In a recent study, NASA scientists have revealed the fact that one single fire detector is not adequate to different kinds of smoke in the aircraft. It has raised alarms among the scientists of NASA who believe that further lab fireproofing designs are to be made to make the spacecraft 100 percent secure any sorts of fire breakthrough.
NASA has been working very closely with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) since 2002 to understand the pattern of behavior made by smoke in microgravity so that the scientists would be in a position to prepare innovative and sensitive and reliable methods for raising the alarm during any fire breakthrough in spacecraft. The scientists have described how they studied the smoke particles of five materials that are mainly used on the shuttle with the crew on board. The scientists also analyzed and evaluated how brilliantly the smoke particles could be identified with the help of two traditional systems. The researchers have viewed that the fire detecting systems need to be modified on a constant basis because not all the particles are successfully detected in the spacecraft.
Researchers have said the process of detecting fire in space is pretty different than that on Earth. The secondary gravity issue makes the hot gases to rise above and simultaneously creates a flame to be longer and sharper. Smoke also tends to increase above due to the gravitational effect and as such the detectors have been placed on the ceiling of the spacecraft.
This is the reason that the smoke detectors on the International Space Station (ISS), as well as other modern spacecraft, are positioned within the ventilation system and not on the other compartmental wall. Again we have to keep in mind that such materials which might cause a fire in spacecraft are different than those materials which may create fire terrestrial environment. This shows that smoke that is produced in microgravity may have various elements in it which mainly depends upon the source and as such references might be taken into consideration while preparing the smoke resistant crewed vehicles.
The scientists to execute an experiment inside the ISS examined the smoke particles which are being produced by cellulose, using cotton lamp wick. They also used Kapton which is a polymer for thermal insulation. They also took silicon rubber, Teflon, Pyrell to examine the impact of launch and re-entry.