Mechanical Components

Process for Measuring Over-Center Distances

Over-center mechanisms were used in the orbiter payload bay to lock down the robotic arm during the launch of the space shuttle. These mechanisms were unlocked while in orbit in order to release the arm for use. Adjusting the mechanism such that it would not inadvertently release during launch, but could be released when needed by use of the motor, required accurate adjustments that were difficult to perform. A procedure was developed to allow these mechanisms to be adjusted to within the specifications required for the Space Shuttle Program. This approach is significantly more accurate than any other technique, and is the only technique known that met the launch requirements of the program.

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Mars Technology Rover with Arm-Mounted Percussive Coring Tool, Microimager, and Sample-Handling Encapsulation Containerization Subsystem

A report describes the PLuto (programmable logic) Mars Technology Rover, a mid-sized FIDO (field integrated design and operations) class rover with six fully drivable and steerable cleated wheels, a rocker-bogey suspension, a pan-tilt mast with panorama and navigation stereo camera pairs, forward and rear stereo hazcam pairs, internal avionics with motor drivers and CPU, and a 5-degrees-of-freedom robotic arm.

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Mars Science Laboratory Drill

This device also has applications for drilling in mines and other dangerous areas. This drill (see Figure 1) is the primary sample acquisition element of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) that collects powdered samples from various types of rock (from clays to massive basalts) at depths up to 50 mm below the surface. A rotary-percussive sample acquisition device was developed with an emphasis on toughness and robustness to handle the harsh environment on Mars. It is the first rover-based sample acquisition device to be flight-qualified (see Figure 2). This drill features an autonomous tool change-out on a mobile robot, and novel voice-coilbased percussion.

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Shape Memory Composite Hybrid Hinge

The hinge can be used for in-space deployment of antennas, reflectors, cameras, solar panels, and sunshields, as well as in any structure requiring hinges. There are two conventional types of hinges for in-space deployment applications. The first type is mechanically deploying hinges. A typical mechanically deploying hinge is usually composed of several tens of components. It is complicated, heavy, and bulky. More components imply higher deployment failure probability. Due to the existence of relatively moving components among a mechanically deploying hinge, it unavoidably has microdynamic problems. The second type of conventional hinge relies on strain energy for deployment. A tape-spring hinge is a typical strain energy hinge. A fundamental problem of a strain energy hinge is that its deployment dynamic is uncontrollable. Usually, its deployment is associated with a large impact, which is unacceptable for many space applications. Some damping technologies have been experimented with to reduce the impact, but they increased the risks of an unsuccessful deployment.

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Ultra-Compact Motor Controller

Applications include industrial robotic arms, industrial machinery, and automobiles. This invention is an electronically commutated brushless motor controller that incorporates Hall-array sensing in a small, 42-gram package that provides 4096 absolute counts per motor revolution position sensing. The unit is the size of a miniature hockey puck, and is a 44-pin male connector that provides many I/O channels, including CANbus, RS-232 communications, general-purpose analog and digital I/O (GPIO), analog and digital Hall inputs, DC power input (18–90 VDC, 0–l0 A), three-phase motor outputs, and a strain gauge amplifier.

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Binding Causes of Printed Wiring Assemblies With Card-Loks

A document discusses a study that presents the first documented extraction loads, both nominal and worstcase, and presents the first comprehensive evaluation of extraction techniques, methodologies, and tool requirements relating to extracting printed wiring assemblies (PWAs) with Card-Loks during EVA (extra vehicular activity). This task was performed for the first time during HST (Hubble Space Telescope) Servicing Mission 4.

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A Reversible Thermally Driven Pump for Use in a Sub-Kelvin Magnetic Refrigerator

A document describes a continuous magnetic refrigerator that is suited for cooling astrophysics detectors. This refrigerator has the potential to provide efficient, continuous cooling to temperatures below 50 mK for detectors, and has the benefits over existing magnetic coolers of reduced mass because of faster cycle times, the ability to pump the cooled fluid to remote cooling locations away from the magnetic field created by the superconducting magnet, elimination of the added complexity and mass of heat switches, and elimination of the need for a thermal bus and single crystal paramagnetic materials due to the good thermal contact between the fluid and the paramagnetic material.

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