Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Motion-Sensing Keyboard Lets Users Hover and Swipe

Microsoft engineers have developed a new type of augmented mechanical keyboard, sensing rich and expressive motion gestures performed both on and directly above the device. A low-resolution matrix of infrared (IR) proximity sensors is interspersed with the keys of a regular mechanical keyboard. This results in coarse, but high frame-rate motion data.

Posted in: News, PCs/Portable Computers, Sensors, Mathematical/Scientific Software

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Pneumatic Sample Acquisition and Transfer System

This system can be used to collect samples from such hazardous areas as nuclear, extremely hot, and toxic environments. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Sampling, sample handling, and sample transfer to lander platforms of in situ exploration missions involve great technical challenges. These challenges are even harder to address when the planetary bodies have extreme environments. For example, Venus has an ambient temperature of around 460 °C, and atmospheric pressure that is over 90 times the atmosphere of Earth.

Posted in: Mechanics, Briefs, TSP

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Brine Residual in Containment

This system can be used in water recovery from industrial waste streams that may contain toxic compounds. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas Improvements in brine water recovery are critical to advancing NASA’s goals for human exploration of space. Water recovery systems must minimize the need for new supplies of clean water by closing the water loop. To accomplish this, water losses must be minimized or eliminated. A major loss of water is the brine produced by the primary water processor. For current technologies, this loss can be up to 15%.

Posted in: Mechanics, Briefs

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Locking Orifice Retaining Nut

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas Fluid flow systems often require orifices to control pressure drop or flow rate. These orifices are often retained in bolted housings that require seals and introduce potential leak points into the system.

Posted in: Mechanics, Briefs

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Hybrid Mechanical Electrostatic Actuator for Deformable Mirrors

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama A hybrid mechanical/electrostatic force actuator has been developed for use in deformable mirror applications. Some deformable mirrors, designed to correct errors in optical systems, use electrostatic forces between the flexible mirror surface and a backplane to control the shape of the mirror. Undesirable coupling of voltages used to generate electrostatic forces at various discrete zones on the mirror is a common problem.

Posted in: Mechanics, Briefs

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Reconfigurable Structural Joint

Commercial uses include home devices such as exercise machines that need strong structural support, but require low-volume storage. Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama This technique allows for rapid joining of reconfigurable structures. Currently, permanent structural joints are made in factory settings or in situ. However, reconfigurable structures require appropriate structural joints that must be made in situ, and must join/disjoin without inflicting any damage on the structure or the joint. The joining/disjoining operation must be rapid and repeatable without damaging the structure.

Posted in: Mechanics, Briefs

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Smart Core-Bit Probe (SCOPe)

This system can be used in drilling applications in the oil and gas industry. Smart Core-Bit Probe (SCOPe) employs ruggedized MEMS-based sensors for real-time monitoring of sample core integrity (compositional or morphological changes) and drill health during sample acquisition. SCOPe enables comprehensive preliminary in situ measurements (both dynamic and static) during sample acquisition and before retrieving the sample. This results in maximum science return, and enables rapid and accurate analyses of mineralogy and chemistry of the sample from initial acquisition to the end of the sample acquisition and handling chain.

Posted in: Mechanics, Briefs, TSP

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