Mechanical Components

Spacesuit Soft Upper Torso Sizing Systems

This system has application in medical devices for immobilizing injured limbs or applying controlled pressure to areas of the body of a burn victim. The passive sizing system consists of a series of low-profile pulleys attached to the front and back of the shoulder bearings on a spacesuit soft upper torso (SUT), textile cord or stainless steel cable, and a modified commercial ratchet mechanism. The cord/cable is routed through the pulleys and attached to the ratchet mechanism mounted on the front of the spacesuit within reach of the suited subject. Upon actuating the ratchet mechanism, the shoulder bearing breadth is changed, providing variable upper torso sizing.

Posted in: Mechanics, Mechanical Components, Briefs

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Graph Theory Roots of Spatial Operators for Kinematics and Dynamics

These concepts can be applied to modeling, simulation, and control of robots and other mechanisms. Spatial operators have been used to analyze the dynamics of robotic multibody systems and to develop novel computational dynamics algorithms. Mass matrix factorization, inversion, diagonalization, and linearization are among several new insights obtained using such operators. While initially developed for serial rigid body manipulators, the spatial operators — and the related mathematical analysis — have been shown to extend very broadly including to tree and closed topology systems, to systems with flexible joints, links, etc. This work uses concepts from graph theory to explore the mathematical foundations of spatial operators. The goal is to study and characterize the properties of the spatial operators at an abstract level so that they can be applied to a broader range of dynamics problems.

Posted in: Mechanics, Mechanical Components, Briefs

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Umbilical Deployment Device

NASA’s next-generation Mars rover encompasses this novel landing technique. The landing scheme for NASA’s next-generation Mars rover will encompass a novel landing technique (see figure). The rover will be lowered from a rocket-powered descent stage and then placed onto the surface while hanging from three bridles. Communication between the rover and descent stage will be maintained through an electrical umbilical cable, which will be deployed in parallel with structural bridles.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs

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Modular Rake of Pitot Probes

Individual probes can be replaced more easily than was possible before. The figure presents selected views of a modular rake of 17 pitot probes for measuring both transient and steady-state pressures in a supersonic wind tunnel. In addition to pitot tubes visible in the figure, the probe modules contain (1) high-frequency dynamic-pressure transducers connected through wires to remote monitoring circuitry and (2) flow passages that lead to tubes that, in turn, lead to remote steady-state pressure transducers.

Posted in: Mechanics, Mechanical Components, Briefs

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Robotic End Effectors for Hard-Rock Climbing

End effectors emulate equipment used by human climbers.Pasadena, California Special-purpose robot hands (end effectors) now under development are intended to enable robots to traverse cliffs much as human climbers do. Potential applications for robots having this capability include scientific exploration (both on Earth and other rocky bodies in space), military reconnaissance, and outdoor search and rescue operations.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs

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Combined Structural and Trajectory Control of Variable-Geometry Planetary Entry Systems

This technique can be applied for use in aircraft and underwater vehicles. Some of the key challenges of planetary entry are to dissipate the large kinetic energy of the entry vehicle and to land with precision. Past missions to Mars were based on unguided entry, where entry vehicles carried payloads of less than 0.6 T and landed within 100 km of the designated target. The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) is expected to carry a mass of almost 1 T to within 20 km of the target site. Guided lifting entry is needed to meet these higher deceleration and targeting demands. If the aerodynamic characteristics of the decelerator are variable during flight, more trajectory options are possible, and can be tailored to specific mission requirements. In addition to the entry trajectory modulation, having variable aerodynamic properties will also favor maneuvering of the vehicle prior to descent. For proper supersonic parachute deployment, the vehicle needs to turn to a lower angle of attack.

Posted in: Mechanics, Software, Mechanical Components, Briefs

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Two-Stage Centrifugal Fan

Fan designs are often constrained by envelope, rotational speed, weight, and power. Aerodynamic performance and motor electrical performance are heavily influenced by rotational speed. The fan used in this work is at a practical limit for rotational speed due to motor performance characteristics, and there is no more space available in the packaging for a larger fan. The pressure rise requirements keep growing. The way to ordinarily accommodate a higher DP is to spin faster or grow the fan rotor diameter.

Posted in: Mechanics, Mechanical Components, Briefs

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