Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Sampling Mechanism for a Comet Sample Return Mission

A similar sampling mechanism could be deployed in dangerous situations on Earth. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland Sample return missions have the ability to vastly increase scientific understanding of the origin, history, current status, and resource potential of solar system objects including asteroids, comets, Mars, and the Moon. However, to make further progress in understanding such bodies, detailed analyses of samples are needed from as many bodies as possible. A standoff sample collection system concept has been developed that would quickly obtain a sample from environments as varied as comets, asteroids, and permanently shadowed craters on the Moon, using vehicles ranging from traditional planetary spacecraft to platforms such as hovering rotorcraft or balloons on Mars, Venus, or Titan. The depth of penetration for this harpoon- based hollow collector was experimentally determined to be proportional to the momentum of the penetrator in agreement with earlier work on the penetration of solid projectiles. A release mechanism for the internal, removable sample cartridge was tested, as was an automatic closure system for the sample canister.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Aerospace, Data Acquisition, Mechanical Components, Automation, Monitoring, Test facilities, Spacecraft


Products of Tomorrow: April 2015

The technologies NASA develops don’t just blast off into space. They also improve our lives here on Earth. Life-saving search-and-rescue tools, implantable medical devices, advances in commercial aircraft safety, increased accuracy in weather forecasting, and the miniature cameras in our cellphones are just some of the examples of NASA-developed technology used in products today. This column presents technologies that have applications in commercial areas, possibly creating the products of tomorrow. If you are interested in licensing the technologies described here, use the contact information provided. To learn about more available technologies, visit the NASA Technology Transfer Portal at

Posted in: Articles, Products, Consumer Product Manufacturing, Joining & Assembly, Mechanical Components, Optical Components, Optics, Connectors and terminals, Optics


Magnetic Fluids Deliver Better Speaker Sound Quality

NASA’s liquid magnetization technology helps Sony increase sound amplitude while reducing distortion. In the early 1960s, NASA scientists were trying to move fuel into an engine without the benefit of gravity. A scientist at Lewis Research Center (now Glenn Research Center) came up with the idea to magnetize the liquid with extremely fine particles of iron oxide. That way, fuel could be drawn into the engine using magnetic force.

Posted in: Articles, Spinoff, Electronics, Joining & Assembly, Seals and gaskets


Piezoelectric Actuated Inchworm Motor (PAIM)

This linear piezoelectric actuator can operate at temperatures of 77 K or below. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Conventional piezoelectric materials, such as PZTs, have reasonably high electromechanical coupling over 70%, and excellent performance at room temperature. However, their coupling factor (converting electrical to mechanical energy and vice versa) drops substantially at cryogenic temperatures, as the extrinsic contributions (domain wall motions) are almost frozen out below 130 K.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Energy, Fluid Handling, Motors & Drives, Electric motors


Magnetic Encoders

POSITAL (Hamilton, NJ) introduced new models of IXARC magnetic encoders that combine incremental and absolute rotation measurement capabilities in a single, compact package. Absolute encoders provide a control system with a report of the rotational angle and rotation count at a specific point in time; incremental encoders provide a signal pulse each time the encoder shaft rotates by a specified angle. The hybrid encoders are based on the company’s magnetic measurement technology, and offer shock, dust, and moisture resistance. The hybrid incremental and absolute rotary encoders have communications interfaces that support both measurement modes: RS-422, HTL, or TTL for incremental readings; and SSI for absolute measurements. Available multi-turn versions can count up to 64,000 revolutions, while incremental measurements have resolutions as high as 16,384 pulses per revolution. For Free Info Visit

Posted in: Products, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Mechanical Components, Motion Control, Measuring Instruments


Planetary Gearbox

GAM (Mount Prospect, IL) offers the SPH inline planetary gearbox with helical gears for dynamic and cyclic applications, as well highspeed and continuous duty applications. It is available in six frame sizes with nominal torque ratings from 15 to 900 Nm. The face width of the gears provides more tooth contact and greater overall torque density. The gears are case-hardened, which imparts strength deeper into the gear. With several output configurations available, machine integration is simplified. For Free Info Visit

Posted in: Products, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Mechanical Components, Motion Control



U.S. Tsubaki Power Transmission, LLC (Wheeling, IL) announced Cam Clutch unidirectional/ mechanical clutches that lock the inner and outer races through the locking action of cams, transmitting torque in one direction of rotation while overrunning in the other. The cams are made of alloy steel, and the races are made of alloy steel with high surface hardness and core toughness. They are precision-ground to provide concentricity and surface finish for accurate cam rotation. For Free Info Visit

Posted in: Products, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Mechanical Components, Motion Control


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