IC2 announces its most recent NASA SBIR Phase I contract award titled “MEMSonic Boom: Sensing and Acquisition for Sonic Boom Flight Research.” This project will focus on both developing a low-frequency (infrasound) microphone and a wireless data acquisition system to revolutionize capabilities for sonic boom measurement.
The microphone to be developed aims to be a low-cost, infrasonic transducer specifically designed for the types of acoustic measurements needed for sonic boom flyover testing. This technology will improve the capabilities of aerospace scientists to conduct quantitative flyover tests to further understand shock wave propagation and monitor the community effects of supersonic aircraft. Measurements such as these are highly valued, but historically have been expensive due to hardware costs and the extensive man hours required to deploy and support the measurements.
Typically, systems required to support sonic boom flyover testing are widely distributed over miles of terrain, requiring tens of miles of cabling. This, and other labor requirements needed to install and protect the microphone nodes (either by covering them or removing and reinstalling them on a daily basis), leads to high deployment, operational, and maintenance costs to make these important sonic boom measurements. There is not a commercial packaged system that provides all of the components necessary for sonic-boom testing, and current user-built systems are a logistical challenge, expensive, and vulnerable to inclement weather. This Phase I project seeks to transform this measurement system by developing a wireless and autonomous data acquisition system in addition to a weatherproof infrasound microphone.
From the technical abstract, “By minimizing the technological, logistical, and cost-prohibitive issues surrounding the deployment of spatially distributed acoustic arrays, the proposed distributed wireless acoustic sensing and acquisition system expands NASA’s technology portfolio with test equipment that allows for faster, higher-accuracy testing at a lower cost. The measurement capabilities of the proposed hardware will allow for an array with a broadened capture area of sonic boom impact on the ground, enhanced resolution and accuracy of sonic boom direction of arrival estimations, volumetric capture of sonic boom propagation, and high-fidelity sonic boom signature capture at every measurement location. These improvements will enable arrays with substantial expansion of the instrumented volume for sonic boom measurements compared to current and previous arrays. The primary target application for the system is overland sonic boom testing with a specific focus on low-boom development testing. Other general flyover applications where two- or three-dimensional capture of the propagating sound from an aircraft is desired, could also be supported by this system’s capabilities.”