Physical Sciences

NanoRacks-Scale MEMS Gas Chromatograph System

This is a compact, simple, cost-effective system. In order to study atmospheric or evolved gases, it is highly advantageous for an instrument (e.g. mass spectrometer (MS), thermal conductivity detector (TCD)) to simplify the gas stream with a front-end gas chromatograph (GC). When used for planetary missions, highperformance GCs have to satisfy the additional challenging requirements of surviving high inertial loads with low mass, power, and volume in order to be included in Ventures-, Discovery- and New Frontiers-class missions in today’s budget-constrained reality.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs

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Simulation of Charge Carrier Mobility in Conducting Polymers

Electric conduction in polymers is one of the key elements in avoiding catastrophic internal electrostatic discharge in dielectrics during space missions. This software package enables the simulation of carrier mobility for any given site concentration, which is a material design parameter that can be varied in experimental studies. The software computes the charge mobility for a disordered network of carrier sites. The mobility is obtained by computing the average drift velocity for an applied electric field. The mobility is given by the ratio of the drift velocity to the electric field.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Software, Briefs

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Ultrasonic Intake Airflow Meter for Testbeds

The airflow meter measures extremely dynamic phenomena of combustion engines without being affected by ambient influences or sensor contamination. An ultrasonic intake airflow meter for engine testbed applications was developed. An automotive intake airflow meter must fulfill a series of requirements differentiating it from typical ultrasonic flow meters. First, the data sampling rate of the device must be as high as possible to be able to measure dynamic phenomena of the combustion engine. It is therefore necessary to use broadband ultrasonic transducers capable of sending short signals without post-pulse oscillations. The state-of-the-art piezoelectric transducers cannot fulfill these requirements. For this reason, the FLOWSONIX

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Test & Measurement, Briefs

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Convex Hull-Based Plume and Anomaly Detection

A number of deep space missions have imaged plumes at Io, Enceladus, and other smaller bodies. These phenomena provide valuable information regarding these bodies. To date, this imagery has been captured fortuitously. The ability to utilize onboard processing to conduct campaigns capturing large numbers of images and to detect when a plume event is occurring would open up new mission paradigms. Extended temporal campaigns could provide comprehensive detail on these events’ frequency and character.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Software, Briefs

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Integrity Sensing With Smart Polymers and Rubber Components on Vehicles

This technology has the potential to improve the quality and provide stability monitoring of materials and connections within seals, tires, and hoses. This research provides a capacitance-based method for monitoring the integrity of tires and other polymeric products during manufacturing and throughout the useful product life. Tires are complex composite structures composed of layers of formulated cross-linked rubber, textiles, and steel reinforcement layers. Tire production requires precise manufacturing through chemical and mechanical methods to achieve secure attachment of all layers. Tires are subjected to a variety of harsh environments, experience heavy loads, intense wear, heat, and in many cases, lack of maintenance. These conditions make tires extremely susceptible to damage.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Sensors, Briefs

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Blade Tip Clearance Sensors for Engine Health Monitoring

These sensors are rugged enough to monitor gas turbine engine blades throughout the life of the engine. Blade health monitoring continues to gain interest as a means of assessing the health of turbine airfoils in aerospace and ground-based gas turbine engines in fleet operation. Many types of blade sensors are used throughout the design validation process of new engines that would theoretically provide information for blade health monitoring. However, most of these sensors are either too difficult to use or do not have sufficient survivability to monitor blades throughout the operational life of the engine.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Sensors, Briefs

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Multi-Source Autonomous Response for Targeting and Monitoring of Volcanic Activity

This concept has great relevance to Earth science and future planetary exploration. The study of volcanoes is important for both purely scientific and human survival reasons. From a scientific standpoint, volcanic gas and ash emissions contribute significantly to the terrestrial atmosphere. Ash depositions and lava flows can also greatly affect local environments. From a human survival standpoint, many people live within the reach of active volcanoes, and therefore can be endangered by both atmospheric (ash, debris) toxicity and lava flow.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Sensors, Briefs

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