Photonically wired spacecraft panels have been demonstrated within a recent ESA ARTES project by integrating mechanically packaged fiber Bragg grating (FBG) based optical temperature sensors into a honeycomb satellite test panel. Replacing electrical sensors with optical fiber sensors for testing satellites should have the advantage of reducing the harness mass and AIT. Fiber optic sensing also comes with clear benefits including immunity to electromagnetic interference and the capability of supporting arrays of sensors on a single fiber. However, standard FBG based temperature sensors are sensitive to both strain and temperature and in order to measure both strain and temperature simultaneously, two FBG sensors are required. An alternative solution using birefringent FBGs inscribed in Polarization Maintaining (PM) fiber (PM-FBG) in combination with high precision optical interrogators offers the same capabilities of standard FBG based optical sensors with high accuracy measurements, and can simultaneously measure both strain and temperature using only one sensor. PM-FBG sensors can also be multiplexed on a single fiber and therefore offer a simplified installation option by mounting them on the surface of the structure without the requirement for complex transducer packaging designs. With the support from an ESA GSTP project, we have developed an optical interrogator that measures PM-FBGs with high accuracy. The aim of the project is to demonstrate an optical strain independent temperature measurement system using PM-FBGs installed on a satellite test panel in atmospheric pressure and thermal vacuum environments with an operating temperature range from -20°C to + 80°C.
Fiber Bragg Gratings (FBGs) have been used and deployed in several applications and industries over the past years. Standard FBG based temperature sensors are sensitive to both strain and temperature and in order to measure temperature, the strain influence needs to be isolated from the FBG by careful transducer design, packaging and calibration of the sensor. Birefringent FBGs such as polarization maintaining FBGs (PM-FBG) that can simultaneously measure strain and temperature have been demonstrated in recent publications. Such sensors exhibit a double FBG response which is polarization dependent and the wavelength peak separation is an important parameter to enable measurements beyond standard FBGs. To achieve the best performance of a birefringent FBG, an optimized interrogation technique that can measure both FBG orthogonal polarization responses with high precision is required. In addition to the need for an optimized interrogator, the selection of sensor inscription method, coating type, mounting technique, and calibration are very important parameters to deliver the best overall system performance. PM-FBG sensors can be multiplexed on a single fiber and offer a simplified installation option without the requirement for complex transducer packaging designs. Here we have developed as part of an ESA GSTP project, a fiber optic sensing system for birefringent FBGs based on a high precision tunable laser interrogator system. We have also evaluated different types of PM-FBG sensors with different coatings and mounting techniques and demonstrated an optical temperature measurement system with an operating temperature range from -20°C to + 80°C using PM-FBGs with improved calibration techniques.
The Future Launchers Preparatory Programme (FLPP) supported by the European Space Agency (ESA) has a goal of developing various launch vehicle system concepts and identifying the technologies required for the design of Europe's Next-Generation Launcher (NGL) while maintaining competitiveness on the commercial market. Avionics fiber optic sensing technology was investigated as part of the FLPP programme.
Here we demonstrate and evaluate a high speed hybrid electrical/optical data acquisition system based on commercial off the shelf (COTS) technology capable of acquiring data from traditional electrical sensors and optical Fibre Bragg Grating (FBG) sensors. The proposed system consists of the KAM-500 data acquisition system developed by Curtis-Wright and the I4 tunable laser based fiber optic sensor interrogator developed by FAZ Technology. The key objective was to demonstrate the capability of the hybrid system to acquire data from traditional electrical sensors used in launcher applications e.g. strain, temperature and pressure in combination with optical FBG sensors, as well as data delivery to spacecraft avionics systems. The KAM-500 was configured as the main acquisition unit (MAU) and provided a 1 kHz sampling clock to the I4 interrogator that was configured as the secondary acquisition unit (SAU) to synchronize the data acquisition sample rate between both systems. The SAU acquired data from an array of optical FBG sensors, while the MAU data acquisition system acquired data from the electrical sensors.
Data acquired from the optical sensors was processed by the FAZ I4 interrogation system and then encapsulated into UDP/IP packets and transferred to the KAM-500. The KAM-500 encapsulated the optical sensor data together with the data acquired from electrical sensors and transmitted the data over MIL-STD-1553 and Ethernet data interface. The temperature measurements resulted in the optical and electrical sensors performing on a par with each other, with all sensors recording an accuracy within 0.35% FS over the full temperature range of -70°C to +180°C. The pressure measurements were performed over a 0 to 5 bar absolute pressure range and over different temperatures across a -40°C to +80°C range. The tests concluded that the optical pressure sensors performed on par with the electrical pressure sensor for each temperature set, where both sensor technologies measured a pressure accuracy of 1.2% FS. As for the strain measurements, the results show the optical and electrical sensors can measure to within 1% FS (Full Scale) of measurement range ±1,200 μstrain.
