Langley researchers will be watching Wednesday, as spacewalking astronauts demonstrate a space-hardened, heat-sensing camera as part of NASA efforts to detect and repair damage to the shuttle's wing leading edge.
The shuttle's wing leading edge material is made of reinforced carbon-carbon -- a tough composite material -- that is laminated, much like a sheet of plywood. Features on the surface may or may not indicate the level of damage to underlying layers.
NASA's infrared camera senses differences in heat radiated from the surface as an indicator of irregularities beneath. The technology has proven highly effective in lab tests, and hopes are high that it will work equally well in the extremes of space.
The camera is scheduled to be demonstrated on several panels of the forward edge of the wing, to measure heating rates where no damage is expected to be detected and on material samples in a test rig in the open payload bay. The samples have both surface and subsurface impact damage that has been characterized in the lab.
On Thursday, July 13 at 2:30 p.m. EDT, Mike Gazarik, Langley infrared camera manager, will brief Hampton Roads media via telephone from NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston. Gazarik and the infrared camera team are at Johnson supporting the spacewalk.
To take part in the briefing at Langley or the telecon, media must contact Chris Rink at 864-6786 or 344-7711 by 10 a.m. EDT Thursday for access information. Infrared images taken as part of the spacewalk demonstration may be available during the briefing. For TV reporters, Robbie Kerns, Langley's shuttle return to flight manager, will be available at the center for interviews at the conclusion of the briefing.
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