Fibre Bragg Grating (FBG) sensor systems based on optical fibres are gaining interest in space applications. Studies on Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) of the reusable launchers using FBG sensors have been carried out in the Future European Space Transportation Investigations Programme (FESTIP). Increasing investment in the development on FBG sensor applications is foreseen for the Future Launchers Preparatory Programme (FLPP). TNO has performed different SHM measurements with FBGs including on the VEGA interstage [1, 2] in 2006.
Within the current project, a multi-parameter FBG sensor array demonstrator system for temperature and strain measurements is designed, fabricated and tested under ambient as well as Thermal Vacuum (TV) conditions in a TV chamber of the European Space Agency (ESA), ESTEC site. The aim is the development of a multi-parameters measuring system based on FBG technology for space applications. During the TV tests of a Space Craft (S/C) or its subsystems, thermal measurements, as well as strain measurements are needed by the engineers in order to verify their prediction and to validate their models. Because of the dimensions of the test specimen and the accuracy requested to the measurement, a large number of observation/measuring points are needed. Conventional sensor systems require a complex routing of the cables connecting the sensors to their acquisition unit. This will add extra weight to the construction under test. FBG sensors are potentially light-weight and can easily be multiplexed in an array configuration.
The different tasks comply of a demonstrator system design; its component selection, procurement, manufacturing and finally its assembly. The temperature FBG sensor is calibrated in a dedicated laboratory setup down to liquid nitrogen (LN2) temperature at TNO. A temperature-wavelength calibration curve is generated. After a test programme definition a setup in thermal vacuum is realised at ESA premises including a mechanical strain transducer to generate strain via a dedicated feed through in the chamber. Thermocouples are used to log the temperature for comparison to the temperature FBG sensor. Extreme temperature ranges from -150°C and +70°C at a pressure down to 10-4 Pa (10-6 mbar) are covered as well as testing under ambient conditions. In total five thermal cycles during a week test are performed. The FBG temperature sensor test results performed in the ESA/ESTEC TV chamber reveal high reproducibility (within 1 °C) within the test temperature range without any evidence of hysteresis. Differences are detected to the previous calibration curve. Investigation is performed to find the cause of the discrepancy. Differences between the test set-ups are identified. Equipment of the TNO test is checked and excluded to be the cause. Additional experiments are performed.
The discrepancy is most likely caused by a ’thermal shock’ due to rapid cooling down to LN2 temperature, which results in a wavelength shift. Test data of the FBG strain sensor is analysed. The read-out of the FBG strain sensor varies with the temperature during the test. This can be caused by temperature induced changes in the mechanical setup (fastening of the mechanical parts) or impact of temperature to the mechanical strain transfer to the FBG. Improvements are identified and recommendations given for future activities.
In the frame of the development of a videogrammetric system to be used in thermal vacuum chambers at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) and other sites across Europe, the design of a network using micro-cameras was specified by the European Space agency (ESA)-ESTEC. The selected test set-up is the photogrammetric test of the Herschel Satellite Flight Model in the ESTEC Large Space Simulator. The photogrammetric system will be used to verify the Herschel Telescope alignment and Telescope positioning with respect to the Cryostat Vacuum Vessel (CVV) inside the Large Space Simulator during Thermal-Vacuum/Thermal-Balance test phases. We designed a close-range photogrammetric network by heuristic simulation and a videogrammetric system with an overall accuracy of 1:100,000. A semi-automated image acquisition system, which is able to work at low temperatures (-170°C) in order to acquire images according to the designed network has been constructed by ESA-ESTEC. In this paper we will present the videogrammetric system and sub-systems and the results of real measurements with a representative setup similar to the set-up of Herschel spacecraft which was realized in ESTEC Test Centre.
The PixFEL collaboration has developed the building blocks for an X-ray imager to be used in applications at FELs. In particular, slim edge pixel detectors with high detection efficiency over a broad energy range, from 1 to 12 keV, have been developed. Moreover, a multichannel readout chip, called PFM2 (PixFEL front-end Matrix 2) and consisting of 32 × 32 cells, has been designed and fabricated in a 65 nm CMOS technology. The pixel pitch is 110 μm, the overall area is around 16 mm2. In the chip, different solutions have been implemented for the readout channel, which includes a charge sensitive amplifier (CSA) with dynamic signal compression, a time-variant shaper and an A-to-D converter with a 10 bit resolution. The CSA can be configured in four different gain modes, so as to comply with photon energies in the 1 to 10 keV range. The paper will describe in detail the channel architecture and present the results from the characterization of PFM2. It will discuss the design of a new version of the chip, called PFM3, suitable for post-processing with peripheral, under-pad through silicon vias (TSVs), which are needed to develop four-side buttable chips and cover large surfaces with minimum inactive area.
In the frame of the development of new Electrical Ground Support Equipment (EGSE) for the testing phase of a spacecraft and its subsystems, the Engineering Services Section, within the Testing Division, Mechanical Systems Department, at the European Space and Technology Centre (ESTEC), has started an investigation aiming to verify the performances of a contact-less measurement system based on a high-speed camera and image processing techniques. This shall be used as an additional tool during the future test campaigns to be held at ESTEC, every time a non-intrusive GSE is required. The system is based on a PhotronTM High Speed System, composed of a High Speed camera connected to its frame-grabber via a Panel LinkTM bus, and a SW interface for the camera control.
Derivative Filters and techniques for edge detection, such as the Sobel, Prewitt and Laplace algorithms, have been used for the image enhancement and processing during several tests campaigns, which have been held to evaluate the measurement system. The improvement of the detection of the movement of the specimen has been achieved by sticking, where possible, one or more optical targets over the surface of the test article. The targets are of two types: for ambient and vacuum qualified.
The performances of the measuring system have been evaluated and are summarized in this paper. The limitations of the proposed tool have been assessed, together with the identifications of the possible scenarios where this system would be useful and could be applied to increase the effectiveness of the verification phase of a spacecraft-subsystem.