Tech Briefs

Compliant Electrode and Composite Materials for Piezoelectric Wind and Mechanical Energy Conversion

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California Thin film, piezoelectric materials generate a small voltage whenever they are deformed, suggesting that they are suitable for tapping energy from freely available resources, such as the wind. Yet their low-energy production levels and lack of electrode durability have hampered development. NASA researchers have invented a system, method, and device for improving the performance and increasing the lifespan of small-form-factor, thin-film electrode, piezoelectric devices capable of interacting with the wind to provide power to wearable devices and stretchable electronics.

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Development of a Novel, Regenerable Microlith Catalytic Reactor for CO2 Reduction via Bosch Process

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama Utilization of CO2 to produce life support consumables, such as water and oxygen, offers a potential advance for NASA’s cabin atmosphere revitalization system and in-situ resources utilization concepts for long-term manned space missions. Toward this goal, the innovators at Precision Combustion, Inc. have investigated the use of catalysts supported on patented short-contact-time Microlith® substrates for CO2 reduction via Bosch process. These catalytic substrates enabled faster reaction rates, higher CO2 conversion, and a reduced recycle penalty. Further improvements in size, volume, and weight are projected by splitting the chemistry of the Bosch process into two separate reactors: a reverse water-gas-shift (RWGS) reactor, and a carbon formation reactor (CFR). Carbon formation would be accomplished via the hydrogenation and/or Boudouard reactions. In this two-stage configuration, the operating conditions can be individually optimized to maximize CO2 conversion as well as the water and carbon production rates. The feasibility study, which included performance testing at various operating conditions, and durability testing were successfully demonstrated.

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3D Motor for Multi-Axis Attitude Control on SmallSats

For improved performance-to-mass ratio, a reaction sphere is a 3D motor that could replace what would conventionally require at least three separate single-axis motors. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland Preliminary data was recently provided for a reaction sphere prototype on NASA’s zero-gravity parabolic flight vehicle. Gyroscope telemetry indicates that reaction spheres were successfully commanded at 10- to 20-ms pulses during a handful of parabolas in each flight. This is the first publicly disclosed validation of a freely rotating reaction sphere in a standalone compact package. At dimensions of

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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Nanosatellite Launch Adapter System

Applications include CubeSats, nanosatellites, and launch vehicles. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California NASA has developed a Nanosatellite Launch Adapter System (NLAS) that maximizes the efficiency of satellite launch missions. NLAS increases access to space while simplifying the integration process of miniature satellites, called nanosats or CubeSats, onto launch vehicles. While a complete NLAS consists of an adapter integrated with four dispensers and a sequencer, its components can be used modularly with other adapter, deployer, and sequencer/actuator systems. The adapter is mounted to the upper surface of the launch vehicle at the separation plane and the lower deck of the primary spacecraft supporting its structural load. The dispensers are mounted inside the adapter and house a variety of CubeSats in fully enclosed bays. NLAS is stackable, allowing for the expansion of spacecraft deployments. An NLAS sequencer can initiate a secondary sequencer, allowing for the expansion of actuator and deployment capability.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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James Webb Space Telescope Microshutters Subsystem Project Thermal Chamber Ground Support Equipment Automated Control

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland An automated control system for the microshutter assembly (MSA) portion of the JWST MSS (James Webb Space Telescope Micro shutters Subsystem) was developed. This is a cryogenic device that operates at 35 K. Cooling down and warming back up is a critical activity since the arrays are very fragile. This process used to be manual. After seeing the difficulties of operating in this mode with the engineering test unit (ETU), a decision was made to develop a LabVIEW-based control system to monitor temperature sensors, and control the heater, cryocooler, and vacuum pumps. This system fully automated the process for warm-up and cool-down, and reduced the overall time it took in the process. A text message alert system was included so that members of a call tree were alerted if there were any violations of set constraints.

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Visual Environment for Remote Virtual Exploration (VERVE) v2

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California VERVE is a 3D visualization system that provides situational awareness, science analysis tools, and data understanding capabilities for robotics researchers and exploration science operations. VERVE includes telemetry views that show remote system status, and can be extended to support various types of robots. VERVE is highly modular, extensible, and includes a 3D scenegraph database, interactive 3D viewer, and associated graphical user interfaces (GUIs) to OSGI (Java standards organization) plug-in based applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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Optimal Alarm System Design and Implementation

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California An optimal alarm system can robustly predict a level-crossing event that is specified over a fixed prediction horizon. The code contained in this package provides the tools necessary to design an optimal alarm system for a simple stationary linear dynamic system driven by white Gaussian noise.

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