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Proceedings Paper • Open Access

Multi-parameter fibre Bragg grating sensor-array for thermal vacuum cycling test
Author(s): L. Cheng; B. Ahlers; P. Toet; G. Casarosa; M. Appolloni

Paper Abstract

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.

Paper Details

Date Published: 21 November 2017
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 10566, International Conference on Space Optics — ICSO 2008, 105661E (21 November 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2308294
Show Author Affiliations
L. Cheng, TNO Science and Industry (Netherlands)
B. Ahlers, TNO Science and Industry (Netherlands)
P. Toet, TNO Science and Industry (Netherlands)
G. Casarosa, AOES Netherlands B.V. (Netherlands)
M. Appolloni, AOES Netherlands B.V. (Netherlands)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10566:
International Conference on Space Optics — ICSO 2008
Josiane Costeraste; Errico Armandillo; Nikos Karafolas, Editor(s)

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