Application Briefs

NASA Navigation Sensor May Land in Applications Beyond Mars

Although a NASA-built sensor being tested in the Mojave Desert this summer will be used to support the safe landing of rovers on Mars, one of the technology's lead researchers sees other commercial possibilities. Principal Investigator Farzin Amzajerdian and his team at NASA's Langley Research Center developed the Navigation Doppler Lidar, a bread-box-sized sensor system that could someday play a role in aircraft navigation and even driverless car applications.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Sensors, Lidar, Spacecraft guidance, Autonomous vehicles, Entry, descent, and landing, Unmanned aerial vehicles

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PLCs Improve Control of Radio Broadcasts

PLCs are slowly replacing the outdated hardware and software used at many remote transmitter sites in radio and TV broadcasting applications.Broadcasting employs the latest technology in many areas, but controlling the broadcast hardware connected to the antenna and the related transmission power, source, and facilities is usually still a low-tech operation. Typically, a broadcast engineer will drive to the unattended transmitter, translator, or repeater site to flip switches and make other manual adjustments (Figure 1).

Posted in: Application Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Software, Antennas, Electric cables, Radio equipment, Reliability

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Fabricating Optical Mirrors for Use in Outer Space Measurements

There are many ways to manufacture an optic depending on the complexity of the component and the application. From choosing the best substrate, to detailing the numerous operations required to make the optic, all the while considering tight tolerances and other specifications. This article highlights the precision needed to successfully fabricate the mirrors for the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment’s (HETDEX’s) Visible Integral Field Replicable Unit Spectrographs (VIRUS) unit which was designed to measure dark energy in outer space.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Aerospace, Optics, Measuring Instruments, Mirrors, Measurements, Fabrication

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Making VR a NASA Reality

NASA researchers want to prove that a virtual reality headset like the Oculus Rift is not just a toy. Josh Kinne, a deputy project manager at NASA Langley Research Center, sees a future role for virtual and augmented reality in the agency’s research and development, CAD design, and data visualization efforts.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Aerospace, Optics, Computer-Aided Design (CAD), Simulation Software, CAD, CAM, and CAE, Computer simulation, Virtual reality

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System Recycles and Purifies Large Volumes of Helium for SLS

Helium reclamation system VACCO Industries South El Monte, CA 626-443-7121www.VACCO.comRecyling and purifying high-flow helium allows uninterrupted testing of high-volume, high-pressure-drop Space Launch System (SLS) main engine purge regulators and relief valves. Large-scale helium reclamation is a process that purifies used atmospheric-pressure helium to mil-spec levels, and compresses it to high pressures for reuse in component testing. The key is cryogenic purification with a molecular sieve to remove water, volatile organic compounds, oxygen, nitrogen, and other impurities to achieve 99.995% pure helium.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Aerospace, Recycling Technologies, Recycling, Gases, Launch vehicles

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Custom Machines Create Engine Lip Skins on Boeing Aircraft

MJC Engineering, a custom machine tool builder in Huntington Beach, CA, specializes in metal-spinning machines for such applications as sheet spinning, flow forming, wheel spinning, and rotary forging. The company was commissioned to build a series of metal-spinning machines for GKN for use at its plants in Camarillo, CA and Orangeburg, SC. These machines produce lip skins for the engine housings on Boeing 777X and 737MAX aircraft. Using CNC from Siemens Industry (Elk Grove Village, IL) and robotic handling technology — in addition to its proprietary servopump-controlled Green Power™ hydraulic power unit that saves up to 40% on energy — the MJC team devised a unique solution to an engineering challenge brought to them by GKN.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Aviation, Motion Control, CAD, CAM, and CAE, Forming, Manufacturing equipment and machinery, Robotics, Commercial aircraft

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Automating Roadbed Testing Before Paving

The normal road construction process involves subgrade (the existing soil) preparation followed by placement of an aggregate layer, and then the pavement surface layer (asphalt or concrete). In practice, most highways are designed using a set of assumptions that is sufficiently conservative to ensure that the roadway will meet its minimum specifications over its design life. The cost of the pavement layer can be optimized by testing the firmness of the prepared roadbed before paving. The testing process validates the basic design assumptions, and enables the amount of pavement to be tailored or optimized for each segment of the road. Ingios Geotechnics (Northfield, MN) was formed to develop and manufacture equipment to automate the process.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Automotive, Test & Measurement, Product development, Automation, Test procedures, Roads and highways, Construction vehicles and equipment

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