Mechanical Components

Radial Internal Material Handling System (RIMS) for Circular Habitat Volumes

The novelty of this system is its configuration as a circular habitat. On planetary surfaces, pressurized human habitable volumes will require a means to carry equipment around within the volume of the habitat, regardless of the partial gravity (Earth, Moon, Mars, etc.). On the NASA Habitat Demonstration Unit (HDU), a vertical cylindrical volume, it was determined that a variety of heavy items would need to be carried back and forth from deployed locations to the General Maintenance Work Station (GMWS) when in need of repair, and other equipment may need to be carried inside for repairs, such as rover parts and other external equipment.

Posted in: Mechanics, Mechanical Components, Briefs

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Impact-Actuated Digging Tool for Lunar Excavation

NASA’s plans for a lunar outpost require extensive excavation. The Lunar Surface Systems Project Office projects that thousands of tons of lunar soil will need to be moved. Conventional excavators dig through soil by brute force, and depend upon their substantial weight to react to the forces generated. This approach will not be feasible on the Moon for two reasons: (1) gravity is 1/6th that on Earth, which means that a kg on the Moon will supply 1/6 the down force that it does on Earth, and (2) transportation costs (at the time of this reporting) of $50K to $100K per kg make massive excavators economically unattractive.

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Conical Seat Shut- Off Valve

This valve has applications in high-pressure and high-flow conditions. A moveable valve for controlling flow of a pressurized working fluid was designed. This valve consists of a hollow, moveable floating piston pressed against a stationary solid seat, and can use the working fluid to seal the valve. This open/closed, novel valve is able to use metal-to-metal seats, without requiring seat sliding action; therefore there are no associated damaging effects.

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Flexible Mechanical Conveyors for Regolith Extraction and Transport

A report describes flexible mechanical conveying systems for transporting fine cohesive regolith under microgravity and vacuum conditions. They are totally enclosed, virtually dust-free, and can include enough flexibility in the conveying path to enable an expanded range of extraction and transport scenarios, including nonlinear drill-holes and excavation of enlarged subsurface openings without large entry holes.

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Microgravity Drill and Anchor System

This system has applications in rock-climbing and cave exploration, as well as in drilling into rock on the sea floor. This work is a method to drill into a rock surface regardless of the gravitational field or orientation. The required weight-on-bit (WOB) is supplied by a self-contained anchoring mechanism. The system includes a rotary percussive coring drill, forming a complete sampling instrument usable by robot or human. This method of in situ sample acquisition using microspine anchoring technology enables several NASA mission concepts not currently possible with existing technology, including sampling from consolidated rock on asteroids, providing a bolt network for astronauts visiting a near-Earth asteroid, and sampling from the ceilings or vertical walls of lava tubes and cliff faces on Mars.

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Miga Aero Actuator and 2D Machined Mechanical Binary Latch

Applications include automobiles and deadbolts for windows or doors. Shape memory alloy (SMA) actuators provide the highest force-to-weight ratio of any known actuator. They can be designed for a wide variety of form factors from flat, thin packages, to formmatching packages for existing actuators. SMA actuators can be operated many thousands of times, so that ground testing is possible. Actuation speed can be accurately controlled from milliseconds to position and hold, and even electronic velocity-profile control is possible. SMA actuators provide a high degree of operational flexibility, and are truly smart actuators capable of being accurately controlled by onboard microprocessors across a wide range of voltages.

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Granular Media-Based Tunable Passive Vibration Suppressor

Potential applications include vehicle shock absorbers, earthquake protection systems, and explosion protection systems. A complete, tested, and tunable shock and vibration suppression device is composed of statically compressed chains of spherical particles. The device superimposes a combination of dissipative damping and dispersive effects. The dissipative damping resulting from the elastic wave attenuation properties of the bulk material selected for the granular media is independent of particle geometry and periodicity, and can be accordingly designed based on the dissipative (or viscoelastic) properties of the material. For instance, a viscoelastic polymer might be selected where broadband damping is desired. In contrast, the dispersive effects result from the periodic arrangement and geometry of particles composing a linear granular chain. A uniform (monatomic) chain of statically compressed spherical particles will have a low-pass filter effect, with a cutoff frequency tunable as a function of particle mass, elastic modulus, Poisson’s ratio, radius, and static compression. Elastic waves with frequency content above this cutoff frequency will exhibit an exponential decay in amplitude as a function of propagation distance.

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