18 August 2005 Evaluation of microbolometer-based thermography for gossamer space structures
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Abstract
In August 2003, NASA's In-Space Propulsion Program contracted with our team to develop a prototype on-board Optical Diagnostics System (ODS) for solar sail flight tests. The ODS is intended to monitor sail deployment as well as structural and thermal behavior, and to validate computational models for use in designing future solar sail missions. This paper focuses on the thermography aspects of the ODS. A thermal model was developed to predict local sail temperature variations as a function of sail tilt to the sun, billow depth, and spectral optical properties of front and back sail surfaces. Temperature variations as small as 0.5 oC can induce significant thermal strains that compare in magnitude to mechanical strains. These thermally induced strains may result in changes in shape and dynamics. The model also gave insight into the range and sensitivity required for in-flight thermal measurements and supported the development of an ABAQUS-coupled thermo-structural model. The paper also discusses three kinds of tests conducted to 1) determine the optical properties of candidate materials; 2) evaluate uncooled microbolometer-type infrared imagers; and 3) operate a prototype imager with the ODS baseline configuration. (Uncooled bolometers are less sensitive than cooled ones, but may be necessary because of restrictive ODS mass and power limits.) The team measured the spectral properties of several coated polymer samples at various angles of incidence. Two commercially available uncooled microbolometer imagers were compared, and it was found that reliable temperature measurements are feasible for both coated and uncoated sides of typical sail membrane materials.
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Jonathan J. Miles, Joseph R. Blandino, Christopher H. M. Jenkins, Richard S. Pappa, Jeremy Banik, Hunter Brown, Kiley McEvoy, "Evaluation of microbolometer-based thermography for gossamer space structures", Proc. SPIE 5880, Optical Diagnostics, 58800A (18 August 2005); doi: 10.1117/12.618069; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.618069
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