Special Coverage

High Field Superconducting Magnets
Active Response Gravity Offload and Method
Sonar Inspection Robot System
Lightweight Internal Device to Measure Tension in Hollow- Braided Cordage
System, Apparatus, and Method for Pedal Control
Dust Tolerant Connectors

Pulsed Operation of an Ion Accelerator

Thrust can be varied more rapidly and with greater precision and range. Electronic circuitry has been devised to enable operation of an ion accelerator in either a continuous mode or a high-peak-power, low-average-power pulsed mode. In the original intended application, the ion accelerator would be used as a spacecraft thruster and the pulse mode would serve to generate small increments of impulse for precise control of trajectories and attitude. On Earth, pulsed operation of ion accelerators could be utilized to effect precise control of output ion fluxes in plasma and ion-beam apparatuses commonly used in the semiconductor processing industry.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences


Communications and Tracking Services Support Near-Earth Missions

Telemetry, tracking, and command services ITT Corporation White Plains, NY 914-641-2000 www.itt.com ITT Corporation has been selected by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center to perform telemetry, tracking, and command services for near-Earth missions under the Space Communications Network Services (SCNS) contract. Under this contract, ITT will support NASA’s Space and Near Earth Networks, which provide most of the communications and tracking services for a wide range of Earth-orbiting spacecraft, including the International Space Station, the space shuttle, the Hubble Space Telescope, and the Earth Observing System Satellites.

Posted in: Application Briefs


Measurement Systems Aid NASA in Study of Space Station Solar Array Anomaly

Surface and roundness measurement systems Taylor Hobson West Chicago, IL 630-621-3099 www.taylor-hobson.com NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama is using the Form Talysurf PGI 1230 Surface Measurement and the Talyrond 295 Roundness/Cylindricity Measurement Systems from Taylor Hobson to perform critical surface analysis of a damaged bearing assembly from the International Space Station (ISS). The results are expected to help NASA experts determine the cause of the damage to the Solar Alpha Rotary Joint (SARJ), a 10-footdiameter ring that allows the station’s solar panel array to rotate and track the Sun.

Posted in: Application Briefs


NASA Geostationary Coastal and Air Pollution Monitoring

The Geostationary Coastal and Air Pollution Events (GEO-CAPE) mission has been recommended for launch in the 2013-2016 time frame by the National Research Council. The mission’s purpose is to gather science that identifies human versus natural sources of aerosols and ozone precursors, tracks air pollution transport, and studies the dynamics of coastal ecosystems, river plumes, and tidal fronts.

Posted in: NASA Tech Needs


An Innovative Approach to Shaker Testing

By Marc Marroquin Director of Marketing LMS North America Troy, MI When it comes to testing products for long-term durability, shock exposure survival, or accelerated life testing, the classic technique most engineers turn to is vibration testing with a shaker table. These controlled experimental tests have been successfully employed in the worlds of automotive, aerospace, consumer products, and military testing for more than 50 years. This classic test technique is accepted by all industries when durability, survivability, and life-testing data are required. Despite a long and proven track record, vibration shaker testing has its drawbacks. Shaker tests can be expensive, require dedicated test facility/ equipment and trained personnel, and can take days (sometimes weeks) to complete. On top of that, it is not possible to test an object until either a physical prototype or early production unit becomes available. By that time, most design decisions have been made and it is difficult to redesign the product to resolve problems identified during shaker testing. These facts have been accepted as “the way shaker testing is done,” since there was no better way to perform these types of tests. In recent years, engineers have been turning to new technologies like CAE (Computer Assisted Engineering) to help develop products faster and more intelligently. The benefits of integrating CAE into an engineering program are well documented and provide time, cost, and development advantages that enable companies to get better products on the market faster. By applying CAE technology to shaker testing, a new technology is born: Virtual Shaker. The Virtual Shaker technology is quite simple: simulating a vibration shaker test in the digital domain. By using simulation to “virtually shake-test” a device, many of the inherent disadvantages of physical shaker testing are minimized or eliminated. There is no need to wait until a physical device is available, the time and expense associated with shaker testing is dramatically reduced, the “virtual” testing is completely nondestructive, and Virtual Shaker simulations can point out problems well before hard design decisions are made. Along with the obvious benefits pointed out above, Virtual Shaker testing also introduces the ability to play “what if” scenarios with products. Since the actual product to be tested is purely digital, engineers can quickly and easily make changes to the product and see what happens after the change has been made. By combining Virtual Shaker with optimization tools, it is possible to run hundreds of design iterations (changing mass, shapes, materials, boundary conditions, etc.) in automatic cycles to find the best-case scenario. Virtual Shaker testing is being used today by several aerospace manufacturers and space research facilities to virtually shake satellites. The benefit to these engineers is clear — saving money and reducing mission failure risk. But you don’t have to be a satellite designer to appreciate the benefits of Virtual Shaker testing. This technology can be applied to almost any industry where shaker testing is common, such as automotive, aerospace, consumer products, medical devices, and more. For more information on Virtual Shaker Testing, click here, or e-mail: info.us@lmsintl.com.

Posted in: Articles


Model RPM10 Photo/Contact Tachometer

Extech Instruments, Waltham, MA, has introduced the Model RPM10 photo/contact tachometer that includes a built-in, noncontact infrared thermometer with laser pointer that provides surface temperature measurement ranging from -4 to 572°F in locations that are unsafe or hard to reach. It features a 6:1 field of view, allowing a 1" spot to be measured at a distance of 6". Combining infrared temperature with RPM measurement, it can be used for evaluating motor performance and detecting bearing or insulation failure. In photo mode, the device uses a laser light source and measures 10 to 99,999 RPM from up to 6.5' from the target. In the contact mode, it measures from 0.5 to 20,000 RPM, while linear surface speed measurements range from 0.2 to 6,560 ft/min, and 0.05 to 1,999.9 m/min. Characters in the display change direction so that readings can be seen regardless of which end of the device is being used. Readings are displayed on an LCD, and memory stores the last maximum and minimum readings. The device is constructed with a double-molded housing, and comes with tips and wheels for RPM or linear surface speed, four 1.5V AA batteries, reflective tape, a rubber boot, and carrying case. For Free Info Click Here

Posted in: Products


NASA Tests First Deep-Space Internet

NASA has successfully tested the first deep-space communications network modeled on the Internet. Part of a NASAwide team, engineers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, used software called Disruption-Tolerant Networking (DTN) to transmit dozens of space images to and from a NASA science spacecraft located more than 20 million miles from Earth.

Posted in: UpFront


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