NASA SBIR 2014 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 14-1 H20.01-9095
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Human-Robotic Systems - Manipulation Subsystem and Human-System Interaction
PROPOSAL TITLE: Subsurface Access, Characterization, Acquisition, Transport, Storage and Delivery in Microgravity

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Grainflow Dynamics, Inc.
1141 Catalina Drive, PMB 270
Livermore, CA 94550 - 5928
(925) 447-4293

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Otis Walton
1141 Catalina Drive, PMB 270
Livermore, CA 94550 - 5928
(925) 447-4293

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Otis Walton
1141 Catalina Drive, PMB 270
Livermore, CA 94550 - 5928
(925) 447-4293

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 1
End: 2

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Human-Robotic Systems - Manipulation Subsystem and Human-System Interaction is a Technology Available (TAV) subtopic that includes NASA Intellectual Property (IP). Do you plan to use the NASA IP under the award?

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
This project will develop geotechnical measurements, sample extraction and transport equipment for subsurface regolith on NEOs, asteroids, moons and planets, enabling accurate evaluation of subsurface composition and chemistry. Non-contact measurements can provide preliminary information regarding bulk density and composition; however, more accurate assessment of a bodies' composition and evaluation of potential resources, their abundance and ease of recovery will require physical contact with the surface, and penetration or drilling down to depths that are not subjected to significant space weathering. Such surface-contact and sampling probes will enable physical and chemical characterization of unweathered subsurface material. Inertial and autonomous percussive penetration to depth, along with novel drilling and tailings-transfer approaches, will be developed to both attain the required depth, and to advance semi-autonomous sample-collection/recovery technology so as to minimize the need for operator (or tele-operator) involvement. Both core- and bulk-regolith sampling methods which minimize loss of volatiles, will be developed. To the extent feasible in the laboratory, this project will approximate key features of reduced-gravity conditions both physically and in particle-scale numerical simulations to ensure that the methods developed will function in realistic environments. The primary aim of this study will be advancement of technologies suitable for use on robotic precursor characterization-missions, with the anticipation that further-improved versions of the same methods will minimize the time and effort of human intervention/involvement during follow-on exploration or prospecting missions. In addition, the feasibility of novel extraction, transport, handling, and storage methods for bulk regolith material, which minimize loss of volatiles, will be developed. Such developments will be especially useful for in-situ resource evaluation and utilization.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Both Science and Human Exploration missions need to have knowledge of the composition and physical state of surface and sub-surface material comprising NEO's or other bodies to be visited. Science-driven characterization has different constraints and goals than some Exploration missions; however, in general, characterization and prospecting of NEO's, moons of Mars, and even the Earth's moon, go hand in hand with prioritization and planning for future missions. Precursor missions that identify abundant sources of water or other resources which could be used to lower costs of future deep space missions, could potentially benefit many future projects/programs. Characterization of both the physical state (i.e. porosity, geotechnical behavior, cohesion, etc.) and chemical composition (especially evaluation of volatile concentrations) will provide extremely valuable new knowledge vitally needed for planning future exploration or resource-recovery missions. The technology developed here will enable more accurate evaluation of the composition and sub-surface resource distribution for a variety of future missions. The regolith transport, handling, and storage methods developed will benefit future in-situ resource evaluation/ processing/utilization. Also, delevopment of telerobotic penetration and physical characterization methods for NEA surface material can have significant benefits for proposed planetary defense scenarios (especially hypervelocity impact or nuclear scenarios).

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Most of the methods for sub-surface access under micro-gravity planned for development under this project are adaptations of geotechnical analysis methods already in use terrestrially. As such, they offer little advantage for terrestrial application. On the other hand, the novel methods for transport, storage and handling of cohesive granular solids under micro-gravity could offer improvements over current methods for similar operations with any cohesive material for which the bulk cohesive stresses acting in the material are comparable to, or exceed, gravity-induced stresses. For example, the novel approaches developed for transport and storage of cohesive dry granular materials under micro-gravity might offer more robust methods of pumping, transport, storage and handling of cohesive slurries or sludges under terrestrial conditions. Such technology improvements could benefit a number of waste-treatment processes involving sludge, including pumping, transfer and cleanup of highly radioactive sludge in old nuclear-waste storage tanks at Hanford, WA, or Oak Ridge, TN. They might also be useful in industrial processes involving corrosive or toxic slurries, such as in the manufacture of batteries.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.)
In Situ Manufacturing
Machines/Mechanical Subsystems
Processing Methods
Resource Extraction

Form Generated on 04-23-14 17:37