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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Electromagnetic Monitoring and Control of a Plurality of Nanosatellites

This is a low-cost propulsion, navigation, and power sharing technology. NASA has developed an innovative combination of a Magnetometer, low-powered ElectroMagnets, and Res onant Inductive Coupling (MEMRIC) to create and control relative positioning of nanosatellites within a cluster. This is a game-changing approach to enable distributed nanosatellite (nanosat) clusters. The focus is on low-cost propulsion, navigation, and power sharing. Each of these functions can share the same basic technology. With the combination of a magnetometer, low-power electromagnets, and resonant inductive coupling, several nanosats can be clustered without the need of propellant- based propulsion systems, or GPS for relative positioning. By separating distinct subsystems into their own nanosat and producing them as generic, off-the-shelf components, the mission-design process is simplified, enabling the selection of the number of subsystem components that is most beneficial to the mission. The cost savings in the design cycle will pay for the extra off-the-shelf power unit.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation

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Elimination of Yaw Component of Gyroscope Propagation Error During Arm Activity in MSL

New approach reduces errors in remote sensing and arm placement. When updating attitude during arm motion, gyroscope propagation error soon becomes greater than the tilt being monitored. The solution is to add an accelerometer-only mode that can update attitude without using gyroscopes, and to add the ability to monitor pitch and roll separately. Accelerometer-only mode is used only when it is safe to assume that any vehicle shifting in yaw would also be accompanied by shifting in pitch and/or roll. For surface contact operations, it is important to monitor change in tilt of the vehicle resulting from arm motion.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation

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Locomotion of Amorphous Surface Robots

The self-contained designs eliminate immobility risks associated with locked wheels or legs due to dust or sand accumulation. NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed multiple ways for amorphous robots to autonomously move across a surface without needing conventional wheels or legs. Amorphous robots are useful in dusty and sandy environments in which greater mobility, passive shape changing, and immunity to dust and contamination are important. This includes both surface and subsurface robotic exploration. Amorphous robots are also useful in emergency and industrial activities, such as search and rescue (e.g., exploring rubble following an earthquake), and inspection of oil pipelines or sewage systems.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation

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Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Applications include pneumatic or hydraulic tubing, high-purity gas processing, brake lines, automobiles, and aircraft. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center invites companies to license this dead-end welding device for use in the welding of tubing. This technology solves the problem of unacceptable welds in dead-end configurations. The technique has been proven to be highly successful with many dead-end weld configurations, as well as with various alloys. It produces a consistently higher-quality dead-end weld than conventional welding techniques, and does so in a fraction of the time. Its monitoring capability enables precision control in any deadend configuration. It is a reliable and very low-maintenance device that presents no safety concerns.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components

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Multi-Spoked Wheel Assembly

This innovation can be applied to robots used by first responders and others as a single ground-traction mechanism in a variety of environments. NASA Glenn researchers have developed a spoked drive mechanism for robots and other vehicles that is capable of two rotational modes. This robust ground traction (drive) assembly for remotely controlled vehicles operates smoothly not only on surfaces that are flat, but also upon surfaces that include rugged terrain, snow, mud, and sand. The assembly includes a sun gear and a braking gear. The sun gear is configured to cause rotational force to be applied to second planetary gears through a coupling of first planetary gears. The braking gear is configured to cause the assembly (or the second planetary gears) to rotate around the braking gear when an obstacle or braking force is applied.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components

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Nanotube-Based Device Cooling System

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are being studied for applications in high-strength/low-weight composites and other applications. Recent research on thermal dissipation materials for high-power electronic devices is generating a lot of interest in various industries. NASA has developed a method for cooling a device, such as an electronic device, that produces extreme heat that must be dissipated. CNTs have attracted much attention due to their extraordinary mechanical and unique electronic properties. Computer chips have been subjected to higher and higher thermal loads and it is challenging to find new ways to perform heat dissipation. As a result, heat dissipation demand for computer systems is increasing dramatically. CNTs, which are known to provide high thermal conductivity and to be small and flexible, are suitable for cooling these electronic devices. One critical problem is provision of a compliant, usable composite of CNTs with a material that meets other needs for heat dissipation.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components

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A Method for Accurate Load/Position Control of Rigidly Coupled Electromechanical Actuators

NASA has developed a technique designed to prevent cross-coupling in systems where two or more linear electro-mechanical actuators (EMA) are rigidly connected and are in danger of becoming cross-coupled. In such systems where the linked EMAs are commanded to achieve two distinct goals, such as position and load control, control problems often arise — especially at higher load and linear velocity levels. Both position and load control become inaccurate and in certain situations, stability of the overall system may be compromised. The NASA-developed approach mitigates the problem and achieves both accurate position following and desired load levels between the two (or more) actuators.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components

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