Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Diminutive Assembly for Nanosatellite deploYables (DANY) Miniature Release Mechanism

New deployment mechanism offers improved reliability with minimum space and weight penalty.

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

CubeSat appendices such as solar panels and antennas often need to be constrained by a release mechanism during launch. These appendices are then deployed once the desired orbit is reached. The usual constraint method used is a combination of an unpredictable/ unreliable fishing line and burning wire. If a proper release mechanism is used, it utilizes a considerable amount of CubeSat internal space, making the internal packaging of the satellite more difficult. These two methods have adverse effects on CubeSat performance.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Satellites
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Quantitative Real-Time Flow Visualization Technique

This technique enables real-time monitoring of pressure fields and flow measurement.

John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio

There is a need for experimental techniques that have low cost and rapid turnaround. It is also necessary to obtain quantitative information from such a method. Previous methods are either lacking in quantitative information such as dye or smoke injection, or require considerable set-up and cost such as PIV (particle image velocimetry). A method was developed for visualizing the pressure contours for a turbine cascade in real time to enable rapid evaluation of new concepts. A method for quantitative 3D flow visualization also was developed.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Computational fluid dynamics, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Imaging, Imaging and visualization
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Thin-Film Evaporative Cooling for Side-Pumped Lasers

This technology has applications in advanced lidar systems for weather satellites; in welding, cutting, and marking; and in test and measurement.

Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia

A highly efficient way to cool solid-state crystal lasers was developed. This thin-film evaporative cooling technique offers higher optical efficiencies and monochromatic quality than traditional conductive cooling techniques. Developed for use in side-pumped 2.0- micron laser systems used in light detection and ranging (lidar) instruments, the thin-film cooling design concept also has broad utility for diode-pumped solid-state laser (DPSSL) systems, especially those with high heat flux or challenging packaging requirements.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Optics, Optics, Thermal management, Thermal management, Cooling
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MEMS Micro-Translation Stage with Large Linear Travel Capability

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama

A MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) micro-translation stage (MTS) with large linear travel capability was developed that uses capacitive electrostatic forces created by stators arranged linearly on both sides of a channel, and matching rotors on a moveable shuttle for precise movement of the shuttle. The device, which is essentially a linear motor built from silicon base with microfabrication techniques, will be able to rapidly translate across large distances using only three-phase power. The moveable shuttle can be as small as 100 mm and can house a variety of elements including lenses and mirrors. The shuttle can be tailored to travel distances as small as 10 mm and as large as 300 mm, with as little as 10 mm between adjacent shuttle stops.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Optics, Optics
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Editor's Choice: May 2015 - NASA Tech Briefs

A MEMS micro-translation stage features large linear travel capability, and can translate across long distances using just three-phase power. Essentially a linear motor built from a silicon base using microfabrication techniques, the device can be as small as 100 mm and can house lenses, mirrors, absorbers, and sampling compartments for applications in optics, communications, sensors, and biotechnology. Find out more here.

Posted in: UpFront, MEMs
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ACS Anchor Guide Stud and Caddy

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

An alignment guide and a mounting interface for two of the repair tools on orbit during the Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Mission 4 (see http://asd.gsfc.nasa.gov/archive/hubble/missions/sm4.html) were developed. This design can be installed in a timely manner, and was specifically developed for a worksite with minimal access and minimal visual line-of-sight to the worksite. In addition, this technology was specifically designed for on-orbit work by astronauts, and can be used for any space-related work where an alignment aid or mounting interface is required.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Aerospace, Fastening, Joining & Assembly, Mechanical Components, Tools and equipment
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Next-Generation, Lightweight Hard Upper Torso/Hatch Assembly

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas

The current MK-III carbon-graphite/epoxy Hard Upper Torso (HUT)/hatch assembly represented an 8.3 psi (≈57 kPa) technology demonstrator model of a zero pre-breathe suit. In this configuration, the MK-III suit weighed about 120 lb (≈54 kg). Since future lunar/planetary suits will need to operate under the influence of gravity, as well as operate at 4.3 psi (≈30 kPa), the weight of the suit had to be reduced to a minimum of 79 lb (≈36 kg) with the incorporation of lightweight structural materials and slight HUT/hatch assembly geometric redesign.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Aerospace, Mechanical Components, Lightweight materials, Protective clothing, Lightweighting
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Elastic Deployable Composite Tubular Roll-Out Boom

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

The objective of this work was to develop an innovative deployable boom/structure technology that is ultra-lightweight (<30-grams/meter potential), and has extremely compact stowage volume (>100:1 compaction ratio), broad scalability (no size limits envisioned), high deployed frequency, high deployed strength, good thermal/dimensional stability, reliable/immediate and repeatable controlled deployment, high stiffness maintained during the entire deployment sequence, affordability (simple, easily produced tubular structure, very low parts count, and proven tube manufacture provides low cost and rapid assembly), space environmental survivability, and broad mission applicability.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Aerospace, Mechanical Components, Composite materials, Lightweighting
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Reduced-Speed Duplex-Ring Seal

This configuration seals fluid flow and pressure at a significant increase in machine shaft speed.

John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio

Ring seals are used in rotating union applications where a fluid flow or hydraulic pressure signal is transferred from a static reference frame to a rotating component, such as a shaft, for the purpose of providing lubrication and/or a hydraulic signal to a component(s) in a rotating frame of reference. Ring seals are used in physically compact configurations.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Seals and gaskets
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Performing Launch Depressurization Test on Large Test Articles Using Two Vacuum Chambers in Tandem

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

Two vacuum chambers were used in tandem to perform a launch depressurization test. The test article was mounted in a 10-ft (≈3 m) Vertical Vacuum Chamber (Chamber 248-10). The 25-ft (≈7.6-m) Space Simulator (Chamber 150-25) was rough-pumped and used for ullage.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Aerospace, Mechanical Components, Test procedures
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