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Pneumatic Conveying of Lunar Regolith Simulant

Closed-loop conveying may be desirable in terrestrial applications where the motive gas is scarce or expensive, such as helium. John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida Planetary regolith (dust) is an aggregation of various minerals and different particle sizes. Collection, storage, processing, and disposal of this material are very challenging in the harsh planetary environment. Extraterrestrial operations involving In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) require conveying of regolith. The regolith needs to be transported from the planetary surface to chemical/thermal reaction vessels, and spent (processed) regolith needs to be conveyed to a disposal area.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components

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Low-Cost, Portable Platform for Mounting Multiple Antennas for Automatic UAV Tracking

This continuous-rotation platform holds ~60 pounds of antennas to track any line-of-sight object carrying multiple radio frequency sources. Armstrong Flight Research Center, Edwards, California Researchers at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center have developed an innovative antenna-mounting platform that addresses an unmet need in the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) market.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components

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'Snap' Design Mimics Venus Flytrap

A team led by physicist Christian Santangelo at the University of Massachusetts Amherst uses curved creases to give thin shells a fast, programmable snapping motion. The technique – inspired by the natural "snapping systems" like Venus flytrap leaves and hummingbird beaks – avoids the need for complicated materials and fabrication methods when creating structures with fast dynamics.

Posted in: News, Materials, Joining & Assembly, Mechanical Components

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Gear Shift Modeling and Analysis for Automatic Transmissions in MapleSim

In this paper, a simple dynamic physical model of an automatic transmission was created to evaluate all required forces and motion characteristics of the system during the shift process. Gear shift quality was assessed by setting different timing sequences for the engage/disengage process of the frictional components (pressure on the clutches), during the upshift process. The output torque of the transmission was analyzed under two conditions, with the timing to apply/remove pressure from the clutches being different in both cases.

Posted in: White Papers, Aeronautics, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Mechanical Components

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Proper Bearing Handling Can Help Prevent Failures

Ball bearings are extremely precise mechanisms, which in many cases have geometrical tolerances measured in millionths of an inch. When handling, inspecting or mounting bearings, one should treat them as precision instruments. Most bearing failures are caused by the user's poor handling techniques.

Posted in: White Papers, Mechanical Components

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DC Transformer

This transformer can fill a role in which DC conversion potential, coupled with power filtering/storage capability, is required in high-DC power transmission. John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida A component-level DC transformer was developed in which no alternating currents or voltages are present. It operates by combining features of a homopolar motor and a homopolar generator, both DC devices, such that the output voltage of a DC power supply can be stepped up (or down) with a corresponding step down (or up) in current. The DC transformer should be scalable to low-megawatt levels, but is more suited to high-current than high-voltage applications.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components

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Wallops Flight Facility 6U Advanced CubeSat Ejector (ACE)

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland Six-unit (6U) CubeSats are recognized as the next nanosatellite to be considered for standardization. The CubeSat standard established by California Polytechnic University (Cal Poly), which applies to 1U–3U sizes, has proven to be a valuable asset to the community. It has both provided design guidelines to CubeSat developers and a consistent, low-risk interface to launch service providers. This has ultimately led to more flight opportunities for CubeSats. A similar path is desired for the 6U CubeSat. Through this process of standardization, a consistent, low-risk interface for the 6U needs to be established.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components

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