In this proposed effort, GTL has identified two methods for reducing chill-down time. In recent studies it has been shown that the production of super-hydrophilic surfaces can reduce chill-down time by altering the multi-phase boiling at the wall surface. The first method addresses this directly by altering the surface of stainless steel directly. The second method leverages GTL advanced cryogenic composites experience to produce a transfer line that further reduces chill-down time while also reduce the total thermal mass (and mass) of the system. Samples of both methods will be produced, and cryogenic testing will be performed on the samples in the phase I effort. This will provide a strong basis for the phase II effort where LOX and LCH4 testing can occur using existing facilities.
Reduced boil-off and low thermal inertia cryo-lines are useful in a variety of NASA applications. Many of NASA systems rely on cryogens, and future lunar activities require the transfer, storage and production of cryogens. These technologies are also useful to test facilities, launch vehicles and aircraft systems. Reduced thermal inertia and mass of cryogenic fluid lines is a benefit to nearly all propulsion systems.
Many of the commercial applications that apply to NASA also apply to the DoD, reduced boil-off, chill-down time and reduced mass are all beneficial to satellite systems and launch vehicles. Cryogenic fluid transfer is used in medical fields for MRI machines. Increased heat transfer on a surface is applicable to many systems, such as heat exchangers.
Over the last decade, GTL has been developing a breakthrough technology for cryogenic propellant storage that has been demonstrated to provide 75% mass reduction compared to state-of-the-art cryotanks. GTL recently demonstrated the performance and mass advantage of BHL technology with the design, fabrication and testing of a 4-ft diameter, high-pressure, lightweight, all-composite spherical cryotank. Based on the results of the previous effort, this tank should be capable of meeting NASA’s requirements.
In this Phase I, GTL will perform a series of tests to address data gaps and mature the BHL technology towards TRL 6 for in-space applications using liquid oxygen (LOX) and liquid methane (LCH4). These tests include expanded liquid oxygen compatibility testing, Helium permeation tests, and tests to measure the leak-tight strain margin. These results will be used to refine the BHL cryotank design and guide the development of the Phase II plan.
It is envisioned that the Phase II effort would include cryo-thermal pressure cycle testing a BHL cryotank with liquid oxygen after completing the oxygen compatibility verification tests. Another BHL cryotank will be cycled at very high strain levels to validate leak-tight strain margin. At the conclusion of the Phase II effort, GTL will fabricate a BHL cryotank for flight testing in a follow-on effort.
Achieving TRL 6 with BHL cryotank technology would accelerate the adoption of this game-changing technology, thereby enhancing NASA’s space mission capabilities.
BHL cryotank technology has broad NASA application, especially those applications using cryogenic propellants. These include Launch vehicles, orbit transfer vehicles, the Lunar Gateway, lunar landers, Mars landers, and in-space propellant depots. When validated for LH2 use, BHL cryotanks could also be used for nuclear electric propulsion systems. Variations of the BHL technology could be used for non-propulsion pressure vessels, such as space habitats.
Non-NASA applications include DoD launch vehicles, hypersonic boosters, and missile interceptors. Commercial applications include launch vehicles and commercial space mining operations. BHL can also be used for terrestrial liquid natural gas transportation.
This Phase I proposal is submitted to verify the materials and process engineering of the space environment stable, multifunctional Plasma Sprayable conductive thermal control material system (TCMS) that can be applied to space hardware and can enables the hardware to carry higher leakage current through co doping process engineering for the high electrical conductivity. An innovative space environmental stable TCMS concepts are suggested through AMSENG IR&D work for the multifunctional, low (αS/εT) material systems that can meet these aggressive goals in cost effective, reliable manner especially to meet the needs identified in solicitation for: the coating to be robust in nature. It is anticipated that the coating be non contaminating and is not a trap for the contamination, and be cleanable; as well as its adhesion need to meet the requirement of the orbital conditions along with the need of no particle generation during the life time of the space hardware. The suggested efforts emphasize Plasma Sprayable Materials developments for the two material systems: the first one considers the Co Doping of the BaTiO3 - PBT-50™ and processing of coating using plasma deposition. The second material system also plans to consider Co Doping using Nano Metallic inclusions in neutral and reducing atmosphere for the Li:GAO™. These innovative approaches can provide the material technology solutions, which can allow higher leakage currents that may also help to defend against the natural solar storm events and provide the needed robustness. The past work and the IR&D suggests that the envisioned derived material systems can provide the needed reliable & validated TCMS in typical space environments of (LEO), (GEO) & beyond with the robustness that can define cleanability and no particle generation. The reliability goal for the robust conductive TCMS is to have a design life of > 10 years in LEO and > 15 years in GEO, with the hardware demonstration during phase II.
