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White, Electrically Dissipative Thermal Control Coating

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland A highly reflective, white conductive coating system was developed using various layered coatings to maximize the structural, electrical, and optical reflectance properties for spacecraft radiators. The top layer of the system contains a highly reflective white pigment within a dissipative inorganic binder. This layer is above a highly conductive second layer containing a white conductive pigment within the same binder system.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs

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Ultra-High-Temperature Ceramic Composites with SiC Reinforcements

Potential applications are at temperatures approaching 4,000 °F (≈2,200 °C). Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California Future-generation materials for use on space transportation vehicles require substantial improvements in material properties, leading to increased reliability and safety, as well as intelligent design to allow for current materials to meet future needs. Ultra-high-temperature ceramics (UHTCs) composed primarily of metal diborides are candidate materials for sharp leading edges on hypersonic re-entry vehicles. The mechanical performance of ceramics in general would benefit from a high-aspect reinforcement phase.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs

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Cathode Discharge Catalytic Systems for Hydrogen Recovery from Methane

Methane previously vented into space is now used for hydrogen recovery. Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama In the process of recovery and regeneration of cabin atmosphere to supply oxygen to facilitate extended-duration manned missions, including expeditions to Mars or a return to the Moon, one of the byproducts of this reaction is waste methane, which is vented into space. This innovation reclaims hydrogen from the methane using a low-power, non-thermal plasma discharge process based on distributed hollow-cathode and filamentary discharges. This hollow-cathode, non-thermal plasma (HCNTP) is characterized by electrons and heavy particles being in thermodynamic non-equilibrium with electrons heated to 10,000 K and above, while ions and neutral species remain at near ambient temperature. By using pulsed voltage waveforms for generating the plasma discharge, a majority of electric energy goes into heating electrons.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs

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Beneficiation of Planetary Regolith by Pneumatically Enhanced Tribocharging of Granular Material

This technique has applications in all types of material handling, mining, and processing. John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida Liberation of oxygen from the mineral ilmenite (FeTiO3), which may be found on the Moon, Mars, or asteroids, is inefficient due to the abundance of other minerals in the excavated regolith that are present but not needed during the chemical processing. Energy for the reduction reaction is in short supply on the lunar, Martian, and asteroid surfaces. The ilmenite should be separated from other minerals to simplify and improve the process efficiency. Lunar and planetary basaltic lavas contain ilmenite, but they consist only of 12 to 20 percent by weight.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs

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Fourier Transform Spectrometer on Autonomous Self-Healing Hardware Platform

This liquid crystal waveguide-based platform provides self-healing for electronics in dangerous or hard-to-reach locations. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California The autonomous self-healing (eDNA) hardware platform is a reconfigurable field-programmable gate-array (FPGA)-type platform developed by Technical University of Denmark (patent: WO/2010/060923). It is capable of autonomously reconfiguring itself in case a fault is detected and, thusly, restoring functionality at a fault-free location on the chip.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Briefs

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Low-Temperature-Compatible Electronics for a Miniature Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrometer

The electronics have been demonstrated to function down to 77 K. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Missions to Titan are severely limited in available mass and power because spacecraft have to travel over a billion miles to get there, consuming large masses of propellants. Thus low-mass, low-power instruments are a high priority need for Titan missions. A miniature, liquid-phase, high-resolution, pulsed proton-NMR (1H-NMR) spectrometer was developed with low mass (1.5 kg), requiring low power, that can be operated cryogenically on the surface of Titan. This work focuses on new pulsed electronic circuits, optimized for a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometer for analysis of hydrocarbon liquids on Titan.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Briefs

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Ionospheric Delay Compensation Using a Scale Factor Based on an Altitude of a Receiver

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas GPS receivers must compensate for the delay a GPS signal experiences as it passes through the ionosphere in order to accurately determine the position of the receiver. Receivers limited to terrestrial operation may utilize the Klobuchar parameters transmitted by the GPS satellites to model the ionosphere and remove much of this delay. However, as a GPS receiver passes through the ionosphere, such as in a spacecraft or low-Earth orbit space station, the Klobuchar model no longer adequately approximates the correction to be applied. Other models exist, particularly the IRI 2007 model created by NASA et al., but these are too computationally complex to be performed in real time by common hardware available for space implementations. Moreover, although the IRI model provides extensive insight into the historical characteristics of the ionosphere, it is purely predictive for times beyond the publication date of the model. Still other models exist that can be used during post-processing but are also not available in real time.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Briefs

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