Stay updated on advancements in mechanical components and mechatronics systems. New technologies in MEMs, fluid systems, and propulsion are driving breakthroughs in transportation, electrification, autonomous driving, and manufacturing.

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Flexible Structural-Health-Monitoring Sheets

A generic design for a type of flexible structural- health- monitoring sheet with multiple sensor/actuator types and a method of manufacturing such sheets has been developed. A sheet of this type contains an array of sensing and/or actuation elements, associated wires, and any other associated circuit...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Microgravity, Mesh-Crawling Legged Robots

The design, fabrication, and microgravity flight-testing are part of a continuing development of palm-sized mobile robots that resemble spiders (except that they have six legs apiece, whereas a spider has eight legs). Denoted SpiderBots (see figure), they are prototypes of proposed product line of...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Advanced Active-Magnetic-Bearing Thrust-Measurement System

An advanced thrust-measurement system utilizes active magnetic bearings to both (1) levitate a floating frame in all six degrees of freedom and (2) measure the levitation forces between the floating frame and a grounded frame. This system was developed for original use in measuring the...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Thermally Actuated Hydraulic Pumps

Thermally actuated hydraulic pumps have been proposed for diverse applications in which direct electrical or mechanical actuation is undesirable and the relative slowness of thermal actuation can be tolerated. The proposed pumps would not contain any sliding (wearing) parts in their compressors and, hence,...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Lightweight Carbon-Carbon High-Temperature Space Radiator

A document summarizes the development of a carbon-carbon composite radiator for dissipating waste heat from a spacecraft nuclear reactor. The radiator is to be bonded to metal heat pipes and to operate in conjunction with them at a temperature approximately between 500 and 1,000 K. A goal...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Dynamic Method For Identifying Collected Sample Mass

G-Sample is designed for sample collection missions to identify the presence and quantity of sample material gathered by spacecraft equipped with end effectors. The software method uses a maximum-likelihood estimator to identify the collected sample's mass based on onboard force-sensor...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Improved Relief Valve Would Be Less Susceptible to Failure

The balanced-piston relief valve with side vented reaction cavity has been proposed as an improved alternative to a conventional high- pressure, high-flow relief valve. As explained below, the proposed valve would be less susceptible to failure.

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Using Composite Materials in a Cryogenic Pump

Several modifications have been made to the design and operation of an extended-shaft cryogenic pump to increase the efficiency of pumping. In general, the efficiency of pumping a cryogenic fluid is limited by thermal losses (the thermal energy that the pump adds to the fluid). The sources of the...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Safety Modification of Cam-and-Groove Hose Coupling

A modification has been made in the mating halves of a cam-and- groove hose coupling to prevent rapid separation of the halves in the event that the cam levers are released while the fluid in the hose is pressurized. This modification can be duplicated on almost any commercially available...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
FIDO-Class Development Rover

A report describes a rover-type robotic wheeled vehicle recently built for use as a testbed for development of software for future rover-type vehicles. This vehicle is a derivative of the Field Integrated Design and Operations (FIDO) rover, which is a prototype Mars- exploration rover that also serves as a...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Variable-Structure Control of a Model Glider Airplane

A variable-structure control system designed to enable a fuselage-heavy airplane to recover from spin has been demonstrated in a hand-launched, instrumented model glider airplane (see figure). It has long been known that the most effective spin recovery technique for fuselage- heavy aircraft...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Axial Halbach Magnetic Bearings

Axial Halbach magnetic bearings have been investigated as part of an effort to develop increasingly reliable noncontact bearings for future high-speed rotary machines that may be used in such applications as aircraft, industrial, and land- vehicle power systems and in some medical and scientific instrumentation...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Compact, Non-Pneumatic Rock-Powder Samplers

Tool bits that automatically collect powdered rock, permafrost, or other hard material generated in repeated hammering action have been invented. These tool bits are intended primarily for use as parts of ultrasonic/sonic drill corers (USDCs) and related apparatuses, which have been reported in...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Improved Descent-Rate Limiting Mechanism

An improved braking cable-payout mechanism has been developed. Like other such mechanisms, this mechanism can be used as a braking or shock-absorbing device for any of a variety of purposes — for example, enabling a person to descend from an upper floor of a burning building at a safe speed, capturing...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Alignment-Insensitive Lower-Cost Telescope Architecture

This architecture features an active wavefront sensing and control scheme along with methods for measuring the relative positions of the primary to aft optics, such as the secondary mirror, and should enable larger and cheaper telescope architectures needed for future applications. This...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Miniature Latching Valve

