Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Access our comprehensive library of technical briefs on mechanical and fluid systems, from engineering experts at NASA and government, university, and commercial laboratories.

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Experiments in space can be expensive and infrequent, but Earth’s upper atmosphere is accessible via large scientific balloons, and can be used to address many of the same fundamental questions. Scientific balloons are made of a...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control

Human operation in space over long time periods causes bone and muscle deterioration, so there is a need for countermeasures in the form of physical exercises consisting of working against controlled...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control

This actuator was developed out of a need for a cryogenic actuator that can operate effectively in spite of the thermal mismatch involved with construction materials that have different...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center has developed a novel ruggedized housing for an electrical or fluid umbilical connector that prevents intrusion of dust, sand, dirt, mud, and moisture during field use under harsh...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Systems, Methods, and Apparatus of a Low-Conductance Silicon Micro-Leak for Mass Spectrometer Inlet

Mass spectrometers on atmospheric entry probes require a method for introducing gas from high-pressure ambient regions to the vacuum of the mass spectrometer interior.

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed three techniques and systems to calibrate and validate...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Release of a Stuck Solar Array or Antenna

Satellite launches experience approximately one deployment failure every two years. These failures include a solar array or antenna that fails to deploy because it is stuck due to a mechanism failure, or is snagged by a cable or thermal blanket. Knowledge of the exact circumstances of the deployable...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
High-Heat-Flux-Capable Boundary Layer Vortex Generator and Boundary Layer Transition Device

Afixed geometry device has been developed to promote boundary layer transition and generation of streamwise vorticity, and is capable of withstanding entry heating environments for the Space Shuttle Orbiter. Designed to have a total height above the...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control

Because of the cost-effectiveness of flying smallsats compared to large flagship spacecraft, there is increasing interest in boosting their capabilities for...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

As CubeSats take on increased functionality, including larger solar arrays for increased power demands and large antennas for science and communications needs, the requirements for...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Aridged retention interface is necessary to secure planetary sample tubes within a caching system for use in future sample return missions. The assumed retention...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Planetary Ice Mining by Down-Hole Energy Injection

Ice has been discovered on Mars and is present in the permanently shadowed craters on the Moon and on many asteroids. The ice is usually buried beneath an overburden of regolith. Evidence indicates this overburden may be a meter deep in some locations for the Moon; for Mars, it varies with...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Lightweight, Reusable Payload Launch and Transportation Latch

This innovation addresses the problem of automatic engagement and disengagement of payloads from their transport vehicle when lifted by a crane or other material handling device. The prior state-of-the-art is in material handling devices that require personnel to activate the latch,...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Advanced Magnetostrictive Regulator, Valve, and Force-to-Angle Sensor

Typical aerospace rocket engines use valves to control the flow and pressures of propellant and pressurants. These typical valves are designed to operate with a mechanical, electromechanical, or pneumatic operator. They all have at least one, and often multiple, penetrations...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

To date, there are solutions that can collect samples by being deployed from a distance from a low-gravity body or using a touch-and-go approach. To increase precision collection of samples...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

The Deployable Extra-Vehicular Activity Platform (DEVAP) is a staging platform for egress and ingress attached to a lunar, Mars, or planetary surface habitat...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Structural Assembly Incorporating Integral Thermal Heat Spreader for Cold Plate Cooling

In a structural cold plate, typically there is a structural member such as a honeycomb panel or a brazed sandwich assembly that provides the structural strength, and at least one cold plate that cools equipment attached to the structural member. The cold...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

The Clamshell mechanism, with one quick action, acquires and retains a sample from a small body surface while minimizing sampling energy. The sampler has two quarter-sphere buckets that are driven into the small body...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

A working prototype of a non-explosive, static rock splitter for space exploration using shape memory alloys (SMAs) as the driving member also has terrestrial applications. The static, compact,...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Passive, Low-Insertion-Force/High-Retention-Force Cam Plug Design for Sample Tube Sample Caging

AMars “sample caching rover” mission designed to collect, document, and package samples for future collection and return to Earth was recommended as the highest-priority mission for 2013–2022 by the 2011 Planetary Decadal Survey. A key premise...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Design Support and Analysis Tool for Pyrotechnically Actuated Valves

This software predicts flow through the initiator of a Primer Chamber Assembly Valve. These valves exhibited a potential failure mode for specific operating conditions where dual simultaneous firings of the initiator occurred. The software tool was able to identify a fluid...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

There is a wide range of spacecraft thermal management applications that require variable conductance devices such as thermal switches. These switches are used to help maintain the heat source (electronics)...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Micro Cylindrical Ion Trap Micro Mass Spectrometer Instrument System

The goal of this work was to advance the development of new, extremely small (≈2 cm3), low-power (≈3 W), and low-cost micro mass spectrometer instrument systems (μMSIS) through the application of microelectro-mechanical system (MEMS) design and fabrication, and...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Constraint Force Equation (CFE) Solver for Multi-Body Dynamics and its Implementation in POST2

Existing aerospace flight trajectory programs simulate the motion of aerospace vehicles by modeling external forces and moments acting on each body, but lack provisions for determining reaction forces and moments exerted by one body on another through...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Cyclops: the Space Station Integrated Kinetic Launcher for Orbital Payload Systems (SSIKLOPS)

The Space Station Integrated Kinetic Launcher for Orbital Payload Systems (SSIKLOPS), also known as “Cyclops,” deployed the largest satellite ever from the International Space Station (ISS) on November 28, 2014. The satellite, SpinSat, a Naval...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Vacuum-Jacketed Cryogenic Flex-Through

A vacuum-jacketed, cryogenic flex hose was designed with an integrated flange to be able to pass through a vacuum chamber wall. This design increases the quality of the cryogenic fluid at the exit of the hose (i.e., more liquid, less vapor) by extending the hose vacuum-jacket through the chamber wall, where...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

A hermetically sealed, normally closed (NC) zero-leak valve has been developed. Prior to actuation, the valve isolates the working fluid in the upstream volume from the...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Solar sail technology depends heavily on the total surface area of the sail. In other words, minimizing mass and volume of its support structure is the main objective,...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

The largest supersonic parachute ever developed is one of the test articles on the Supersonic Flight Dynamics Test (SFDT) vehicle of the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD)...

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