Ultrasonic Wireless Instrumentation System for Autonomous Leak Detection and Location (UltraWIS™)


NASA is seeking advanced habitation technologies that will facilitate planetary and space habitation by humans through the creation of “smart structures” capable of autonomous monitoring by embedded sensors.

In order to increase reliability while reducing life-cycle costs and improving performance, Invocon is developing the UltraWIS system to assist in locating leaks within pressurized spacecraft with minimal expenditure of vehicle or crew resources. The self-contained, miniature, low-power acoustic leak location system, with an internal power source and wireless RF communication, can monitor an entire habitation structure as part of a network of sensors while requiring the absolute minimum external resources. Through continuous, automated monitoring of pressurized vehicles, the potential risk and increased use of vehicle expendables associated with holes or cracks can be mitigated.

Phase I of this effort produced and demonstrated a proof-of-concept UltraWIS system which can detect the presence of acoustic emissions from pressurized leaks, and triangulate the leak location through collaboration with neighboring sensors by means of a central network monitoring device. The success of the UltraWIS in autonomously pinpointing simulated leaks of various rates down to 10cm3/sec at a distance of 40 inches has significantly reduced the technical risk associated with the current Phase II development. The proposed Phase II hardware with the 8 directional ultrasonic sensors is illustrated in the picture above.

  • 8 Ultrasonic sensors per unit
  • Sample Rate: 100kHz
  • Approximate Size: 5cm x 5cm x 2.5cm