Fabric Circuits and Method of Manufacturing Fabric Circuits
Self-Healing Low-Melt Polyimides
There are multiple space-related systems that can benefit from high performance, thin film, self-healing/sealing systems. Space vehicles and related ground support equipment can contain miles of wire, much of which is buried inside structures making it very difficult to access for inspection and repair. Space-based inflatable structures, solar panels, and astronauts performing extra-vehicular activities are subject to being struck by micrometeoroids and orbital debris. Self-healing or sealing layers on inflatables, solar panels and spacesuits would increase the safety and survivability of astronauts as well as the survivability and functionality of inflatables and solar panels. Self-healing insulation on wiring would greatly improve the reliability and safety of systems containing such wiring and reduce inspection and repair time over the lifetime of those systems. This technology combines the use of a self-sealing low melt, high performance polyimide film that exhibits the ability, when cut, for separated edges to slowly flow back together and seal itself, with the options of a laminate system and the inclusion of healant microcapsules that, when broken, release healant which can then additionally assist in the healing process. Combinations of the healing approaches can be enabling to the healing process proceeding at a much greater rate and dual mode healing approach can also allow for healing of a larger area.
Multispectral Imaging, Detection, and Active Reflectance (MiDAR)
The MiDAR transmitter emits coded narrowband structured illumination to generate high-frame-rate multispectral video, perform real-time radiometric calibration, and provide a high-bandwidth simplex optical data-link under a range of ambient irradiance conditions, including darkness. A theoretical framework, based on unique color band signatures, is developed for multispectral video reconstruction and optical communications algorithms used on MiDAR transmitters and receivers. Experimental tests demonstrate a 7-channel MiDAR prototype consisting of an active array of multispectral high-intensity light-emitting diodes (MiDAR transmitter) coupled with a state-of-the-art, high-frame-rate NIR computational imager, the NASA FluidCam NIR, which functions as a MiDAR receiver. A 32-channel instrument is currently in development. Preliminary results confirm efficient, radiometrically-calibrated, high signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) active multispectral imaging in 7 channels from 405-940 nm at 2048x2048 pixels and 30 Hz. These results demonstrate a cost-effective and adaptive sensing modality, with the ability to change color bands and relative intensities in real-time, in response to changing science requirements or dynamic scenes. Potential applications of MiDAR include high-resolution nocturnal and diurnal multispectral imaging from air, space and underwater environments as well as long- distance optical communication, bidirectional reflectance distribution function characterization, mineral identification, atmospheric correction, UV/fluorescent imaging, 3D reconstruction using Structure from Motion (SfM), and underwater imaging using Fluid Lensing. Multipurpose sensors, such as MiDAR, which fuse active sensing and communications capabilities, may be particularly well-suited for mass-limited robotic exploration of Earth and the solar system and represent a possible new generation of instruments for active optical remote sensing.
Adaptive Spatial Resolution Enables Focused Fiber Optic Sensing
This technology can be applied to most optical frequency domain reflectometry (OFDR) fiber optic strain sensing systems. It is particularly well suited to Armstrong's FOSS technology, which uses efficient algorithms to determine from strain data in real time a variety of critical parameters, including twist and other structural shape deformations, temperature, pressure, liquid level, and operational loads. How It Works This technology enables smart-sensing techniques that adjust parameters as needed in real time so that only the necessary amount of data is acquired—no more, no less. Traditional signal processing in fiber optic strain sensing systems is based on fast Fourier transform (FFT), which has two key limitations. First, FFT requires having analysis sections that are equal in length along the whole fiber. Second, if high resolution is required along one portion of the fiber, FFT processes the whole fiber at that resolution. Armstrong's adaptive spatial resolution innovation makes it possible to efficiently break up the length of the fiber into analysis sections that vary in length. It also allows the user to measure data from only a portion of the fiber. If high resolution is required along one section of fiber, only that portion is processed at high resolution, and the rest of the fiber can be processed at the lower resolution. Why It Is Better To quantify this innovation's advantages, this new adaptive method requires only a small fraction of the calculations needed to provide additional resolution compared to FFT (i.e., thousands versus millions of additional calculations). This innovation provides faster signal processing and precision measurement only where it is needed, saving time and resources. The technology also lends itself well to long-term bandwidth-limited monitoring systems that experience few variations but could be vulnerable as anomalies occur. More importantly, Armstrong's adaptive algorithm enhances safety, because it automatically adjusts the resolution of sensing based on real-time data. For example, when strain on a wing increases during flight, the software automatically increases the resolution on the strained part of the fiber. Similarly, as bridges and wind turbine blades undergo stress during big storms, this algorithm could automatically adjust the spatial resolution to collect more data and quickly identify potentially catastrophic failures. This innovation greatly improves the flexibility of fiber optic strain sensing systems, which provide valuable time and cost savings to a range of applications. For more information about the full portfolio of FOSS technologies, see DRC-TOPS-37 or visit https://technology-afrc.ndc.nasa.gov/featurestory/fiber-optic-sensing
Smallsat attitude control and energy storage
Reaction spheres technology operate on a physics similar to reaction wheels, which by the conservation of angular momentum uses a rotating flywheel to spin a body in the opposite direction. Sphere systems that utilize magnetic torqueing rather than mechanical are also smaller, are more reliable, have low friction losses, and have improved lifetime performance. The proposed reaction sphere provides improved performance over traditional wheels and satisfies the push for component miniaturization, increased pointing accuracy, and power efficiency on CubeSats. Primary aims are to develop a low-friction method to contain a sphere in spaceflight and determine the feasibility of on-orbit momentum storage to supplement battery power. With appropriate placement of permanent magnets, the sphere systems can generate relatively equal value of momentum and torques for any spin axis. This sphere at any speed, produces more momentum than the wheels, resulting in faster attitude stability.
