NASA awards Michigan Aerospace SBIR for airplane icing detection

Sept. 4, 2013
Ann Arbor, MI--Michigan Aerospace Corporationhas begun work on a NASA contract to use a UV laser light detection system to detect conditions in flight when ice is likely to form.

Ann Arbor, MI--Michigan Aerospace Corporation (MAC) has begun work on a NASA contract to use a UV laser light detection system to detect conditions in flight when ice is likely to form. The Phase I SBIR contract with NASA’s Langley Research Center will enable a multi-hazard sensing capability by extending the company's current aircraft-based optical air-data system technology, which uses UV laser light to measure air speed, direction, temperature, and density.

Related article: DELICAT LIDAR system alerts pilots to air turbulence ahead

RIDES, or Raman Icing Detection System, will provide an all-optical ability to detect icing conditions, allowing pilots to make real-time decisions about flight path and activation of in-flight de-icing systems. RIDES has the potential to be combined with other MAC UV-based optical air data, turbulence detection, and volcanic particle detection technologies.

Company president Charles Richey says this kind of combined sensor system would be able to find volcanic, turbulence, and icing hazards in the flight path. It can also report airspeed along with air, temperature, and density. All of this could be achieved through a common flush-mounted window that can be heated to prevent ice buildup.

In July 2013, MAC was awarded a Phase I SBIR contract titled Volcanic Ash Detection Using Raman Lidar: Vader, in collaboration with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

MAC operates four business units:
- Atmospheric LIDAR Systems to measure atmospheric parameters and constituents to enhance the accuracy of weather forecasts, aid weather-dependent military operations, and improve the performance of weapons systems and aircraft
- Environmental Sensing for CBRN (chem/bio, radiological, nuclear), seismic sensing, aerodynamic testing, micro-fluidics, and measurement of spectral signatures and cross-sections of biological simulants and agents
- Data Exploitation to solve complex problems in signals intelligence, data mining, 2-D and 3-D image processing, pattern recognition, and machine learning
- Energy Solutions for thermo-electric waste heat recovery and solar power generation, as well as wind energy systems.

Related article: Lidar reveals critical changes in Earth's atmosphere (by MAC)

Source: Michigan Aerospace

About the Author

Conard Holton | Editor at Large

Conard Holton has 25 years of science and technology editing and writing experience. He was formerly a staff member and consultant for government agencies such as the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the International Atomic Energy Agency, and engineering companies such as Bechtel. He joined Laser Focus World in 1997 as senior editor, becoming editor in chief of WDM Solutions, which he founded in 1999. In 2003 he joined Vision Systems Design as editor in chief, while continuing as contributing editor at Laser Focus World. Conard became editor in chief of Laser Focus World in August 2011, a role in which he served through August 2018. He then served as Editor at Large for Laser Focus World and Co-Chair of the Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar from August 2018 through January 2022. He received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, with additional studies at the Colorado School of Mines and Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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