A miniature latching valve has been invented to satisfy a need for an electrically controllable on/off pneumatic valve that is lightweight and compact and remains in the most recently commanded open or closed state when power is not supplied. The valve (see figure) includes a poppet that is moved into or out of contact...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Micro-Resistojet for Small Satellites

An efficient micro- resistojet has been developed with thrust in the millinewton level, with a specific impulse of approximately 250 seconds and power input of 20 watts or less that is useful for applications of up to 1,000 hours of operation or more. The essential feature of this invention is a gas-...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Using Piezoelectric Devices To Transmit Power Through Walls

A method denoted wireless acoustic- electric feedthrough (WAEF) has been conceived for transmitting power and/or data signals through walls or other solid objects made of a variety of elastic materials that could be electrically conductive or nonconductive. WAEF would make it...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Low-Impact Mating System for Docking Spacecraft

A document describes a low-impact mating system suitable for both docking (mating of two free-flying spacecraft) and berthing (in which a robot arm in one spacecraft positions an object for mating with either spacecraft). The low-impact mating system is fully androgynous: it mates with a copy of...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Deployable Wireless Camera Penetrators

A lightweight, low-power camera dart has been designed and tested for context imaging of sampling sites and ground surveys from an aerobot or an orbiting spacecraft in a microgravity environment. The camera penetrators also can be used to image any line-of-sight surface, such as cliff walls, that is...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Flipperons for Improved Aerodynamic Performance

Lightweight, piezoelectrically actuated bending flight-control surfaces have shown promise as means of actively controlling airflows to improve the performances of transport airplanes. These bending flight-control surfaces are called "flipperons" because they look somewhat like small ailerons, but,...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
System Estimates Radius of Curvature of a Segmented Mirror

A system that estimates the global radius of curvature (GRoC) of a segmented telescope mirror has been developed for use as one of the subsystems of a larger system that exerts precise control over the displacements of the mirror segments. This GRoC-estimating system, when integrated...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Attitude and Translation Control of a Solar Sail Vehicle

A report discusses the ability to control the attitude and translation degrees-of-freedom of a solar sail vehicle by changing its center of gravity. A movement of the spacecraft's center of mass causes solar- pressure force to apply a torque to the vehicle. At the compact core of the...

Application Briefs : Propulsion
Simulated Models Test Design of Space Shuttles and Rocket Engines
Finite element modeling and analysis
Dynamic Concepts
Huntsville, AL

NASA tasked Dynamic Concepts (DCI) with assessing the structural dynamics of the rollout process, whereby the space shuttle orbiter, external...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Tactile Robotic Topographical Mapping Without Force or Contact Sensors

A method of topographical mapping of a local solid surface within the range of motion of a robot arm is based on detection of contact between the surface and the end effector (the fixture or tool at the tip of the robot arm). The method was conceived to enable mapping of...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Ultrasonic/Sonic Impacting Penetrators

Ultrasonic/sonic impacting penetrators (USIPs) are recent additions to the series of apparatuses based on ultrasonic/sonic drill corers (USDCs). A USIP enables a rod probe to penetrate packed soil or another substance of similar consistency, without need to apply a large axial force that could result in...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Miniature, Lightweight, One-Time-Opening Valve

The figure depicts the main parts of a prototype miniature, lightweight, one-time- opening valve. Like some other miniature one-time-opening valves reported in previous issues of NASA Tech Briefs, this valve is opened by melting a material that blocks the flow path. This valve is designed to remain...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Compact 6-DOF Stage for Optical Adjustments

The figure depicts selected aspects of a six-degree-of-freedom (6-DOF) stage for mechanical adjustment of an optical component. The six degrees of freedom are translations along the Cartesian axes (x, y, and z) and rotations about these axes (θx, θy, and...

Articles : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Machinery & Equipment Category Winner, "Create the Future" 2007 Design Contest

(Winner of an HP Workstation)

Cargo Management System

Jeremy Connell

Blacksburg, VA

Standard truck beds lack the ability to secure loose items easily. The Cargo Management System design employs various methods in order to increase...

Products : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Brushless DC Pump

Thomas Products Div. (Sheboygan, WI) has introduced a brushless DC WOB-L(R) air compressor and vacuum pump for medical and other applications requiring a small-size and lightweight pump with variable output. The 250 Series pump measures 4.25 x 4.54 x 3.02 in. and weighs only 1.9 lbs.