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Dexterous Humanoid Robot

This robot can replace human workers in dangerous, life-threatening conditions. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas A humanoid robot has been created that includes a torso, a pair of arms, a neck, and a head. The torso extends along a primary axis and presents a pair of shoulders. The pair of arms movably extends from the shoulders. Each of the arms is fully jointed. The neck movably extends from the torso along the primary axis, and has at least one neck joint. The head movably extends from the neck along the primary axis. The head has at least one head joint. The shoulders are canted toward one another at a shrug angle that is defined between each of the shoulders such that a workspace is defined between the shoulders.

Posted in: Mechanics, Mechanical Components, Briefs

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Tethered Vehicle Control and Tracking System

Kite-like wind energy generation systems can power a generator on the ground. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia This innovation can control the flight of a tethered vehicle, in an airborne wind energy (AWE) generation system, through the use of a pan-tilt platform and a visible spectrum digital camera, combined with tracking and control software running on a standard PC.

Posted in: Mechanics, Mechanical Components, Briefs

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Lunar Organic Waste Reformer

Possible applications also include conversion of terrestrial organic wastes into fuel for power generation or into feedstock for chemical manufacture. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio The Lunar Organic Waste Reformer (LOWR) is a novel technology to convert organic wastes from human space exploration outposts into useful propellant constituents. The LOWR meets NASA’s Trash to Supply Gas (TtSG) objective under the Advanced Exploration Systems Logistics Reduction and Repurposing project by integrating steam reformation, methanation, and electrolysis to convert organic waste into methane and oxygen products. At reformer temperatures above 700 °C, oxygenated steam reacts with organic matter to produce a gas mixture largely composed of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide. After condensing and removing excess water, the reformer exhaust gases are fed to a catalytic Sabatier reactor where they are combined with supplemental hydrogen at 350 to 500 °C to produce methane and water. The methane product can be liquefied for storage.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs

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Digital Laser Frequency Stabilization via Cavity Locking Employing Low-Frequency Direct Modulation

Direct modulation reduces complexity, volume, and mass. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California This project’s goal was to simplify laser frequency stabilization. A simpler system will have many benefits, including reduction of power consumption, complexity, volume, mass, and risk of failure. To implement the Pound-Drever-Hall (PDH) technique requires both RF modulation and demodulation electronics, including an electro-optic modulator, a photoreceiver of sufficient bandwidth to detect the RF modulation fields, demodulation electronics of sufficient bandwidth, and an RF function generator. For a space mission, this equipment can be costly and power-hungry, in addition to the difficulty of being rated to operate in the harsh space environment.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs

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Deep UV Discharge Lamps in Capillary Quartz Tubes with Light Output Coupled to an Optical Fiber

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Researchers at Jet Propulsion Laboratory have come up with a novel approach to the simplification of the 194-nm light source and optical guidance in mercury trapped ion spectroscopy research. Mercury plasma is generated in a capillary tube with a diameter of a few hundred microns (in contrast to current lamp bulbs with a diameter of 13 mm). The deep ultraviolet (DUV) light from the plasma can be guided directly to the ions held in an ion trap in a vacuum system via a piece of DUV fiber that is fused at the end of the capillary tube.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs

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Speech Acquisition and Automatic Speech Recognition for Integrated Spacesuit Audio Systems, Version II

System offers superior performance from prior version, and a number of commercial applications. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio Astronauts suffer from poor dexterity of their hands due to the clumsy spacesuit gloves during Extravehicular Activity (EVA) operations, and NASA has had a widely recognized but unmet need for novel human-machine interface technologies to facilitate data entry, communications, and robots or intelligent systems control. A speech interface driven by an astronaut’s own voice is ideal for EVA operations, since speech is the most natural, flexible, efficient, and economical form of human communication and information exchange.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs

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Advanced Sensor Technology for Algal Biotechnology

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California Advanced Sensor Technology for Algal Biotechnology (ASTAB) is an integrated package of water quality and algal physiology sensors designed to enable algae growers to increase significantly productivity and efficiency of their operations, optimize harvesting periods, and avoid losses of “batches” of algae through nutrient deficiencies and/or population shifts. This sensor technology is expected to increase process automation and performance in large-scale algal production facilities.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs

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