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Compact, Non-Pneumatic Rock-Powder Samplers

Tool bits for ultrasonic/sonic drill/corers are modified to trap small particles. Tool bits that automatically collect powdered rock, permafrost, or other hard material generated in repeated hammering action have been invented. These tool bits are intended primarily for use as parts of ultrasonic/sonic drill corers (USDCs) and related apparatuses, which have been reported in numerous prior NASA Tech Briefs articles. A USDC is based on the concept of a miniature, lightweight, low-power, piezoelectrically driven hammering mechanism that is excited with a combination of ultrasonic and sonic vibrations that enable its tool bit to bore into rock or other hard, brittle material with very little applied force. There are numerous potential applications for such apparatuses in geological exploration on Earth and on remote planets. Typically, in such an exploration, the purpose served by a USDC is to cut samples of fragmented rock from one or more depth(s).

Posted in: Briefs

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Axial Halbach Magnetic Bearings

Complex active control systems are not needed. Axial Halbach magnetic bearings have been investigated as part of an effort to develop increasingly reliable noncontact bearings for future high-speed rotary machines that may be used in such applications as aircraft, industrial, and land- vehicle power systems and in some medical and scientific instrumentation systems. Axial Halbach magnetic bearings are passive in the sense that unlike most other magnetic bearings that have been developed in recent years, they effect stable magnetic levitation without need for complex active control.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Variable-Structure Control of a Model Glider Airplane

The conventional spin-recovery technique for fuselage-heavy aircraft is implemented by a modern control system. A variable-structure control system designed to enable a fuselage-heavy airplane to recover from spin has been demonstrated in a hand-launched, instrumented model glider airplane (see figure). It has long been known that the most effective spin recovery technique for fuselage- heavy aircraft involves the use of ailerons to roll the airplane into the spin. This technique might be considered counter-intuitive because the pro-spin aileron deflection tends to initially increase the roll-rate component of the angular momentum of the airplane. However, it restores some controllability, enabling the pilot to perform subsequent maneuvers to pull out of the spin. The design of the present model-airplane control system was inspired in part by recognition that the aforementioned (and conventional) spin-recovery technique mimics a variable-structure control law.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Using AdvancedTCA and MicroTCA in High-Availability Military Systems

The complexity of military and aerospace systems is growing — more components, interfaces, power, bandwidth, processing, features, and data — and these systems are being networked to form even more complex “systems of systems.” Modern networkcentric systems can contain hundreds, even thousands of electronic modules.

Posted in: Articles, Articles

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Alternating-Composition Layered Ceramic Barrier Coatings

These coatings are expected to be more durable, relative to prior thermal/environmental barrier coatings. Ceramic thermal and environmental barrier coatings (T/EBCs) that contain multiple layers of alternating chemical composition have been developed as improved means of protecting underlying components of gas-turbine and other heat engines against both corrosive combustion gases and high temperatures. A coating of this type (see figure) is configured using the following layers: An outer, or top oxide layer that has a relatively high coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) and serves primarily to thermally protect the underlying coating layers and the low-CTE ceramic substrate structural material (the component that is ultimately meant to be protected) from damage due to exposure at the high temperatures to be experienced in the application; An inner, or bottom silicon-containing/ silicate layer, which is in contact with the substrate, has a low CTE and serves primarily to keep environmental gases away from the substrate; and Multiple intermediate layers of alternating chemical composition (and, hence, alternating CTE).

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Using ALD To Bond CNTs to Substrates and Matrices

CNT-based field emitters could be made more durable. Atomic-layer deposition (ALD) has been shown to be effective as a means of coating carbon nanotubes (CNTs) with layers of Al2O3 that form strong bonds between the CNTs and the substrates on which the CNTs are grown. It should also be possible to form strong CNT/ substrate bonds using other coating materials that are amenable to ALD — for example, HfO2, Ti, or Ta. Further, it has been conjectured that bonds between CNTs and matrices in CNT/matrix composite materials could be strengthened by ALD of suitable coating materials on the CNTs.

Posted in: Briefs

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Omniscient Code Generation for 8-, 16- and 32-bit Microcontrollers

C-language programs are usually developed by teams of engineers who are often geographically dispersed, leading to redundant code and inconsistent variable declarations between modules. Traditional compilation technology compiles each module separately with no regard for what goes on in the other modules and with no information about how pointers, stacks, variables and functions are used throughout the whole program. Traditional compilers tend to over-allocate memory space for pointers, stacks and registers. They are unable to fully exploit the wide variety of memory maps, and register and stack configurations available in today’s microcontrollers. All too often, the programmer must resort to manual optimizations that compromise portability (Figure 1).

Posted in: Articles, Articles

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