Application Briefs

Alumina Ceramic “Dog Bone” Helps Chandra Detect High-Energy Events

Fine-grained alumina ceramic charge detector Insaco Quakertown, PA 215-536-3500 www.insaco.com The Chandra X-Ray Observatory was launched into high elliptical orbit in 1998. The 39-foot-long, 10,000-pound observatory is designed to study high-energy events such as supernovae, black holes, quasars, and stellar coronae. At its core are several extremely precise instruments, including the high-resolution camera spectroscope (HRC-S). The spectroscopic detector consists of three major assemblies: a UV/ION shield, a pair of micro-channel plates, and a cross-grid charge detector (CGCD) made from a 99.98%-pure alumina ceramic made by Astro Met. The CGCD is referred to as the “dog bone” because of its shape. Usually such detectors consist of two separate layers of finely spaced gold wires wrapped in orthogonal directions around an insulating substrate such as alumina. The long and thin ceramic “dog bone” measures about 400 × 33 mm and has slight facets machined on its top face. Wire could not be wound along the length because it would vary in height above the surface due to the facets. Engineers deposited an array of 7-ml-wide gold traces just 0.7 mls apart on the substrate. Since the original alumina material they’d specified had too coarse a grain, this caused shorts or breaks in the traces. The solution came from Insaco’s machining capabilities, which offered 1- to 3-micron grain size as opposed to the original 17 microns. The Astro Met AMALOX 87 fine-grained alumina ceramic was specified for its stability over wide temperature extremes, as well as resistance to chemicals, oxidation, and wear. The ceramic part had multiple precision features machined to a tolerance of 0.001", and several mounting holes and undercut features. For Free Info Click Here.

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Communications System Supports the Ames Airspace Operations Lab

Voice-over-IP communications system Quintron Santa Maria, CA 805-928-4343 www.quintron.com Quintron was selected by NASA’s Ames Research Center (ARC) to supply a new Voice-over-IP (VoIP) communications system to support the ARC Airspace Operations Laboratory (AOL) — a research facility to investigate improved operational techniques for Air Traffic Control (ATC) operations. The AOL provides representative ATC personnel operating stations along with “pseudo-pilot” positions to complete the simulation environment. Both the ATC and pseudo-pilot positions will utilize the Quintron VoIP for communications, with overall system configuration managed by the simulation control personnel. The system is based on Quintron’s standard DICES VoIP product, which uses client-server architecture ideally suited for the flexible requirements of the AOL operation. Several new features will be incorporated to meet more specific AOL needs, including multiple ATC operating screens for airplane and ground communications, two-channel audio paths to accurately simulate normal ATC operating procedures for headset versus speaker audio, and multiple user headset connections to provide for trainer operations at ATC user positions. The VoIP system also features workgroup voice path assignment, which provides for very low latency on network connections between the ATC operator positions. The project is taking place in phases, with the initial delivery of system components completed six weeks after the award. Additional features will be incorporated as development work progresses. A substantial initial effort will be to incorporate a number of FAA-ATC features in support of a major customer simulation program. Final system feature updates, including interoperable VoIP links to other ARC simulation systems, is scheduled to be completed next month. For Free Info Click Here.

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New Small Form Factor Storage Standard Targets Embedded Systems

To achieve small size, low power consumption and fast time to market requirements, embedded systems designers often look to chipsets found in cell phone handsets or mobile internet devices (MIDs) to cost-effectively meet their design requirements. These components, whether they are off-the-shelf chipsets from Intel, AMD or Freescale, or FPGA’s from Xilinx, Altera, or Actel, that later migrate to custom ASICS, often define the available storage interfaces. These chipsets are widely understood and supported and more often than not, make use of USB, SD, MMC or some other type of serial programmable interface that is not usually defined with traditional storage such as PATA or SATA.

