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GEMINI Stability Control for Reducing Pointing Jitter in CubeSats and Smallsats

Pointing jitter is significantly reduced by using two reaction wheels per axis, passive vibration isolators, and differential speed control. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Because of the cost-effectiveness of flying smallsats compared to large flagship spacecraft, there is increasing interest in boosting their capabilities for supporting precision science payloads and sophisticated instrumentation. Unfortunately, a major current drawback with using smallsats is their inability to hold the pointing line-of-sight steady without jittering. Line-of-sight jitter degrades observations made by cameras and other imaging-type instruments, and fundamentally limits the quality of science that can be obtained.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Machinery & Automation

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Double-acting Extremely Light Thermo-Acoustic (DELTA) Converter

This technology enables a new class of lightweight power systems for small aircraft, camping, or micro-cogeneration that is small, quiet, efficient, and essentially maintenance-free. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio Power generation from an external or internal heat source using thermal energy conversion technologies such as solid-state thermionics and thermoelectrics or dynamic conversion with Otto, Stirling, Brayton, or Rankine technologies is fundamentally limited in maximum specific power due to either low efficiency and/or operating frequency. These solid-state technologies are low voltage and hence produce a high DC current that restricts their minimum geometry to approximately 4 A/mm2 to avoid overheating. High-power implementations of this technology class are inefficient, large, and heavy.

Posted in: Briefs, Energy

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RapidScat Flight Software

This software acts as an interface between the ISS and the scaterometer radar. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Figure 1. RapidScat DIB top-level software architecture. The legacy SeaWinds scatterometer radar needed to be interfaced to the International Space Station (ISS) without any modifications. It had been designed to fly on the Adeos II spacecraft. An interface to translate between ISS protocols and the existing radar interface was needed both for commanding and for science data return.

Posted in: Briefs, Aeronautics

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Smart Enclosures using RFID for Inventory Management

The NASA Johnson Space Center has developed a method for tracking collections of items in a smart container using radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags with a high level of read accuracy. Automating the tracking of a collection of items (particularly small items) represents a major industrial hurdle due to both tag size and cost. This technology promises to successfully address these hurdles. The smart enclosure innovation can track individual items in the smart containers or receptacles regardless of item placement. The NASA-developed patent-pending technology is available for licensing.

Posted in: On-Demand Webinars

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TestEVAL Software to Assist in Mechanical Testing

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland Typically, mechanical test data has been reviewed and processed using a combination of Excel, PDF Viewer, MATLAB, and other tools. TestEVAL provides a central tool for all these tools, and enhances their capability. Having been developed in Python, it is expendable and portable. It uses no proprietary software and an all open-source code base.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement

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Flight Test System for Accurately Predicting Flutter

Armstrong Flight Research Center, Edwards, California Traditional methods of flight flutter testing analyze system parameters such as damping levels that vary with flight conditions to monitor aircraft stability. In the past, the actual flight envelope developed for aircraft operation was essentially determined only by flight testing. The edges of the envelope are points where either the aircraft cannot fly any faster because of engine limitations, or, with a 15% margin for error, where the damping trends indicate a flutter instability may be near. After flight testing, the envelope empirically determined is used for regular operations.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement

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Hermetic Seal Leak Detection Apparatus with Variable Size Test Chamber

A streamlined, cost-effective, sensitive approach to detecting leaks in hermetic seals. Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center has developed a unique apparatus ideal for use in nondestructive testing (NDT) of hermetic seals of containers or instrumentation. The device is capable of detecting both large and small leaks and can be calibrated to characterize the relative leak rate. Its simple design does not require specialized gases for pressurization and detection, and eliminates the need for expensive instrumentation such as a mass spectrometer to analyze leaks and achieve high sensitivity. Low in cost and simple to manufacture, the patent-pending technology is ideal for use in many industries, from aerospace applications to food packaging and commercial goods.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement

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