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ASICs Support Orion’s Onboard Data Network

TTEthernet switch TTTech North America Andover, MA 978-933-7979 www.tttech.com Radiation-tolerant Ethernet backbone ASICs, developed by Honeywell Aerospace and based on TTTech’s TTEthernet switch and end system chip IP cores, are ready for the first NASA Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) test flight later this year. The ASICs are core components of the Onboard Data Network (ODN) and enable the design of advanced integrated system architectures for human-rated spaceflight.

Posted in: Application Briefs

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Etching System Enhances NASA’s Device Fabrication Capabilities

VERSALINE® Deep Silicon Etch™ System Plasma-Therm St. Petersburg, FL 727-577-4999 www.plasmatherm.com NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA, recently installed a VERSALINE Deep Silicon Etch system to expand its silicon deep-etching resources. The new etching system targets silicon-based applications that include MEMS, sensors, and resonators. JPL’s Microdevices Laboratory (MDL) serves users with many different requirements, and the system’s mask selectivity, uniformity, vertical profiles, sidewall smoothness, and silicon-on-insulator capabilities will be used to meet their device fabrication needs.

Posted in: Application Briefs

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CMOS Imagers Will Help Study the Sun in SoloHI Mission

CMOS imager engineering units SRI International Menlo Park, CA 650-859-2000 www.sri.com SRI International, working with TowerJazz (Newport Beach, CA), has delivered the first complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) imager engineering units to the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) for use on the Solar Orbiter Heliospheric Imager (SoloHI) optical telescope. With its large field of view, SoloHI will make high-resolution images of the corona and solar wind, and be able to connect remote sensing observations of the corona to the plasma being measured in situ at the spacecraft.

Posted in: Application Briefs

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Solar Refrigerators Store Life-Saving Vaccines

NASA’s battery-free solar technology powers vaccine refrigerators in hot, rural communities. NASA’s photovoltaic (PV) technology has advanced many of its missions. This renewable source of energy is produced when certain photo-emissive materials, such as silicon, eject electrons upon absorbing photons from sunlight. These free electrons can be captured, and the resulting current can be used as electricity. NASA first used solar power in 1958 when Vanguard 1 was successfully launched into space.

Posted in: Articles, Spinoff

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Swan Seal

The seal can be sized to any application while maintaining its important features. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio This seal features dual sealing capabilities: a face seal and an axial seal. The name swan seal is derived from its cross section, which resembles a swan. Most injector designs require fuel to be delivered from an inlet fitting, through a feed arm, to the injector tip. Temperature variation from the inlet to the tip, from the cool fuel to hot combustion air, and from startup to full power, often poses a challenge due to thermal growth. One of the most challenging areas is accommodating the growth differential between a hot feed arm and a cool fuel delivery tube, which is exacerbated by the relatively long distance. Several methods have been used to allow for this including coiling the fuel tube, utilizing an O-ring sliding seal, metal C-seals, or incorporating stretchable bellows. Some of the drawbacks of these methods include limited space, poor durability at high temperatures, serviceability, long lead times, and cost. The swan seal presents a compact, high-temperature, replaceable, low-cost option for this and other applications where a sliding axial seal is required.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

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Piezoelectric Actuated Valve for Operation in Extreme Conditions

The low-power, compact valve can be used wherever valves are required in harsh environments. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California The extreme conditions on Venus (460 °C and 92 atm) prevent the use of any of the existing science instruments outside of the lander. To transfer a sample into the lander, a pneumatic mechanism was conceived that could bring sample powder into the lander. The mechanism is critically dependent on the availability of valves that can operate at the conditions on Venus. The ability to perform the sample transfer will enable the use of instruments that require direct access to the sample, but cannot sustain Venus’ ambient environment.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

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A Field-Reconfigurable Manipulator for Rovers

Applications include bomb disposal, disaster recovery, search and rescue, and law enforcement. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, and Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California Robotic technologies will be deeply involved in any future human mission to the Moon. Prior to human arrival, robots will survey and explore the lunar surface, establish infrastructure, and assemble and test habitat modules. Once humans have arrived, the robots must be able to assist human exploration activities. After the humans depart, robots will perform cleanup, maintenance, and documentation tasks. All these various robotic activities will require sensing and manipulation of the environment, but in quite different ways: a survey robot has very different requirements from a habitat assembly robot. It would be inefficient to launch a different robot for each task, yet a single robot capable of performing all of them would be ungainly and impractical. Instead, what is needed is a “kit” of robot parts that can be assembled into the desired robot for each task.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

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