Application Briefs

Lightning Monitoring System Helps Protect Shuttle

Genesis HighSpeed data acquisition products HBM Marlborough, MA 800-578-4260 www.hbm.com/highspeedIn order to protect the space shuttle from lightning strikes while it is outside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), being transported to the launch pad, and while on the pad waiting to launch, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center employs a lightning protection system that measures induced currents and voltages at multiple points using sensors surrounding the shuttle. The system consists of a metal lightning rod on top of the launch pad that intercepts nearby lightning, and a series of metal wires attached to the lightning rod that route electricity away from the shuttle.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Data Acquisition, Sensors and actuators, Lightning protection, Reusable launch vehicles and shuttles

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Deformable Mirrors Key to Advancement of Space Imaging Research

MEMS-based deformable mirrors Boston Micromachines Corp. Cambridge, MA 617-868-4178 www.bostonmicromachines.comBoston Micromachines has been selected by NASA's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program to integrate its MEMS-based deformable mirrors (DMs) into two Phase 1 space imaging research projects. For the first project, the company will collaborate with Boston University to develop a compact, ultra-low-power, high-voltage multiplexed driver suitable for integration with DMs in space-based wavefront control applications. This project will yield a driver that produces a minimum hundred-fold reduction in power consumption and a ten-fold reduction in size, but still maintains high precision and decreases cost interconnection complexity.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Imaging, Mirrors, Imaging and visualization, Microelectromechanical devices, Fabrication

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Simulation Software Helps Phoenix Mission Interpret Data From Mars

ANSYS® fluid dynamics software ANSYS Canonsburg, PA 724-746-3304 www.ansys.comANSYS fluid dynamics software has helped researchers at the University of Alberta interpret weather data received from NASA’s Phoenix Mars lander. Using this software, researchers created a virtual environment of the planet’s atmospheric conditions, and discovered that under certain wind conditions, heat emitted from the lander could cause a temperature sensor to show higher-than-atmospheric values. The researchers also learned that other conditions such as obstacles upstream from velocity and pressure sensors could alter readings of wind magnitude and direction. Using these findings, the team specially calibrated the meteorological instruments through a large parametric study before the launch. After Phoenix touched down on Mars, the team carefully evaluated raw mission data by paying particular attention to the types of wind conditions that had produced tainted data in the simulations.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Simulation Software, Software, Computational fluid dynamics, Data management, Spacecraft

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Rugged-Duty Actuator Enhances State-of-the-Art Pool/Spa Lift

The benefits of aquatic physical therapy and rehabilitation for those who have difficulty with weightbearing activities due to arthritis or injury, or those who are overweight, have long been known. There is also a significant population of wheelchairbound and disabled persons who use pools and spas for recreation or therapeutic purposes. A dilemma for these individuals is how to get in and out of the pool or spa safely.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Rehabilitation & Physical Therapy, Sensors and actuators, Medical, health, and wellness

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Monitoring Carbon Composite Structures With Optical Fiber Sensors

Fiber reinforced polymer composites are revolutionizing the design of large, high-performance structures in the aerospace, marine and power generation industries due to their advantages in areas such as corrosion resistance, specific strength and tailorability. The use of carbon fiber reinforced composites, the most common and lightest of the “non-exotic” composite materials, is now very widespread. The maiden flight of The Boeing Company’s new 787 Dreamliner, the first commercial aircraft to use composites for most of its construction in December of 2009, is a stark example of just how far carbon fiber composite materials have come in the last 50 years: from hockey sticks, tennis rackets and R&D labs, to carrying us from here to there at 500+ mph.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Products, Fiber Optics, Optics, Sensors, Fiber optics, Sensors and actuators, Composite materials

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Applying Embedded Form Factors to Wireless Systems

Wireless connectivity is merging with technological advancements in silicon, signaling, mass storage and software to meet the high-performance, ultra-low power requirements for next-generation wireless systems. Embedded form factors, seeking to utilize these developing technologies to the best advantage of system designers, continue to evolve by providing enhanced capabilities while simultaneously reducing form factor footprints. As wireless connectivity becomes increasingly ubiquitous, the volume of embedded systems that utilize wireless is expanding. This perpetuates the demand for higher processing power with minimal power draw and size.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Application Briefs

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High-Flex Cable Assembly to Aid Robot Arm in Mars Exploration Program

High-Flex Cables Cicoil Corp. Valencia, CA 661-295-1295 www.cicoil.comCicoil has provided a custom-formed high-flex cable to the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), scheduled to launch in 2011 as part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. The program is a long-term robotic exploration of Mars that will assess whether Mars’ environment can support, or has supported, microbial life. The mission essentially seeks to determine the planet’s potential for habitability.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Robotics, Electric cables, Robotics, Spacecraft

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