NTRS - NASA Technical Reports Server

Back to Results
X-Ray Computed Tomography Inspection of the Stardust Heat ShieldThe "Stardust" heat shield, composed of a PICA (Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator) Thermal Protection System (TPS), bonded to a composite aeroshell, contains important features which chronicle its time in space as well as re-entry. To guide the further study of the Stardust heat shield, NASA reviewed a number of techniques for inspection of the article. The goals of the inspection were: 1) to establish the material characteristics of the shield and shield components, 2) record the dimensions of shield components and assembly as compared with the pre-flight condition, 3) provide flight infonnation for validation and verification of the FIAT ablation code and PICA material property model and 4) through the evaluation of the shield material provide input to future missions which employ similar materials. Industrial X-Ray Computed Tomography (CT) is a 3D inspection technology which can provide infonnation on material integrity, material properties (density) and dimensional measurements of the heat shield components. Computed tomographic volumetric inspections can generate a dimensionally correct, quantitatively accurate volume of the shield assembly. Because of the capabilities offered by X-ray CT, NASA chose to use this method to evaluate the Stardust heat shield. Personnel at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) and Lawrence Livermore National Labs (LLNL) recently performed a full scan of the Stardust heat shield using a newly installed X-ray CT system at JSC. This paper briefly discusses the technology used and then presents the following results: 1. CT scans derived dimensions and their comparisons with as-built dimensions anchored with data obtained from samples cut from the heat shield; 2. Measured density variation, char layer thickness, recession and bond line (the adhesive layer between the PICA and the aeroshell) integrity; 3. FIAT predicted recession, density and char layer profiles as well as bondline temperatures Finally suggestions are made as to future uses of this technology as a tool for non-destructively inspecting and verifying both pre and post flight heat shields.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
McNamara, Karen M. (NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Schneberk, Daniel J. (Lawrence Livermore National Lab. Livermore, CA, United States)
Empey, Daniel M. (Sierra Lobo, Inc. United States)
Koshti, Ajay (NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Pugel, D. Elizabeth (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Cozmuta, Ioana (Eloret Corp. Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Stackpoole, Mairead (Eloret Corp. Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Ruffino, Norman P. (Jacobs Technology, Inc. Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Pompa, Eddie C. (Jacobs Technology, Inc. Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Oliveras, Ovidio (Jacobs Technology, Inc. Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Kontinos, Dean A. (NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
June 14, 2010
Subject Category
Spacecraft Design, Testing and Performance
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.

Available Downloads

NameType 20100027549.pdf STI