Tech Briefs

Elastomer Filled With Single-Wall Carbon Nanotubes

Strength and stiffness increase with SWNT content. Experiments have shown that composites of a silicone elastomer with single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) are significantly stronger and stiffer than is the unfilled elastomer. The large strengthening and stiffening effect observed in these experiments stands in contrast to the much smaller strengthening effect observed in related prior efforts to reinforce epoxies with SWNTs and to reinforce a variety of polymers with multiple-wall carbon nanotubes (MWNTs). The relative largeness of the effect in the case of the silicone-elastomer/SWNT composites appears to be attributable to (1) a better match between the ductility of the fibers and the elasticity of the matrix and (2) the greater tensile strengths of SWNTs, relative to MWNTs.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials

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Study of Rapid-Regression Liquefying Hybrid Rocket Fuels

A report describes experiments directed toward the development of paraffin-based hybrid rocket fuels that burn at regression rates greater than those of conventional hybrid rocket fuels like hydroxyl-terminated butadiene. The basic approach followed in this development is to use materials such that a hydrodynamically unstable liquid layer forms on the melting surface of a burning fuel body. Entrainment of droplets from the liquid/gas interface can substantially increase the rate of fuel mass transfer, leading to surface regression faster than can be achieved using conventional fuels. The higher regression rate eliminates the need for the complex multi-port grain structures of conventional solid rocket fuels, making it possible to obtain acceptable performance from single-port structures. The high-regression-rate fuels contain no toxic or otherwise hazardous components and can be shipped commercially as non-hazardous commodities. Among the experiments performed on these fuels were scale-up tests using gaseous oxygen. The data from these tests were found to agree with data from small-scale, low-pressure and low-mass-flux laboratory tests and to confirm the expectation that these fuels would burn at high regression rates, chamber pressures, and mass fluxes representative of full-scale rocket motors.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials

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Readout of DSN Monitor Data

DSN Monitor Data Reader is a computer program that, as its name suggests, reads file of monitor data from the Deep Space Network (DSN). The monitor data constitute information on the status and performance of tracking, telemetry, command, and pointing equipment at the DSN antennas. The DSN has recently introduced a new, more advanced monitor data format, denoted 0158-Mon, that is based on the standard formatted data unit (SFDU) and compressed header data objects (CHDO) of the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS). The 0158-Mon data format is a very flexible generic format that provides for specific variable-length formats and for self-identifying parameters that obviate the proprietary NASA Communications (NASCOM) bit-packed formats of the past. The monitor data SFDUs are also encapsulated in Standard DSN Blocks and routed to DSN customers for processing at their local mission control centers. This program helps a DSN customer to read and parse the monitor data to assess the statuses of the DSN stations in support of spacecraft flight operations.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software

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Viewing ISS Data in Real Time via the Internet

EZStream is a computer program that enables authorized users at diverse terrestrial locations to view, in real time, data generated by scientific payloads aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The only computation/ communication resource needed for use of EZStream is a computer equipped with standard Web-browser software and a connection to the Internet. EZStream runs in conjunction with the TReK software, described in a prior NASA Tech Briefs article, that coordinates multiple streams of data for the ground communication system of the ISS. EZStream includes server components that interact with TReK within the ISS ground communication system and client components that reside in the users' remote computers. Once an authorized client has logged in, a server component of EZStream pulls the requested data from a TReK application-program interface and sends the data to the client. Future EZStream enhancements will include (1) extensions that enable the server to receive and process arbitrary data streams on its own and (2) a Web-based graphical-user-interface-building subprogram that enables a client who lacks programming expertise to create customized display Web pages.

Posted in: Briefs, Software

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Software for Optimizing Quality Assurance of Other Software

Software assurance is the planned and systematic set of activities that ensures that software processes and products conform to requirements, standards, and procedures. Examples of such activities are the following: code inspections, unit tests, design reviews, performance analyses, construction of traceability matrices, etc. In practice, software development projects have only limited resources (e.g., schedule, budget, and availability of personnel) to cover the entire development effort, of which assurance is but a part. Projects must therefore select judiciously from among the possible assurance activities. At its heart, this can be viewed as an optimization problem; namely, to determine the allocation of limited resources (time, money, and personnel) to minimize risk or, alternatively, to minimize the resources needed to reduce risk to an acceptable level. The end result of the work reported here is a means to optimize quality-assurance processes used in developing software. This is achieved by combining two prior programs in an innovative manner:

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software

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The TechSat 21 Autonomous Sciencecraft Experiment

Software has been developed to perform a number of functions essential to autonomous operation in the Autonomous Sciencecraft Experiment (ASE), which is scheduled to be demonstrated aboard a constellation of three spacecraft, denoted TechSat 21, to be launched by the Air Force into orbit around the Earth in January 2006. A prior version of this software was reported in "Software for an Autonomous Constellation of Satellites" (NPO-30355), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 26, No. 11 (November 2002), page 44.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software

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Software for Analyzing Laminar-to-Turbulent Flow Transitions

Langley Stability and Transition Analysis Codes (LASTRAC) is a set of engineering software tools developed with the C++ language and modern software technologies for use in analyzing transition from laminar to turbulent flows. LASTRAC is a product of on-going NASA Langley research projects related to transition flow physics modeling and simulations. It is intended to be a set of easy-to-use engineering tools that can be applied to routine engineering design studies. At the current stage, LASTRAC is capable of performing transition calculations based on linear stability theory (LST) or linear and nonlinear parabolized stability equations (PSE) for a broad range of flow regimes and configurations of interest for the design of low-speed as well as supersonic and hypersonic vehicles. At present, LASTRAC is limited to two-dimensional, axisymmetric, or infinite swept-wing boundary layers. Options for general three-dimensional boundary layers are currently under development. The LST option makes it possible to perform traditional N-factor transition correlation. Linear and nonlinear PSE are used to track instability wave evolution from small-amplitude till early transition stage in a high-fidelity manner. It is planned to incorporate modules in LASTRAC that models the receptivity (the process by which perturbations are introduced into laminar boundary-layer flow) and late stage of the transition process. These software modules are intended to enable LASTRAC to perform computations for different stages of laminar-to-turbulent transition in an integrated fashion.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software

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