Special Coverage

NASA Supercomputer Simulations Reveal 'Noisy' Aerodynamics
Robotic Gripper Cleans Up Space Debris
Soft Robot “Walks” on Any Terrain
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Using Microwaves to Produce High-Quality Graphene
Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat
Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space

Predicting Properties of Unidirectional-Nanofiber Composites

A theory for predicting mechanical, thermal, electrical, and other properties of unidirectional-nanofiber/matrix composite materials is based on the prior theory of micromechanics of composite materials. In the development of the present theory, the prior theory of micromechanics was extended, through progressive substructuring, to the level of detail of a nanoscale slice of a nanofiber. All the governing equations were then formulated at this level.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials, Mathematical models, Composite materials, Fibers, Materials properties, Nanomaterials

Deployable Crew Quarters

The deployable crew quarters (DCQ) have been designed for the International Space Station (ISS). Each DCQ would be a relatively inexpensive, deployable box-like structure that is designed to fit in a rack bay. It is to be occupied by one crewmember to provide privacy and sleeping functions for the crew. A DCQ comprises mostly hard panels, made of a lightweight honeycomb or matrix/fiber material, attached to each other by cloth hinges. Both faces of each panel are covered with a layer of Nomex cloth and noise-suppression material to provide noise isolation from ISS.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Mechanics

Nonventing, Regenerable, Lightweight Heat Absorber

A lightweight, regenerable heat absorber (RHA), developed for rejecting metabolic heat from a space suit, may also be useful on Earth for short-term cooling of heavy protective garments. Unlike prior space-suit-cooling systems, a system that includes this RHA does not vent water. The closed system contains water reservoirs, tubes through which water is circulated to absorb heat, an evaporator, and an absorber/radiator. The radiator includes a solution of LiCl contained in a porous material in titanium tubes.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Mechanics, Cooling, Protective clothing, Spacesuits

“Bootstrap” Configuration for Multistage Pulse-Tube Coolers

A “bootstrap” configuration has been proposed for multistage pulse-tube coolers that, for instance, provide final-stage cooling to temperatures as low as 20 K. The bootstrap configuration supplants the conventional configuration, in which customarily the warm heat exchangers of all stages reject heat at ambient temperature. In the bootstrap configuration, the warm heat exchanger, the inertance tube, and the reservoir of each stage would be thermally anchored to the cold heat exchanger of the next warmer stage. The boot-strapped configuration is superior to the conventional setup, in some cases increasing the 20 K cooler’s coefficient of performance two-fold over that of an otherwise equivalent conventional layout. The increased efficiency could translate into less power consumption, less cooler mass, and/or lower cost for a given amount of cooling.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Mechanics, Heat exchangers, Heat exchangers, Cooling

Miniature High-Force, Long-Stroke SMA Linear Actuators

Improved long-stroke shape-memory-alloy (SMA) linear actuators are being developed to exert significantly higher forces and operate at higher activation temperatures than do prior SMA actuators. In these actuators, long linear strokes are achieved through the principle of displacement multiplication, according to which there are multiple stages, each intermediate stage being connected by straight SMA wire segments to the next stage so that relative motions of stages are additive toward the final stage, which is the output stage.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Mechanics, Sensors and actuators, Sensors and actuators, Performance upgrades, Smart materials

Reducing Liquid Loss During Ullage Venting in Microgravity

A centripetal-force-based liquid/gas separator has been proposed as a means of reducing the loss of liquid during venting of the ullage of a tank in microgravity as a new supply of liquid is pumped into the tank. Centripetal-force-based liquid/gas separators are used on Earth, where mechanical drives (e.g., pumps and spinners) are used to impart flow speeds sufficient to generate centripetal forces large enough to effect separation of liquids from gases.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Mechanics, Containers, Pumps, Refueling

Accuracy versus Resolution in Analyzing System Errors

To ensure a system’s accuracy meets required needs, system error budgets must be an integral part of system design. Considerations should include necessary levels of accuracy for system elements, as well as such issues as compatibility between software algorithm calculations and measurement accuracy – meaning resolution must also be taken into account.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Systems management

Ka-Band Transponder for Deep-Space Radio Science

A one-page document describes a Ka-band transponder being developed for use in deep-space radio science. The transponder receives in the Deep Space Network (DSN) uplink frequency band of 34.2 to 34.7 GHz, transmits in the 31.8 to 32.3 GHz DSN downlink band, and performs regenerative ranging on a DSN standard 4-MHz ranging tone subcarrier phase-modulated onto the uplink carrier signal. A primary consideration in this development is reduction in size, relative to other such transponders.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronics & Computers, Radio equipment, Radio equipment

Replication of Space-Shuttle Computers in FPGAs and ASICs

A document discusses the replication of the functionality of the onboard space-shuttle general-purpose computers (GPCs) in field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs). The purpose of the replication effort is to enable utilization of proven space-shuttle flight software and software-development facilities to the extent possible during development of software for flight computers for a new generation of launch vehicles derived from the space shuttles. The replication involves specifying the instruction set of the central processing unit and the input/output processor (IOP) of the space-shuttle GPC in a hardware description language (HDL).

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronics & Computers, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Integrated circuits, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Integrated circuits, Reusable launch vehicles and shuttles

Demisable Reaction-Wheel Assembly

A document discusses the concept of a demisable motor-drive-and-flywheel assembly [reaction-wheel assembly (RWA)] used in controlling the attitude of a spacecraft. “Demisable” as used here does not have its traditional legal meaning; instead, it signifies susceptible to melting, vaporizing, and/or otherwise disintegrating during re-entry of the spacecraft into the atmosphere of the Earth so as not to pose a hazard to anyone or anything on the ground. Prior RWAs include parts made of metals (e.g., iron, steel, and titanium) that melt at high temperatures and include structures of generally closed character that shield some parts (e.g., magnets) against re-entry heating.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Mechanics, Attitude control, Attitude control, Parts, Flywheels, Spacecraft

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