Lightning Strike Sensing System for the Space Shuttle Launch Pad
NAVAL RESEARCH LAB WASHINGTON DC OPTICAL SCIENCES DIV
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NRL Optical Sciences Division scientists designed and fabricated a fiber-optic magnetic field gradient sensing system for use by NASA on the space shuttle launch pad at Kennedy Space Center KSC, Florida. The system is being used to monitor the occurrence and intensity of lightning strikes on and in the vicinity of the launch pad and space shuttle during prelaunch operations. The NRL system is integrated with the NASA Ground Lightning Monitoring System GLMS, which records the intensity of the dynamic magnetic fields that result from lightning and triggers a warning if nearby lightning is strong enough to cause damage to the electronic systems employed on either the shuttle or the launch pad. Current lightning strike monitoring capabilities at the pad are not robust enough to screen lightning events, thus resulting in extensive, time-consuming inspections to verify the integrity of the electronic systems whenever any electrical storm activity occurs nearby. The NRL magnetic field gradient sensing system provides improved sensing bandwidth, resolution, and accuracy, and when incorporated into the GLMS, it alerts NASA as to when inspection of the electrical systems is required. Additionally, it indicates when inspection is not required, thus avoiding unnecessary expenditures of time and money.
- Ground Support Systems and Facilities for Space Vehicles
- Manned Spacecraft