The proposed hybrid system can be potentially used for next generation launcher applications delivering weight reduction, improvement in measurement coverage and reduction in Assembly, Integration and Testing (AIT) over traditional electrical systems.
Recently optical sensing solutions based on fiber Bragg grating (FBG) technology have been proposed for temperature monitoring in telecommunication satellite platforms with an operational life time beyond 15 years in geo-stationary orbit. Developing radiation hardened optical interrogators designed to be used with FBG sensors inscribed in radiation tolerant fibers offer the capabilities of multiplexing multiple sensors on the same fiber and reducing the overall weight by removing the copper wiring harnesses associated with electrical sensors.
Here we propose the use of a tunable laser based optical interrogator that uses a semiconductor MG-Y type laser that has no moving parts and sweeps across the C-band wavelength range providing optical power to FBG sensors and optical wavelength references such as athermal Etalons and Gas Cells to guarantee stable operation of the interrogator over its targeted life time in radiation exposed environments. The MG-Y laser was calibrated so it remains in a stable operation mode which ensures that no mode hops occur due to aging of the laser, and/or thermal or radiation effects.
The key optical components including tunable laser, references and FBGs were tested for radiation tolerances by emulating the conditions on a geo-stationary satellite including a Total Ionizing Dose (TID) radiation level of up to 100 krad for interrogator components and 25 Mrad for FBGs.
Different tunable laser control, and signal processing algorithms have been designed and developed to fit within specific available radiation hardened FPGAs to guarantee operation of a single interrogator module providing at least 1 sample per second measurement capability across <20 sensors connected to two separate optical channels.
In order to achieve the required temperature specifications of ±0.5°C across a temperature range of -20°C to +65°C using femtosecond inscribed FBGs (fs-FBG), a polarization switch is used to mitigate for the polarization dependent frequency shift (PDFS) induced from fs-FBG which could be in the order of < 20 pm causing < 2°C error in the measurement. Also special transducers were designed to isolate the strain from the FBGs to reduce any strain influence on the FBG temperature measurements while ensuring high thermal conductivity.
In this paper we demonstrate the operation of an optical FBG interrogator as part of a hybrid sensor bus (HSB) engineering model system developed in the frame of an ESA-ARTES program and is planned to be deployed as a flight demonstrator on-board the German Heinrich Hertz geo-stationary satellite.
Fiber Bragg Gratings (FBGs) are increasingly being employed in a novel range of applications, especially in sensing and measurement field. Some of these novel FBG-based sensing applications, especially those requiring high resolution sensing in harsh environments, impose challenges on Bragg gratings and their performance. Additionally, there is a growing list of Fiber Bragg Grating types and manufacturing techniques, each with its own strengths and disadvantages. With the new generation of fiber optic interrogation technologies reaching femtometer-level resolution in Bragg wavelength tracking, the achievable accuracy and stability of the sensing system is becoming limited by the performance of the employed Bragg grating itself. In many cases, correct selection and definition of the FBG parameters can result in defining the success of the sensing system. Here, we explore the specifications of Bragg gratings that are most relevant to FBG-based sensors, propose their characterization and analysis methodologies and explore their effects for both static and dynamic sensing applications in combination with tunable laser based fiber optic interrogation techniques. Bragg gratings manufactured by several different techniques are compared to demonstrate their suitability for different types of sensing applications. Several application focused examples are also provided to demonstrate the importance of the parameters for detection of strain, pressure, sound, vibration and tilt using fiber optic sensors.
Optical sensors based on Fiber Bragg Gratings (FBGs) are used in several applications and industries. Several inscription techniques and type of fibers can be used. However, depending on the writing process, type of fiber used and the packaging of the sensor a Polarization Dependent Frequency Shift (PDFS) can often be observed with polarized tunable laser based optical interrogators. Here we study the PDFS of the FBG peak for the different FBG types. A PDFS of <1pm up to >20pm was observed across the FBGs. To mitigate and reduce this effect we propose a polarization mitigation technique which relies on a synchronous polarization switch to reduce the effect typically by a factor greater than 4. In other scenarios the sensor itself is designed to be birefringent (Bi-FBG) to allow pressure and/or simultaneous temperature and strain measurements. Using the same polarization switch we demonstrate how we can interrogate the Bi-FBGs with high accuracy to enable high performance of such sensors to be achievable.