Robonaut 2: Logistics and Distribution
R2 was designed to work side-by-side with people and to be sensitive to its surroundings. The robot's advanced vision systems and recognition processing can quickly recognize a person in its path and take the appropriate action. If the robot comes into contact with a person or piece of equipment, it gives. There is no need to design specialized equipment for R2 because the robot has the ability to operate equipment and machines designed for humans, like hand-held power tools. R2 has the capability to improve the speed and accuracy of operations while maintaining sensitivity to its surroundings, making the robot prime for the logistics and distribution environment. R2 was designed to handle unexpected objects coming into its path since it has to function in space where not everything is locked down. The robot has the ability to move in unconventional ways as compared to existing robots. Robonaut 1, an earlier version of R2, was integrated with a two-wheeled Segway personal transporter, giving it a range of motion. R2 has the capability of being integrated onto a two-wheeled base or a more rugged four-wheel base. An adaptable interface would enable R2 to integrate with other surface mobility systems. This NASA Technology is available for your company to license and develop into a commercial product. NASA does not manufacture products for commercial sale.
Sublimable Propellant Source for Iodine-fed Ion Propulsion System
NASAs iodine vapor feed system is based on a mechanism that holds and maintains the solid iodine is contact with a heated surface, in this case the walls of the propellant tank. The mechanism provides a robust and reliable steady-state delivery of sublimated iodine vapor to the ion propulsion system by ensuring good thermal contact between the solid iodine and the tank walls. To date, the technology development effort includes extensive thermal, mechanical and flow modelling together with testing of components and subsystems required to feed iodine propellant to a 200-W Hall thruster. The feed system has been designed to use materials that are resistant to the highly-reactive nature of iodine propellant. Dynamic modeling indicates that the feed system tubing can be built is such a way as to reduce vibrationally-induced stresses that occur during launch. Thermal modeling has been performed to demonstrate that the feed system heater power levels are sufficient to heat the tank and propellant lines to operating temperatures, and sublime the iodine in the storage tank to supply propellant for reliable and long-term operation.
Novel Overhang Support Designs for Powder-Based Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing (EBAM)
EBAM technology is capable of making full-density, functional metallic components for numerous engineering applications; the technology is particularly advantageous in the aerospace, automotive, and biomedical industries where high-value, low-volume, custom-design productions are required. A key challenge in EBAM is overcoming deformation of overhangs that are the result of severe thermal gradients generated by the poor thermal conductivity of metallic powders used in the fabrication process. Conventional support structures (Figure 1a) address the deformation challenge; however, they are bonded to the component and need to be removed in post- processing using a mechanical tool. This process is laborious, time consuming, and degrades the surface quality of the product. The invented support design (Figure 1b) fabricates a support underneath an overhang by building the support up from the build plate and placing a support surface underneath an overhang with a certain gap (no contact with overhang). The technology deposits one or more layers of un-melted metallic powder in an elongate gap between an upper horizontal surface of the support structure and a lower surface of the overhang geometry. The support structure acts as a heat sink to enhance heat transfer and reduce the temperature and thermal gradients. Because the support structure is not connected to the part, the support structure can be removed freely without any post-processing step. Future work will compare experimental data with simulation results in order to validate process models as well as to study process parameter effects on the thermal characteristics of the EBAM process.
Cryogenic Flux Capacitor
Storage and transfer of fluid commodities such as oxygen, hydrogen, natural gas, nitrogen, argon, etc. is an absolute necessity in virtually every industry on Earth. These fluids are typically contained in one of two ways; as low pressure, cryogenic liquids, or as a high pressure gases. Energy storage is not useful unless the energy can be practically obtained ("un-stored") as needed. Here the goal is to store as many fluid molecules as possible in the smallest, lightest weight volume possible; and to supply ("un-store") those molecules on demand as needed in the end-use application. The CFC concept addresses this dual storage/usage problem with an elegant charging/discharging design approach. The CFC's packaging is ingeniously designed, tightly packing aerogel composite materials within a container allows for a greater amount of storage media to be packed densely and strategically. An integrated conductive membrane also acts as a highly effective heat exchanger that easily distributes heat through the entire container to discharge the CFC quickly, it can also be interfaced to a cooling source for convenient system charging; this feature also allows the fluid to easily saturate the container for fast charging. Additionally, the unit can be charged either with cryogenic liquid or from an ambient temperature gas supply, depending on the desired manner of refrigeration. Finally, the heater integration system offers two promising methods, both of which have been fabricated and tested, to evenly distribute heat throughout the entire core, both axially and radially.
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