Special Coverage

Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines
Vibration Tables Shake Up Aerospace and Car Testing
Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water
Computer Chips Calculate and Store in an Integrated Unit
Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing

NASA Awards 2007 Software of the Year

Software from Jet Propulsion Laboratory for detecting planets outside our solar system, and from Ames Research Center for defining safety margins for fiery spacecraft re-entries have been named co-winners of the 2007 NASA Software of the Year Award.

The NASA Software of the Year competition was initiated in 1994, and rewards outstanding software developed by the agency. The competition is sponsored by the NASA Chief Engineer, with technical support from NASA’s In ventions and Contributions Board. For more information on the 2007 winners and runners-up, click here.

Posted in: Articles, Software, Calibration, Design processes, Computer software and hardware, Optics, Product development

Lunar Science Instrumentation: Understanding and Characterizing the Moon Through Challenging Measurements

NASA lunar robotic science missions support the high-priority goals identified in the 2007 National Research Council report, The Scientific Context for Exploration of the Moon: Final Report (National Academies Presses, 2007). Future missions will characterize the lunar exosphere and surface environment; field-test new equipment, technologies, and approaches for performing lunar science; identify landing sites and emplace infrastructure to support robotic and human exploration; demonstrate and validate heritage systems for exploration missions; and provide operational experience in the harsh lunar environment.

Posted in: NASA Tech Needs

Improved Silica Aerogel Composite Materials

Shrinkage and cracking are greatly reduced.

A family of aerogel-matrix composite materials having thermal-stability and mechanical-integrity properties better than those of neat aerogels has been developed. Aerogels are known to be excellent thermal- and acoustic-insulation materials because of their molecular-scale porosity, but heretofore, the use of aerogels has been inhibited by two factors:

Their brittleness makes processing and handling difficult. They shrink during production and shrink more when heated to high temperatures during use. The shrinkage and the consequent cracking make it difficult to use them to encapsulate objects in thermal-insulation materials.
Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials, Composite materials, Materials properties

Dr. Anthony Colaprete, LCROSS Principal Investigator, Ames Research Center

LCROSS (Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite), which will travel to the moon aboard the launch vehicle for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), will test for the presence of water beneath the lunar surface by crashing a pair of heavy impactors into one of the permanently shadowed craters at the Moon’s South Pole. The impact will create a plume of debris that can be analyzed for the presence of water using specialized instruments. Dr. Anthony Colaprete, who is an expert on the Martian climate system, is principal investigator for the LCROSS mission.

Posted in: Who's Who

Alignment Pins for Assembling and Disassembling Structures

Simple tooling prevents damage to structures.

Simple, easy-to-use, highly effective tooling has been devised for maintaining alignment of bolt holes in mating structures during assembly and disassembly of the structures. The tooling was originally used during removal of a body flap from the space shuttle Atlantis, in which mis-alignments during removal of the last few bolts could cause the bolts to bind in their holes. By suitably modifying the dimensions of the tooling components, the basic design of the tooling can readily be adapted to other structures that must be maintained in alignment.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Mechanics, Assembling, Spacecraft

Capacitive Sensor

Balluff, Florence, KY, has introduced a new capacitive sensor line for proximity and level detection applications. The line features more than 250 models in a variety of body styles, sensing ranges, harsh environmental ratings, and advanced functionality. The line’s level-control capacitive sensors can detect solids or liquids through the walls of non-metallic containers, without direct contact to the target material. The capacitive proximity sensors can detect metallic or non-metallic targets at distances up to 25 mm, independent of color or surface texture. Standard housing materials include PVC, PBT, POM, and stainless steel. Special application types include level and proximity sensors for high-temperature environments (up to 480°F), miniature sensors with remote adjustment for confined spaces, sensors with IP69K rating for heavy-duty environments, and sensors for leak detection in chemical or pharmaceutical equipment.

For Free Info .

Posted in: Products

NASA Announces Education Television Partnership

NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale announced recently the launch of NASA Education TV (NASA eTV), a partnership with the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA), to produce new educational TV programs for distribution on NASA TV and the Internet. NASA eTV aims to engage young people in the excitement and challenges the future holds for America’s space program. Designed for grades K-12 as well as young adults, the short videos will be available on-demand through the Internet during the 2008-2009 school year.

Each NASA eTV program will consist of 5- to 10-minute video segments. The elementary school-level segments will provide an introduction to science and engineering. The middle-school segments will focus on the relevance of math to 21st century careers. High-school segments will build on the engineering and science behind NASA projects and missions. Programs for the general public will be aimed at 18- to 34-year-olds and focus on the impact of space exploration, scientific discovery, aeronautics research, and NASA-developed technologies.

For a monthly list of NASA Education TV programs, .

Posted in: UpFront

This Month in NASA History

NASA's Pioneer 11 image of Saturn and itsmoon Titan, at the upper left.This Month in NASA History: On September 1, 1979, Pioneer 11 flew to within 13,000 miles of Saturn and took the first close-up pictures of the planet and its moon, Titan. Launched on April 5, 1973, Pioneer 11 also obtained dramatic images of the immense polar regions of Jupiter, and determined the mass of Jupiter’s moon, Callisto.

Learn more about these events at .

Posted in: UpFront

Irrigation Water Extracted from Air and Soil Moisture Through Solar Power

By condensing water from the air and soil on chilled pipes, this invention attempts to alleviate both water and food shortage problems. It offers the ability to produce agricultural crops in most hot and humid climates by watering plants with condensation from environmental moisture, and by multiplying the number of crops that can be obtained per season. The production of condensation on pipes’ surfaces irrigates the plants’ roots, cools the roots, and accelerates the plants’ growth.

Posted in: Techs for License

Aircraft Support Via a Vortex-Ring Cushion Projector

An all-terrain, multi-role, hover-capable aircraft has a fuelefficient, rugged, vertical take-off and hover propulsion system. A raised-height, dispersal-resistant hover cushion is projected over the ground by the device as two bisected concentric streams of rotating and counter-rotating torus flume rings. The aircraft is able to clear trees and obstructions above terrain that would be prohibitive for a hovercraft.

Posted in: Techs for License

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