Special Coverage

Soft Robot “Walks” on Any Terrain
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Using Microwaves to Produce High-Quality Graphene
Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat
Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines

An Alternative Molecular Sexing Method for the Florida Scrub-jay

John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida

A new method of molecular sexing is described that helps to understand population dynamics of the Florida Scrub-jay (FSJ). FSJ is an endemic, nonmigratory, monomorphic species of bird found on the Florida peninsula in lowgrowing oak or pine scrub. The current conservation status listed for the FSJ is threatened and vulnerable to extinction.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Green Design & Manufacturing, Physical Sciences, Biological sciences

Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) Science Simulator

This program simulates ocean topography observations for generating ocean circulation models.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

The SWOT Science Simulator simulates projected SWOT altimetry observations that can be applied to an ocean general circulation model, allowing the exploration of ideas and methods to optimize information retrieval from the proposed SWOT Mission, which is currently baselined to launch in 2020.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Green Design & Manufacturing, Physical Sciences, Simulation and modeling

Digital Elevation Model Maker (DEMmaker)

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas

The DEMmaker suite of software applications produces data products containing surface shape, reflectivity, and geomorphology (craters and rocks) for a desired planetary surface based on statistically accurate size and frequency distributions of geologic and surface impact features. The current version can produce models at virtually any resolution or size for any location on the Moon. Remote sensing data can be incorporated to underlie the synthetic landscape with real data where available. The software suite is driven by a graphical user interface (GUI) that lets the user specify which tools of the suite to run, allowing flexibility in the products output by the package.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Green Design & Manufacturing, Physical Sciences, Simulation and modeling, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware

Pumped Subsea Energy Storage

This technique would be applicable to offshore oil platforms and energy storage for public utilities.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

A local energy source is desired for near-shore and offshore applications. Gas generators, diesel generators, and long-length submerged power cables tend to be expensive. A proposed solution is to use offshore wind with some type of energy storage mechanism for up to 1 GW-h. Energy storage in batteries is too expensive and massive, and subsea compressed air energy storage (CAES) has not been proven for very deep depths. Furthermore, CAES involves very great temperature changes that result in large inefficiencies.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Storage, Solar Power, Wind Power, Physical Sciences, Energy storage systems, Energy storage systems, Wind power, Marine vehicles and equipment

A Continuous-Flow, Microfluidic, Microwave-Assisted Chemical Reactor

The reactor uses a directed 60-GHz source, which may require far less power to observe the same reactivity profiles.

In industrial synthetic chemistry laboratories, reactions are generally carried out using batch-mode methodologies, stepwise reactions, and purifications to generate a final product. Each step has an associated yield of both the reaction itself and of the final purification that is largely dependent on the procedure being used, and the scientist carrying out the procedure. Continuous-flow reactors are one way of streamlining the process. Furthermore, microwave-enhanced, or microwave-assisted, chemistry has been demonstrated to aid in many of these areas; however, scaling has been a traditional problem with this technique.

Posted in: Articles, Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, RF & Microwave Electronics, Instrumentation, Test & Measurement, Research and development, Chemicals

Monolithic Dual Telescope for Compact Biaxial Lidar

A document discusses the Ultra Compact Cloud Physics Lidar, a biaxial lidar with a narrow receiver field of view. It requires tight optical alignment between the transmitter and receiver paths while flying on various aircraft over various temperatures and in the presence of vibration. To achieve optical crossover as close to the lidar as possible, the transmit and receive telescopes must be built very closely to each other.

Posted in: Tech Briefs, Articles, Briefs, TSP, Photonics, Physical Sciences, Optics, Optics, Vibration, Vibration, Aircraft

Ultra-Low-Maintenance Portable Ocean Power Station

These fuel cell systems can be used for remote power generation, transportation applications, or in offshore wells.

The goals of this research are to develop a relatively inexpensive, compact, and modular power package for deep offshore oil drilling or other undersea applications that provides 2 to 5 MW electricity, minimal maintenance, and at least 30 years of life.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Electric power, Drilling

Alternating Magnetic Field Forces for Satellite Formation Flying

John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Orbiting a large number of satellites in fixed formations will be critical to many future space missions, especially large-scale interferometers, telescopes, antennas, and gravity wave detectors. Consequently, extensive research has been devoted over the last 20 years to formation flying architectures, concentrating not only on the mission objective, but also on the technologies required to achieve a stable satellite formation. Several proposals have been suggested for determining the location of the satellites, but the more difficult problem is developing a system that can hold the satellites at those desired locations and orientations. The two most common solutions are to use microthrusters, though these require propellant and will eventually be depleted, or to choose orbital patterns that minimize relative perturbations, but for highly precise positioning, this is not adequate. Neither of these approaches solves the problem for long-duration missions such as a multi-element telescope where the mirrors must be located and oriented to a tolerance less than an optical wavelength.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Flight management systems, Flight management systems, Satellites

Multiplexer for Multiple Sensors in a Vacuum Chamber

The multiplexer reduces the number of required feedthroughs and ports.

John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Vacuum chamber testing at large facilities can require hundreds of instruments, necessitating even more feedthroughs. The number of instruments and sensors that can be fed into a vacuum chamber is limited by the number of feedthrough ports dedicated to instrumentation. Thus high-pin-count, mil-spec-style feedthroughs have been developed, but these are all custom-made and also expensive to make and replace. The high-pin-count feedthroughs also make it much harder to troubleshoot individual wires in case of a problem. By using a multiplexer within the vacuum chamber, the number of wires required per instrument can be reduced to much less than one. The multiplication of wires from within a vacuum chamber allows a drastic increase in sensor and instrumentation channel count, while using the same number of sensor ports and feedthroughs within an existing vacuum system.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Sensors, Sensors and actuators, Sensors and actuators

Analog Ceramic Isolated Voltage Sensor

John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio

Galvanic isolated monitoring of voltages for launch vehicle, missiles, and space-deployed systems can be very challenging. Radiation exposure makes use of optics-based sensors difficult, as they can latch-up and become corrupted by the radiation environment; such devices can moreover be thermally challenged. Magnetic transformer-based methods of isolated voltage measurement require shielding to prevent stray magnetic interference from degrading or corrupting the readings; moreover, magnetic-based solutions are unable to measure voltages down to DC levels.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Sensors, Sensors and actuators, Sensors and actuators, Ceramics, Launch vehicles, Missiles

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