Physical Sciences

Software for Electromagnetic Detection of Buried Explosives

Data from a variety of sensors on different survey grids can be used. U-HUNTER (also called “UXOHUNTER”) is a computer program that affords knowledge-based real-time sensor- fusion and display capabilities for detecting buried objects and materials of interest. U-HUNTER is intended especially for inferring the presence of buried unexploded ordnance and explosive waste from the readings of magnetic and electromagnetic sensors like those commonly used in geophysical surveys. U-HUNTER is also potentially adaptable to such other uses as detection of mines, medical imaging and diagnosis, detecting and monitoring buried pipes and cables, environmental monitoring, and geological surveys.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences

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Aircraft Anti-Icing Systems Utilizing Induced Hydrophobicity

It should be possible to build lightweight, low-power, low-profile anti-icing systems based on this concept. Aircraft anti-icing systems of a proposed type would utilize static electric fields to reduce or eliminate the electrostatic forces that bond ice and water to metal surfaces. These would be lightweight, low-power-consumption, inexpensive systems that would be installed on the surfaces of wings and other critical airfoils. These systems would not intrude significantly into the interiors of airfoils; they would also not protrude from airfoil surfaces and thus would not disturb aerodynamics.

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Characterization of Heat-Flux-Gauge Calibration System

Phenomena that affect measurements are being investigated in detail. A project is underway in the Flight Loads Laboratory (FLL) at Dryden Flight Research Center to reduce the uncertainties in heat-flux measurements. The impetus for this project is provided, in part, by the observation that uncertainties in heat-flux measurements are large — often 10 to 20 percent or more. Further impetus is provided by the fact that heat-flux calibration facilities being developed at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) operate at heat fluxes well below the levels which can be achieved during high-speed flight. Thus, a heat-flux-gauge user interested in such high fluxes has only two options: (1) take the gauge manufacturer’s calibration on faith or (2) develop and understand his or her own calibration process.

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Low-Power, Zero-Vibration Sorption Coolers

A report discusses three designs of proposed low-power, zero-vibration coolers for infrared instruments planned to be flown aboard spacecraft to perform astrophysical observations far from Earth. The designs take advantage of the radiative precooling available in the projected deep-space operational environments: such precooling makes it possible to reach radiator temperatures as low as tens of kelvins. The working fluids would be helium and hydrogen, and vibration would be eliminated by the choice of thermally cycled gas-sorption (hydrogen/metal hydride and helium/charcoal) units instead of mechanical compressors.

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Inhibited Carrier Transfer in Ensembles of Quantum Dots

A report presents an experimental study of time-resolved, temperature-dependent photoluminescence in InxGa1–x As/GaAs specimens containing In0.6Ga0.4As quantum dots (QDs) distributed at several different areal densities on a GaAs surface and capped with GaAs. The specimens were fabricated by metal-organic vapor deposition of InxGa1–x As on slightly misoriented, semi-insulating GaAs(100) substrates. At high areal densities, the intensities of photoluminescence from the QDs were found to exhibit Arrhenius temperature dependence, attributed to thermal emission of charge carriers and recapture of the charge carriers into neighboring QDs. At low densities, it was found that the temperature dependence is more complex, the thermal transfer of charge carriers between neighboring QDs plays no significant role in the temperature dependence, and the efficiency of transfer of charge carriers into isolated QDs is limited by the rate of carrier transport in InxGa1–x As wetting layers.

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Area Production in Supercritical, Transitional Mixing Layers

This paper presents a study of area production in mixing layers undergoing transition to turbulence. These layers evolve from the mixing of two initially segregated counterflowing streams under supercritical conditions. The study may contribute to development of means to control area production in order to increase disintegration of fluids and enhance combustion in diesel, gas turbine, and liquid rocket engines. As used here, “area production” signifies the fractional rate of change of surface area oriented perpendicular to the mass-fraction gradient in a mixing layer. In the study, a database of transitional states obtained from direct numerical simulations of temporal three-dimensional supercritical mixing layers for heptane/nitrogen and oxygen/hydrogen systems was analyzed. A few of the many conclusions drawn from the analysis are that area production is determined more by strain than by compressibility; area is produced by strain and convective effects; area is destroyed by species mass flux, rotational effects, and pressure gradients; area can be either produced or destroyed by pressure gradients; and effects of viscosity on area production are negligible. Effects of departure from perfect-gas and ideal-mixture behavior were found to be important. Smaller-wavelength initial perturbations were found to lead to greater area production: this observation could be a guide to initial development of control of area production.

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Paraffin-Actuated Heat Switch for Mars Surface Applications

Missions to the surface of Mars pose unique thermal-control challenges to rover and lander systems. With diurnal temperature changes greater than 100 °C, the presence of a Mars atmosphere, and limited power for night-time heating, the thermal-control engineer is faced with a fundamental problem: how to successfully keep components above their survival or operating temperatures at night while managing higher environmental temperatures and dissipation rates during the day. A report describes such a paraffin-actuated heat switch as part of the thermal-control system for a robotic exploratory vehicle on Mars. Over a predetermined temperature range, the switch heat conductance varies by nearly two orders of magnitude to regulate temperatures. The actuation of the heat switch is entirely mechanical and autonomous, relying on the temperature based expansion and contraction of paraffin contained in a seal boot.

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