Application Briefs

Vibration Sensors Add New Touch to Prosthetics

The sense of touch is complex, and an instructor at the University of California – Santa Barbara (UCSB) has the technology to prove it. Yon Visell, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and his students designed an apparatus that captures the unique vibration patterns associated with touch-specific actions, from gripping a coffee mug to tapping on a flat surface. The findings could support new applications in prosthetics, robotics, and virtual reality.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Sensors, Sensors and actuators, Prostheses and implants, Vibration
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Solar Orbiter Instrument Filters Powered by Brushed Motor

maxon RE 13 brushed DC motors maxon precision motors Fall River, MA 508-677-0520 www.maxonmotorusa.com

In 2018, the European Space Agency (ESA) will send the Solar Orbiter into space. A joint project of the ESA and NASA, the Solar Orbiter will be an important milestone in the exploration of the Sun. An American rocket will take the probe into space, and it will travel for three years until it can begin its work.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Aerospace, Aircraft instruments, Electric motors, Satellites
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Customized Drone Maps Glaciers

Using a custom-designed drone, a researcher from The Ohio State University mapped glaciers and wetlands in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca mountain range. Despite a discovered drop in glacier growth, the findings from the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) revealed a slightly more optimistic picture of the region’s water supply, which relies in part on the ice formations.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Applications, Imaging, Photonics, Cartography, Terrain, Water, Unmanned aerial vehicles
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Super Pressure Balloon Provides NASA with Valuable Data

Super pressure balloon Raven Aerostar Sioux Falls, SD 605-336-2750 www.ravenaerostar.com

A super pressure balloon (SPB) designed by Raven Aerostar, and the largest SPB ever built, surpassed 31 days amid the stratosphere’s harsh elements as part of a NASA mission, demonstrating the scientific balloon’s extended flight duration and ability to maintain constant altitudes. The balloon carried a two-and-a-half-ton NASA payload.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Aerospace, Data acquisition and handling, Test equipment and instrumentation, Spacecraft
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New Spacecraft Design for Asteroid Redirect Mission

Geostationary (GEO) satellite Space Systems/Loral (SSL) Palo Alto, CA 650-852-4000 www.sslmda.com

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has chosen Space Systems/Loral (SSL) to conduct first-phase design studies for a spacecraft that can travel to an asteroid, remove a boulder, and redirect it into a lunar orbit to prepare it for a visit by astronauts in the 2020s.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Aerospace, Design processes, Particulate matter (PM), Spacecraft
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Motion Control Challenges for Deep-Sea ROVs

Deep-sea remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) present motion control design engineers with some difficult challenges. Applications may include ROV propulsion, position thrusters, dive vanes, rudders, or robotic arms. Some problems are common to all of them.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Motion Control, X-by-wire, Autonomous vehicles, Marine vehicles and equipment
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Reducing Torque Measurement Uncertainty in Turbine Engine Testing

Torque is among the most important of all the measured quantities in applications ranging from characterizing high-power gas turbines, to determining the level of force required to open a screw cap on a medication container. As anyone who studied physics in high school should recall, torque is the tendency of a force to rotate an object about an axis, fulcrum, or pivot. Loosely speaking, torque is a measure of the turning force on an object such as a bolt or a flywheel. For example, pushing or pulling the handle of a wrench connected to a nut or bolt produces a torque (turning force) that loosens or tightens the nut or bolt. However, measuring torque accurately can be far from straightforward. This article offers an overview of one approach to reducing uncertainty in torque measurement using an example of turbine engine testing to illustrate the process.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Test & Measurement, Measurements, Gas turbines, Test procedures
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Simulation Software is Key to Orion’s Heat-Shield Success

Tecplot 360 EX data visualization and analysis software Tecplot, Inc. Bellevue, WA 800-763-7005 www.tecplot.com

NASA chose Tecplot 360 EX for use in the design of the heat shield for the Orion spacecraft. Orion’s heat shield, a protective blanket built with high-tech fibers and ceramics, is crucial to mission success. The outer layer of the heat shield is designed to burn away as it heats up during re-entry into the atmosphere, thus maintaining the integrity of the inner layer and helping to ensure the survivability of the spacecraft.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Aerospace, Computational fluid dynamics, Computer simulation, Computer software and hardware, Thermal management, Spacecraft
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Cryogenic Seal for Space Launch System Handles Extreme Pressure Conditions

OmniSeal® RACO™ Spring-Energized Seals Saint-Gobain Seals Garden Grove, CA 800-544-0080 www.seals.saint-gobain.com

Saint-Gobain Seals produced a cryogenic seal measuring more than six feet wide for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) project. Although this launch system replaced the retired space shuttle, it was built using proven hardware from the space shuttle era and previous successful exploration programs, as well as cutting-edge tooling and manufacturing technology in order to reduce development time and cost. SLS’ first mission, Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1), will go into space in late 2018, and uses Saint-Gobain seals.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Aerospace, Springs, Hardware, Seals and gaskets, Launch vehicles
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Cambridge Researchers Take Computer Vision for Test Drive

Google's driverless car, like many autonomous vehicles in development, is packed with sensors, radars, lasers, and cameras. To lighten the load of sensing devices in self-driving autos, researchers at Cambridge University have hit the streets with a system that uses only computer vision.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Imaging, Photonics, Computer software and hardware, Imaging and visualization, Autonomous vehicles
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