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Microgravity, Mesh-Crawling Legged Robots

These relatively inexpensive robots may be used in search and rescue operations. The design, fabrication, and microgravity flight-testing are part of a continuing development of palm-sized mobile robots that resemble spiders (except that they have six legs apiece, whereas a spider has eight legs). Denoted SpiderBots (see figure), they are prototypes of proposed product line of relatively inexpensive walking robots that could be deployed in large numbers to function cooperatively in construction, repair, exploration, search, and rescue activities in connection with exploration of outer space and remote planets.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Advanced Active-Magnetic-Bearing Thrust-Measurement System

Automatic multipoint calibration and a fringing model are used to increase accuracy. An advanced thrust-measurement system utilizes active magnetic bearings to both (1) levitate a floating frame in all six degrees of freedom and (2) measure the levitation forces between the floating frame and a grounded frame. This system was developed for original use in measuring the thrust exerted by a rocket engine mounted on the floating frame, but can just as well be used in other force-measurement applications.

Posted in: Briefs

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Thermally Actuated Hydraulic Pumps

These pumps would contain no sliding (wearing) parts. Thermally actuated hydraulic pumps have been proposed for diverse applications in which direct electrical or mechanical actuation is undesirable and the relative slowness of thermal actuation can be tolerated. The proposed pumps would not contain any sliding (wearing) parts in their compressors and, hence, could have long operational lifetimes.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Purifying Nucleic Acids From Samples of Extremely Low Biomass

A new method is able to circumvent the bias to which one commercial DNA extraction method falls prey with regard to the lysing of certain types of microbial cells, resulting in a truncated spectrum of microbial diversity. By prefacing the protocol with glass-bead-beating agitation (mechanically lysing a much more encompassing array of cell types and spores), the resulting microbial diversity detection is greatly enhanced.

Posted in: Briefs

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Adjustable-Viewing-Angle Endoscopic Tool for Skull Base and Brain Surgery

Surgeons could operate more precisely. The term “Multi-Angle and Rear Viewing Endoscopic tooL” (MARVEL) denotes an auxiliary endoscope, now undergoing development, that a surgeon would use in conjunction with a conventional endoscope to obtain additional perspective. The role of the MARVEL in endoscopic brain surgery would be similar to the role of a mouth mirror in dentistry. Such a tool is potentially useful for in-situ planetary geology applications for the close-up imaging of unexposed rock surfaces in cracks or those not in the direct line of sight.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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UV-Resistant Non-Spore-Forming Bacteria From Spacecraft-Assembly Facilities

Four species of non-spore-forming bacteria collected from clean-room surfaces in spacecraft-assembly facilities could survive doses of ultraviolet (UV) radiation that would suffice to kill most known cultivable bacterial species. In a previous study, high UV resistance was found in spores of the SAFR-032 strain of Bacillus pumilus, as reported in “Ultraviolet-Resistant Bacterial Spores,” NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 31, No. 9 (September 2007), page 94. These studies are parts of a continuing effort to understand the survival of hardy species of bacteria under harsh conditions, and develop means of sterilizing spacecraft to prevent biocontamination of Mars that could in turn interfere with future life detection missions.

Posted in: Briefs

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Near-Field Spectroscopy With Nanoparticles Deposited by AFM

It is not necessary to integrate an AFM with a spectrometer. An alternative approach to apertureless near- field optical spectroscopy involving an atomic-force microscope (AFM) entails less complexity of equipment than does a prior approach. The alternative approach has been demonstrated to be applicable to apertureless near-field optical spectroscopy of the type using an AFM and surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS), and is expected to be equally applicable in cases in which infrared or fluorescence spectroscopy is used.

Posted in: Briefs

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