The reason for this sensitive sheath will be to better protect the craft from lightning strikes and electromagnetic interference, the latter of which will be handy for all the nuclear war business that’s surely befouling our offspring at that time. Officially called STAR-C2, the $US1.9 million skin project is being researched by Cessna for NASA’s 2030-2035 future of flight program.
Better still—and timely, given what happened to that recent open air Southwest flight—the skin will present obvious visible cues whenever it has become damaged. I’d like to imagine that in these cases bold words appear, like magic ink, informing engineers that “bad shit happened here” or “FIX NOW” or something equally obvious.
Beyond damage control, the skin would theoretically contain temperature sensors, accelerometers and other motion sensors. It would truly be a “smart skin” for a truly advanced, safer aircraft. [Wired]