Tech Briefs

Insertable, Miniature, In-Vivo Surgical Robot with Embedded Control

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas This innovation is a miniature, in-vivo surgical robot that is able to be inserted into the peritoneal cavity under insufflation. It is designed to perform Laparoendoscopic Single-Site Surgery (LESS). This robotic device is capable of direct visualization of the surgical procedure, and manual or autonomous repositioning within the abdominal cavity.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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CMOS-Compatible Ohmic Contact RF MEMS Switch

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas Radio frequency (RF) microelectromechanical system (MEMS) switches have advantages over their solid-state counterparts. However, ohmic contact MEMS devices face several significant limitations, preventing entry into the mass market. These limitations are cost, reliability, packaging, and integration.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics

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Miller-Jogging for Synthesizer Lock Algorithm Extension

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) has developed a wide range of CMOS (complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor) phase lock loop (PLL) chips with self-healing/self-calibration capabilities, allowing them to adapt, on the fly, to changes in temperature and other environment parameters. All CMOS PLLs typically have three major settings that self-healing and calibration can adjust: VCO (voltage controlled oscillator) coarse tuning, divider tuning, and CML (current mode logic) tuning. Previous work done at UCLA uses these “knobs” or settings exclusively to self-lock a PLL. Locking criteria is established by monitoring the control voltage with an analog-to-digital converter (ADC) to see if the PLL loop is settled in the middle of the range (locked), or sitting at the ground or supply (unlocked).

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics

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Deployable Antenna Circuit Board Material Design and Fabrication Process

This technology has applications in solar arrays for small satellites. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California The Integrated Solar Array and Reflectarray (ISARA) antenna requires a rugged circuit board material that will meet the following requirements: (1) remains sufficiently flat over the required operating temperature range with solar cells mounted, and under full solar illumination, including heat dissipation due to ≈30% efficiency solar cells; (2) provides a sufficiently high-quality RF-grade circuit board material needed to print the reflectarray antenna; (3) is sufficiently thin (<2.5 mm) to fit within the available stowage volume; and (4) has low mass density (≈5 kg/m2).

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronics

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Mini-Stamp as a Micro-Display for At-a-Glance Subsystem Information for DSN Links

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Operators of the Deep Space Network (DSN) attend to numerous tasks with the overall goal of providing continuous support for the world’s deep space missions. This high-stakes operations environment requires operators to understand the state of the DSN and predict what will happen next. Under the Follow-the-Sun initiative that requires remote operations of the highly complex telecommunications equipment, operators will need to remain aware of the state of the entire network rather than just their own facility, and transition fluidly between periods of low activity and periods of high demand.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Command and Data Handling for the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland The Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission is the fourth mission of the Solar Terrestrial Probes (STP) program. The MMS mission, consisting of four identically instrumented spacecraft, will use Earth’s magnetosphere as a laboratory to study magnetic reconnection, a fundamental plasma-physical process that taps the energy stored in a magnetic field and converts it — typically explosively — into heat and kinetic energy in the form of charged particle acceleration and largescale flows of matter.

Posted in: Briefs

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Ka-Band Parabolic Deployable Antenna (KaPDA)

This technology provides high-data-rate communication to enable high-fidelity instruments and deep space, interplanetary missions. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California CubeSats provide the ability to conduct relatively inexpensive space missions. Over the past several years, technology and launch opportunities for CubeSats have exploded, enabling a wide variety of missions. However, as instruments become more complex and CubeSats travel deeper into space, data communication rates become an issue as highlighted by a recent NASA centennial challenge proposal. A Ka-band highgain antenna would provide a ≈100× increase of data communication rates over an S-band high-gain antenna, and a ≈10,000× increase over an X-band patch antenna of the same input power, enabling high-rate data communication from deep space or the use of dataintensive instruments from low Earth orbit (LEO).

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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