Application Briefs

ISS Experiment Studies Flames and Fire Suppression in Space

A combustion experiment jointly designed by scientists and engineers at NASA’s Glenn Research Center (Cleveland, OH) and the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) is currently in operation onboard the International Space Station (ISS). The Burning and Suppression of Solids (BASS) experiment will bridge the gap among normal-gravity material flammability screening tests, short-time ground-based microgravity tests, and actual zero-gravity spacecraft conditions. The basic applied hypothesis is that in certain conditions, a material in zero-gravity will be more flammable than it is in normal gravity.

Posted in: Features, Application Briefs

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Photovoltaic Tracking Control Systems

Tracking systems are included in more than one-third of new photovoltaic developments in Europe, but less than 10% in the US. If properly controlled, they can capture more energy from each panel than fixed racks – up to 40% more in most parts of North America – so selecting the best hardware and the right control algorithm is critical to realizing optimum energy production and reliability.

Posted in: Applications, Photonics, Application Briefs

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CAD/CAE Software Enables NASA to Head Back to Mars

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA, was designed to determine whether the Gale Crater on Mars ever had conditions favorable for life. The Curiosity rover is equipped with a robotic arm that can drill into rocks, scoop up soil, and deliver samples to internal analytical instruments.

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Single-Frequency, 1,064-nm Laser Designed for Space LIDAR

Redfern Integrated Optics was awarded a Phase 2 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract for further development of its single-frequency, narrow- linewidth semiconductor laser technology in the 1,064-nm spectral region, suitable for spaceflight operation. The external-cavity semiconductor laser is packaged in a standard 14-pin compact “butterfly” package, and produces a single- frequency output with a linewidth less than 2 kHz, ultra-low phase and relative intensity noise, and high immunity to vibrations, all under a wide range of operating temperatures.

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Plastic Components Ride Juno Spacecraft to Jupiter

Plastic-molded components produced by Diversified Plastics are currently speeding through space towards Jupiter aboard NASA’s Juno Space Probe. The craft was launched August 5, 2011, and is expected to begin orbiting the planet in early July 2016.

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MEMS Deformable Mirrors Enable Imaging of Earth-Sized Extra-Solar Planets

The NASA-sponsored space exploration project, PICTURE (Planet Imaging Concept Testbed Using a Rocket Experiment), seeks to obtain a direct image of an extra-solar giant planet. The PICTURE telescope, which uses a BMC deformable mirror for adaptive optic wavefront control, was launched aboard a NASA sounding rocket in October 2011. Preliminary data show that the MEMS deformable mirror was successful in its operation.

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Reducing Linear Bearing Wear

To get the longest working life out of a linear bearing, keep it clean and well lubricated. This common-sense advice may sound easy enough to follow. Yet in the real world of round-the-clock, high-cycle manufacturing operations, bearings do get dirty and dry. And when either of these conditions happens, linear bearings will wear prematurely. In the worst-case scenarios, contamination and inadequate lubrication can create metal-on-metal contact between the bearing’s rolling elements and raceway. This can cause excessive wear in the form of denting, pitting, or galling results.

Posted in: Applications, Motion Control, Application Briefs

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