Special Coverage

Iodine-Compatible Hall Effect Thruster
Precision Assembly of Systems on Surfaces (PASS)
Development of a Novel Electrospinning System with Automated Positioning and Control Software
2016 Create The Future Design Contest Open For Entries
Clamshell Sampler
Shape Memory Alloy Rock Splitter
Deployable Extra-Vehicular Activity Platform (DEVAP) for Planetary Surfaces
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Tool for Rapid Analysis of Monte Carlo (TRAM) Simulation Data

This tool can be used in any engineering industry that uses Monte Carlo simulations as part of a design and analysis process. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas Spacecraft design is inherently difficult due to the complexity of the systems involved and the expense of testing hardware in a realistic environment. The number and cost of flight tests can be reduced by performing extensive simulation and analysis studies to understand vehicle operating limits and identify circumstances that lead to mission failure. A Monte Carlo simulation approach that varies a wide range of parameters is typically used to generate a large set of test scenarios. The results of these analyses bound the vehicle performance and eventually help certify a spacecraft for flight.

Posted in: Briefs

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Optimal Prioritized Actuator Allocation

This allocation could improve the safety and autonomy of missions where it is critical to match torque first to minimize disturbances to spacecraft pointing. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California For formation flying, rendezvous and docking, and proximity operations with small bodies of the solar system, spacecraft require simultaneous translational and rotational agility. The necessary agility is generally provided by combinations of multiple small thrusters and torque-only actuators. To use these actuators, an onboard control system first calculates desired forces and torques that cause a spacecraft to follow a desired trajectory. Then the commanded forces and torques are turned into individual commands to specific actuators such that the combined action of all the actuators realizes as closely as possible the commanded forces and torques. This problem is referred to as actuator (or control) allocation.

Posted in: Briefs

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Java Pathfinder (JPF) Core System

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California The JPF Core System is a framework to analyze and verify Java bytecode programs. The major component of JPF core is an extensible and runtime-configurable virtual machine (VM) that can be customized with runtime components such as specific instruction sets and plug-ins to observe program execution. The JPF core can store and restore program states, and comes with a configuration that constitutes a standalone software model checker that can be used to detect and analyze concurrency defects in Java applications like deadlocks or data race conditions.

Posted in: Briefs

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Cam Hand

This robust gripper design has applicability to both robots and as a prosthetic for the physically challenged. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California A durable gripper tool was designed for use by RoboSimian robots intended for use in disaster scenarios that demand high-force, robust manipulation. The resulting Cam Hand fills a previously unaddressed niche that emphasizes grip strength and robustness over dexterity. The design uses a number of unique features to ensure high operational flexibility. While this gripper was created for use on a robot, its basic design could be refined for other applications; in particular, as a new class of prosthetic that would exist between the traditional hook and pinch models and the dexterous models currently under development.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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Limboid Reconfigurable Robots for In-Space Assembly

A Limboid workforce with access to a tool crib could staff robotic space factories. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Figure 1. A laboratory prototype of a Limbi robot autonomously builds a modular structure. This process could repeat to build a large truss or spacecraft. As shown here, the modules are small, but a similar approach would work for large modules. Many future space vehicles, planetary bases, and mining operations will be too large and heavy to launch on a single rocket. Instead, component parts would need to be launched on multiple rockets and assembled in space. To enable versatile in-space assembly, a novel class of reconfigurable robots called Limboids has been conceptualized. Limboids are robotic limbs that attach and detach from each other to form a variety of useful configurations. These configurations might be as small as a single limb, which is best for dexterous manipulation of small parts, or as large as necessary for gross manipulation. As a modular system, Limboids could be supplemented with additional tools and limbs.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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Multifunctional Ablative Thermal Protection System

This material has applications in aerospace systems, manufacturing, and structural components requiring three-dimensional reinforcement. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California The Orion crew module highlighting the compression pads in the heat shield. NASA has developed a unique and robust multifunctional material called 3-Dimensional Multifunctional Ablative (3DMAT) Thermal Protection System (TPS) that meets both the structural and thermal performance needs for a lunar return mission and beyond. 3DMAT uses a game-changing woven technology tailored to the needs of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) compression pad. Compression pads serve as the interface between the crew module and service module of the Orion MPCV. The compression pads must carry the structural loads generated during launch, space operations, and pyroshock separation of the two modules. They must also serve as an ablative TPS withstanding the high heating of Earth re-entry. 3DMAT leverages NASA’s investment in woven TPS to design, manufacture, test, and demonstrate a prototype material for the Orion compression pads that combines the weaving of quartz yarns with resin transfer molding.

Posted in: Briefs

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Coming Soon - Smart Enclosures using RFID for Inventory Management

The NASA Johnson Space Center has developed a method for tracking collections of items in a smart container using radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags with a high level of read accuracy. Automating the tracking of a collection of items (particularly small items) represents a major industrial hurdle due to both tag size and cost. This technology promises to successfully address these hurdles. The smart enclosure innovation can track individual items in the smart containers or receptacles regardless of item placement. The NASA-developed patent-pending technology is available for licensing.

Posted in: Upcoming Webinars

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