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Using Hollow Core Plastic Bragg Fiber to Deliver Ultrashort Pulse Laser Beams

Ultrashort pulse (USP), or “ultrafast,” lasers emit extremely brief pulses of light, generally with duration of a picosecond (10-12 seconds) or less. The pulses are characterized by a high optical intensity that induces nonlinear interactions in various materials, including air.

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Communications Systems Support NASA’s Unmanned Aircraft

Communications systems and support equipment L-3 Communications Corp. Communications Systems West Salt Lake City, UT 801-594-2000 www.l-3com.com/csw/ NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, CA has chosen L-3 Communications Systems West to provide engineering, technical, and product support services for the center’s operation of two Global Hawk unmanned aircraft. The contract supports Dryden’s planned operation of the two aircraft, their associated ground control station, and related systems. L-3 will be responsible for providing specialized analysis, engineering, functional tests, hardware or software development, or testing that requires specific L-3 proprietary data. The contract includes re-manufacturing components or equipment and specific operational support related to preflight preparation, mission, flight, and post-flight support. L-3 also will be responsible for supporting deployments of the aircraft to other NASA or customer facilities, and domestic or foreign operational deployment locations. The autonomously operated Global Hawk aircraft are for use in high-altitude, long-duration Earth science missions. The ability of the Global Hawk to autonomously fly long distances, remain aloft for extended periods of time, and carry large payloads brings a new capability to the science community for measuring, monitoring, and observing remote locations of Earth not feasible or practical with piloted aircraft, most other robotic or remotely operated aircraft, or space satellites. The aircraft’s 11,000-nautical-mile range and 30-hour endurance, together with satellite and line-of-site communication links to the ground control station, allow for eventual worldwide operation. Dedicated satellite communication links will provide researchers with direct access to their onboard instrument packages during missions. Researchers will have the ability to monitor instrument function from the ground control station and evaluate selected data in real time. Dryden will use the autonomously operated unmanned aircraft for missions supporting NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and the Earth science community that need high-altitude, long-endurance, long-distance airborne capability. For Free Info Click Here.

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Handheld Labeler is Key to International Space Station’s Organizational System

PT-1880 handheld electronic labeler Brother International Bridgewater, NJ 908-704-1700 www.brother-usa.com In October 2007, the crew of NASA’s International Space Station (ISS) was having difficulty clarifying the often complex layout of the ISS panels and systems. The crew contacted Mission Control and had a NASA worker purchase Brother Ptouch ® 1880 electronic labelers, which were then sent up to the ISS on the next shuttle mission. The PT-1880, an easy-touse handheld labeler, is now an important component of the ISS’s organizational system. Used by an estimated one million people, the PT-1880 is a mid-sized handheld/desktop labeler, featuring a 15-characterper- line LCD display for easy viewing. The labeler will print up to two lines on 3/4" wide laminated indoor/outdoor tape that is resistant to fading and extreme temperatures. Two fonts, six type sizes, nine type styles, and over 70 different symbols are available. The 6.6 × 8.5 × 2.2" handheld labeler offers a print resolution of 180 dpi and a print speed of 10 mm/sec. A preview key allows users to check over text to reduce mistakes and wasted tape. The Brother PT-1880 operates on six AA alkaline batteries or an AC adapter. Toggle buttons and raised, angled keys allow for easy navigation, and built-in memory saves up to five of the most commonly used labels. P-touch labelers have applications in wiring and telecom, building design and engineering, asset management, retail, medical, and manufacturing. Like many other everyday, earthbound products, the P-touch 1880 has found its way into space. For Free Info Click Here.

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BEI Duncan’s Steer-by-Wire Technology Improves Fuel Efficiency for AGCO Challenger® Tractor

Off-highway tractors slog through mud, muck, and other rough terrain on a daily basis. Achieving high reliability and performance in spite of these harsh conditions requires technology at its best. To improve fuel efficiency and reliability while decreasing manufacturing costs, the AGCO Challenger® track tractor went through a major redesign from the ground up.

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