Tech Briefs

Development of a Multi-User Modem for Space Telecommunications

This technology has applications in the cellphone industry. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Efficient support of planetary surface missions typically requires an orbiting asset that acts as a relay point to/from Earth. Orbital relay passes are normally 5 to 15 minutes in duration over any specific landed site. When multiple landed assets are co-located or near-located in the same coverage circle of a single relay orbiter, their telecom relay support opportunities will overlap. This will be the case with cooperative lander missions, a lander-rover operations pair, distributed intelligent lander missions, and future deployment of multiple equipment components for support of complex sample return or manned operations. In these situations, the capability of simultaneous support to multiple landers is very valuable for mission performance and operations flexibility. This technology work enables simultaneous telecom support to multiple landers (Mars, Titan, Europa), and provides single-radio, multi-mode support to Entry, Descent & Landing (EDL) and emergency operations (e.g., demodulation + Open Loop Recording).

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Wire Bonding to Pads in Tilted Planes

This technique can be used in industries where devices need to be made smaller and lighter, such as medical, aerospace, automotive, and military. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Scientific imaging arrays need to have their individual imaging elements arranged in a close-spaced mosaic. The typical single imaging element is a silicon chip mounted on a larger support frame. This excess area of the support frame takes away valuable imaging space from the mosaic. This appears as a grid of black (no data) in the overall mosaic image. Making the support frame smaller makes the amount of lost data smaller, and the imaging elements can be spaced more closely together. Eliminating the support frame altogether brings the imaging elements even closer. This is referred to as four-side buttable.

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cFE/CFS Evolution for Multicore Platforms

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland This effort ports the Core Flight Executive (cFE)/Core Flight System (CFS) flight software architecture to multicore processor platforms, and provides mission developers with a common, flightready, flexible software environment that supports single, multi-processor, and multicore systems. Currently the cFE/CFS only supports single-core processors.

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Advanced Spacecraft Navigation and Timing Using Celestial Gamma-Ray Sources

This technology can decrease the overall operations cost of exploration missions by increasing the onboard navigation and guidance capabilities. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland The Advanced Spacecraft Navigation and Timing using Celestial Gamma-Ray Sources concept is a novel relative navigation technology for deep-space exploration using measurements of celestial gamma-ray sources. This new Gamma-ray source Localization-Induced Navigation and Timing (GLINT) method incorporates existing designs of autonomous navigation technologies and merges these with the developing science of high-energy sensor components. This new enabling technology for interplanetary self-navigation could provide important mission enhancements to planned operational and discovery missions. It has the potential to decrease the overall operations cost of exploration missions by increasing the onboard navigation and guidance capabilities, and reducing the risk of uncertainty by providing these vehicles the freedom to explore those areas that are most interesting.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Sensors

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NEO Hunter Seeker Micro-Spacecraft and Mission Concept

Spacecraft mass and mission cost can be drastically reduced, including the ability to not only discover, but visit near Earth objects. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California The area of research known as “Planetary Defense” is largely concerned with identifying and tracking asteroids that could impact Earth. The vast majority of asteroids that pose such a risk are known as “Near Earth Asteroids/Objects” or NEAs and NEOs. Some of them are unknown, un-cataloged, and untracked, but are presumed to orbit in Earth-like orbits, and periodically cross Earth’s orbit in a possibly threatening manner.

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Multipath, Multistage, Erosion-Resistive Valve for Downhole Flow Control

This valve can sustain the extremely high pressure of deep oil wells. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Multipath, multistage, erosion-resistant flow control valves have been developed that can sustain the extremely high pressure of deep oil wells. Fitting in the restricted available space and operating using limited power with a long lifetime are challenges for choke valves in the downhole environment of oil wells. These valves must control the flow rate from high-pressure oil reservoirs in the presence of fluids that have non-zero sand concentrations. This design consists of a digitized flow control valve with multipath and multistage pressure reduction structures. Specifically, the valve is configured as a set of parallel flow paths from the inlet to the outlet.

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Passive Close-Off Feature for Sample Acquisition and Retention

This design has applications in the oil and gas field, and in coring to collect samples from human internal organs for medical applications. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California The current coring bit and percussive drilling style works very well for strong rocks; however, when coring into weak, crumbling rock, the core tends to break apart and simply fall out of the bit. These rocks, powder, and other debris can have useful information that is lost when they fall out of the bit after the core has been made, as there is no retention feature in place. A retention mechanism for coring into weak rocks was developed.

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