Wireless Ultrasonic Inspection Propulsion System

During inspection of pressure vessels and other large structures, an industry-accepted fixture is used to hold the search unit a predetermined distance from the area of interest under inspection. This fixture is then moved manually around the area of interest so that data can be collected and stored for later analysis. The fixture usually is chosen based on price and versatility; automated propulsion is not an option. This results in lower-quality data, as well as a greater chance that an anomaly could be missed due to the erratic motion inherent with manual manipulation.

Posted in: Briefs, Propulsion
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Towed-Glider Airborne Launch System Cuts Costs and Increases Efficiency and Safety

NASA seeks partners to collaborate in the development of this new approach for putting satellites in space, enabling low-cost launch services.

Putting a satellite into low Earth orbit requires a lot of energy, with ground-launched rockets expending two-thirds of their propellant fighting to get through the atmosphere. Researchers at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center have developed an innovative approach to launching satellites into space from an airborne platform. As with other air-launch approaches, it provides significant flexibility in the location and direction of the launch vehicle. Furthermore, unlike other air-based launch techniques, this system avoids the significant drawbacks related to expensive and complex design/development efforts, difficult maneuvering, risks to crew, and inefficient flight performance.

Posted in: Briefs, Propulsion
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Handheld Device with Reagents for Detection and Diagnostics

The high risk associated with biological threat agents determines that any suspicious sample be handled under strict surety and safety controls, and processed under high-level containment in specialized laboratories. These specialized facilities are complex, very expensive to operate, and need to be staffed by personnel from an extremely limited pool of experts. In addition, safe means of transporting samples suspected of containing highly virulent agents to specialized high-level containment laboratories for analysis is also expensive, requiring, in many countries, the custody of armed personnel. It can be estimated that several million dollars are spent annually worldwide to secure and safely transport an increasing stream of suspicious biological samples that are collected in theaters of war, as well as in domestic environments.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement
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Passive High-Temperature Sealing Device

This device can stop the flow of gas or liquid in conditions of sudden overheating.

Asealing device was developed that acts as a high-temperature shutoff valve for pipes and ducts. The device is an annular ring that can be slipped over the outside of the pipe (or built into a flanged spool piece). The cavity inside the device is filled with a gas, liquid, or even a solid. When exposed to an elevated temperature, the material in the cavity expands, providing sufficient inward force to collapse the thinner process pipe wall, stopping flow within the pipe.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components
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Python Interface to Dual-Pol Radar Algorithms (DualPol)

This object-oriented Python module facilitates precipitation retrievals (e.g., hydrometeor type, precipitation rate, precipitation mass, particle size distribution) from polarimetric radar data. It leverages existing open-source radar software packages to perform all-in-one retrievals that are then easily visualized or saved using existing software.

Posted in: Briefs, Software
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Thermal Micro-Extraction Laboratory

Typical extractions in the laboratory require a significant amount of sample material, large-scale equipment, and hands-on participation of a scientist. Such a setup is impractical (or impossible), heavy, and expensive to be carried out on spaceflight instrumentation. While great strides are being made to improve spaceflight instrumentation, the front-end sampling and extraction steps are often neglected. Only a few examples discuss the development of extraction systems for spaceflight, and they are immature in development. Additionally, several other microfluidic methods in development at GSFC will eventually require front-end sampling and extraction instrumentation.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement
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Water-Based, Recyclable Membrane Filters all Types of Nanoparticles

Separation technology is at the heart of water purification, sewage treatment, and reclaiming materials, as well as numerous basic industrial processes. Membranes are used to separate out the smallest nanoscale particles, and even molecules and metal ions. A new type of membrane was developed that could extend the life of a separation system, lower its cost, and in some cases, increase its efficiency as well.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials
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Sound Lab (SLAB) Version 5

Interest in the simulation of acoustic environments has prompted a number of technology development efforts over the years for applications such as auralization of concert halls and listening rooms, spatial information displays in aviation, virtual reality, and better sound effects for video games. Each of these applications implies different task requirements that require different approaches in the development of rendering software and hardware.

Posted in: Briefs, Software
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Using Sunlight to Activate the Flow of Electrical Current in a New Material

Modifying the composition of magnetite enables this material to convert sunlight into electrical current.

Mined to make the first compass needles, the mineral magnetite is also made by migratory birds and other animals to allow them to sense north and south, and thus navigate in cloudy or dark atmospheric conditions or under water. Researchers have compositionally modified magnetite to capture visible sunlight and convert this light energy into electrical current. This current may be useful to drive the decomposition of water into hydrogen and oxygen. The team generated this material by replacing one third of the iron atoms with chromium atoms.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials
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Multi-Pulse Motor (MPM) for Use with Electric Solid Propellants (ESP)

The purpose of this work was to create a safe, green, controllable solid rocket motor that can be pulsed a number of times with electricity to control the ignition and extinguishment times to produce a required thrust or impulse bit. The innovation features an Electric Solid Propellant (ESP). The key problem is that the geometry of the ESP grain changes because of the evolution of the propellant to exhaust gases, but a closed electrical circuit is required to keep the electrical power applied to the grain and continue burning. The chamber pressure is utilized in the multi-pulse motor (MPM) design to ensure electrical contact is retained during the pulsing event.

Posted in: Briefs, Propulsion
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