. When cross correlations between measured sensor waveforms indicate the presence of a leak, these correlations are compared with a large dynamically generated database of simulated correlations to locate the leak on the pressure vessel. A series of experimental tests were performed and at worst the method identified some false locations, but the true location of the leak always appeared.