Leak detection in spacecraft using structure-borne noise with distributed sensors
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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.
This article appeared in Applied Physics Letters 86, no. 17 (2005): 174105, doi:10.1063/1.1906324.