Mechanical/​Mechatronics

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
Manipulation of Liquids by Use of Sound: Part II

Acoustic-radiation pressure can be used to improve performance in the dispensing of liquid drops into gases or vacuum and in dispensing gas bubbles into liquids. In a typical application involving dispensing a liquid, this is accomplished by use of a high-frequency, high-intensity acoustic...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Estimating Attitude of a Robotic Balloon From Accelerations

An improved "sensor-integrating" algorithm has been developed for use in extracting partial information on the time-varying attitude of a balloon-borne robotic instrumentation system from the outputs of accelerometers that measure accelerations along three Cartesian axes fixed in the...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Latching Devices for Electrical and Mechanical Connections

Latching devices have been developed to provide electrical connections, secure mechanical and thermal connections, and optical alignment for mounting electronically controlled cameras on the spaceborne laboratory apparatus described in the preceding article. Traditionally, the...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Replaceable Windows With Alignment and Sealing Features

Window assemblies (see figure) have been developed to satisfy special requirements pertaining to ease of replacement, alignment, sealing, and resistance to vibration in a spaceborne laboratory apparatus for experiments on combustion in microgravity. These window assemblies are also well...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Penetrator Projectile Tolerates Some Misalignment

A two-body design has enabled an instrumented penetrator projectile to function with increased tolerance to initial misalignment among (a) the longitudinal axis of the penetrator, (b) the velocity of impact on the ground, and (c) the local perpendicular to the surface at the point of impact. In...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Robot Hands With Electroactive-Polymer Fingers

Multifinger electroactive-polymer grippers (MEPGs) are simple, compact, lightweight robotic end effectors with fingers that bend and function similarly to human fingers. The fingers are made from electroactive polymers, which are well suited to use in bending-type actuators because they can be...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Flush Airdata Sensing System for the X-33 Aerospace Vehicle

A novel airdata system based on flush-mounted pressure sensors has been developed for the X-33 aerospace vehicle. Denoted the "X-33 flush airdata sensing" (FADS) system, it was designed to overcome limitations of pitot-static probes that were used previously, as explained below.

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Program Facilitates Simulation of Flows of Cryogenic Fluids

EASY/ROCETS is a developmental computer program for mathematical modeling and analysis of dynamic flows of cryogenic fluids in a rocket-engine-testing facility. Heretofore, the numerical simulation of such flows has been accomplished by use of computer codes specific to test-equipment...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Updated Program for Computing Stresses in Spur Gears

DANST-PC is version 3.01 of a computer program for analysis of the statics and dynamics of spur-gear systems. ["DANST" signifies "Dynamic Analysis of Spur Gear Transmissions." A previous version was described in "Computing Stresses in Spur Gears," NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 19, No. 12 (December...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Subliming Solid Microthrusters

Devices are proposed that would sublime solid propellants to generate small thrusts for maneuvering spacecraft with masses of no more than 15 kg. With solids rather than gases in propellant tanks, there would be no leakage and thus no waste of limited quantities of propellants. There would also be none of the...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Trefoil Rotary Flexure

The figure illustrates a device that flexes to allow rotation about a single axis through a total range of ±12°. This device was designed to offer the following advantages over commercial flexural pivots:

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Laser Anemometer Measures Flow in a Centrifugal Compressor

Detailed measurements of complex flow fields within the NASA Low Speed Centrifugal Compressor (LSCC) have been acquired. The measurement data provide insight into the fundamental physics of flow in centrifugal compressors, and can be used to assess computational fluid dynamics codes and...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Emergency-Shutoff Valves Would Be Triggered by Accelerations

Automatic valves have been proposed for shutting off flows of liquids when abnormally large accelerations occur. These valves could be used, for example, to prevent outflows of flammable, valuable, or toxic liquids from pipelines that have been struck by vehicles or that have become...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Software for Navigation of a Spacecraft Flying in Formation

The Spacecraft Autonomous Navigation System using GPS for Earth Orbiters (SANS-GEO) computer program is designed to perform the navigation calculations that will enable the New Millennium Program's Earth Orbiter-1 (EO-1) spacecraft to fly in formation with the Landsat-7 (LS-7)...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Program Performs High-Precision Spacecraft-Constellation Navigation

