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Expendable Cooling System for Venus Lander Concept

The concept could be applicable to the trucking industry to provide temporary cooling where power is not readily available. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California This innovation is a concept for a novel thermal architecture that would enable a day-long surface mission on Venus. A Venus lander mission could last much longer than a few hours on the surface of the planet by absorbing heat from the Venus environment, and from the electronics within the lander, by using an expendable fluid cooling system. The fluid would evaporate in the structural shell, absorbing heat coming from the ambient environment, keeping the shell relatively cool compared to the ambient temperature. The evaporating fluid would create a liquid flow from a reservoir used to cool electronic components within the lander. The liquid reservoir must be contained within the lander structure to serve as a heat sink to maximize the lander lifetime on the surface. A pressure tank would be used to bring the fluid to a point where it could boil and vent into the Venus atmosphere.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Rapid Quench Furnace for Processing Powder in an Inert Environment

The system is able to process particles and/or powder, preserving inert environmental conditions throughout. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia Ongoing work in the development and characterization of sensory materials requires the development of shape memory alloy (SMA) powder or particles. These are embedded in structural material so that the progression of localized damage that occurs during fatigue crack growth will produce an audible acoustic emission (AE) as the SMA transforms from an austenite phase to a martensite phase. In order to set the shape memory effect in these particles, the SMA must be solution-treated (ST) to produce the austenite phase, and rapidly quenched to or below room temperature to preserve the austenite phase at room temperature.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Field Excavator with Embedded Force Measurement

The use of load sensing in excavation allows a vehicle to excavate without exceeding safe operating loads, and without doing unnecessary work. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio The Centaur 2 (C2) platform is a compact vehicle with four independently steered and actuated wheel pods, allowing the vehicle to pivot in place and tilt in two directions. It is designed to interface with and carry the anthropomorphic robot torso of Robonaut 2. There are two nearly identical interface mounting locations on opposite sides of the vehicle body; each provides both power and data channel access. To explore soil-moving capabilities of this versatile platform, an articulated excavator was required for transporting raw material (soil) to an analog volatile extraction processor.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Lunar Materials Handling System

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas A method was developed for transfer of lunar soil into and out of process equipment. The Lunar Materials Handling System (LMHS) conveys solids to a process vessel, provides a gas-tight seal, prevents seal contamination, and minimizes wear from abrasive particles. The LMHS increases equipment life and minimizes process losses, thereby increasing overall in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) leverage. The LMHS is based on a seal arrangement by which lunar or Mars regolith can be repeatedly introduced into, and removed from, reaction chambers operating under a wide range of conditions. An integrated LMHS was demonstrated during operation in a one-cubic-meter vacuum chamber using hydrogen reduction as an ISRU process demonstration platform.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Robotics

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Two-Dimensional Dropped Sensor Suite

The concept can be applied to gather data simultaneously from a number of locations that are too hazardous or inaccessible. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California There are locations that are either too hazardous to land and gather data, or not practical to land. Also, data may need to be gathered from multiple (tens to hundreds) locations (sometimes at once). This is not feasible with a single lander or rover. A single lander does not provide any redundancy in case the lander (or rover) is lost during landing, and due to high costs, is not amenable to landing at multiple locations.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Robotics

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Controlling Execution Sequence Using Tactile-Classification During Manipulation by a Humanoid Robot

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas It is necessary to track system state during robotic manipulation. System state is defined to be manipulator and environment configuration. Without tracking, the robot is ignorant of the outcomes of its actions. State tracking enables the robot to respond to sub-task failures. Tracking system state is difficult for complex robots that incorporate hundreds of individual sensor signals. It is difficult to determine which signals are relevant and which are not, and to find low dimensional representations of system state.

Posted in: Briefs, Robotics

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Autonomous Guidance Algorithm to Auto-Pilot Spacecraft in the Vicinity of Primitive Celestial Bodies

Sequential convex programming is used. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California The dynamics in the vicinity of small bodies are highly nonlinear. Trajectory design in small-body environments requires accurate gravity and solar radiation pressure models to guarantee the satisfaction of spacecraft operational constraints such as thruster silent times, state, and control constraints. The G-PROX guidance algorithm generates fuel-optimal trajectories in the vicinity of asteroids and small bodies. The non-convexity in the control constraints is handled with the lossless convexification technique, which is a convex relaxation of the control constraints. G-PROX uses sequential convex programming and solves a convergent sequence of convex optimization problems generated via sequential linearization of both the dynamics and control bounds, synergistically combined with lossless convexification. The sequence of convex optimization problems converges to a locally optimal solution of the original nonlinear non-convex problem.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Robotics

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