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Improved Oxygen-Beam Texturing of Glucose-Monitoring Optics

Textures can be more nearly optimized for greater utilization of light. An improved method has been devised for using directed, hyperthermal beams of oxygen atoms and ions to impart desired textures to the tips of polymethylmethacrylate [PMMA] optical fibers to be used in monitoring the glucose content of blood. The improved method incorporates, but goes beyond, the method described in “Texturing Blood- Glucose-Monitoring Optics Using Oxygen Beams” (LEW-17642- 1), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 29, No. 4 (April 2005), page 11a. The basic principle of operation of such a glucose-monitoring sensor is as follows: The textured surface of the optical fiber is coated with chemicals that interact with glucose in such a manner as to change the reflectance of the surface. Light is sent down the optical fiber and is reflected from, the textured surface. The resulting change in reflectance of the light is measured as an indication of the concentration of glucose.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Briefs, TSP

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Prognostics Methodology for Complex Systems

Automatic method to detect and react to complex degradation and incipient faults. An automatic method to schedule maintenance and repair of complex systems is produced based on a computational structure called the Informed Maintenance Grid (IMG). This method provides solutions to the two fundamental problems in autonomic logistics: (1) unambiguous detection of deterioration or impending loss of function and (2) determination of the time remaining to perform maintenance or other corrective action based upon information from the system. The IMG provides a health determination over the medium-to-long-term operation of the system, from one or more days to years of study. The IMG is especially applicable to spacecraft and both piloted and autonomous aircraft, or industrial control processes.

Posted in: Information Sciences, Briefs, TSP

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Modeling and Control of Aerothermoelastic Effects

This method makes it possible to design controls to compensate for aerothermoelasticity. Aerothermoelasticity comprises those aspects of the dynamics of an aircraft that are caused by flexibility and heating during flight. The concept of aerothermoelasticity is particularly important for hypersonic vehicles that operate at extremely high dynamic pressures. The design requirements for such vehicles often introduce long and thin fuselages subject to elastic bending in low- frequency vibrational modes. Furthermore, surface heating can significantly change the stiffness characteristics of these modes. These aerothermoelastic effects must be considered in the synthesis and analysis of control systems.

Posted in: Information Sciences, Briefs

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Algorithms for Haptic Rendering of 3D Objects

Tactual displays provide the sensations of touching computationally simulated objects. Algorithms have been developed to provide haptic rendering of three-dimensional (3D) objects in virtual (that is, computationally simulated) environments. The goal of haptic rendering is to generate tactual displays of the shapes, hardnesses, surface textures, and frictional properties of 3D objects in real time. Haptic rendering is a major element of the emerging field of computer haptics, which invites comparison with computer graphics. We have already seen various applications of computer haptics in the areas of medicine (surgical simulation, telemedicine, haptic user interfaces for blind people, and rehabilitation of patients with neurological disorders), entertainment (3D painting, character animation, morphing, and sculpting), mechanical design (path planning and assembly sequencing), and scientific visualization (geophysical data analysis and molecular manipulation).

Posted in: Information Sciences, Electronics & Computers, Briefs, TSP

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Recovering Residual Xenon Propellant for an Ion Propulsion System

Most of the otherwise unusable xenon is recovered. Future nuclear-powered Ion-Propulsion- System-propelled spacecraft such as Jupiter Icy Moon Orbiter (JIMO) will carry more than 10,000 kg of xenon propellant. Typically, a small percentage of this propellant cannot be used towards the end of the mission because of the pressure drop requirements for maintaining flow. For large missions such as JIMO, this could easily translate to over 250 kg of unusable xenon.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

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System Would Detect Foreign-Object Damage in Turbofan Engine

Vibration-sensor and gas-path-analysis data would be fused. A proposed data-fusion system, to be implemented mostly in software, would further process the digitized and preprocessed outputs of sensors in a turbofan engine to detect foreign-object damage (FOD) [more precisely, damage caused by impingement of such foreign objects as birds, pieces of ice, and runway debris]. The proposed system could help a flight crew to decide what, if any, response is necessary to complete a flight safely, and could aid mechanics in deciding what post-flight maintenance action might be needed.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

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Cargo-Positioning System for Next-Generation Spacecraft

A report discusses a proposed system for mounting loaded pallets in the cargo bay of a next-generation space-shuttle-like spacecraft, such that the center of mass of the cargo would lie within a 1-in. (2.54- cm) cube that would also contain the center of mass of the spacecraft. The system would include (1) an algorithm for planning the locations of the pallets, given the geometric and weight properties of the pallets, and the geometric restrictions of the cargo bay; (2) quick-connect/ quick-disconnect mounting mechanisms similar to those now used on air hoses; (3) other mounting mechanisms, comprising mostly spring-loaded pins, in a locking subsystem that would prevent shifting of the pallets under load; and (4) mechanisms for performing fine position adjustments to satisfy the center-of-mass requirement. The position-adjusting mechanisms would be motor-driven lead-screw mechanisms in groups of three — one for positioning each pin of the locking subsystem along each of three mutually perpendicular coordinate axes. The system also would include a triple threaded screw that would provide compensation for thermal expansion or contraction of the spacecraft.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

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