Satellites image
Some satellites may be decommissioned with fuel still in the tank due to the current methods of measuring fuel quantity. Fuel gauges with higher accuracy could help ensure that satellites stay operational for longer and more is made of their time in orbit. (Credit: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

Liquids aren’t as well behaved in space as they are on Earth. Inside a spacecraft, microgravity allows liquids to freely slosh and float about. The National Institute of Standards and Technology developed a prototype fuel gauge that can digitally recreate a fluid’s 3D shape based on its electrical properties.

The gauge uses a low-cost 3D imaging technique known as electrical capacitance volume tomography (ECVT). Like a CT scanner, ECVT can approximate an object’s shape by taking measurements at different angles. Fuel gauges with higher accuracy could help ensure that satellites stay operational for longer and more is made of their time in orbit.

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