The Multiple Interferometric Ranging Analysis using GPS Ensemble (MIRAGE) computer program processes spacecraft-tracking data to determine orbits of single satellites, or of multiple satellites with intersatellite tracking, to within position errors as small as a few...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Finite-Element Model of Piezoelectric and Thermal Effects

A mathematical model that includes layerwise finite elements has been developed for use in numerical simulation of the coupled electrical, mechanical, and thermal responses of composite plate structures that incorporate piezoelectric sensors and actuators. Typically, the sensors and...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Passive Capture Joint WithThree Degrees of Freedom

A new joint, proposed for use on an attachable debris shield for the International Space Station Service Module, has potential for commercial use in situations where hardware must be assembled and disassembled on a regular basis.

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Magnetostrictive Inertial-Reaction Linear Motors

Linear-translation motors containing inertial-reaction masses driven by magnetostrictive actuator elements are undergoing development. These motors could be used to make fine position adjustments in diverse scientific and industrial instruments that operate at temperatures ranging from near...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Pulse-tube Refrigerator Unit

Pulse-tube Refrigerators can be operated over a wide range of temperatures. These units can be used in numerous space and commercial refrigeration applications, including food refrigerator/freezers, laboratory freezers, and freeze dryers. Pulse-tube Refrigerators can also be used to cool detectors and electronic...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Automated PreLaunch Loads Estimation (APLLE)

Over the past year, the Structural Dynamics and Loads Branch of Marshall Space Flight Center has been calculating prelaunch ground winds for several different launch-vehicle configurations. Engineers developed a computer programming system to streamline the analysis cycle.

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
The Modified Fully Utilized Design Method

The modified fully utilized design (MFUD) method is undergoing development for use by engineers who favor traditional methods of designing structures over methods based on advanced calculus and nonlinear mathematical programming techniques. Thus far, the MFUD has been developed for trusses, with...

Briefs : Propulsion
Hybrid Propulsion System for Returning a Sample From Mars

A paper suggests the development of a hybrid rocket engine and associated equipment for returning a sample of material from Mars at relatively low cost. In a hybrid rocket engine, a solid fuel is burned by use of a liquid or gaseous oxidizer, the flow of which can be throttled to control...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Deflection of Circular Membrane Under Differential Pressure

Equations have been derived to fill a gap in previously published standard collections of stress-and-strain formulas: These are equations for deflection of a thin circular membrane that is clamped rigidly around its periphery and subjected to differential pressure. Related equations...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Deployable and Restowable Protective Dome
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Probes for Measuring Pressures in Flowing Gases

Improved pressure probes have been designed to give nearly instantaneous readings of the time-varying local static pressure in flowing gases. The probes have been installed in a wind tunnel (see figure). Probes of this type could also be particularly useful as pressure-sensing instruments to help...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Bidirectional Operating Actuator (BOA)

A generic actuator has been designed to amplify the piezoelectric effect. The Bidirectional Operating Actuator (BOA) amplifies the stroke of a piezoelectric element and reorients it through a kinematic linkage.

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Electromagnetic Smart Washer for Detecting Bolthole Cracking

Engineers have designed a new device, called the Smart Washer, that can electromagnetically detect bolthole cracks in metal structures. The device is a metal washer that contains a wire coil embedded onto the bottom surface of the washer. An alternating current drives this coil and...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Rigid, Insulating Support for Cryogenic Component

A structure provides rigid support for a cryogenic component but transmits minimal heat. The structure includes two beams of Invar (or equivalent low-thermal expansion iron/nickel alloy) that are held in alignment, without touching each other, by pretensioned strands of KevIar® (or...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Multichannel Ultrasonic-Bolt-Tension-Gauge System

An improved system for measuring tensions in multiple bolts is based on the usual measurement of the times of propagation of ultrasonic waves along the bolts, but the quantities measured and the method of processing the measurement data differ from those of conventional ultrasonic bolt-tension...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Automated Calibration of Torque Analyzers Without Weights

An automated apparatus calibrates digital torque analyzers that, in turn, are used to verify the accuracies of torque wrenches. The apparatus is located in a central laboratory, and the digital torque analyzers are brought to the laboratory for calibration. Previously, the torque...