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Proceedings Paper

Analysis of electrostatic charge on small-arms projectiles
Author(s): Stephen Vinci; Jack Zhu; David Hull
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Paper Abstract

Triboelectric (frictional) and combustion processes impart electrostatic charge on projectiles as they are fired. Additional charging and discharging processes alter the magnitude of charge in-flight and are complex functions of a plethora of environmental conditions. There is an interest in using electric-field sensors to help detect and track projectiles in counter-sniper and projectile ranging systems. These applications require knowledge of the quantity of charge, as well as the sensitivity of electric-field sensors. The U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) took part in multiple experiments at Aberdeen Proving Grounds (APG) to simulate a battlefield-like environment. Sensors were placed in strategic locations along the bullets' paths and recorded the electric-field signatures of charged small-arms bullets. The focus of this effort was to analyze the electric-field signatures collected during the APG experiment in order to estimate electrostatic charge on the bullets. Algorithms were written to extract electric-field bullet signatures from raw data; these signatures were further processed to estimate the miss distance, velocity and charge. The estimates of range and velocity were compared to similar estimates from acoustic signatures for verification. Ground-truth Global Positioning System (GPS) data were used to independently calculate ranges, azimuths, and miss distances. Signatures were filtered to remove clutter signals from power lines and other unwanted field sources. Closed-form equations were then fitted to the collected signatures to retrieve estimates for the magnitude of charge on the bullets. Test data, collected with sensors placed on a wall, showed enhanced E-field intensity. A Method of Moments (MoM) model of the wall was created to improve signature simulation. Detectable charges on bullets were found to exist in the 1 pC to 1 nC (10-12 - 10-9 C) range. Relationships between estimated charge, gun type, bullet caliber, noise thresholds and number of shots in sequence are presented and statistically analyzed.

Paper Details

Date Published: 7 May 2012
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 8382, Active and Passive Signatures III, 83820M (7 May 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.920572
Show Author Affiliations
Stephen Vinci, U.S. Army Research Lab. (United States)
Jack Zhu, U.S. Army Research Lab. (United States)
David Hull, U.S. Army Research Lab. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8382:
Active and Passive Signatures III
G. Charmaine Gilbreath; Chadwick Todd Hawley, Editor(s)

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