The success in the proposed developments will contribute uniquely to the survivable and robust TCMS. The NASA Science missions that can benefit from its applications are the missions that need the affordable conductive TCMS coatings that assures no particle generation. The following are Obvious missions: High Radiation Orbit Missions, GOES-R, All small satellite missions with sensitive sensors as well as the Missions for nano satellites and small planetary orbit satellites.
The DOD & commercial industry has plans for several satellites for the communication activities, and need to overcome the "technology gap" for the robust conductive TCMS with high leakage currents. The plasma sprayed TCMS that provides space stability still demands innovations. These platform hardware can benefit from the fulfillment of this "technology gap"
To meet the NASA need for measurement of pressure, temperature and strain in a high temperature and radiation environment to support ground testing of Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) rockets, RC Integrated Systems LLC (RISL) proposes to develop a novel Fiber Optic Multimodal Sensing (FOMS) System, providing simultaneous measurement of NTP engine exhaust gas temperature, pressure, and structural strain. The FOMS is based on fabrication of unique multimodal sensors along the length of a single hybrid optical fiber and coating of the fiber with a novel ceramic material for extreme high-temperature applications. Due to the unique designs of FOMS sensors and use of commercial off-the-shelf modular components, the FOMS system achieves large measurement range and high accuracy for the measurement of temperature, pressure, and strain. The FOMS system is capable of measuring temperature as high as 1500 degrees C with 0.1 degree C accuracy, strains of up to 10,000 microstrains with 1 microstrain accuracy, and pressure of over 5000 psi with accuracy of 0.2%. In Phase I RISL will demonstrate the FOMS feasibility by fabricating and testing a technology readiness level (TRL)-4 prototype, with the goal of achieving TRL-6 by the end of Phase II.
FOMS can be used in the nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) ground test facility for evaluation of nuclear rocket fuel elements. It can be incorporated into the Nuclear Thermal Rocket Element Environmental Simulator (NTREES) at the Marshall Center's Propulsion Research and Development Laboratory. It can also be incorporated into Stennis Space Center (SSC) NTP Ground Test Exhaust Capture System. Future mission applications for this technology include Human Missions to Mars, Science Missions to Outer Planets, and Planetary Defense.
FOMS can be used for measuring turbine engine exhaust gas temperature (EGT) and pressure and structural strain. It can also be used for monitoring EGT and pressure in coal-fired power plants, natural-gas-based power plants, and geothermal plants throughout the nation. FOMS can be used for the measurement of gas temperatures and pressure at any gas flow path for industrial applications.
Cardiopulmonary monitoring is of critical importance in a variety of clinical and non-clinical applications ranging from monitoring physiological conditions of crew members during space missions to emotion and stress recognition in applications involving human-machine interaction. Current solutions involve attaching gel-based electrodes for electrocardiogram (ECG) monitoring and pulse oximetry sensors connected to fingertips or earlobes for photoplethysmography (PPG) monitoring. Gel-based electrodes require preparation and their application can cause skin irritation. In addition, the use of current contact-based solutions is further complicated by the fact that a relatively large device such as a Holter monitor has to be carried by the subject at all times. Wearable sensors are a step in the right direction, yet the sensor needs to be continuously worn (on the wrist, chest, etc.) by the subject.
We propose to build on our prior research experience in non-invasive remote cardiopulmonary monitoring as well as computer vision and machine learning to develop a non-invasive cardiopulmonary monitoring system and extract clinically important information from multiple subjects in the field of view. Specifically, our proposed sensing framework involves i) an optical camera; ii) a depth-sensing camera, iii) a Doppler radar-based solution; and iv) a sensor fusion component for integration of data received by multiple sensing modalities.
With new planetary missions, especially to Mars being planned, there has been an increasing demand for sensitive chemical, and biological, detection devices for analysis on the surface. The vast majority of these devices have presented challenges to the scientists and design engineers to translate what has previously been the domain of the laboratory, into compact and low powered devices. Of the family of detectors that have been used to meet the challenge, none has greater potential, yet been more difficult to miniaturize into a portable form factor, than the mass spectrometer. Mass spectrometers, unlike some spectrometers such as ion mobility (IMS), require a partial pressure region to scan for a given mass number indicative of the trace species of interest. Probably the most significant hurdle yet to overcome is how one can create a cost effective, small, and low power vacuum system. Over the past 30+ years, no significant advance in vacuum pump concepts save for the turbo-molecular pump has been realized. The proposed concept offers a potential for game-changing new technology that may obviate a turbo pump in many applications while promising to provide significant cost savings with unprecedented reliability and longevity for future space missions.
Spacecraft laboratories on the ISS as well as future manned spaceflight, could benefit greatly from the success of the proposed technology. Using the vacuum of space for an analytical instrument is highly undesirable due to the safety factor of creating any leaks on a spacecraft, and the discharge of atmospheric gases could affect the space vessel station keeping. As a result, there is a need for a means to create a vacuum for analytical devices such as mass spectrometers used on spacecraft and probes for interplanetary missions. .
