A spacecraft skin is being developed that assesses the severity of any damage it suffers from space debris and other impacts.
CSIRO in Australia and NASA have created a model skin made up of 192 separate cells. Behind each cell is an impact sensor and a processor with algorithms that allow it to communicate with its immediate neighbours. Just as ants’s pheromones help guide other ants to food, the algorithms leave digital messages in cells around the system, indicating for instance the position of the boundary around a damaged region. The cell’s processor can use this information to route data around the affected area.
The team hopes to refine the system so it can distinguish between different types of damage, such as corrosion and sudden impacts.
NASA’s ultimate aim is to create what it calls Ageless Aerospace Vehicles, which can detect, diagnose and fix damage
Via New Scientist.