Special Coverage

Home

Liquid-Metal-Fed Pulsed Plasma Thrusters

A short document proposes liquid- metal- fed pulsed plasma thrusters for small spacecraft. The propellant liquid for such a thruster would be a low- melting- temperature metal that would be stored molten in an unpressurized, heated reservoir and would be pumped to the thruster by a magneto- hydrodynamic coupler. The liquid would enter the thruster via a metal tube inside an electrically insulating ceramic tube. A capacitor would be connected between the outlet of the metal tube and the outer electrode of the thruster. The pumping would cause a drop of liquid to form at the outlet, eventually growing large enough to make contact with the outer electrode. Contact would close the circuit through the capacitor, causing the capacitor to discharge through the drop. The capacitor would have been charged with enough energy that the discharge would vaporize, ionize, and electromagnetically accelerate the contents of the metal drop. The resulting plasma would be ejected at a speed of about 50 km/s. The vaporization of the drop would reopen the circuit through the capacitor, enabling recharging of the capacitor. As pumping continued, a new drop would grow and the process would repeat.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

Read More >>

Ultrasonic Apparatus for Pulverizing Brittle Material

Characteristics include light weight, low preload, and low power demand. The figure depicts an apparatus that pulverizes brittle material by means of a combination of ultrasonic and sonic vibration, hammering, and abrasion. The basic design of the apparatus could be specialized to be a portable version for use by a geologist in collecting powdered rock samples for analysis in the field or in a laboratory. Alternatively, a larger benchtop version could be designed for milling and mixing of precursor powders for such purposes as synthesis of ceramic and other polycrystalline materials or preparing powder samples for x-ray diffraction or x-ray fluorescence measurements to determine crystalline structures and compositions. Among the most attractive characteristics of this apparatus are its light weight and the ability to function without need for a large preload or a large power supply: It has been estimated that a portable version could have a mass <0.5 kg, would consume less than 1 W·h of energy in milling a 1-cm 3 volume of rock, and could operate at a preload <10 N.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

Read More >>

Centrifugal Adsorption System

Notable features include efficient collection of bioproducts and removal of bubbles. The centrifugal adsorption cartridge system (CACS) is an apparatus that recovers one or more bioproduct(s) from a dilute aqueous solution or suspension flowing from a bioreactor. The CACS can be used both on Earth in unit gravity and in space in low gravity. The CACS can be connected downstream from the bioreactor; alternatively, it can be connected into a flow loop that includes the bioreactor so that the liquid can be recycled. A centrifugal adsorption cartridge in the CACS (see figure) includes two concentric cylinders with a spiral ramp between them. The volume between the inner and outer cylinders, and between the turns of the spiral ramp is packed with an adsorbent material. The inner cylinder is a sieve tube covered with a gas- permeable, hydrophobic membrane.

Posted in: Machinery & Automation, Briefs

Read More >>

Demonstration of a Pyrotechnic Bolt-Retractor System

A paper describes a demonstration of the X-38 bolt-retractor system (BRS) on a spacecraft-simulating apparatus, called the Large Mobility Base, in NASA Flight Robotics Laboratory (FRL). The BRS design was proven safe by testing in NASA Pyrotechnic Shock Facility (PSF) before being demonstrated in the FRL. The paper describes the BRS, FRL, PSF, and interface hardware. Information on the bolt-retraction time and spacecraft-simulator acceleration, and an analysis of forces, are presented. The purpose of the demonstration was to show the capability of the FRL for testing of the use of pyrotechnics to separate stages of a spacecraft. Although a formal test was not performed because of schedule and budget constraints, the data in the report show that the BRS is a successful design concept and the FRL is suitable for future separation tests.

Posted in: Briefs

Read More >>

Programs for Testing Processor-in-Memory Computing Systems

The Multithreaded Microbenchmarks for Processor-InMemory (PIM) Compilers, Simulators, and Hardware are computer programs arranged in a series for use in testing the performances of PIM computing systems, including compilers, simulators, and hardware. The programs at the beginning of the series test basic functionality; the programs at subsequent positions in the series test increasingly complex functionality. The programs are intended to be used while designing a PIM system, and can be used to verify that compilers, simulators, and hardware work correctly. The programs can also be used to enable designers of these system components to examine tradeoffs in implementation. Finally, these programs can be run on non-PIM hardware (either singlethreaded or multithreaded) using the POSIX pthreads standard to verify that the benchmarks themselves operate correctly. (POSIX -Portable Operating System Interface for UNIX- is a set of standards that define how programs and operating systems interact with each other. pthreads is a library of pre-emptive thread routines that comply with one of the POSIX standards).

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

Read More >>

PVM Enhancement for Beowulf Multiple-Processor Nodes

A recent version of the Parallel Virtual Machine (PVM) computer program has been enhanced to enable use of multiple processors in a single node of a Beowulf system (a cluster of personal computers that runs the Linux operating system). A previous version of PVM had been enhanced by addition of a software port, denoted BEOLIN, that enables the incorporation of a Beowulf system into a larger parallel processing system administered by PVM, as though the Beowulf system were a single computer in the larger system. BEOLIN spawns tasks on (that is, automatically assigns tasks to) individual nodes within the cluster. However, BEOLIN does not enable the use of multiple processors in a single node. The present enhancement adds support for a parameter in the PVM command line that enables the user to specify which Internet Protocol host address the code should use in communicating with other Beowulf nodes. This enhancement also provides for the case in which each node in a Beowulf system contains multiple processors. In this case, by making multiple references to a single node, the user can cause the software to spawn multiple tasks on the multiple processors in that node.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

Read More >>

Equipment for On-Wafer Testing From 220 to 325 GHz

On-wafer vector network analysis of semiconductors is extended to higher frequencies. A system of electronic instrumentation, constituting the equivalent of a two-port vector network analyzer, has been developed for use in on-wafer measurement of key electrical characteristics of semiconductor devices at frequencies from 220 to 325 GHz. A prior system designed according to similar principles was reported in “Equipment for On-Wafer Testing at Frequencies Up to 220 GHz” (NPO-20760), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 25, No. 11 (November 2001), page 42. As one would expect, a major source of difficulty in progressing to the present higherfrequency- range system was the need for greater mechanical precision as wavelengths shorten into the millimeter range, approaching the scale of mechanical tolerances of prior systems.

Posted in: Semiconductors & ICs, Briefs, TSP

Read More >>

White Papers

Software Defined Radio Handbook
Sponsored by Pentek
Multi-channel, Multi-board Coherency for SWaP-Constrained SIGINT and EW
Sponsored by curtiss wright
Multi-Purpose Non-Contact Position/Displacement Sensing
Sponsored by Kaman
Piezo Motors Power MRI Robot
Sponsored by micromo
How to Select an Analog Signal Generator
Sponsored by rohde and schwarz a and d
Thinking Outside of the Box: Optimizing System Design With Embedded Expertise
Sponsored by Curtiss Wright

White Papers Sponsored By: