Special Coverage

Home

The StarLight Space Interferometer

Two papers describe the StarLight space interferometer — a Michelson interferometer that would be implemented by two spacecraft flying in formation. The StarLight formation flying interferometer project has been testing and demonstrating engineering concepts for a new generation of space interferometers that would be employed in a search for extrasolar planets and in astrophysical investigations. As described in the papers, the original StarLight concept called for three spacecraft, and the main innovation embodied is a modification that makes it possible to reduce complexity by eliminating the third spacecraft. The main features of the modification are (1) introduction of an optical delay line on one spacecraft and (2) controlling the flying formation such that the two spacecraft are located at two points along a specified parabola so as to define the required baseline of specified length (which could be varied up to 125 m) perpendicular to the axis of the parabola. One of the papers presents a detailed description of the optical layout and discusses computational modeling of the performance; the other paper presents an overview of the requirements for operation and design, the overall architecture, and subsystems.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs, TSP

Read More >>

Controllable Sonar Lenses and Prisms Based on ERFs

Compact devices without moving parts would focus and steer acoustic beams.  Sonar-beam-steering devices of the proposed type would contain no moving parts and would be considerably smaller and less power-hungry, relative to conventional multiple-beam sonar arrays. The proposed devices are under consideration for installation on future small autonomous underwater vehicles because the sizes and power demands of conventional multiple-beam arrays are excessive, and motors used in single-beam mechanically scanned systems are also not reliable. 

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs, TSP

Read More >>

3D Navigation Devices

3Dconnexion(r), a Logitech company, San Jose, CA, has released two new 3D navigation devices, SpaceNavigator and SpaceExplorer, that provide designers with intuitive 3D computer navigation control. SpaceNavigator is an entry-level device that lets users move naturally and fluidly in 3D environments without making repetitive mouse movements or having to type multiple keyboard commands. It features six optical sensors that communicate multiple threads of navigation data to 3D applications. It is used as a companion to a mouse, in the alternate hand, and lets users simultaneously pan, zoom, and rotate 3D objects. A small, heavy steel base holds the device to the desktop and supports a controller cap that flexes in all directions. The SpaceExplorer is a mid-range device that features a key console and 15 pre-configured function keys within comfortable reach of the controller cap. It comes with 3DxSoftware, which offers support for Autodesk Design Reviewer and DWF Viewer, and Google Earth and SketchUp. For Free Info Visit http://info.hotims.com/10960-120

Posted in: Products

Read More >>

Bill Sheredy, Project Manager for SAME (Smoke Aerosol Measurement Experiment)

NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH Bill SheredyFire is deadly and unpredictable on Earth; in an enclosed space vehicle in orbit, its presence takes on even more serious implications. To prevent the threat of smoke and fire on missions, NASA conducted the Smoke Aerosol Measurement Experiment (SAME), designed to create devices that will adequately detect combustion in a zero-gravity environment. Heading SAME is NASA researcher Bill Sheredy.

Posted in: Who's Who

Read More >>

Nanoactuators Based on Electrostatic Forces on Dielectrics

Large force-to-mass ratios could be achieved at the nanoscale. Nanoactuators of a proposed type would exploit the forces exerted by electric fields on dielectric materials. As used here, “nanoactuators” includes motors, manipulators, and other active mechanisms that have dimensions of the order of nanometers and/or are designed to manipulate objects that have dimensions of the order of nanometers.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

Read More >>

Robot Forearm and Dexterous Hand

The hand is highly anthropomorphic and even includes a folding palm. An electromechanical hand-and-forearm assembly has been developed for incorporation into an anthropomorphic robot that would be used in outer space. The assembly is designed to offer manual dexterity comparable to that of a hand inside an astronaut’s suit; thus, the assembly may also be useful as a prosthesis or as an end effector on an industrial robot.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs

Read More >>

Synthetic Bursae for Robots

Functions would be similar to those of natural bursae. Synthetic bursae are under development for incorporation into robot joints that are actuated by motor-driven cables in a manner similar to that of arthropod joints actuated by muscle-driven tendons. Like natural bursae, the synthetic bursae would serve as cushions and friction reducers.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs

Read More >>