Physical Sciences

Qualification of UHF Antenna for Extreme Martian Thermal Environments

This innovation can be used in aerospace and deep space applications. The purpose of this development was to validate the use of the external Rover Ultra High Frequency (RUHF) antenna for space under extreme thermal environments to be encountered during the surface operations of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission. The antenna must survive all ground operations plus the nominal 670 Martian sol mission that includes summer and winter seasons of the Mars thermal environment. The qualification effort was to verify that theRUHF antenna design and its bonding and packaging processes are adequate to survive the harsh environmental conditions.

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Lunar Sulfur Capture System

The process substantially reduces the need for Earthsupplied consumables. The Lunar Sulfur Capture System (LSCS) protects in situ resource utilization (ISRU) hardware from corrosion, and reduces contaminant levels in water condensed for electrolysis. The LSCS uses a lunar soil sorbent to trap over 98 percent of sulfur gases and about twothirds of halide gases evolved during hydrogen reduction of lunar soils. LSCS soil sorbent is based on lunar minerals containing iron and calcium compounds that trap sulfur and halide gas contaminants in a fixed-bed reactor held at temperatures between 250 and 400 °C, allowing moisture produced during reduction to pass through in vapor phase. Small amounts of Earth-based polishing sorbents consisting of zinc oxide and sodium aluminate are used to reduce contaminant concentrations to one ppm or less. The preferred LSCS configuration employs lunar soil beneficiation to boost concentrations of reactive sorbent minerals.

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Multi-Pass Quadrupole Mass Analyzer

The technology will enhance the resolving power of small QMA instruments and simplify the electronics package for ground and space instruments. Analysis of the composition of planetary atmospheres is one of the most important and fundamental measurements in planetary robotic exploration. Quadrupole mass analyzers (QMAs) are the primary tool used to execute these investigations, but reductions in size of these instruments has sacrificed mass resolving power so that the best present-day QMA devices are still large, expensive, and do not deliver performance of laboratory instruments.

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Environmental Qualification of a Single- Crystal Silicon Mirror for Spaceflight Use

This innovation is the environmental qualification of a single-crystal silicon mirror for spaceflight use. The single-crystal silicon mirror technology is a previous innovation, but until now, a mirror of this type has not been qualified for spaceflight use. The qualification steps included mounting, gravity change measurements, vibration testing, vibration-induced change measurements, thermal cycling, and testing at the cold operational temperature of 225 K.

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Simple Laser Communications Terminal for Downlink From Earth Orbit at Rates Exceeding 10 Gb/s

Implementation of this technology will surpass the spectrum-allocation and bandwidth limitations of current RF systems. A compact, low-cost laser communications transceiver was prototyped for downlinking data at 10 Gb/s from Earth-orbiting spacecraft. The design can be implemented using flight-grade parts. With emphasis on simplicity, compactness, and light weight of the flight transceiver, the reduced-complexity design and development approach involves:

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Cloud Absorption Radiometer Autonomous Navigation System — CANS

The system captures navigational data in real time while keeping the sensor centered on a fixed target. CAR (cloud absorption radiometer) acquires spatial reference data from host aircraft navigation systems. This poses various problems during CAR data reduction, including navigation data format, accuracy of position data, accuracy of airframe inertial data, and navigation data rate. Incorporating its own navigation system, which included GPS (Global Positioning System), roll axis inertia and rates, and three-axis acceleration, CANS expedites data reduction and increases the accuracy of the CAR end data product.

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Hyperspectral Imager-Tracker

The Hyperspectral Imager-Tracker (HIT) is a technique for visualization and tracking of low-contrast, fast-moving objects. The HIT architecture is based on an innovative and only recently developed concept in imaging optics. This innovative architecture will give the Light Prescriptions Innovators (LPI) HIT the possibility of simultaneously collecting the spectral band images (hyperspectral cube), IR images, and to operate with high-light-gathering power and high magnification for multiple fast- moving objects. Adaptive Spectral Filtering algorithms will efficiently increase the contrast of low-contrast scenes.

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