According to information received by MK at the university, aircraft pilots and astronauts currently have limited ability to identify significant damage resulting from external collisions with large objects. Examples include birds entering the engine or large meteors puncturing the hull of a spacecraft or station.
However, during flight, there is a possibility of small mechanical impacts that often go unnoticed, such as concrete chips during takeoff or landing of an airliner, or micrometeoroids during space travel. These unnoticed impacts can lead to the undesirable growth of defects. Detecting and diagnosing damage or indentations on the fuselage or wings in a timely manner would allow for prompt repairs and prolong the lifespan of aerospace equipment.
Scientists have proposed a solution in the form of special sensors that utilize light signals to diagnose damage caused by mechanical loads. These sensors consist of optical fibers, which are threads made of transparent material capable of transmitting light. They are embedded in the polymer layer of composite structures, such as aircraft fuselages or wings, during the production process. When exposed to concrete chips, hail, or micrometeoroids, the luminescent coating on the fibers emits light. A specialized analyzer receiver processes the intensity of the light signal using a specific algorithm and relays information about the location of the damage to the onboard computer.
By implementing this model, aerospace technology can significantly enhance its sensitivity to external impacts in the future.