Mass spectrometers require a partial pressure region to scan for a given mass number indicative of the target species. Up to now, there has not been a means to miniaturize a high vacuum pump for use in handheld mass spectroimeters or possible drone applications. The high RPM in a turbopump creates a gyroscopic precession that precludes many uses that are not so limited by the disclosed technology.
The space environment around the earth is now littered with both functioning and non-functioning satellites. This is over and above the man-made debris generated as a result of launching these space objects and their density is increasing exponentially with time. If nothing is done about this, the earth will eventually have its own Saturn ring if not a spherical shell of orbiting objects and debris. There is definitely a pressing need for an inexpensive and reliable method of de-orbiting satellites after their mission life has ended. We propose to carryout a for a passively deployable, lightweight, low-compaction ratio bolt-on de-orbit device for satellites. The de-orbiter is packaged into a small bolt-on canister that gets attached to the spacecraft. It stays in the packaged configuration until the end of the satellite mission at which time it is activated deploying the de-orbit element out of its canister, increasing the spacecraft drag area against the atmosphere. For high low-earth orbit starting altitudes where the atmospheric density is extremely low, the de-orbiter drag sail is made to work like a solar sail capitalizing on the solar radiation pressure but in this case to decrease the satellites energy thereby lowering its altitude over time. It is pointed out that using this solar-sailing approach has practically unlimited delta v capability. The innovation in the proposed de-orbiter design is the use of a proprietary shape memory composite material for the structural elements of the de-orbiter. It is foldable and packageable into a small stowed volume and deployment is passively achieved by simply releasing the stored strain energy in the packaged configuration. Tests and measurements performed in the laboratory show that the material formulation we use achieves deployment to the memorized configuration even after the material has been in the folded state for years. When the solar sail mode is used, it can be used to extend the satellite lifetime.
NASA can use the drag sail as de-orbiter devices for satellites in low earth orbit. And for higher starting altitudes where the atmosphere is extremely thin, the de-orbiter is made to work like a solar sail capitalizing on the solar radiation pressure but in this case to decrease the satellite energy to lower the satellite altitude over time. This approach has practically unlimited delta v capability. In fact, the drag solar-sail configuration can be made to work in GEO orbit to place non functioning satellites in higher parking orbits.
The military and commercial sectors will find the de-orbiter design as an inexpensive addition to their payloads to enable de-orbiting their spacecrafts after mission life has ended. When the solar-sail mode of the de-orbiter is turned on, the de-orbiter can be used to increase the satellite lifetime on orbit.
The Lunar Exploration Gas Spectrometer (LEGS) is an instrument for studying the gas composition of lunar regolith. In the LEGS a 2.5 GHz solid state microwave transmitter positioned on a downward pointing horn is deployed by a lunar lander or rover using a long boom (e.g. 1-2 m) to set it down on the lunar surface, and then beams power into the regolith using its microwave transmitter. The microwaves directed down onto and into the ground contained under the horn, heating regolith to depths of several tens of centimeters. As a result, gases will be evolved from the cold subsurface regolith into the horn, where their composition will be analyzed by a near-infrared ~1 to 2.4-micron spectrometer mounted horn, and looking through a sapphire window into the interior of the horn illuminated by a tungsten lamp, enabling transmission spectra of evolved gases to be obtained. These instruments will provide qualitative and quantitative data on volatiles, potentially including water, hydrogen, helium, CO2, CO, ammonia hydrocarbons, and other species as they evolve from the subsurface over time. Since gases released by upper layers of regolith will reach the horn first, this procedure will also provide composition as a function of depth. Once gas emission ceases, the horn is lifted by the rod and placed on a new location, where the process is repeated. The LEGS deployment will involve very little disturbance to lunar soils prior to analysis, thereby preventing the accidental release of lightly-bound volatiles that is thought to be significant even following gentle handling. In the proposed program, a full scale working model of the LEGS, including horn, microwave transmitter, and spectrometer, will be built and tested in Pioneer Astronautics
The LEGS program will provide NASA with a key technology finding volatiles on the Moon, which represent a tremendous resource for human exploration. The data produced by the LEGS would be invaluable for lunar science itself, providing essential information for understanding the origin and history of the Moon and similar bodies no doubt present in orbit around numerous planets in other solar systems. LEGS could also be used on Mars, Phobos, Deimos, asteroids, moons of the outer planets, Mercury, Pluto and even comets.
The LEGS be used on Earth without major modification employing its IR spectrometer to determine amounts of volatiles, including trade contaminants, in the soil. It thus represents an instrument with broad potential utility for geology, resource exploration, and environmental remediation.
