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
Robust Tensioned Kevlar Suspension Design

One common but challenging problem in cryogenic engineering is to produce a mount that has excellent thermal isolation but is also rigid. Such mounts can be achieved by suspending the load from a network of fibers or strings held in tension. Kevlar fibers are often used for this purpose owing to their...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Long-Life, Lightweight, Multi-Roller Traction Drives for Planetary Vehicle Surface Exploration

NASA’s initiative for Lunar and Martian exploration will require long lived, robust drive systems for manned vehicles that must operate in hostile environments. The operation of these mechanical drives will pose a problem because of the existing...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

A series of free-mass designs for the ultrasonic/sonic driller/corer (USDC) has been developed to maximize the transfer of energy from the piezoelectric transducer through the...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Wavefront Compensation Segmented Mirror Sensing and Control

The primary mirror of very large submillimeter-wave telescopes will necessarily be segmented into many separate mirror panels. These panels must be continuously co-phased to keep the telescope wavefront error less than a small fraction of a wavelength, to ten microns RMS (root mean...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Dual-Compartment Inflatable Suitlock

A paper discusses a dual-compartment inflatable suitlock (DCIS) for Extra-vehicular Activity (EVA) that will allow for dust control, suit maintenance, and efficient EVA egress/ingress. The expandable (inflatable technologies) aspect of the design will allow the unit to stow in a compact package for...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Thermodynamic Vent System for an On-Orbit Cryogenic Reaction Control Engine

A report discusses a cryogenic reaction control system (RCS) that integrates a Joule-Thompson (JT) device (expansion valve) and thermodynamic vent system (TVS) with a cryogenic distribution system to allow fine control of the propellant quality (subcooled liquid) during...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

This invention utilizes a new method of opening and closing a ball valve. Instead of rotating the ball with a perpendicular stem (as is the case with standard ball valves), the ball is rotated around a fixed axis by two...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Previous oil containment booms have an open top that allows natural gas to escape, and have significant oil leakage due to wave action. Also, a subsea pyramid oil trap exists, but cannot move relative to...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Static Gas-Charging Plug

A gas-charging plug can be easily analyzed for random vibration. The design features two steeped O-rings in a radial configuration at two different diameters, with a 0.050-in. (≈1.3-mm) diameter through-hole between the two O-rings. In the charging state, the top O-ring is engaged and sealing. The bottom O-ring outer...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Low-Cost, Rugged High-Vacuum System

A need exists for miniaturized, rugged, low-cost high-vacuum systems. Recent advances in sensor technology have led to the development of very small mass spectrometer detectors as well as other analytical instruments such as scanning electron microscopes. However, the vacuum systems to support these sensors...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Instrument Package Manipulation Through the Generation and Use of an Attenuated-Fluent Gas Fold

This document discusses a technique that provides a means for suspending large, awkward loads, instrument packages, components, and machinery in a stable, controlled, and precise manner. In the baseplate of the test machine, a pattern of grooves and...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

To be able to conduct science investigations on highly sloped and challenging terrains, it is necessary to deploy science payloads to such locations and collect and process in...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

A non-actuated tool has been developed for preparing regolith for in situ measurement by smoothing uneven surfaces and excavating fresher subsurface material for planetary exploration. The STAMP...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Magnetic Interface for Segmented Mirror Assembly

Newly developed magnetic devices are used to create an interface between adjacent mirror segments so that once assembled, aligned, and phased, the multiple segments will behave functionally equivalent to a monolithic aperture mirror. One embodiment might be a kinematic interface that is reversible...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Transpiration-Cooled Spacecraft-Insulation-Repair Fasteners

Transpiration-cooled fasteners are proposed that operate like an open-loop heat pipe (self-tapping screws, bolts, and spikes) for use in on-orbit repair of thermal-insulation of a space shuttle or other spacecraft. By limiting the temperature rise of such a fastener and of the adjacent...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Implementation of a Non-Metallic Barrier in an Electric Motor

Electric motors that run in pure oxygen must be sealed, or “canned,” for safety reasons to prevent the oxygen from entering into the electrical portion of the motor. The current canning process involves designing a metallic barrier around the rotor to provide the separation. This...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

The addition of the Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG) to the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Rover requires an...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

This apparatus distributes dust (typical of the Martian surface) in a uniform fashion on the surface of multiple samples simultaneously. The primary innovation...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
MicroProbe Small Unmanned Aerial System

The MicroProbe unmanned aerial system (UAS) concept incorporates twin electric motors mounted on the vehicle wing, thus enabling an aerodynamically and environmentally clean nose area for atmospheric sensors. A payload bay is also incorporated in the fuselage to accommodate remote sensing instruments.

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

The landing scheme for NASA’s next-generation Mars rover will encompass a novel landing technique (see figure). The rover will be lowered from a rocket-powered descent stage and then placed onto the surface...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

A unit thermionic power cell (TPC) concept has been developed that converts natural heat found in high-temperature environments (460 to 700 ºC) into electrical power...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Graph Theory Roots of Spatial Operators for Kinematics and Dynamics

Spatial operators have been used to analyze the dynamics of robotic multibody systems and to develop novel computational dynamics algorithms. Mass matrix factorization, inversion, diagonalization, and linearization are among several new insights obtained using such operators....

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Spacesuit Soft Upper Torso Sizing Systems

The passive sizing system consists of a series of low-profile pulleys attached to the front and back of the shoulder bearings on a spacesuit soft upper torso (SUT), textile cord or stainless steel cable, and a modified commercial ratchet mechanism. The cord/cable is routed through the pulleys and...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Space Mirror Alignment System

An optical alignment mirror mechanism (AMM) has been developed with angular positioning accuracy of ±0.2 arcsec. This requires the mirror’s linear positioning actuators to have positioning resolutions of ±112 nm to enable the mirror to meet the angular tip/tilt accuracy requirement. Demonstrated capabilities are...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Pressure Regulator With Internal Ejector Circulation Pump, Flow and Pressure Measurement Porting, and Fuel Cell System Integration Options

An advanced reactant pressure regulator with an internal ejector reactant circulation pump has been developed to support NASA’s future fuel cell power systems needs. These needs include reliable and safe...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Two-Stage Centrifugal Fan

Fan designs are often constrained by envelope, rotational speed, weight, and power. Aerodynamic performance and motor electrical performance are heavily influenced by rotational speed. The fan used in this work is at a practical limit for rotational speed due to motor performance characteristics, and there is no more...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Combined Structural and Trajectory Control of Variable-Geometry Planetary Entry Systems

Some of the key challenges of planetary entry are to dissipate the large kinetic energy of the entry vehicle and to land with precision. Past missions to Mars were based on unguided entry, where entry vehicles carried payloads of less than 0.6 T and landed...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Crush Test Abuse Stand

The purpose of this system is to simulate an internal short on battery cells by causing deformation (a crushing force) in a cell without penetration. This is performed by activating a hydraulic cylinder on one side of a blast wall with a hydraulic pump located on the other. The operator can control the rate of the crush by...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Force Limit System

The Force Limit System (FLS) was developed to protect test specimens from inadvertent overload. The load limit value is fully adjustable by the operator and works independently of the test system control as a mechanical (nonelectrical) device.

Videos