Tech Briefs

AeroHeating Tools (AHT) Suite

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas This suite of computer programs, called “tools,” is used to calculate local flow angles over damage sites in the Shuttle Orbiter Thermal Protection System (TPS). It provides a quick and easy way to compute cross flow angles over points of interest on the Shuttle Orbiter TPS.

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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.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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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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Piezoelectric-Actuated Cryogenic Thermodynamic Vent Valve

Piezoceramic transducer elements with ceramic dielectric coating were successfully used in the actuator system. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas Cryogenic fluid control valves require actuation that controls the geometric position of the orifice in a thermally stable manner. Traditional actuator devices may have various materials used in their construction that have varying CTEs (coefficients of thermal expansion) and therefore may shift (expand or contract) relative to the reference mounting points on the valve body. This leads to a lack of valve orifice control and leakage in the valve. To provide a more thermally stable control valve for cryogenic fluids, Dynamic Structures and Materials LLC (DSM LLC) provided a piezoelectric ceramic-driven actuation system on a cryogenic thermodynamic vent system (TVS) valve.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Amine Swingbed Payload

This system minimizes water and air loss. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas The amine swingbed was in development for incorporation into Orion’s environmental control and life support system to remove metabolic carbon dioxide and humidity from the crew atmosphere. The compact, low-power swingbed uses space vacuum to regenerate itself. Direction was given by NASA to develop it for a payload experiment on ISS using the most recent engineering development laboratory unit. To minimize overboard humidity and crew cabin ullage losses, a method for removing humidity upstream of the amine swingbed had to be developed, along with a means to minimize overboard ullage losses when the swingbed cycled.

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Bayesian Sleep Fusion

This tool can be adapted to track fatigue levels of individuals in occupations associated with high levels of exhaustion or periods of circadian misalignment. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas To ensure mission success, astronauts must maintain a high level of performance, even when work-rest schedules result in chronic sleep restriction and circadian misalignment, both of which can contribute to fatigue and performance deficits unless effective countermeasures are used. The overarching goal of this project is to build an Individualized Fatigue Meter to provide astronauts and mission support personnel with immediate feedback about their alertness or fatigue levels. The Individualized Fatigue Meter incorporates sleep history, ambient light levels, schedule information, and performance tests to provide immediate individualized feedback about alertness, and allow critical insight when making decisions about scheduling future sleep periods and selecting fatigue countermeasures.

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