Smoke Characterization and Feasibility of the Moment Method for Spacecraft Fire Detection

The Smoke Aerosol Measurement Experiment (SAME) has been conducted twice by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and provided real-time aerosol data in a spacecraft micro-gravity environment. Flight experiment results have been recently analyzed with respect to comparable ground-based experiments. The ground tests included an electrical mobility analyzer as a reference instrument for measuring particle size distributions of the smoke produced from overheating five common spacecraft materials. Repeatable sample surface temperatures were obtained with the SAME ground-based hardware, and measurements were taken with the aerosol instruments returned from the International Space Station comprising two commercial smoke detectors, three aerosol instruments, which measure moments of the particle size distribution, and a thermal precipitator for collecting smoke particles for transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Moment averages from the particle number concentration (zeroth moment), the diameter concentration (first moment), and the mass concentration (third moment) allowed calculation of the count mean diameter and the diameter of average mass of smoke particles. Additional size distribution information, including geometric mean diameter and geometric standard deviations, can be calculated if the particle size distribution is assumed to be lognormal. Both unaged and aged smoke particle size distributions from ground experiments were analyzed to determine the validity of the lognormal assumption. Comparisons are made between flight experiment particle size distribution statistics generated by moment calculations and microscopy particle size distributions (using projected area equivalent diameter) from TEM grids, which have been returned to the Earth.

Copyright 2015 American Association for Aerosol Research