Designing Electro-Optical Sensors Using Collaborative Systems Engineering Technology

About 25% of space-borne electro-optical (EO) sensor programs in both the civil and National Security Space (NSS) communities have experienced reduced on-orbit reliability, as well as cost and schedule overruns of 100% or more1-3. Many of these EO sensor program over-runs can be largely attributed to delays, errors, and inadequate communication that occur at the many handoff points between team members and contractors in the current design process. This leads to the late discovery of technical problems, making them more expensive and time-consuming to fix.

Posted in: Articles, Features, ptb catchall, Photonics, Optics, Sensors and actuators, Optics, Sensors and actuators, Cost analysis

Gary Martin, Director, New Ventures & Communications Directorate, Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

Gary Martin began his career with NASA in the Microgravity Sciences and Applications Division in 1990 where he served as Branch Chief for Advanced Programs from 1992 – 1994 and Deputy Director from 1994 – 1996. In 2002 he was named NASA’s first – and as it turned out, only – space architect. Martin currently heads up the New Ventures & Communications Directorate at Ames.

Posted in: Who's Who

Tool Coil Springs Aid in Hubble Repairs

Canted-Coil™ springs
Bal Seal Engineering
Foothill Ranch, CA

When astronauts embarked on the latest mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope, Bal Seal Engineering’s Canted-Coil™ springs went along for the ride in a set of special tools. The springs were incorporated in several major repair operations.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Optics, Photonics, Springs, Optics, Optics, Tools and equipment, Fasteners, Spacecraft

Fire Suppression System Protects Giant Crawler Transporters

Stat-X fire suppression system
Fireaway LLC
Minnetonka, MN

When NASA Kennedy Space Center’s fire safety experts decided to replace the fire suppression system in the giant twin crawler transporters that bring the space shuttle from the assembly building to the launch pad, they selected the Stat-X firefighting system for enclosed spaces, a clean, compact system that suppresses fire with condensed aerosol technology. The system kills fires quickly without harming the environment.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Detectors, Fire suppression, Fire suppression, Ground support, Air transportation facilities, Safety testing and procedures, Spacecraft

Fanuc Painting Robot Boosts Production for Metal Finisher

Classic Metal Finishing, based in Jackson, Mich., supplies components for the aerospace, motorcycle, racing, and medical industries. The plant was purchased in February, 2008 by Classic Metal Finishing and Classic Turning. Classic Turning performs high-end CNC machining of components and Classic Metal Finishing performs anodizing and dry film lubricant applications. Classic Metal Finishing’s anodizing line can anodize with two different types for corrosion inhibitor resistance, and can die aluminum in eight different colors. Dry film lubricant is applied to parts to help with high friction tolerance fits and moving assemblies.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Robotics, Metal finishing, Production, Robotics, Spraying, Coatings Colorants and Finishes, Coatings, colorants, and finishes

HEIDENHAIN Gauge Facilitates Precision Stereology Research

Stereology, a tool that became popular in the late ‘90s, is used to quantify properties of 3D objects from 2D sections through an object (such as microscope slides of brain tissue). This method is accepted by neuroscientists as the preferred way to estimate numbers of cell populations in brain structures. The MBF Bioscience’s Stereo Investigator system from MBF Bioscience, Williston, VT, is the market’s leading product and utilizes procedures that use small sample sizes that can be collected rapidly and assure findings that will be accurate, unbiased and statistically efficient.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Data Acquisition, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Biological sciences, Medical equipment and supplies, Nervous system

Magnetic Rotary Encoders Aid Remote Control Vehicle

AB Precision (ABP) prefers to call its Guardian a vehicle (as in MROV - Miniature Remotely Operated Vehicle) rather than a robot. Names aside, the UK-based engineering company’s quadtracked, articulated creation is characterized by dexterity and maneuverability. Its network of ten Renishaw non-contact encoders provide absolute positional feedback to a CPU.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Automation, Architecture, Architecture, Kinematics, Robotics

Choosing Optics for Medical Lasers

Designers of medical equipment using lasers must be careful in their selection of optical components in order to ensure safe and reliable operation. The high power density and narrow wavelength range of lasers create problems not found in other medical optics such as microscopes and cameras. Proper selection of materials, manufacturing specifications, and coatings becomes essential to avoid such problems.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Applications, ptb catchall, Photonics, Lasers, Lasers, Medical equipment and supplies, Fabrication, Coatings Colorants and Finishes, Coatings, colorants, and finishes, Materials properties, Parts

Solar Panel Power Optimizer

SunMizerTM from Xandex Solar (Petaluma, CA) is a new per-panel DC-to-DC power optimizer that increases solar energy harvest by recovering power that is lost when shade falls on a panel. SunMizer can be installed selectively - only on the solar panels that experience regular shading or soiling.

Posted in: GDM, Products, Products, Energy, Renewable Energy, Solar Power

Reducing the Cost of Energy in Concentrated Solar Power Systems

Concentrated solar power (CSP) and concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) methodologies generate electricity by focusing a large amount of sunlight onto a much smaller area. To maximize efficiency, the sunlight needs to be accurately focused, and the accuracy is limited by the accuracy of the sensors used. A white paper from US Digital discusses why an absolute inclinometer is the most effective sensor solution.

Posted in: GDM, Products, Products, Energy, Renewable Energy, Solar Power

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