Special Coverage

Self-Healing Wire Insulation
Thermomechanical Methodology for Stabilizing Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) Response
Space Optical Communications Using Laser Beams
High Field Superconducting Magnets
Active Response Gravity Offload and Method
Strat-X
Sonar Inspection Robot System
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Better Finite-Element Analysis of Composite Shell Structures

A computer program implements a finite-element-based method of predicting the deformations of thin aerospace structures made of isotropic materials or anisotropic fiber-reinforced composite materials. The technique and corresponding software are applicable to thin shell structures in general and are particularly useful for analysis of thin beamlike members having open cross-sections (e.g. I-beams and C-channels) in which significant warping can occur.

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Computing Spacecraft-Pointing Vectors for Limb Tracking

LMBTRK is a computer program that is used together with two software libraries known as ERHAND and HYBRRD to generate spacecraft-pointing vectors for limb-tracking maneuvers needed for experiments on propagation of radio signals through planetary atmospheres. LMBTRK determines, as a function of time, the direction in which one must point a ray (representing a radio beam) emitted by a spacecraft in order to make the ray pass through a planetary atmosphere on its way to a receiving station at a known location. LMBTRK was written for Sun computers running the Solaris operating system and has been running on a cluster of such computers used in the Radio Science System of the Cassini Spacecraft mission.

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Enhanced Master Controller Unit Tester

The Enhanced Master Controller Unit Tester (EMUT) software is a tool for development and testing of software for a master controller (MC) flight computer. The primary function of the EMUT software is to simulate interfaces between the MC computer and external analog and digital circuitry (including other computers) in a rack of equipment to be used in scientific experiments. The simulations span the range of nominal, off-nominal, and erroneous operational conditions, enabling the testing of MC software before all the equipment becomes available.

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Rover Graphical Simulator

Rover Graphical Simulator (RGS) is a package of software that generates images of the motion of a wheeled robotic exploratory vehicle (rover) across terrain that includes obstacles and regions of varying traversability. The simulated rover moves autonomously, utilizing reasoning and decision-making capabilities of a fuzzy-logic navigation strategy to choose its path from an initial to a final state. RGS provides a graphical user interface for control and monitoring of simulations.

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Increasing Durability of Flame-Sprayed Strain Gauges

Low-oxygen heat treatments and internal platinum oxygen-diffusion barriers extend lifetimes. Thermally sprayed dielectric ceramic coatings are the primary means of attaching strain and temperature gauges to hot-section rotating parts of turbine engines. As hot-section temperatures increase, lifetimes of installed gauges decrease, and seldom exceed one hour above 2,000 °F ( ≈1,100 °C). Advanced engine components are expected to operate at temperatures approaching 2,200 °F ( ≈1,200 °C), and the required high-temperature lifetime is 10 hours minimum.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials

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Multifunctional, High-Temperature Nanocomposites

Electrical and thermal conductivities increase with proportions of nanotubes. In experiments conducted as part of a continuing effort to incorporate multifunctionality into advanced composite materials, blends of multi-walled carbon nanotubes and a resin denoted “PETI-330” (wherein “PETI” is an abbreviation for “phenylethynyl- terminated imide”) were prepared, characterized, and fabricated into moldings. PETI-330 was selected as the matrix resin in these experiments because of its low melt viscosity (<10 poise at a temperature of 280 °C), excellent melt stability (lifetime >2 hours at 280 °C), and high temperature performance (>1,000 hours at 288 °C). The multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs), obtained from the University of Kentucky, were selected because of their electrical and thermal conductivity and their small diameters. The purpose of these experiments was to determine the combination of thermal, electrical, and mechanical properties achievable while still maintaining melt processability.

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Multilayer Impregnated Fibrous Thermal Insulation Tiles

Temperature rises are limited by transpiration cooling. The term “secondary polymer layered impregnated tile” (“SPLIT”) denotes a type of ablative composite-material thermal- insulation tiles having engineered, spatially non-uniform compositions. The term “secondary” refers to the fact that each tile contains at least two polymer layers wherein endothermic reactions absorb considerable amounts of heat, thereby helping to prevent overheating of an underlying structure. These tiles were invented to afford lighter-weight alternatives to the reusable thermal-insulation materials heretofore variously used or considered for use in protecting the space shuttles and other spacecraft from intense atmospheric- entry heating. Tiles of this type could also be useful on Earth as relatively lightweight components of fire-retardant structures.

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