Turning a now-standard tool for medical diagnostics and therapeutics to a host of new applications, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory Survivability/Lethality Analysis Directorate recently acquired a turn-key computed tomography scanner system, known as a CT scanner.
As a mobile system, the device permits imaging at the Survivability/Lethality Analysis Directorate, or SLAD’s, experimental facilities and other remote locations eliminating the need to be transported off-site for scans.
It has already proven useful in several programs, from fundamental research to test and evaluation, SLAD officials said. The Joint Trauma Analysis and Prevention of Injury in Combat program, or JTAPIC, funded the research.
The system’s core capability is making highly detailed, three-dimensional measurements of an object’s interior and exterior. The CT system’s many applications include identifying variability in materials in order to understand their failure; quantifying damage; examining the vulnerability of systems; post-processing of threat data; and developing 3-D models for simulation and visualization.
SLAD has already found the capability to be very valuable; for instance, a pre-test scan of some artificial legs uncovered a manufacturing defect that would have ruined the test.
Likewise, the CT scans are revealing faults in targets for ballistic experiments that went undetected by previous techniques. Besides the pre-shot verification and record of the state of target materials, SLAD is also using the CT system afterward for in-depth damage assessments.
“For tests using the biofidelic artificial legs, you can see exactly what kind of fractures you are getting and medical partners can then assist SLAD with the interpretation of the injury,” explained Charles Kennedy, SLAD’s lead for the JTAPIC program.
To ensure the CT scanner would meet the requirements of SLAD’s research, Kennedy coordinated with the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System on the equipment’s salient characteristics. And coordination with the radiation safety and contracting offices at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., ensured the new equipment (which emits X-ray radiation) was acquired and brought on-line quickly and safely.
The CT scanner’s mobility provides opportunities for its use not only at its home base, SLAD’s Experimental Facility 10, but also at any other facilities with the infrastructure to support it. Customers such as the Office of the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, and the Program Executive Office Soldier plan to use the equipment. Kennedy and his colleagues at SLAD are certain that as word of the mobile CT scanner’s availability and utility spread, many other valuable applications will arise.