We propose the development of a Laser Absorption Imaging (LAI) diagnostic system, with a design that is specifically optimized for NASA arc jet facilities. We will exploit advances in high-speed infrared cameras and rapidly tunable lasers to image a range of species in the mid-wave infrared spectral range. The spectral / spatial / temporal data will provide needed empirical information. In Phase I, a breadboard system will be assembled, and proof of concept measurements conducted to demonstrate temporally and spatially resolved gas property measurements. Based on the investigations, specific techniques and components will be down selected and risk mitigation strategies developed, culminating with the design of a multi-species prototype that will be fully developed and demonstrated in Phase II.
The gas imaging sensor will be developed to support testing at NASA Arc Jet Facilities(AJF). AJF support Entry and Descent/Entry, Descent and Landing missions, e.g. crewed Moon or Mars missions, high mass Mars landers, Venus and gas/ice giant probes. These missions require testing and qualification of Thermal Protection Systems(TPS). Only AJF provide ground-based simulation of flight entry conditions and are critical to the TPS development. The Space Technology Mission Directorate's Entry Systems Modeling Project will benefit from this effort.
Sensors from this project will provide an extremely attractive alternative to existing gas diagnostics for a wide range of commercial applications. The ability to obtain high-speed, spatially resolved species concentrations and temperature information will be used to develop products for rocket engines / burner performance diagnostics, and fence-line monitoring of industrial facilities pollutants.