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Piezoelectric Actuated Valve for Operation in Extreme Conditions

The low-power, compact valve can be used wherever valves are required in harsh environments. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California The extreme conditions on Venus (460 °C and 92 atm) prevent the use of any of the existing science instruments outside of the lander. To transfer a sample into the lander, a pneumatic mechanism was conceived that could bring sample powder into the lander. The mechanism is critically dependent on the availability of valves that can operate at the conditions on Venus. The ability to perform the sample transfer will enable the use of instruments that require direct access to the sample, but cannot sustain Venus’ ambient environment.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

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A Field-Reconfigurable Manipulator for Rovers

Applications include bomb disposal, disaster recovery, search and rescue, and law enforcement. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, and Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California Robotic technologies will be deeply involved in any future human mission to the Moon. Prior to human arrival, robots will survey and explore the lunar surface, establish infrastructure, and assemble and test habitat modules. Once humans have arrived, the robots must be able to assist human exploration activities. After the humans depart, robots will perform cleanup, maintenance, and documentation tasks. All these various robotic activities will require sensing and manipulation of the environment, but in quite different ways: a survey robot has very different requirements from a habitat assembly robot. It would be inefficient to launch a different robot for each task, yet a single robot capable of performing all of them would be ungainly and impractical. Instead, what is needed is a “kit” of robot parts that can be assembled into the desired robot for each task.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

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Lightweight, Flexible, Freezable Heat Pump/Radiator for EVA Suits

The absorption cooling process can be used to provide portable, regenerable refrigeration and air conditioning for recreation, transportation, and medical applications. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas For space exploration missions that may require extended stays and extensive extra-vehicular activity (EVA) operations, the temperature control system must be lightweight, rugged, non-venting, and repairable in space.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

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Cryogenic Balloon End Fitting Seal

The seal does not crack or leak at cryogenic temperatures. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Typical lighter-than-air vehicles utilizing a superpressure design such as balloons, aerostats, or blimps, have one or more fittings attached to the gas containment skin that can serve as load attachment points or inflation/vent ports. These fittings are often sealed to the skin with a silicone gasket and a room temperature vulcanizing (RTV) adhesive. This type of seal works very well over the temperature range encountered in the Earth’s atmosphere (–60 to +40 °C). However, balloons designed to operate at Titan or Mars would encounter temperatures much colder than those found on Earth, making this type of seal inadequate.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

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Advanced Composite Thrust Chambers for In-Space Propulsion

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama Radiation-cooled, bipropellant thrust chambers are being used for in-space propulsion. To increase the performance of radiation-cooled engines, improved chamber materials are needed that will allow higher operating conditions (pressure and temperature), better resistance to oxidation, and reduced mass. During this effort, an innovative composite thrust chamber is being developed that will incorporate advanced hafnium oxide and iridium liner techniques as well as replacing the expensive, high-density rhenium with a low-mass carbon-carbon (C–C) structural wall.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Briefs

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Integrally Woven Fiber Architecture for Composite Turbine Blades

John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio Composite turbine blades are currently fabricated by laying up multiple layers of fibers in the form of either unidirectional prepregs or thin woven cloth. Composites formed in this manner have poor through-thickness strength. It is also difficult, if not impossible, to form trailing edges as thin as necessary for optimum engine performance.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Briefs, TSP

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Assembly and Packaging to Mass-Produce Carbon Nanotube Vacuum Microdevices and Circuits

An assembly process allows mixing and matching of different types of electrode and dielectric layers assembled in a stack to create multi-electrode vacuum devices. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Field-emission electron sources using carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are being targeted for low-power vacuum microelectronic applications for harsh-environment operation (high temperature, pressure, and corrosive atmosphere). While CNTs have demonstrated excellent properties in terms of low threshold field, low-power operation, and high-current densities, one of the problems that has persisted for vacuum electronic applications is the low yield of multi-electrode vacuum devices such as diodes, triodes, tetrodes, pentodes, etc.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Briefs, TSP

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