Advanced Tool Drive System (ATDS) Camera Positioning Mechanism (CPM)

Robotic servicing of a satellite in low earth orbit (LEO) or geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) requires advanced systems capable of meeting the harsh environments of space. To support this effort, the Goddard Space Flight Center Satellite Servicing Capabilities Office (SSCO) has developed a camera positioning mechanism that will be capable of viewing features on a client satellite. Application of the CPM technology would be in multiple areas of spaceflight requiring robotic servicing including space exploration, planetary science, Earth science, and manned spaceflight.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation
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Linear Rope Brake System for Aerial Delivery

This system helps reduce loss of any supplies that are lowered to the ground.

There are instances when items (e.g., supplies) need to be lowered from an aerial vehicle to the ground. For example, the United States military often lowers supplies from a rotary winged aircraft (e.g., a helicopter) to ground troops. In some instances, there is even a need to deliver mission essential supplies to ground troops engaged in enemy combat. Rotary wing aircraft are typically the transport platform for these supplies. Many times, the aircraft cannot land, and supplies are free-dropped from as high as 150 feet above the ground. Losses of badly needed supplies such as medicine, ammunition, water, and food are high due to the free drop.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation
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Origami-Inspired Robot Fits in Tight Spaces

The folding robot can ride aboard a rover to help explore rough terrains.

Researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) were inspired by origami when they developed the Pop-Up Flat Folding Explorer Robot (PUFFER). Its lightweight design — which can hitch a ride aboard a rover — can flatten itself, tucking in its wheels and crawling into places that larger robots can't fit. Over the past year and a half, PUFFER has been tested in a range of rugged terrains, from the Mojave Desert in California to the snowy hills of Antarctica. The idea is to explore areas that might be too risky for a full-fledged rover to go, such as steep slopes or behind sand dunes.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation
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Software Interface Simplifies Robot Control

A point-and-click method increases efficiency while decreasing errors.

The traditional interface for remotely operating robots works well for roboticists. They use a computer screen and mouse to independently control six degrees of freedom, turning three virtual rings and adjusting arrows to get the robot into position to grab items or perform a specific task. But for someone who isn't an expert, the ring-and-arrow system is cumbersome and error-prone. It's not ideal, for example, for older people trying to control assistive robots at home.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation
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Composite C-Channel Incrementally Adjustable Fluid Control System

The system can be disassembled for relocation without much difficulty.

The ability to selectively adjust levels and flow rates in fluid control systems is a fundamental aspect of dredged material and fluid management, and necessary to numerous farm and industrial processes. Historically, fluid management structures such as gates and weirs offer limited options for controlling levels and volume. Installation is generally permanent, with modifications being difficult and expensive. Critical flow rate adjustments can be severely limited, and maintaining antiquated systems requires hazardous maneuvers dependent on extensive manpower.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation
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A Modular Apparatus and Method for Attaching Multiple Devices

This technology improves the real-time monitoring of high-temperature or other harsh environments.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Electronic equipment, Sensors and actuators, Fabrication, Silicon alloys, Protective structures
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Active Remote Sensing Radiometer

This technology can be used for security screening and security imaging, as well as automotive navigation in dust and fog conditions where machine vision performs poorly.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors, Imaging and visualization, Radar, Remote sensing, Thermodynamics
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Exo-Brake Enables Safe Return for Small Spacecraft

The tension-based, flexible braking device resembles a cross parachute.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation, Product development, Drag, Entry, descent, and landing, Satellites, Spacecraft
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Green Monopropellant Secondary Payload Propulsion System

Small satellites, launched as secondary payloads, are increasingly being fielded. Advances in liquid rocket propulsion that enhance the on-orbit maneuverability, increase the on-orbit life, and decrease the time between identified need for and deployment of such spacecraft are of great value. Replacing the nearly ubiquitous yet toxic hydrazine propellant with AF-M315E produces higher specific impulse and density specific impulse, resulting in improved overall velocity change capability and increased on-orbit life.

Posted in: Briefs, Propulsion
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Highly Porous and Mechanically Strong Ceramic Oxide Aerogels

These materials provide improved environmental durability and elasticity for aerospace and terrestrial applications.

NASA's Glenn Research Center (GRC) has developed and produced ultra-lightweight polymer cross-linked aerogels (X-Aerogels). These mechanically robust, highly porous, low-density materials are three times denser than native aerogels, but more than 100 times stronger. Aerogels are ultra-lightweight glass foams with extremely small pores (on the order of 10 to 50 nanometers). These materials are extremely good thermal insulators, with R values ranging from 2 to 10 times higher than polymer foams. Unlike multilayer insulation, aerogels do not require a high vacuum to maintain their low thermal conductivity, and can function as good thermal insulators at ambient pressure. In addition, they are good electrical insulators and have low refractive indices, both approaching values close to air. Aerogels are also excellent vibration-damping materials. Traditional aerogels, however, suffer fragility and poor environmental durability.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Ceramics, Conductivity, Foams, Lightweight materials, Materials properties, Polymers
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