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Lightweight, Segmented, Mostly Silicon Telescope Mirror

A document presents the concept of a curved telescope primary reflector structure, made mostly of silicon, that would have an areal mass density = 1 kg/m2 and would be deployed in outer space, where it would be operated at a temperature in the cryogenic range. The concept provides for adjustment of the shape of the mirror to maintain the required precise optical surface figure despite the flexibility inherent in the ultra-lightweight design. The structure would include a thin mirror layer divided into hexagonal segments supported by flexure hinges on a lightweight two-layer backing structure. Each segment would also be supported at three points by sets of piezoelectric linear microactuators that could impose small displacements along the optical axis. The excitations applied to the aforementioned microactuators would be chosen to effect fine adjustments of the axial positions and the orientations of the segments relative to the supporting structure. Other piezoelectriclinear microactuators embedded in the backing structure would enable control of the displacements of the segmentsalong the hexagonal axes; they would also enable control of the curvature ofthe backing structure and, thus, additional control of the curvature of the reflector.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs

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Kalman Filter for Calibrating a Telescope Focal Plane

Optimal estimates of scientific and engineering calibration parameters are generated simultaneously. The instrument-pointing frame (IPF) Kalman filter, and an algorithm that implements this filter, have been devised for calibrating the focal plane of a telescope. As used here, “calibration” signifies, more specifically, a combination of measurements and calculations directed toward ensuring accuracy in aiming the telescope and determining the locations of objects imaged in various arrays of photodetectors in instruments located on the focal plane. The IPF Kalman filter was originally intended for application to a spaceborne infrared astronomical telescope, but can also be applied to other spaceborne and ground-based telescopes.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs

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Electronic Absolute Cartesian Autocollimator

Readout is not materially affected by drifts in analog circuitry. An electronic absolute Cartesian autocollimator performs the same basic optical function as does a conventional all-optical or a conventional electronic autocollimator but differs in the nature of its optical target and the manner in which the position of the image of the target is measured. The term “absolute” in the name of this apparatus reflects the nature of the position measurement, which, unlike in a conventional electronic autocollimator, is based absolutely on the position of the image rather than on an assumed proportionality between the position and the levels of processed analog electronic signals. The term “Cartesian” in the name of this apparatus reflects the nature of its optical target.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs

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Multifunctional Tanks for Spacecraft

A document discusses multifunctional tanks as means to integrate additional structural and functional efficiencies into designs of spacecraft.  Whereas spacecraft tanks are traditionally designed primarily to store fluids and only secondarily to provide other benefits, multifunctional tanks are designed to simultaneously provide multiple primary benefits. In addition to one or more chamber(s) for storage of fluids, a multifunctional tank could provide any or all of the following:

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs

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Tilt/Tip/Piston Manipulator With Base-Mounted Actuators

The geometry and kinematics of this manipulator would afford advantages for some applications. A proposed three degree of freedom (tilt/tip/piston) manipulator, suitable for aligning an optical or mechanical component, would offer several advantages over prior such manipulators:

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs

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Measurement of Model Noise in a Hard-Wall Wind Tunnel

Spurious noise is suppressed in processing of digitized microphone outputs. Identification, analysis, and control of fluid mechanically generated sound from models of aircraft and automobiles in special low-noise, semi-anechoic wind tunnels are an important research endeavor. Such studies can also be done in aerodynamic wind tunnels that have hard walls if phased microphone arrays are used to focus on the noise source regions and reject unwanted reflections or background noise. Although it may be difficult to simulate the total flyover or drive-by noise in a closed wind tunnel, individual noise sources can be isolated and analyzed.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs

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Aerogel/Particle Composites for Thermoelectric Devices

Shrinkage is reduced through addition of titania powder. Optimizing solution chemistry and the addition of titania and fumed silica powder reduces shrinkage. These materials would serve to increase thermal efficiency by providing thermal insulation to suppress lateral heat leaks. They would also serve to prolong operational lifetime by suppressing sublimation of certain constituents of thermoelectric materials (e.g., sublimation of Sb from CoSb3) at typical high operating temperatures. [The use of pure silica aerogels as cast-in-place thermal-insulation and sublimation-suppression materials was described in “Aerogels for Thermal Insulation of Thermoelectric Devices” (), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 30, No. 7 (July 2006), page 50.]

Posted in: Materials, Briefs

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