Home

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

Read More >>

Hands-Free Control Interfaces for an Extravehicular Jetpack

This hands-free approach could be applicable to other robotic interfaces requiring six-DOF control inputs. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas To enable the human mobility necessary to effectively explore near-Earth asteroids and deep space effectively, a new extravehicular activity (EVA) jetpack is under development. The new design leverages knowledge and experience gained from the current astronaut rescue device, the Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue (SAFER). Whereas the primary goal for a rescue device is to return the crew to a safe haven, in-space exploration and navigation requires an expanded set of capabilities. To accommodate the range of tasks astronauts may be expected to perform while utilizing the jetpack, it was desired to research a hands-free method of control. This hands-free control method would enable astronauts to command their motion while transporting payloads and conducting two-handed tasks.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Machinery & Automation, Robotics, Sensors

Read More >>

Artificial Immune System-Based Approach for Air Combat Maneuvering

The primary motivation for this research is to enable unmanned aircraft with intelligent maneuvering capabilities. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California A high level of autonomy is desired for future unmanned combat systems because lethality and survivability can be improved with much less communication bandwidth than would be necessary for preprogrammed or remotely operated systems. However, there are a number of technical challenges that must be addressed prior to implementation.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation, Robotics, Simulation Software

Read More >>

Rule-Based Analytic Asset Management for Space Exploration Systems (RAMSES)

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) systems have applications in tracking and managing small shipping containers and packages in the commercial supply chain. Stennis Space Center, Mississippi Human space systems, such as the International Space Station (ISS) and future planned missions to the lunar surface and beyond, require the crew’s ability to locate and manage the physical resources that are required for use to achieve mission objectives. However, the large number of assets, ranging from expensive, specialized equipment, to food, water, and medical consumables for the crew is an overwhelming management problem. These assets are stored in numerous containers that are sometimes nested within other containers, frequently removed from one container and placed in another location, consumed, and/or used, and then discarded. Additionally, sometimes the containers themselves are moved. The challenge is to track and manage these assets so that the crew can readily locate items and ground controllers can identify when there is a need to provide sufficient resupply for the mission.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

Read More >>

Re-entry Vehicle Shape for Enhanced Performance

A convex structure is used with a continuous slope. A vehicle entering the atmosphere of a planet will do so at hypersonic speeds and will need to decelerate and maneuver through that atmosphere while protecting its payload from excessive heating. As a consequence, the vehicle shape must be designed to provide optimal aerodynamic lift and drag properties, while minimizing convective and radiative heating to the vehicle outer surfaces.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation

Read More >>

CubeSat Deployable Log Periodic Dipole Array

Any small satellite with a need for a VHF antenna might benefit from this design, in addition to communications and military applications. The antenna is composed of two main deployable structural components that help it achieve the large packing factor necessary to fit within the small volume of the CubeSat. The primary component of the antenna array is a tension stiffened truss, which is preloaded using a large tape spring. The truss bays are formed from solid discs connected by thin Kevlar thread. The Kevlar threads are set up in a hexapod configuration, and are fully tensioned and preloaded from the force of the tape spring, which runs through the center of the truss. The truss gets its overall stiffness from the properties and configuration of these Kevlar wires.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation

Read More >>

Protective Sleeve for a Pyrotechnic Reefing Line

The sleeve provides improved operation of a parachute reefing system. A metallic sleeve provides protection and guidance for the actuating lanyard pull of a parachute system reefing line cutter. This device ensures that the reefing line cutter is not damaged during packing or deployment. In addition, the device ensures that the actuating lanyard that initiates the cutter is pulled within the device’s specification cone angle. Combined, these features increase the durability of the reefing line cutter used in parachute reefing systems, and significantly increases the reliability of the underlying reefing cutter. Protecting such a critical element of the controlled deployment of parachutes significantly improves the operation of the parachute reefing system.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation

Read More >>