Special Coverage

Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water
Computer Chips Calculate and Store in an Integrated Unit
Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing
Mechanoresponsive Healing Polymers
Variable Permeability Magnetometer Systems and Methods for Aerospace Applications
Evaluation Standard for Robotic Research
Small Robot Has Outstanding Vertical Agility
Smart Optical Material Characterization System and Method
Lightweight, Flexible Thermal Protection System for Fire Protection

Spherical Sensor Configurations for Three-Dimensional Detecting and Tracking

Spherical Sensor Configurations (SSC) have been designed for detecting and tracking signals in three dimensions. The Spherical Sensor Configurations offer distinct advantages over contemporary imaging systems, significantly enhancing three-dimensional (3D) situational awareness. Sensor systems utilizing a spherical geometry as a foundation (Figure 1) can be designed for a variety of applications.

Posted in: Articles, Detectors, Imaging and visualization, Sensors and actuators


Improved Descent-Rate Limiting Mechanism

This braking device can be used to capture and slow a moving vehicle. An improved braking cable-payout mechanism has been developed. Like other such mechanisms, this mechanism can be used as a braking or shock-absorbing device for any of a variety of purposes — for example, enabling a person to descend from an upper floor of a burning building at a safe speed, capturing and slowing a moving vehicle, or limiting the shock load generated by opening of a parachute. Whereas other such mechanisms operate at payout speeds that vary with the length of payout, this mechanism operates at approximately constant payout speed, regardless of the length of cord that has already been paid out.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Mechanics, Brake lines, Braking systems, Mathematical analysis, Elastomers


Alignment-Insensitive Lower-Cost Telescope Architecture

This next-generation architecture enables construction of very large telescopes. This architecture features an active wavefront sensing and control scheme along with methods for measuring the relative positions of the primary to aft optics, such as the secondary mirror, and should enable larger and cheaper telescope architectures needed for future applications. This design overcomes the stability requirements of large telescope primary mirrors.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Mechanics, Mirrors, Architecture, Optics


Miniature Latching Valve

This valve remains either open or closed when power is not supplied. A miniature latching valve has been invented to satisfy a need for an electrically controllable on/off pneumatic valve that is lightweight and compact and remains in the most recently commanded open or closed state when power is not supplied. The valve (see figure) includes a poppet that is moved into or out of contact with a seat to effect closure or opening, respectively, of the flow path. Motion of the poppet is initiated by electrical heating of one of two opposing pairs of nickel/titanium shape-memory alloy (SMA) wires above their transition temperature: heated wires contract to their “remembered” length, applying tension to pull the poppet toward or away from the seat. A latch consisting mainly of a bistable Belleville washer (a conical spring) made of a hardened stainless steel operates between two stable positions corresponding to the fully closed or fully open state, holding the poppet in one of these positions when power is not applied to either pair of SMA wires.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Mechanics, Springs, Nickel alloys, Smart materials, Titanium alloys, Valves, Pneumatic systems


Immersive Display System Enables Virtual Reality in NASA Lab

Immersive CAVE™ display system Mechdyne Corp. Marshalltown, IA 641-754-4649 www.mechdyne.comMechdyne Corporation has installed a CAVE™ display system in the Fossett Laboratory for Virtual Planetary Exploration at Washington University St. Louis (WUSTL). WUSTL is home to the Geosciences Node of the NASA Planetary Data System, with responsibility for managing data related to the study of surfaces and interiors of terrestrial planetary bodies. The Laboratory will provide 3D imaging capability for visualization of data collected by national and international space exploration programs, including the ongoing Mars Exploration Program.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Imaging, Software, Virtual reality, Displays


Tool Suite Enables Software Testing for Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle

LDRA tool suite LDRA San Bruno, CA 650-583-8880 www.ldra.comAimed at safely transferring astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS), the Moon, Mars, and other destinations beyond low-Earth orbit (LEO), the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) is a state-of-the-art human spaceflight system. Lockheed Martin Corporation has selected the LDRA tool suite for software verification and automated testing on the Orion CEV program, and to enable developers to achieve the stringent safety-critical standards required to ensure safe transfer of the astronauts. NASA has awarded Lockheed Martin a multimillion-dollar contract for Orion’s development.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Software, Computer software and hardware, Tools and equipment


Innovation Begets Innovation

By Robert “Buzz” Kross Senior Vice President of the Manufacturing Division Autodesk San Rafael, CAInnovation is a way of life at Autodesk. Since our introduction of AutoCAD software in 1982, Autodesk has developed the broadest portfolio of state-ofthe- art digital prototyping solutions to help customers experience their ideas before they are built.

Posted in: Articles, Software, Research and development


The U.S. Government does not endorse any commercial product, process, or activity identified on this web site.