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.

A technique for measuring the volume of an incompressible liquid in a rigid tank involves measurement of the total volume of gas in those parts of the tank not occupied by the liquid....

A small mobile robot equipped with a stereoscopic machine vision system and two manipulator arms that have limited degrees of freedom has been given the ability to perform...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Algorithms for Collision Avoidant Formation Flying

A report discusses algorithms for realtime planning of translation paths of multiple spacecraft flying in formation. The algorithm takes account of requirements to avoid collisions while operating within resource constraints (e.g., not calling for an acceleration greater than maximum possible)...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Integrated Colloid Thrusters for Microspacecraft

A report proposes the development of a microfabricated, integrated colloid thruster as a prototype of devices for propulsion and control of the attitudes of microspacecraft. (In a colloid thruster, a beam of positively charged, microscopic droplets is extracted electrohydrodynamically from a...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Improvements in a Piezoelectrically Actuated Microvalve

A report discusses the continuing development of a normally closed, piezoelectrically actuated valve fabricated mostly by micromachining of silicon. The design and operation of the microvalve as described in the instant report are basically the same as those of the version described in...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Low-Energy Transfer From Near-Earth to Near-Moon Orbit

A report presents a theoretical approach to designing a low-energy transfer of a spacecraft from an orbit around the Earth to ballistic capture into an orbit around the Moon. The approach is based partly on the one presented in “Low-Energy Interplanetary Transfers Using Lagrangian...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Software for Designing Actively Controlled Structures

SMARTCOM is a computer program for the analysis and design of actively controlled “smart” structures. Typically, an actively controlled “smart” structure incorporates...

Systems of caged trim masses manipulated by magnetic fields have been proposed for effecting fine control of the positions and/or orientations of spacecraft. The systems were...

The figure depicts a mechanism that is capable of simultaneously rotating as many as six disposable bioreactor chambers about horizontal axes. The particular bioreactor chambers for...

Tip fences have been invented to reduce the noise generated in the airflows about the high-lift systems (the flaps and slats) of airplane wings. Tip fences also afford an important...

The Ultrabend bolt is a specially designed bolt instrumented with strain gauges (see figure) that are connected into twin Wheatstone-bridge circuits. The geometric arrangement of the...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Improved Piezoelectrically Actuated Microvalve

Efforts are underway to implement an improved design of the device described in "Normally Closed, Piezoelectrically Actuated Microvalve" (NPO-20782), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 25, No. 1 (January...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Program Computes Pointing Corrections for a Radiotelescope

TLC is a computer program that determines corrections for radiotelescopepointing errors associated with tilts and elastic deformations. These errors occur because for rotation in azimuth, a radiotelescope is mounted on wheels that move on a circular track that deviates from perfect...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Lightweight, Low-Backlash Robot Wrist With Epicyclic Drive

A unique lightweight wrist with three degrees of rotational freedom has been developed as a prototype of wrists for future anthropomorphic robots that would perform a variety of tasks on Earth and in outer space. The three degrees of freedom (two rolling, one bending) intersect at the...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Ice-Melting Probe Using Steam and Jets of Hot Water

An improved probe has been proposed for burrowing vertically into ice for scientific exploration of polar icecaps, glaciers, and the like. The predecessor of the improved probe is a Philbert probe, which contains an electric heater to melt the ice in contact with it and thereby make it descend...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Pneumatic Accelerator for Launching a Spacecraft

A report proposes the development of a ground-based launch-assist apparatus that would accelerate a spacecraft to a speed of about 270 m/s. The apparatus would include a track along which the spacecraft would ride on a sled coupled to a large piston driven by compressed air along a tube (more...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
"Smart" Actuators for Alleviating Buffet of Aircraft

An active-control surface modal (ACSM) device has been developed as an improved means of alleviating buffet of an aircraft. The ACSM device is a "smart" actuator system that includes an...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Improved Lightweight Freeze-Tolerant Tubes

Improved designs have been conceived for lightweight tubes that can withstand the large (as much as 8 or 9 volume percent) freeze/thaw expansions and contractions of typical heat-transfer fluids like water and ammonia. Intended originally for radiators for rejecting waste heat from spacecraft, these...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Mechanisms Facilitate Blowdown of Large Diesel Engines

Simple mechanisms have been devised to facilitate the blowdown of large diesel engines. As explained below, these mechanisms reduce the amount of time and effort that must be expended to...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Uncertainty Models From Ground Vibration Testing

Structural dynamics are often an important consideration when evaluating system characteristics. A concern related to structural dynamics is the analysis of flutter for a flight vehicle. The instability associated with flutter can be quite sensitive to the structural dynamics; therefore, analysis...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Spacecraft Nuclear Reactor Would Be Fueled in Orbit

Two reports summarize progress thus far in the continuing development of a spacecraft nuclear reactor, some or all of the fuel rods of which would not be loaded until the spacecraft was in orbit. (Keeping the fuel rods out of the reactor core before and during launch is intended to...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Designs for Safer Launching of Spacecraft Fission System

A report proposes the development of two different mechanisms that would prevent inadvertent startup of reactors in nuclear-fission-based propulsion and power systems in future spacecraft. The purpose of this development is to contribute to safety by ensuring that radioactivity is kept...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Saturation Technique for Rapid Binary Image Processing

An improved technique of limited-precision arithmetic has been devised for use in convolutional filtering of image data prior to conversion of the data to binary form. Both...

The figure schematically illustrates a portable life-support apparatus for any of a variety of protective suits to be worn in hostile environments. A prototype of the apparatus has been...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Thermoelectric Contact Cooler/Freezer

A thermoelectric contact cooler/ freezer is designed to utilize thermal conduction to rapidly freeze blood and urine samples in test tubes and syringes. This apparatus is dependable, wastes little energy, contains no moving parts other than a fan, can operate in a wide temperature range and in any...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Theory of Formation-Flying Control for Multiple Spacecraft

A report presents the mathematical basis of a method of controlling multiple spacecraft flying in formation, subject to control constraints. The spacecraft are assumed to be equipped with relative-position-sensing, relative-velocity-sensing, and communication infrastructure, and...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Onboard Estimation of Times of Periapsis During Aerobraking

A report proposes a technique for onboard updating of the orbital period of an aerobraking spacecraft in order to estimate the time of the next periapsis. The time of periapsis is nearly centered in the middle of the drag pass, and provides a convenient reference time for events in the...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Improved Micromachined Vaporizing-Liquid Microthruster

A report describes an improved micromachined vaporizing-liquid microthruster (VLM), now under development as a prototype of thrusters for microspacecraft. This thruster is of the resistojet type: the energy for vaporization and expansion of a propellant liquid is provided through...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Actuated Ball-and-Socket Joints

The term "actuated ball-and-socket" (ABS) characterizes a proposed class of ball-and-socket joints that would incorporate ultrasonic motors and other piezoelectric actuators to generate multidimensional...

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