Application Briefs

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.

Posted in: Applications, Motion Control, Application Briefs

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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.

Posted in: Applications, Photonics, Application Briefs

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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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NASA Adopts Modeling and Simulation Software for Space Exploration Projects

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA, has implemented Maple, MapleSim, and MapleNet modeling and simulation software from Maplesoft in its various projects. Curiosity, JPL’s latest space rover that launched last November, aims to explore Mars to investigate whether the planet could have ever supported microbial life. Current JPL projects include spacecraft missions to comets, asteroids, and the edge of the solar system, as well as satellites that monitor the land, oceans, and atmosphere of Earth.

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Thin-Film Tape Protects Mars Rover Wiring

A high-performance thin-film product cre- ated specifically for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, is being used to ensure the electrical currents from the Mars Rover Curiosity’s different systems will not interfere with each other or impede the rover’s operation, while also protecting delicate cable systems from the harsh Martian environment. DUNMORE engineered the tape by combining DuPont Kapton polyimide film with a 3M adhesive and fiberglass reinforcement layer. The tape is one of the multi-layer insulation (MLI) products on Curiosity, which was launched in November 2011 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

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Rendering Software Helps NASA’s Conceptual Image Lab Bring Science to the Public

NASA’s Conceptual Image Lab (CIL) at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD, solves problems for scientists and astronomers who are tasked with bringing hard science to the public. Breaking down complicated concepts into a stream of easily digestible visuals inspired the lab to build up a suite of 3D production products. They needed a non-technical rendering process, and chose PipelineFX’s render farm management software, Qube!

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