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SBIR/STTR

Miniaturized Time Domain Terahertz Non Destructive Evaluation for In-Orbit Inspection of Inflatable Habitats and Thermal Protection Systems, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Miniaturized Time Domain Terahertz Non Destructive Evaluation for In-Orbit Inspection of Inflatable Habitats and Thermal Protection Systems, Phase I
Picometrix's time-domain terahertz (TD-THz) non-destructive evaluation (NDE) technology could be used to inspect space flight structures such as inflatable space habitats, thermal protection systems (TUFI-type tiles, SOFI TPS), for voids, disbonds, and damage such as tearing and micron-meteorite impact. In this Phase I SBIR project, we propose to test the feasibility of three key technological changes which could substantially reduce the volume, mass, and power requirement of the TD-THz instrumentation, making it more suitable for use by an operator in space. The current instrumentation paradigm is that a multi-purpose TD-THz control unit is used to provide common drive, data acquisition, and analysis functionality to interchangeable sensors and imaging which connect to the control unit with a fiber-optic/electrical umbilical. However, the current COTS control unit is substantially larger and heavier than would be desirable for a space-flight capable unit. The proposed developments would enable a control unit for a hand held NDE imaging tool, sufficiently robust for spaceflight, no larger than a small shoebox. It should be possible to reduce the size of the control unit to approximately one sixth of the current values to, for example, 14 in. X 8 in. X 4 in and 10 pounds. More »

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