Application Briefs

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.

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Hull-Cleaning Robot for Large Ships

Toxic paint is used on the bottoms of large ships to prevent fouling, which is when a biofilm layer develops, decreasing the ship’s efficiency moving through the water. To further complicate the matter, the paint must be blasted off and replaced every 5 to 10 years, at which time literally tons of toxic waste is produced and needs to be disposed of.

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Comparing Apples to Oranges: Self-Service Scales With USB Cameras Auto-Detect Fruits and Vegetables

From apples to oranges, from avocado to zucchini — the fruit and vegetable departments of large supermarkets offer an overwhelming choice of fresh products. Consumers benefit from this broad selection, as most fruits are now available year round. Another advantage of self-service supermarkets is that consumers can check and choose the fruit and vegetables themselves. Difficulties start, however, when you reach the self-service scale — how to find the right button among dozens of different types of produce. The vast choice can quickly turn into an ordeal when it takes ages to locate the papaya or peppers button. But there might finally be a solution. A compact, integrated USB camera helps self-service scales automatically recognize individual products.

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Sensors Enable Precision Mounting of X-Ray Optics

NASA is developing the next generation of X-ray optics that could be used in an orbiting X-Ray Observatory. The “lens” consists of thousands of mirrors positioned to reflect X-rays at a shallow angle at focal length of 3-10 meters. Locating and fixing the mirrors in position is the primary challenge of the project. Creating focus at the long focal lengths requires a mirror angular position tolerance of only 1 μRadian, and the precisely shaped mirrors, when mounted, must distort less than 0.1 μm from their free, unmounted state. Any such assembly must be able to hold these positions through launch and deployment.

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Inlet Funnels on Mars Rover Are Validated Using Scanning Laser Vibrometry

NASA’s latest mission to Mars in November 2011 sent the Mars Science Laboratory rover “Curiosity” to assess whether Mars ever had, or still has, an environment able to support life. While on Mars, Curiosity will collect soil and environmental samples, and analyze the samples on location. Preventing contamination of the rover is critical to ensure that Curiosity’s data collection and analysis yields accurate results. Thus, engineering models and flight models are tested separately to validate design requirements of the various systems aboard the rover.

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