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

Titanium Hydroxide — a Volatile Species at High Temperature

Titanium hydroxide, TiO(OH)2 (g), has been identified as the primary reaction product of TiO2    (s) + H2O (g) at high temperatures (1,200–1,400 °C) through the use of the transpiration technique. This technique is a well-established method used to measure equilibrium pressures at 1 atm. Reactive O2 /H2O mixtures of gases flow over the sample, and react to form volatile Ti hydroxides. The collected reaction gas condensate is analyzed to determine the vapor and dissociation pressures. From the amount of condensate and its relation to the partial pressures of the reactive gases, the identity of the volatile hydroxide can be determined. From the relation of product pressure to temperature, thermodynamic enthalpy and entropy of formation can be calculated.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials, Water, Oxygen, Titanium, Test procedures
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Hybrid Heat Exchangers

A hybrid light-weight heat exchanger concept has been developed that uses high-conductivity carbon-carbon (C–C) composites as the heat-transfer fins and uses conventional high-temperature metals, such as Inconel, nickel, and titanium as the parting sheets to meet leakage and structural requirements.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Mechanics, Heat exchangers, Heat exchangers, Composite materials, Conductivity, Heat resistant alloys
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Orbital Winch for High-Strength, Space-Survivable Tethers

An Orbital Winch mechanism enables high-load, multi-line tethers to be deployed and retracted without rotating the spool on which the tether is wound. To minimize damage to the tether and the wound package during retraction or deployment under load, it can incorporate a Tension Management Module that reduces the infeed tension by a factor of 15 through the use of a powered capstan with guide rollers. This design eliminates the need for rotating high-voltage electrical connections in tether systems that use propellantless electro-dynamic propulsion. It can also eliminate the need for rotating optical connections in applications where the tether contains optical fibers.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Mechanics, Electronic control units, Fiber optics, Electronic control units, Fiber optics, Tools and equipment, Packaging, Fibers, Spacecraft
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Steerable Hopping Six-Legged Robot

The figure depicts selected aspects of a six-legged robot that moves by hopping and that can be steered in the sense that it can be launched into a hop in a controllable direction. This is a prototype of hopping robots being developed for use in scientific exploration of rough terrain on remote planets that have surface gravitation less than that of Earth. Hopping robots could also be used on Earth, albeit at diminished hopping distances associated with the greater Earth gravitation.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Mechanics, Springs, Terrain, Robotics, Pistons
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Launchable and Retrievable Tetherobot

A proposed robotic system for scientific exploration of rough terrain would include a stationary or infrequently moving larger base robot, to which would be tethered a smaller hopping robot of the type described in the immediately preceding article. The two-robot design would extend the reach of the base robot, making it possible to explore nearby locations that might otherwise be inaccessible or too hazardous for the base robot.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Mechanics, Architecture, Electronic control systems, Architecture, Electronic control systems, Robotics
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Physics of Life: A Model for Non-Newtonian Properties of Living Systems

This innovation proposes the reconciliation of the evolution of life with the second law of thermodynamics via the introduction of the First Principle for modeling behavior of living systems. The structure of the model is quantum-inspired: it acquires the topology of the Madelung equation in which the quantum potential is replaced with the information potential. As a result, the model captures the most fundamental property of life: the progressive evolution; i.e. the ability to evolve from disorder to order without any external interference.

Posted in: Briefs, Information Sciences, Mathematical models, Kinematics, Thermodynamics, Thermodynamics
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Parameterized Linear Longitudinal Airship Model

A parameterized linear mathematical model of the longitudinal dynamics of an airship is undergoing development. This model is intended to be used in designing control systems for future airships that would operate in the atmospheres of Earth and remote planets.

Posted in: Briefs, Information Sciences, Trajectory control, Mathematical models, Spacecraft guidance, Spacecraft guidance, Aerodynamics
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Teleoperation of Unmanned Vehicles Using Immersive Telepresence

In order to extend the usefulness of small, unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) to a wider range of missions, techniques are being developed to enable high-speed teleoperated control. Our goal is to quadruple the speed of teleoperated UGVs compared to currently deployed models. The key limitation is not mechanical, but in the capability of the operator to maintain situational awareness and control at higher speeds. To address these issues, we are developing technologies for immersive teleoperation and driver-assist behaviors.

Posted in: Articles, Automation, Robotics, Autonomous vehicles
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Camera/Robot System Increases Quality and Reduces Costs for Vehicle Component Supplier

The Piston Group (Redford, MI and Liberty, MO) builds cooling modules for seven different vehicles. These cooling modules are built on five different assembly lines, with each line building more than 50 different variants in sequence to the customer’s demand. Many different inspections need to be performed on each module, including verifying the build variation, checking electrical connections, and all dimensional requirements.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Cameras, Robotics, Assembling, Quality control, Quality control, Inspections
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Dr. Adrian Ponce, Deputy Manager, Planetary Science Section, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Dr. Adrian Ponce joined JPL/NASA as a postdoctoral scholar in 2000 after receiving a Ph.D. in chemistry from Caltech. In 2002 he invented the Anthrax Smoke Detector, a device capable of detecting the presence of anthrax in less than fifteen minutes. He recently developed a new technology called Germinable Endospore Biodosimetry, which not only rapidly detects the presence of bacterial spores on spacecraft but also determines whether they are alive or dead. Dr. Ponce currently serves as Deputy Manager of NASA JPL’s Planetary Science Section, and heads up the Ponce Research Group, an interdisciplinary team made up of researchers from JPL and California Institute of Technology.

Posted in: Who's Who
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