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
“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...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
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...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
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...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
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...

Briefs: Defense
Crew Activity Analyzer

The crew activity analyzer (CAA) is a system of electronic hardware and software for automatically identifying patterns of group activity among crew members working together in an office, cockpit, workshop, laboratory,...

Application Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Computational Fluid Dynamics Aids Aerospace Apps

Just a few years ago, the use of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) in most aerospace companies was restricted to pure research or troubleshooting problems with existing designs. But in the...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Deep-Sea Hydrothermal-Vent Sampler

An apparatus is being developed for sampling water for signs of microbial life in an ocean hydrothermal vent at a depth of as much as 6.5 km. Heretofore, evidence of microbial life in deep-sea hydrothermal...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Mars Rocket Propulsion System

A report discusses the methane and carbon monoxide/LOX (McLOx) rocket for ascent from Mars as well as other critical space propulsion tasks. The system offers a specific impulse over 370 s — roughly 50 s higher than existing space-storable bio- propellants. Current Mars in-situ propellant production (ISPP)...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Two-Stage Passive Vibration Isolator

The design and testing of a structural system were implemented to hold the optics of the planned Space Interferometry Mission (SIM) at positions and orientations characterized by vibrational translation and rotation errors of no more than a few nanometers or a few milliarcseconds, respectively. Much of the...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Improved Thermal Design of a Compression Mold

A compression tool used to make 1-in. (2.5-cm) diameter disks of high-temperature polymers was designed to be shorter and of larger diameter than conventional tools to reduce heat loss to the surrounding air, thus making more efficient use of applied heat. This system is less sensitive to the amount...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Enhanced Pseudo-Waypoint Guidance for Spacecraft Maneuvers

An enhanced version of the scheme reported in “Pseudo-Waypoint Guidance for Proximity Spacecraft Maneuvers” (NPO-42753), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 31, No. 6 (June 2007), page 73 was developed. To recapitulate: the scheme provides algorithms for guidance and control (G&C) of a...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Tool for Inspecting Alignment of Twinaxial Connectors

A proposed tool would be used to inspect alignments of mating twinaxial-connector assemblies on interconnecting wiring harnesses. More specifically, the tool would be used to inspect the...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
An ATP System for Deep-Space Optical Communication

An acquisition, tracking, and pointing (ATP) system is proposed for aiming an optical- communications downlink laser beam from deep space. In providing for a direction reference, the concept exploits the mature technology of star trackers to eliminate the need for a costly and potentially...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Polar Traverse Rover Instrument

A Polar Traverse Rover (PTR) is a device designed to determine the role of Antarctica in the global climate system by determining typical paths of continental air that passes the South Pole, and by obtaining insight into the relationship between events at the Antarctic and the meteorology of sub- polar altitudes....

Simple, easy-to-use, highly effective tooling has been devised for maintaining alignment of bolt holes in mating structures during assembly and disassembly of the structures. The...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
A New, Highly Improved Two-Cycle Engine

The figure presents a cross-sectional view of a supercharged, variable-compression, two-cycle, internal-combustion engine that offers significant advantages over prior such engines. The improvements...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
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: Robotics, Automation & Control
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...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
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...

Books & Reports: Materials
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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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