Fiber Bragg Grating Sensor Networks Enhance the In Situ Real-Time Monitoring Capabilities of MLI Thermal Blankets for Space Applications

Micromachines (Basel). 2023 Apr 25;14(5):926. doi: 10.3390/mi14050926.


The utilization of Fiber Bragg Grating (FBG) sensors in innovative optical sensor networks has displayed remarkable potential in providing precise and dependable thermal measurements in hostile environments on Earth. Multi-Layer Insulation (MLI) blankets serve as critical components of spacecraft and are employed to regulate the temperature of sensitive components by reflecting or absorbing thermal radiation. To enable accurate and continuous monitoring of temperature along the length of the insulative barrier without compromising its flexibility and low weight, FBG sensors can be embedded within the thermal blanket, thereby enabling distributed temperature sensing. This capability can aid in optimizing the thermal regulation of the spacecraft and ensuring the reliable and safe operation of vital components. Furthermore, FBG sensors offer sev eral advantages over traditional temperature sensors, including high sensitivity, immunity to electromagnetic interference, and the ability to operate in harsh environments. These properties make FBG sensors an excellent option for thermal blankets in space applications, where precise temperature regulation is crucial for mission success. Nevertheless, the calibration of temperature sensors in vacuum conditions poses a significant challenge due to the lack of an appropriate calibration reference. Therefore, this paper aimed to investigate innovative solutions for calibrating temperature sensors in vacuum conditions. The proposed solutions have the potential to enhance the accuracy and reliability of temperature measurements in space applications, which can enable engineers to develop more resilient and dependable spacecraft systems.

Keywords: Fiber Bragg Gratings; MLI; aerospace; onboard system; optical fibers; sensor network; smart systems; thermal control; thermal measurements.

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.