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Advancements in Technology for Controlling Fiber Orientation in Composite Parts

The performance of a composite part is primarily determined by the orientation of fibers in the plies. Designers wishing to exploit the full potential of composite materials, while avoiding manufacturing problems and part failures, must define and control fiber orientation. Anticipating true fiber orientation for a single ply is seldom intuitive, and predicting the behavior of an entire laminate made of tens or hundreds of plies is nearly impossible.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs

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Improved Apparatus for Testing Monoball Bearings

Automated tests can be performed over wide ranges of conditions. A desk-sized apparatus for testing monoball bearings and their lubricants offers advantages, relative to prior such apparatuses, of (1) a greater degree of automation and (2) capability of operation under wider and more realistic ranges of test conditions. The ranges of attainable test conditions include load from 100 to >50,000 lb (445 to >2.22 ~ 105 N), resisting torque up to 30,000 lbin. (.3,390 N-m), oscillating rotation through an angle as large as 280‹, and oscillation frequency from 0 to 6 Hz. With addition of some components and without major modification of the apparatus, it is also possible to perform tests under environmental conditions that include temperature from .320 to 1,000 ‹F (.196 to +538 ‹C), relative humidity from 0 to 100 percent, and either air at ambient pressure, high vacuum, or an atmosphere of monatomic oxygen.

Posted in: Briefs

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Instrument for Aircraft-Icing and Cloud- Physics Measurements

Data on cloud water content are deduced from hot-wire power levels. The figure shows a compact, rugged, simple sensor head that is part of an instrumentation system for making measurements to characterize the severity of aircraft-icing conditions and/or to perform research on cloud physics. The quantities that are calculated from measurement data acquired by this system and that are used to quantify the severity of icing conditions include sizes of cloud water drops, cloud liquid water content (LWC), cloud ice water content (IWC), and cloud total water content (TWC).

Posted in: Briefs

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Apparatus for Hot Impact Testing of Material Specimens

It is not necessary to cool and reheat the furnace between tests. An apparatus for positioning and holding material specimens is a major subsystem of a system for impact testing of the specimens at temperatures up to 1,500 °C. This apparatus and the rest of the system are designed especially for hot impact testing of advanced ceramics, composites, and coating materials.

Posted in: Test & Measurement, Briefs

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Simulator for Testing Spacecraft Separation Devices

A report describes the main features of a system for testing pyrotechnic and mechanical devices used to separate spacecraft and modules of spacecraft during flight. The system includes a spacecraft simulator [also denoted a large mobility base (LMB)] equipped with air thrusters, sensors, and data-acquisition equipment. The spacecraft simulator floats on air bearings over an epoxy-covered concrete floor. This free-flotation arrangement enables simulation of motion in outer space in three degrees of freedom: translation along two orthogonal horizontal axes and rotation about a vertical axis. The system also includes a static stand. In one application, the system was used to test a boltretraction system (BRS) intended for separation of the lifting-body and deorbitpropulsion stages of the X-38 spacecraft. The LMB was connected via the BRS to the static stand, then pyrotechnic devices that actuate the BRS were fired. The separation distance and acceleration were measured. The report cites a document, not yet published at the time of reporting the information for this article, that is said to present additional detailed information.

Posted in: Test & Measurement, Briefs

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Deformable Mirror to Help NASA Search for New Planets

Boston Micromachines, a provider of MEMS-based deformable mirror products for adaptive optics systems, is developing a deformable mirror that will aid NASA in the search for extra-solar planets. The mirror comprises a micromirror array consisting of 331 closely packed ultra-flat hexagonal mirror elements. Each element is capable of tip, tilt, and piston motion with nanometer precision as required for a space-based, hyper-contrast coronagraph imaging telescope.

Posted in: Application Briefs

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Update on EMD and Hilbert-Spectra Analysis of Time Series

U.S. Patent 6,381,559 presents further information about the method described in "Analyzing Time Series Using EMD and Hilbert Spectra" (GSC-13817), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 24, No. 10 (October 2000), page 63. To recapitulate: The method is especially well suited for analyzing time-series data that represent nonstationary and nonlinear physical phenomena. The method is based principally on the concept of empirical mode decomposition (EMD), according to which any complicated signal (as represented by digital samples) can be decomposed into a finite number of functions, called "intrinsic mode functions" (IMFs), that admit well-behaved Hilbert transforms. The local energies and the instantaneous frequencies derived from the IMFs through Hilbert transforms can be used to construct an energy-frequency-time distribution, denoted a Hilbert spectrum. The patent expands on the description in the cited prior article by explaining underlying mathematical principles and describing details of implementation. The patent also describes, as major elements of the method, the options of (1) filtering the original signal by combining a subset of IMFs and (2) fitting a curve to the filtered signal — something that it may not be possible to do with the original signal.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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