Special Coverage

Iodine-Compatible Hall Effect Thruster
Precision Assembly of Systems on Surfaces (PASS)
Development of a Novel Electrospinning System with Automated Positioning and Control Software
2016 Create The Future Design Contest Open For Entries
Clamshell Sampler
Shape Memory Alloy Rock Splitter
Deployable Extra-Vehicular Activity Platform (DEVAP) for Planetary Surfaces
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MRO SOW Daily Script

The MRO SOW daily script (wherein “MRO” signifies “Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter” and “SOW” signifies “sequence systems engineer of the week”) is a computer program that automates portions of the MRO daily SOW procedure, which includes checking file-system sizes and automated sequence processor (ASP) log files. The MRO SOW daily script effects clear reporting of (1) the status of, and requirements imposed on, the file system and (2) the ASP log files.

Posted in: Briefs

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NASA Celebrates 50 Years

“The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join it or not, and it is one of the greatest adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race for space. “We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for all people. “We choose to go to the Moon. We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because the goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills.” President John F. Kennedy Rice University September 12, 1962

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50 Years of Inspiration

We wanted NASA Tech Briefs readers to be a part of our special issue celebrating NASA’s 50th anniversary. So, we asked you to tell us how NASA, and NASA Tech Briefs, have inspired you over the past 50 years. We wanted to know how NASA helped you in your career or business, or improved your everyday life. What benefits have you derived from NASA technologies? Although space prohibits publishing every comment here, we thank all of you who shared your stories of inspiration with us.

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Tool for Inspecting Alignment of Twinaxial Connectors

Misalignment can be detected before damage is done. A proposed tool would be used to inspect alignments of mating twinaxial-connector assemblies on interconnecting wiring harnesses. More specifically, the tool would be used to inspect the alignment of each contact pin of each connector on one assembly with the corresponding socket in the corresponding connector on the other assembly. It is necessary to inspect the alignment because if mating of the assemblies is attempted when any pin/socket pair is misaligned beyond tolerance, the connection will not be completed and the dielectric material in the socket will be damaged (see Figure 1).

Posted in: Mechanics, Briefs

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NASA’s First “A”: A Legacy of Aeronautics Innovations

NASA’s predecessor agency, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), began a legacy of aeronautical innovation that continues today. While much of the focus of NASA’s first 50 years has been on the space-related achievements of the agency, it is the first “A” of the NASA acronym — aeronautics — that has resulted in many of the technologies that got the Apollo missions to the Moon, and that continue to improve our air travel safety today.

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An ATP System for Deep-Space Optical Communication

An acquisition, tracking, and pointing (ATP) system is proposed for aiming an optical- communications downlink laser beam from deep space. In providing for a direction reference, the concept exploits the mature technology of star trackers to eliminate the need for a costly and potentially hazardous laser beacon. The system would include one optical and two inertial sensors, each contributing primarily to a different portion of the frequency spectrum of the pointing signal: a star tracker (<10 Hz), a gyroscope (<50 Hz), and a precise fluid-rotor inertial angular-displacement sensor (sometimes called, simply, “angle sensor”) for the frequency range >50 Hz. The outputs of these sensors would be combined in an iterative averaging process to obtain high- bandwidth, high-accuracy pointing knowledge. The accuracy of pointing knowledge obtainable by use of the system was estimated on the basis of an 8-cm-diameter telescope and known parameters of commercially available star trackers and inertial sensors: The single-axis pointing-knowledge error was found to be characterized by a standard deviation of 150 nanoradians — below the maximum value (between 200 and 300 nanoradians) likely to be tolerable in deep-space optical communications.

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Polar Traverse Rover Instrument

A Polar Traverse Rover (PTR) is a device designed to determine the role of Antarctica in the global climate system by determining typical paths of continental air that passes the South Pole, and by obtaining insight into the relationship between events at the Antarctic and the meteorology of sub- polar altitudes. The PTR is a 2-m-diameter ball in which an Iridium modem, with an integrated global positioning system (GPS) receiver and a commercial lithium battery pack, is suspended. The modem is attached to an aluminum plate and is surrounded by shock-absorbing plastic for protection. This core is attached to the interior walls of the shell by strings on three axis points. The unit’s total weight is 10 kg, and it returns data regarding location, altitude, ground velocity, and vertical velocity.

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