Application Briefs

System Provides Critical Communications Among Stennis Rocket Test Team Members

Subsystem Multiplexer (Sub-MUX) Quintron Systems Santa Maria, CA 805-928-4343 www.quintron.com NASA has awarded Quintron Systems an Indefinite-Delivery- Indefinite-Quantity (IDIQ) contract, and the first task order is for a command and control communications system that will be used at the rocket engine test stands at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Alabama. This task order includes approximately 250 multi-channel communication key sets, of which 160 are certified for use within hazardous fuel areas.

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Coded Mask Instruments Key to HETE-2 Satellite’s Gamma-Ray Burst Discoveries

Coded optic mask foil Dynamics Research Corp. (DRC) Andover, MA 978-475-9090 www.drc.com The High Energy Transient Explorer (HETE-2) satellite was launched into Earth orbit on October 9, 2000, and has been tracking and studying high-energy gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) from deep space. First discovered in 1967, GRBs had been difficult phenomena to observe, as they occur at random locations in the sky, last only a few seconds, and leave virtually no trace for ground-based observers. HETE-2’s ability to rapidly disseminate very precise positions of where the GRB was detected has allowed ground telescopes to catch and observe the event, leading to discoveries such as one that links GRBs with supernovas. Most of the satellite assembly occurred at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), but many subassemblies and critical components were manufactured by other institutions throughout the world.

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Seven Practical Steps for Designing Networking Enclosures

The design of enclosures to house networking servers and components should be guided by one overriding concern — heat. Servers, in particular, generate a great deal of heat, so an enclosure must be capable of dissipating that heat to ensure that the components deliver their expected life.

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Tactile Feedback for Touch-input Devices

As products become more featurerich, manufacturers are looking at ways to improve the human-computer interface (HCI). Touchscreens, with intuitive operation and software flexibility, and screen-printed touch surfaces, with refined aesthetics and better sealing, have become extremely popular. But what these touch-input devices do not supply is tactile confirmation of (1) a button’s location and (2) pressing it. The loss of this tactile information can be detrimental to user engagement and understanding, productivity, completion of transactions, safety, and satisfaction. In some applications, the lack of tactile feedback has been enough of a problem to prevent the conversion from mechanical switches to digital controls. The solution is simple — add tactile feedback to secure the best features of touch-input devices.

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Devices Execute Critical Separations for Phoenix Lander

Hi-Shear separation devices Hi-Shear Technology Corp. Torrance, CA 310-326-8110 www.hi-shear.com Hi-Shear separation nuts and pressure cartridges recently were used on the Phoenix Mars lander after being exposed to the cold temperatures and harsh environments of space for nine-and-a-half months. The Phoenix lander landed on Mars on May 25, 2008, and the Hi-Shear devices executed the Critical Cruise Stage Separation, Backshell Separation, and Heatshield Separation for a successful landing and operation on the surface of Mars. The spacecraft targeted the circumpolar region using a robotic arm to dig through the protective top soil layer to the water ice below, and to ultimately bring both soil and water ice to the lander platform for analysis.

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Position Sensors Help Cameras Focus on Mars

Hall Effect position sensors Micropac Industries Garland, TX 972-272-3571 www.micropac.com Micropac’s hermetic Hall Effect devices are being used by Alliance Spacesystems, LLC and Malin Space Science Systems in camera mechanisms on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Rover. Malin Space Science Systems’ Mast Camera (MastCam) and the Mars Hand-Lens Imager (MAHLI) will use focus, filter wheel, and cover mechanisms produced by Alliance Spacesystems. The Hall Effect position sensors are used in the focusing mechanisms on both cameras.

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QuickSilver Servo Motors Drive Autonomous Vehicles

The design of remotely operated, autonomous battery-powered vehicles places special requirements on motion control systems. High torque at low speeds is needed to climb over obstacles, while higher speed operation is needed for cruise speed. Efficient operation from lower voltages (12V to 48V) reduces battery size and weight requirements, while regenerative drives maximize the operating time and distance by recharging the batteries while braking.

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