Special Coverage

Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines
Vibration Tables Shake Up Aerospace and Car Testing
Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water
Computer Chips Calculate and Store in an Integrated Unit
Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing
Mechanoresponsive Healing Polymers
Variable Permeability Magnetometer Systems and Methods for Aerospace Applications
Evaluation Standard for Robotic Research

Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer Product File Readers

TES Product File Reader software extracts data from publicly available Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES) HDF (Hierarchical Data Format) product data files using publicly available format specifications for scientific analysis in IDL (interactive data language). In this innovation, the software returns data fields as simple arrays for a given file. A file name is provided, and the contents are returned as simple IDL variables.

Posted in: Briefs, Information Sciences, Communication protocols, Computer software and hardware, Data exchange
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Reporting Differences Between Spacecraft Sequence Files

A suite of computer programs, called “seq diff suite,” reports differences between the products of other computer programs involved in the generation of sequences of commands for spacecraft. These products consist of files of several types: replacement sequence of events (RSOE), DSN keyword file [DKF (wherein “DSN” signifies “Deep Space Network)], spacecraft activities sequence file (SASF), spacecraft sequence file (SSF), and station allocation file (SAF). These products can include line numbers, request identifications, and other pieces of information that are not relevant when generating command sequence products, though these fields can result in the appearance of many changes to the files, particularly when using the UNIX diff command to inspect file differences. The outputs of prior software tools for reporting differences between such products include differences in these non-relevant pieces of information.

Posted in: Briefs, Information Sciences, Computer software and hardware, Performance upgrades, Data management, Spacecraft
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Coordinating “Execute” Data for ISS and Space Shuttle

The Joint Execute Package Development and Integration tool is a Web utility program that provides an integrated capability to generate and manage messages and “execute” package data for members of a space shuttle and the International Space Station (ISS). (An “execute” package consists of flight plans, short-term plans, procedure updates, data needed to operate the space-shuttle and ISS systems, in-flight maintenance procedures, inventory-stowage data, software upgrades, flight notes, scripts for publicized events, and other instructions.) This program is a third-generation “execute” package Web tool, built on experience gained from two programs used previously to support realtime operations.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Computer software and hardware, Data exchange, Internet, Spacecraft
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Database for Safety-Oriented Tracking of Chemicals

SafetyChem is a computer program that maintains a relational database for tracking chemicals and associated hazards at Johnson Space Center (JSC) by use of a Web-based graphical user interface. The SafetyChem database is accessible to authorized users via a JSC intranet. All new chemicals pass through a safety office, where information on hazards, required personal protective equipment (PPE), fire-protection warnings, and target organ effects (TOEs) is extracted from material safety data sheets (MSDSs) and recorded in the database.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials
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Inflatable Tubular Structures Rigidized With Foams

Lightweight booms could be deployed from compact stowage and rigidized in place.

Inflatable tubular structures that have annular cross sections rigidized with foams, and the means of erecting such structures in the field, are undergoing development. Although the development effort has focused on lightweight structural booms to be transported in compact form and deployed in outer space, the principles of design and fabrication are also potentially applicable to terrestrial structures, including components of ultralightweight aircraft, lightweight storage buildings and shelters, lightweight insulation, and sales displays.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Product development, Packaging, Foams, Lightweight materials, Parts
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Optimized Li-Ion Electrolytes Containing Fluorinated Ester Co-Solvents

Resulting rechargeable batteries could be used in consumer electronics, electric cars, and scientific instrumentation in extreme environments.

A number of experimental lithium-ion cells, consisting of MCMB (meso-carbon microbeads) carbon anodes and LiNi0.8Co0.2O2 cathodes, have been fabricated with increased safety and expanded capability. These cells serve to verify and demonstrate the reversibility, low-temperature performance, and electrochemical aspects of each electrode as determined from a number of electrochemical characterization techniques. A number of Li-ion electrolytes possessing fluorinated ester co-solvents, namely trifluoroethyl butyrate (TFEB) and trifluoroethyl propionate (TFEP), were demonstrated to deliver good performance over a wide temperature range in experimental lithium-ion cells.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials, Battery cell chemistry, Lithium-ion batteries, Electrolytes, Materials properties
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Probabilistic Multi-Factor Interaction Model for Complex Material Behavior

Complex material behavior is represented by a single equation of product form.

Complex material behavior is represented by a single equation of product form to account for interaction among the various factors. The factors are selected by the physics of the problem and the environment that the model is to represent. For example, different factors will be required for each to represent temperature, moisture, erosion, corrosion, etc. It is important that the equation represent the physics of the behavior in its entirety accurately.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Mathematical models, Materials properties
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Foldable Instrumented Bits for Ultrasonic/Sonic Penetrators

These bits are stowed compactly, then extended to full length when needed.

Long tool bits are undergoing development that can be stowed compactly until used as rock- or ground-penetrating probes actuated by ultrasonic/sonic mechanisms. These bits are designed to be folded or rolled into compact form for transport to exploration sites, where they are to be connected to their ultrasonic/sonic actuation mechanisms and unfolded or unrolled to their full lengths for penetrating ground or rock to relatively large depths. These bits can be designed to acquire rock or soil samples and/or to be equipped with sensors for measuring properties of rock or soil in situ. These bits can also be designed to be withdrawn from the ground, restowed, and transported for reuse at different exploration sites.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Mechanics, Downsizing, Sensors and actuators, Tools and equipment, Drilling, Packaging
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Compact Rare Earth Emitter Hollow Cathode

This rare earth insert for ion and Hall thrusters has longer life and resistance to poisoning.

A compact, high-current, hollow cathode utilizing a lanthanum hexaboride (LaB6) thermionic electron emitter has been developed for use with high-power Hall thrusters and ion thrusters. LaB6cathodes are being investigated due to their long life, high current capabilities, and less stringent xenon purity and handling requirements compared to conventional barium oxide (BaO) dispenser cathodes. The new cathode features a much smaller diameter than previously developed versions that permit it to be mounted on axis of a Hall thruster (“internally mounted”), as opposed to the conventional side-mount position external to the outer magnetic circuit (“externally mounted”). The cathode has also been reconfigured to be capable of surviving vibrational loads during launch and is designed to solve the significant heater and materials compatibility problems associated with the use of this emitter material. This has been accomplished in a compact design with the capability of high-emission current (10 to 60 A). The compact, high-current design has a keeper diameter that allows the cathode to be mounted on the centerline of a 6-kW Hall thruster, inside the iron core of the inner electromagnetic coil.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Mechanics, Propellants, Spacecraft fuel, Magnetic materials, Parts
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High-Precision Shape Control of In-Space Deployable Large Membrane/Thin-Shell Reflectors

Real-time reflector surface figure control uses piezoelectric polymer actuators.

This innovation has been developed to improve the resolutions of future spacebased active and passive microwave antennas for earth-science remote sensing missions by maintaining surface figure precisions of large membrane/thinshell reflectors during orbiting. The intention is for these sensing instruments to be deployable at orbit altitudes one or two orders of magnitude higher than Low Earth Orbit (LEO), but still being able to acquire measurements at spatial resolution and sensitivity similar to those of LEO. Because active and passive microwave remote sensors are able to penetrate through clouds to acquire vertical profile measurements of geophysical parameters, it is desirable to elevate them to the higher orbits to obtain orbital geometries that offer large spatial coverage and more frequent observations. This capability is essential for monitoring and for detailed understanding of the life cycles of natural hazards, such as hurricanes, tropical storms, flash floods, and tsunamis.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Mechanics, Antennas, Remote sensing, Weather and climate
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