NASA Tech Needs

NASA Planetary Balloon Technology Needs

Innovations in materials, structures, and systems concepts have enabled buoyant vehicles to play an expanding role in planning NASA’s future Solar System Exploration Program. Balloons and aerobots containing science instruments can cover large distances in short periods of time, and obtain science data from otherwise inaccessible locations. Key planetary exploration targets of interest include Saturn’s moon Titan, and the planet Venus.

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Improving Reliability of Atmosphere Revitalization Technologies

Atmosphere revitalization (AR) systems control carbon dioxide, humidity, and trace chemical contaminant levels in a crewed spacecraft cabin atmosphere to provide a safe, habitable environment for people to live and work. Most spacecraft AR systems to date have used fixed beds of pelletized or granular adsorbents such as zeolites and activated carbon, as well as oxidation catalysts and tailored chemisorbents that react with targeted chemical compounds. Onboard the International Space Station (ISS), zeolites are used to dehumidify AR system process streams using a “water-save” approach, as well as to remove carbon dioxide. Activated carbon is used to remove ammonia and other trace chemical contaminants from the cabin atmosphere. An oxidation catalyst is used to convert carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons such as methane, formaldehyde, and light alcohols to carbon dioxide and water that are easily removed. All of these materials are in granular or pelletized form and contained in fixed beds through which cabin atmosphere is circulated.

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Treatment System to Enable Re-Use of Waste Water

An organization seeks a low-cost way to render dirty, contaminant-filled water clean enough to use for washing or sanitary purposes. The treatment system should reduce dirt particles, lower pH levels, and remove surfactants like linear alkylbenzene sulphonate (LAS). A large water treatment plant solution is not needed; the system should work on water volumes as low as 10 liters.

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Oxygen Barrier Coating on Anodized Aluminum Substrate

A company is interested in licensing a film material that can be printed, sprayed, or transferred onto an anodized aluminum surface, such that the applied layer prevents oxygen from reaching and reacting with copper or other colored metals that are electro-deposited into the alumina pores. The abrasion-resistant barrier must withstand temperatures up to 800 °F for 10-15 minutes, and endure continuous heating up to 500 °F.

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Thermal and Mechanical Stability Challenges for the LISA Mission

LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna) is one of the most challenging missions to be undertaken by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). This mission will provide, among other data products, direct proof of the existence of Gravitational Waves. The LISA instrument measures gravitational waves using interferometric techniques to determine the separation among three spacecraft 5 million km apart. The optical system includes multiple interferometers and 40-cm-diameter telescopes to transform the beam from an optical bench onboard the spacecraft to a collimated beam that is transmitted among the spacecraft. Interferometers are very sensitive to scattered light because relatively large fringes can be formed by combining a low-power scattered light field with a large transmitted light field. LISA uses the same telescopes for both transmit and receive on a given arm, and the expected power levels differ by a factor of 1010 in power, or 105 in field strength. Therefore, the optical system must be designed to minimize scatter and maximize dimensional stability.

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Sanitizing and Disinfection Methods Without UV, Chemicals, or Liquid

A company seeks a way to disinfect and sanitize hands and surfaces that does not depend on chemicals for bacteria kill, does not involve applying liquid, and does not use UV light. The method may be active or passive and must kill or remove microbes from a surface (hands or countertops, for example) without liquid and without leaving behind a chemical residue. The solution can include ingredients that are applied and then totally removed; for example, a powder that attracts and holds microbes, and then is vacuumed or wiped away completely.

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High-Barrier Flexible Food Packaging for Long-Duration Storage

A company seeks a flexible, non-foil, food-grade packaging that offers high oxygen and moisture barriers. The packaging must withstand high-temperature processing, high-pressure processing, or microwave processing. It should be lightweight, and able to protect food for up to five years. The packaging material needs to be flexible enough to withstand vacuum packaging, but still strong enough to resist punctures by sharp pieces of dried food (pasta, for example).

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