Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Rotary-Hammer Core Sample Acquisition Tool

This tool can be used for drilling in construction, mining, or scientific research applications. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California NASA is developing technologies to enable in situ analysis and sample acquisition from planetary bodies. Missions to these diverse locations require autonomous, highly customizable, reliable tools. A tool capable of core generation, capture, and transfer, and customizable for different missions, would be very valuable.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Data Acquisition, Mechanical Components, Tools and equipment, Drilling, Test equipment and instrumentation


Robust Gimbal System for Small-Payload Manipulation

This is a low-mass, small-volume gimbal unit. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Spaceborne gimbal systems are typically bulky with large footprints. Such a gimbal system may consist of a forked elevation stage rotating on top of the azimuth motor, and occupy a large volume. Mounting flexibility of such a system may be limited.

Posted in: Articles, Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Motion Control, Motors & Drives, Materials handling, Mountings, Spacecraft


Cooling Test Samples With a Combined Convective and Conductive System to Rapidly Reach 77 K

This innovation enables rapid cooling to 77 K of James Webb Space Telescope shields, which enables hypervelocity impact testing with micro-particle spheres. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas In this innovation, a team successfully developed and implemented a combined convective and conductive cooling system that permits rapid cooling. Using a spray system, liquid nitrogen (LN2) was injected into a test article enclosure located in the target tank that was evacuated to a lower pressure than the surrounding ambient pressure of the White Sands Test Facility (WSTF). According to the saturation curve for nitrogen, temperatures lower than 77 K can be achieved by using the evaporative process as long as the pressure remains above the triple point where nitrogen ice is formed.

Posted in: Articles, Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Mechanics, Test & Measurement, Containers, Cooling, Spraying, Test equipment and instrumentation


Variable-Sweep-Wing Aircraft Configuration

There are significant improvements in structural, aerodynamic, and energy efficiency. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California Efficient aircraft designs are increasingly desired in order to support the continued growth of the air transportation industry. Continued expansion of this vital mode of transportation is threatened due to concerns over ever-increasing emissions, noise, and the demand for fuel. Current airport runway, ramp, and terminal facilities are increasingly constrained by encroaching growth and neighborhood environmental issues. The challenges associated with ever-increasing demand for air travel will require the development of aircraft that can fly efficiently over wide speed ranges, minimize their environmental impacts, offer the potential for sizing and growth relative to market demand, and make efficient use of constrained airport and airspace resources.

Posted in: Articles, Briefs, Aeronautics, Aerospace, Aviation, Energy Efficiency, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Mechanical Components, Fuselages, Wings, Product development, Aircraft


NASA Advances Next-Generation 3D-Imaging Lidar

Building, fixing, and refueling space-based assets or rendezvousing with a comet or asteroid will require a robotic vehicle and a super-precise, high-resolution 3D imaging lidar that will generate real-time images needed to guide the vehicle to a target traveling at thousands of miles per hour. A team at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is developing a next-generation 3D scanning lidar — dubbed the Goddard Reconfiguable Solid-state Scanning Lidar (GRSSLi) — that could provide the imagery needed to execute these orbital dances. GRSSLi is a small, low-cost, low-weight platform capable of centimeter-level resolution over a range of distances, from meters to kilometers. Equipped with a low-power, eye-safe laser; a MEMS scanner; and a single photodetector, GRSSLi will "paint" a scene with the scanning laser, and its detector will sense the reflected light to create a high-resolution 3D image at kilometer distances. A non-scanning version of GRSSLi would be ideal for close approaches to asteroids. It would employ a flash lidar, which doesn’t paint a scene with a mechanical scanner, but rather illuminates the target with a single pulse of laser light — much like a camera flash. Source:

Posted in: News, Aerospace, Electronics & Computers, Imaging, MEMs, Lasers & Laser Systems, Photonics, Automation, Robotics


NASA's Hot 100 Technologies: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Spring Joint Package with Overstrain Sensor This flexible joint provides two degrees of freedom and a tremendous amount of compliance. The overstrain sensor joint has a passive and restoring force that allows the joint to return to a default position, and is also proportional to the amount of lateral deflection the spring has undergone; this allows the OS sensor joint to be used in many of the under-constrained situations that cause universal joints to lock up.

Posted in: Articles, Techs for License, Fluid Handling, Motors & Drives


NASA Tests Revolutionary Shape-Changing Aircraft Flap

NASA's green aviation project is one step closer to developing technology that could make future airliners quieter and more fuel‑efficient with the successful flight test of a wing surface that can change shape in flight. Researchers replaced an airplane’s conventional aluminum flaps with advanced, shape‑changing assemblies that form seamless bendable and twistable surfaces. Flight testing will determine whether flexible trailing‑edge wing flaps are a viable approach to improve aerodynamic efficiency and reduce noise generated during takeoffs and landings.

Posted in: News, Aerospace, Aviation, Mechanical Components


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