Features

Heat-Conducting Plastic Blend Developed

The spaghetti-like internal structure of most plastics makes it hard for them to cast away heat, but a University of Michigan (U-M) research team has made a plastic blend that does so 10 times better than its conventional counterparts. Because plastics restrict the flow of heat, their use is limited in technologies like computers, smartphones, cars, or airplanes — places that could benefit from their properties, but where heat dissipation is important.

Posted in: Plastics, Articles, UpFront

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Product of the Month: January 2015

SpaceClaim Corp., Concord, MA, released ANSYS® SpaceClaim™ 2015 software for the creation, editing, and repair of 3D data. It provides editing and management of faceted models, improved toolpath functionality for the machinist, and more complex geometry creation upgrades for editing or creating 3D models. Additional improvements include imprint and wrap tools for easier simulation edits, clean and detection functionality, and improved integration with ANSYS Workbench™. A 3D Printing module includes tools for repairing models and analyzing print success. Intuitive Pull and Move tools enable direct editing of meshes. Other enhancements were made to concept design, manufacturing preparation, detailing, and interoperability.

Posted in: Software, Products, Articles

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Magnetic Thermometer for High-Resolution 10-mK Scale Thermometry

Device features improved sensitivity. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland A thin-film magnetic thermometer with integrated, superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) readout has been designed for fast, precision temperature measurements in the 10-mK range. The compact magnetic thermometer consists of a miniature DC SQUID susceptometer with a dilute paramagnetic alloy deposited in one of the two series-configured, gradiometric SQUID pickup loops that form the SQUID inductance. Directly sensing the magnetic signal with the SQUID eliminates coupling losses that occur by transformer-coupling the signal to a remotely located SQUID, usually operating at a higher temperature, and consequently, with a higher noise floor.

Posted in: Sensors, Articles, Briefs, TSP

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High-Temperature Ultrasonic Probe for In-Service Health Monitoring of Steam Pipes

The probe monitors the height of water condensation in steam pipes through the wall of the pipe. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California This ultrasonic, pulse-echo probe can sustain as high as 250 °C, and uses a piezoelectric transducer to generate and receive the ultrasonic pulses. The transducer is made of a piezoelectric material with high Curie temperature, and the probe is configured such that it is operated as air-backed and, thus, has minimum losses of power.

Posted in: Sensors, Articles, Briefs, TSP

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Low-Weight, Durable, Low-Cost Metal Rubber Sensor System for Ultra-Long-Duration Scientific Balloons

Sensors integrated onto load-bearing seams measure axial loads in the most extreme environmental conditions. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland Large axial load forces and extreme temperature ranges are typical for scientific balloon missions. Therefore, a durable, flexible, and thermally stable sensor material is needed. In this innovation, sensors have been designed to be integrated onto the load-bearing seams and/or outer balloon mesh polyethylene surface of the pressurized balloon system to measure accurately and continually axial loads under extreme environmental conditions for extended intervals (i.e. more than 100 days).

Posted in: Materials, Coatings & Adhesives, Metals, Sensors, Articles, Briefs, TSP

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Low-Power Charged Particle Counter for Space Radiation Monitoring

John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio A miniature, low-power, solid-state detector for ionizing radiation was developed for use in more locations, and requiring less space and lower power than current technology. An accepted way of counting high-energy charged particles common in space radiation is to detect the light produced when the particles strike a scintillator material.

Posted in: Sensors, Articles, Briefs, TSP

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Ground-to-Space Laser Calibration System

This is a space-focused application located on the ground, which makes it easily accessible for maintenance and development. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia The accuracy of spaceborne sensors measuring reflected solar radiance can be affected by multiple factors. First, instruments with complex optics are sensitive to polarization. The response of such instruments is characterized before launch; however, sensitivity to polarization can change on orbit significantly. None of the existing on-orbit sensors has the ability to monitor its sensitivity to polarization on orbit. Another factor is the degradation of optics, particularly in blue wavelength range below 500 nm. Currently, there is no reliable method to access spectral changes in the optics of instruments on orbit. The third factor contributing to changes in on-orbit calibration is the instrument response to stray light. The prior method of correcting radiometric measurement for polarization effects was based on vicarious calibration to the SeaWIFS instrument, which was designed not to be sensitive to polarization.

Posted in: Sensors, Articles, Briefs, TSP

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