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Wireless Thermal Protection Sensor
Last Updated: Tuesday, May 1, 2007 11:21 PM
Background
Every spacecraft entering a planetary atmosphere needs a thermal protection systems (TPS). The TPS must endure severe heat loads, which requires an understanding of atmospheric properties, vehicle aerodynamics, TPS material properties and the physics of the entry environment (which is a relatively new and very specialized field). NASA and other space agencies would like to collect temperature, pressure, heat flux, radiation and recession measurements on flight tests and flight missions in order to verify TPS design and to aid in the characterization of physical and chemical phenomena in the entry environment. As of now the missions that do fly thermocouples are wired into the TPS of the spacecraft, but this adds risk to the system due to the process of routing wires in the shield and the lack of the ability to jettison the system after entry. Many current and past spacecraft engineers have decided not to fly embedded sensors in an effort to mitigate the risk of spacecraft burn up during entry. Awireless instrumentation system could collect the required measurements scientist and engineers need to improve future spacecraft design while lowering the overall risk of incrementing TPS.
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