This paper is concerned with the real-time detection of internal damage in composite structural components during impact using the far-field surface motion generated by these events. Impact tests are carried out on graphite epoxy composite plates using an instrumented impact testing system. Contact force and surface motion are measured at several locations on the plate surface. The far-field surface motions, both flexural and extensional waves in the composite plate, are modeled using both approximate and exact solution methods. Postimpact test were performed to determine the extent of internal damage caused by the impact load. Further research on the detection method can lead to the development of a viable impact monitoring system for composite aerospace structures using distributed sensors.

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