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Lightning Protection and Detection System

An array of SansEC sensors can cover a selective area of the aircraft surface, providing both mitigation and damage sensing.NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a sensor technology for structural health monitoring on composite aircraft surfaces. When conventional aircraft are struck by lightning, the result can range from no damage to serious damage requiring extensive repairs that can take the airplane out of service for an extended period of time. The SansEC technology is a proven wireless sensing platform capable of measuring the electrical impedance of physical matter in proximity to the sensor based on a change in its resonance response. The sensor also exhibits a unique characteristic to disperse the lightning strike current to help mitigate lightning damage. In this application, an array of SansEC sensors will cover a selective area of the aircraft surface, providing both mitigation and damage sensing.

Posted in: Briefs, Aviation, Sensors

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Gas Sensors with Contact Pads

This technology can be used for in situ leak detection, emissions monitoring, and pressure measurements.Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed advanced hydrogen and hydrocarbon gas sensors capable of detecting leaks, monitoring emissions, and providing in situ measurements of gas composition and pressure. These compact, rugged sensors can be used to optimize combustion and lower emissions, and they are designed to withstand harsh, high-temperature environments (e.g., silicon carbide (SiC) sensors can operate at 600 °C). NASA Glenn is actively seeking industrial partners to develop and apply these cutting-edge sensors cooperatively in new applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors

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Minimally Intrusive Thin-Film Electrical Insulation on Conductive Surfaces

This innovation can be used to insulate conductive substrates prior to applying thin-film sensors such as strain gauges and thermocouples.The use of thin-film sensors has several advantages over wire or foil sensors. For example, thin-film sensors do not require special machining of the components on which they are mounted, and, with thicknesses less than 10 μm, they are considerably thinner than wires or foils. The thin-film sensors are thus much less disturbing to the operating environment, and have a minimal impact on the physical characteristics of the supporting component.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors

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Pulsed Ultrasonic Stir Welding System

A solid-state weld process yields better joint quality and longer tool life.NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) developed Ultrasonic Stir Welding (USW) to join large pieces of very high-strength metals such as titanium and Inconel. USW, a solid-state weld process, improves current thermal stir welding processes by adding high-power ultrasonic (HPU) energy at 20-kHz frequency. The addition of ultrasonic energy significantly reduces axial, frictional, and shear forces; increases travel rates; and reduces wear on the stir rod, which results in extended stir rod life. The USW process decouples the heating, stirring, and forging elements found in the friction stir welding process, allowing for independent control of each process element and, ultimately, greater process control and repeatability. Because of the independent control of USW process elements, closed-loop temperature control can be integrated into the system so that a constant weld nugget temperature can be maintained during welding.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping

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Method of Heat Treating Aluminum-Lithium Alloy to Improve Formability

This technology can be used in aerospace, recreation, transportation, and other industries where high-strength, lightweight structures are needed.NASA scientists have designed a novel heat treatment process that significantly improves the formability of high-performance aluminum-lithium (Al-Li) 2195 alloy plate stock. The heat treatment process dramatically reduces cracking and also improves the yield and range of product sizes/shapes that can be spin/stretch formed. The improved yields also provide lower costs.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping

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Impact Tester Device

This lightweight instrument is used for investigating structural response.NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a portable device to simulate low-velocity impacts on a material or structure. As composite materials are highly susceptible to damage caused by low-velocity impact, they must be designed and evaluated for structural integrity after these types of impacts. The NASA impactor’s design comprises an exterior tube, an instrumented projectile, a spring to propel the projectile, a spring compression device, a release pin, a wooden spacer/locator block, and an optical sensor. The tube can be handheld or rigidly mounted at any angle such that the impact response can be evaluated at specific positions on the test article. In the current configuration, impact energies between 4 and 40 J (between about 3 and 30 ft.-lbs.) can be obtained. Researchers designed a fully functioning prototype for the NASA Engineering and Safety Centers (NESCs) Composite Crew Module (CCM) program for damage tolerance testing. Both the impact force history and projectile velocity are captured during operation.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping

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Scalable and Tileable Aggregate Low-Level Summary Display for Deep Space Network Link Control Tasks

This innovation features critical pieces of information in a single display.The Deep Space Network (DSN) is a collection of three sites around the globe. The positioning of the sites, 120° longitude apart, allows at least one site to see every patch of sky at all times, thus facilitating continuous coverage for any deep space spacecraft that partners with the DSN.

Posted in: Briefs, Software

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