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Sampling Mechanism for a Comet Sample Return Mission

A similar sampling mechanism could be deployed in dangerous situations on Earth. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland Sample return missions have the ability to vastly increase scientific understanding of the origin, history, current status, and resource potential of solar system objects including asteroids, comets, Mars, and the Moon. However, to make further progress in understanding such bodies, detailed analyses of samples are needed from as many bodies as possible. A standoff sample collection system concept has been developed that would quickly obtain a sample from environments as varied as comets, asteroids, and permanently shadowed craters on the Moon, using vehicles ranging from traditional planetary spacecraft to platforms such as hovering rotorcraft or balloons on Mars, Venus, or Titan. The depth of penetration for this harpoon- based hollow collector was experimentally determined to be proportional to the momentum of the penetrator in agreement with earlier work on the penetration of solid projectiles. A release mechanism for the internal, removable sample cartridge was tested, as was an automatic closure system for the sample canister.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Machinery & Automation, Monitoring

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Emily Wilson, Scientist, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD

Emily Wilson developed a miniaturized laser heterodyne radiometer (mini-LHR) to measure the emissions of carbon dioxide and methane from melting permafrost. Wilson’s technology will be one of several NASA instruments sent to Alaska in June to analyze trace gases in the region’s atmosphere.

Posted in: Who's Who, Environmental Monitoring, Greenhouse Gases, Lasers & Laser Systems, Measuring Instruments, Monitoring

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An Operationally Based Vision Assessment Simulator for Domes

Applications include remote visualization, flight simulation, virtual environments, and planetariums. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California The work described here is part of the U.S. Air Force-sponsored Operational Based Vision Assessment (OBVA) program that has been tasked with developing a high-fidelity flight simulation laboratory to determine the relationship between human vision and performance in simulated operationally relevant tasks. The OBVA simulator was designed and built to provide the Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine (USAFSAM) with a scientific testing laboratory to study human vision and testing standards.

Posted in: Briefs, Computers, Simulation Software

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Dual-Cavity Rayleigh Scattering Measurement System

A method and apparatus were developed for simultaneous measurement of velocity, density, temperature, and their spatial and temporal derivatives in gas flow. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia Molecular-based optical diagnostics techniques capable of obtaining simultaneous measurements of multiple fluid properties are critically important for characterizing hypersonic air-breathing engines, such as scramjet engines and scramjet-rocket combined cycle engines. Correlations between those properties lead to a more detailed understanding of complex flow behavior, and aid in the development of multiparameter turbulence models required for supersonic combustion engine flow path predictions.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Optics, Measuring Instruments

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Miniature Laser Magnetometer

This conceptual design includes three key innovations future space science requires while minimizing size, mass, and power. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland Space missions using magnetometers have been very successful. However, science missions now require higher levels of accuracy and stability in order to refine existing understanding and improve modeling. In most space missions that require high-accuracy vector measurement of magnetic fields, a separate scalar magnetometer must also be included in order to calibrate the vector measurements. The miniature laser magnetometer (MLM) addresses the need for a single, high-stability magnetometer instrument that provides both scalar and vector measurements for future space science needs while minimizing size, mass, and power.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Lasers & Laser Systems, Measuring Instruments

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Cryogenic Slosh Apparatus

John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida Commercially available components are integrated into an assembly that can be used to measure the slosh dynamics of cryogenic liquids. The apparatus consists of a linear motion table that is properly instrumented to record highfidelity position, force, and acceleration measurements of all linear and rotation responses of the cryogenic liquid.

Posted in: Briefs, Measuring Instruments

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Negative-Ion Time Projection Chamber Polarimeter for Measuring Polarization of Bright Transient Astrophysical Sources

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland A negative ion time projection chamber (NI-TPC) was developed that is suitable for measuring the polarization of bright transient events. The polarization of the astrophysical source is determined by imaging photoelectron tracks created by incident x-rays interacting in a gas. The tracks drift through the gas under a uniform electric field to the readout electronics. The initial photoelectron direction is correlated with the polarization of the incident x-ray, and therefore by imaging many tracks, one can determine the polarization magnitude and direction of the incident x-rays.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Measuring Instruments

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