Mechanical Components

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, Mechanical Components, 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, Mechanical Components, 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, Mechanical Components, 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, Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

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Electrically Conductive, Failure-Resistant Tethers

Fine wires are loosely woven into a load-bearing netlike structure. Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama Special electrically conductive, failure-resistant rope/wire combinations are being developed for use as electrodynamic spacecraft tethers. These or similar combinations could also prove useful on Earth in applications in which there are requirements for strong, reliable, lightweight tethers that can conduct electric currents of moderate size: such applications might include tethering of aerostats and of wind-powered electric generators.

Posted in: Mechanics, Mechanical Components, Briefs

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ATHLETE Low-Gravity Testbed

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California A six-degrees-of-freedom (DOF) testbed was developed for evaluating microgravity and low-gravity proximity and contact operations, e.g. in the vicinity of a near Earth orbit, for simulation of proximity operations for a human mission to an asteroid. This is accomplished using an “inverted Stewart platform” where the vehicle under test — in this case, the ATHLETE (All-Terrain Hex-Limbed Extra-Terrestrial Explorer) — is suspended by six computer-controlled cable winches so that it can be maneuvered in all six degrees of freedom. Position feedback is provided by both the encoders at the winch motor, and a motion capture system installed on the testbed structural frame. The payload is attached to the work platform at the end of the six cables.

Posted in: Mechanics, Mechanical Components, Briefs

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Acoustic Mechanical Feedthroughs for Producing Work Across a Structure

This technology is applicable wherever an actuator needs to be isolated from another environment. Electromagnetic motors can have problems when operating in extreme environments. In addition, if one needs to do mechanical work outside a structure, electrical feedthroughs are required to transport the electric power to drive the motor. Piezoelectric motors can be designed directly with high torques and lower speeds without the need for gears. One can also actuate piezoelectric, electrostrictive, or magnetostrictive materials in a benign environment and transmit the power in acoustic form as a stress wave and actuate external to the benign environment. This technology removes the need to perforate a structure and allows work to be done directly on the other side of a structure without the use of electrical feedthroughs, which can weaken the structure, pipe, or vessel.

Posted in: Mechanics, Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

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