Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Clamshell Sampler

One action with one actuator is used to acquire and retain the sample. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California The Clamshell mechanism, with one quick action, acquires and retains a sample from a small body surface while minimizing sampling energy. The sampler has two quarter-sphere buckets that are driven into the small body surface. One mechanism drives a linkage that causes the two buckets to rotate about a common axis to close the buckets into each other. A benefit of this design is that one action with one actuator is used to acquire and retain the sample. Thin blades result in minimum sampling energy.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Sensors and actuators, Energy conservation, Test equipment and instrumentation, Spacecraft


Shape Memory Alloy Rock Splitter

This splitter can be applied wherever explosive or impact techniques cannot be used. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio A working prototype of a non-explosive, static rock splitter for space exploration using shape memory alloys (SMAs) as the driving member also has terrestrial applications. The static, compact, non-explosive shape memory alloy rock splitter (SMARS) was designed for sampling geological deposits, including planetary bodies such as the Moon, Mars, and near-Earth asteroids (Figure 1). The splitter employs high-temperature SMAs that generate extremely large forces in response to thermal loads, while providing a compact and cost-effective method for fracturing rocklike materials and minerals when compared to hydraulic or explosive-based alternatives. The active elements, in the form of pre-shaped cylindrical pellets, are used in conjunction with custom-built DC voltage heaters placed in boreholes.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Test equipment and instrumentation, Mining vehicles and equipment, Spacecraft


Passive, Low-Insertion-Force/High-Retention-Force Cam Plug Design for Sample Tube Sample Caging

This plug could be used for soil and sediment samples in petroleum and mining industries, or to plug products of various sizes tightly in tubes for shipping. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California AMars “sample caching rover” mission designed to collect, document, and package samples for future collection and return to Earth was recommended as the highest-priority mission for 2013–2022 by the 2011 Planetary Decadal Survey. A key premise of the Mars 2020 rover, which will gather samples for potential future return, is that it should be possible for the samples to be packaged and left on Mars for an extended period of time (at least five Mars years) without loss of scientific value. Two particularly important characteristics of a sample are the structure and relative positioning of the rock fragments and grains. These characteristics can be affected by shock and vibration that could fracture the sample and create relative movement among the fragments and grains, and therefore cause loss of valuable scientific information.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Packaging, Vibration, Test equipment and instrumentation, Spacecraft


Design Support and Analysis Tool for Pyrotechnically Actuated Valves

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas This software predicts flow through the initiator of a Primer Chamber Assembly Valve. These valves exhibited a potential failure mode for specific operating conditions where dual simultaneous firings of the initiator occurred. The software tool was able to identify a fluid dynamic source for this potential failure mode. Furthermore, the software was also used to provide new conceptual designs that may alleviate or eliminate these failure modes.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Computational fluid dynamics, Failure modes and effects analysis, Sensors and actuators, Valves


Deployable Extra-Vehicular Activity Platform (DEVAP) for Planetary Surfaces

Potential applications include stable work ramps for vehicles, vessels, or portable shelters.The Deployable Extra-Vehicular Activity Platform (DEVAP) is a staging platform for egress and ingress attached to a lunar, Mars, or planetary surface habitat airlock, suitlock, or port. The DEVAP folds up into a compact package for transport, and deploys manually from its attached location to provide a ramp and staging platform for extravehicular activities (see figure).

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Mechanics, Spacecraft


Two-Phase Thermal Switch

The switching mechanism is passively triggered by the temperature of the heat source. Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama There is a wide range of spacecraft thermal management applications that require variable conductance devices such as thermal switches. These switches are used to help maintain the heat source (electronics) temperature under varying thermal loads and varying thermal environments. These applications include satellites and Lunar and Mars landers and rovers, as well as future human spacecraft that may transit through both the cold environment of deep space and warm transient environments such as low lunar orbit.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Electronic equipment, Switches, Thermal management, Spacecraft


Save Your Assembly Space and Weight with Smalley Wave Springs

Smalley Wave Springs offer the unique advantage of space savings when used to replace coil springs. By reducing spring operating height, wave springs also produce a decrease in the spring cavity and assembly size.

Posted in: White Papers, Mechanical Components, Motion Control, Machinery & Automation, Robotics


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