Special Coverage

Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines
Vibration Tables Shake Up Aerospace and Car Testing
Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water
Computer Chips Calculate and Store in an Integrated Unit
Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing
Mechanoresponsive Healing Polymers
Variable Permeability Magnetometer Systems and Methods for Aerospace Applications
Evaluation Standard for Robotic Research

A Modular Apparatus and Method for Attaching Multiple Devices

This technology improves the real-time monitoring of high-temperature or other harsh environments.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Electronic equipment, Sensors and actuators, Fabrication, Silicon alloys, Protective structures
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Active Remote Sensing Radiometer

This technology can be used for security screening and security imaging, as well as automotive navigation in dust and fog conditions where machine vision performs poorly.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors, Imaging and visualization, Radar, Remote sensing, Thermodynamics
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Exo-Brake Enables Safe Return for Small Spacecraft

The tension-based, flexible braking device resembles a cross parachute.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation, Product development, Drag, Entry, descent, and landing, Satellites, Spacecraft
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Green Monopropellant Secondary Payload Propulsion System

Small satellites, launched as secondary payloads, are increasingly being fielded. Advances in liquid rocket propulsion that enhance the on-orbit maneuverability, increase the on-orbit life, and decrease the time between identified need for and deployment of such spacecraft are of great value. Replacing the nearly ubiquitous yet toxic hydrazine propellant with AF-M315E produces higher specific impulse and density specific impulse, resulting in improved overall velocity change capability and increased on-orbit life.

Posted in: Briefs, Propulsion
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Highly Porous and Mechanically Strong Ceramic Oxide Aerogels

These materials provide improved environmental durability and elasticity for aerospace and terrestrial applications.

NASA's Glenn Research Center (GRC) has developed and produced ultra-lightweight polymer cross-linked aerogels (X-Aerogels). These mechanically robust, highly porous, low-density materials are three times denser than native aerogels, but more than 100 times stronger. Aerogels are ultra-lightweight glass foams with extremely small pores (on the order of 10 to 50 nanometers). These materials are extremely good thermal insulators, with R values ranging from 2 to 10 times higher than polymer foams. Unlike multilayer insulation, aerogels do not require a high vacuum to maintain their low thermal conductivity, and can function as good thermal insulators at ambient pressure. In addition, they are good electrical insulators and have low refractive indices, both approaching values close to air. Aerogels are also excellent vibration-damping materials. Traditional aerogels, however, suffer fragility and poor environmental durability.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials
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AutoSurvey™ Software System

The U.S. Navy has developed a software system that optimizes the collection of data for hydrographic surveys. The autonomous survey system, called AutoSurvery, is an easy-to-implement, real-time adaptive software system for the collection of swath-type data that minimizes survey time while maintaining data quality and ensuring the desired coverage.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors
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Unleashing RAPID

The Routing Application for Parallel computation of Discharge (RAPID, here) is a river routing model. Given surface and groundwater inflow to rivers, this model can compute the flow and volume of water everywhere in river networks made out of many thousands of reaches. The design of RAPID allows it to be adapted to any river network, if given basic connectivity information. RAPID uses a matrix version of the Muskingum method, and has an automated parameter estimation procedure that allows finding optimal model parameters based on available gauge measurements.

Posted in: Briefs, Green Design & Manufacturing
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Authenticated Sensor Interface Device

Researchers at the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) have developed a device to read data, encrypt the information, and distribute it electronically to multiple locations, providing a one-way data pathway that segregates each destination to prevent cross-party data manipulation. Previous “data diode” devices employ computer-based communication channels such as fiber-connected data cards between the sender and receiver. No integrated data authentication is performed, and data is sensitive to external attack and manipulation.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors
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Robust, Highly Efficient Oxygen-Carbon Monoxide Cogeneration System

This system can be used for greenhouse gas reduction, and in the steel, medical, and welding industries.

Oxygen, water, and fuel are of paramount importance to human life. As a leading concept, the solid-oxide electrolysis cell (SOEC) is a very powerful technology, especially in aiding NASA's endeavors to pursue extraterrestrial exploration missions. This work focused on developing a robust, long-life SOEC technology that efficiently cogenerates oxygen and CO fuel directly from CO2, and is superior to the state-of-the-art Oxygen-Generation System (OGS) technologies. The principal objective of the project was to develop the system to support Mars exploration missions as part of In-Situ Resource Utilization. The key problem characteristics were the SOEC performance and longevity under various operating conditions. The prior art was built on a thick electrolyte-supported SOEC using precious metals as electrodes. Due to the nature of SOEC operating mechanisms, high pressures may build up at the interfaces of the positive electrode and the electrolyte, resulting in electrode delamination and long-term stability issues. The state-of-the-art SOEC technology also faced the scaling up and stack sealing issues.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components
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Asymmetric Dielectric Elastomer Composite Material

This material has applications in artificial muscle and hearts, physical therapy/rehab devices, morphing aircraft, robotics, and sensors.

This electronic active material converts a voltage input to a mechanical force and mechanical displacement output. As compared to prior dielectric elastomer (DE) systems, the material has reduced electrode spacing, which lowers significantly the required operating voltage. In addition, the inclusion of a combination of conducting and/or non-conducting reinforcing fibers greatly enhances the strength of the material, without weight penalty.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials
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