Motiv Space Systems and its partner, TRACLabs, propose a novel rover architecture to enable a new and expanding architecture of Lunar exploration and resource utilization. The proposed Fast Advanced Scout Terrain Rover (FASTR) is a rover mobility architecture designed to 1) to carry, deliver, and/or deploy ISRU and science payloads; 2) detect regolith entrapment and perform escape routines; 3) perform obstacle avoidance and autonomous navigation in unprepared terrain; 4) perform autonomous navigation and human-in-the-loop teleoperation; 5) exhibit traverse speeds in excess of 1m/s in terrain representative of the Lunar environment; 6) generate 3D maps of its navigated terrain for both localization and prospecting purposes; 7) possess an open architecture software development environment for adoption and use by a wide range of entities; and 8) have demonstrated a novel mobility architecture for use on lunar applications with a path to flight. Current rover technologies require significant human-in-the-loop path planning and intervention, are very slow averaging <1cm/s in typical traverse speeds and are very expensive due to the nature of their custom development cycles. FASTR aims to advance the state of the art. The FASTR architecture will enable broad and rapid exploration of lunar regions of interest through autonomous navigation and an increase in traverse speed by two orders of magnitude from current Mars Rovers. FASTR will be capable of deploying a wide array of science/ISRU payloads to prospect, characterize, and collect volatiles of interest. Through its open architecture design, FASTR will empower faster mission development cycles and increase the pace of rover enhanced missions. FASTR minimizes the need for human intervention through on-board entrapment detection and escapement.
1. Commercial space entities seeking rover deployments on the moon
2. Government needs for mobile robotics including the DOD, DHS, and DOE
3. First responders and search and rescue operations
4. Commercial terrestrial applications requiring outdoor mobile platforms in the agriculture, mining, manufacturing and utility plant industries
Hedgefog Research Inc. (HFR) proposes to develop a new Multiphase Effluents Flowmeter (MEF) – a standalone, space-qualifiable, non-invasive mass flowmeter sensor for use in measuring the flow of a complex mix of effluents resulting from waste processors onboard spacecraft. In Phase I of the project, we plan to focus on demonstrating the basic feasibility of meeting the NASA mission requirements. In Phase II, we plan to integrate the prototype hybrid MEF sensor with HFR’s proprietary software algorithm, and construct a laboratory test bench for carrying out sensor performance characterization. Phase I work will permit us to address the most significant technological risks in developing the MEF sensor, prove the application concept, and help us achieve Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 3-4 at the completion of the six-month project. Phase II development will advance the technology to TRL 5-6, with a full-scale integrated prototype built and tested in the laboratory environment.
MEF sensor system promises a low-cost, versatile solution not just to NASA but all branches of the Government that employ waste processor systems, as well as other effluent handling and distribution installations. Besides all the players in the aerospace and energy sector, a number of prime contractors operating in military supply chains, including General Dynamics, GE, Westinghouse, and others stand to benefit from our technology.
Nearly all real-world implementations of complex effluent distribution systems can benefit from the mass transport measurement fidelity offered by the MEF. In addition to the waste processing plants, the need to monitor the mass flow of a multiphase medium is ubiquitous in power plants, centralized municipal and building heating systems, shipboard power, ground vehicles and other applications.
Autonomous plant watering aboard spacecraft poses persistent challenges for fluid systems designers. However, recent advances in low-g capillary fluidics research are re-invigorating the path forward, making possible the practicable design, fabrication, testing, and demonstration of advanced watering systems for spacecraft plant growth facilities, research platforms, and habitats. Such solutions exploit surface tension, wetting, and system geometry to passively control fluids for reliable separation, collection, and transport. Because such aqueous streams for plant habitats can be highly contaminated with particulates, biofilms, and gases, passive no-moving-parts solutions are attractive due to their simplicity, resilience to fouling, and increased reliability. In this Phase I research effort we propose to develop a scalable autonomous semi-passive omni-gravity hydroponic plant watering system for space applications. The system exploits recent advances in capillary fluidic phenomena demonstrated aboard the ISS to passively and autonomously deliver aerated nutrient-rich water at appropriate plant uptake rates during the various stages of plant growth and development—from germination to maturity. The system is designed for all gravity levels; namely, terrestrial, Lunar, Martian, and microgravity, the latter with NASA’s Deep Space Gateway missions in mind. A low-cost fast-to-flight technology demonstration aboard ISS is proposed as part of our broader Phase II effort.
The system is designed for all gravity levels and may be utilized in current plant facilities aboard ISS or in future missions including Deep Space Gateway, Lunar, or Mars.
We expect the resulting products to appeal to commercial space operators and certain terrestrial markets. Potential products include hydroponic channels, passive stable aerators, passive bubble phase separators, passive flow level controllers, and novel non-occluding conduits, fittings, and valves.
To support NASA’s needs for health management technologies to increase safety and mission effectiveness for future space habitats, American GNC Corporation (AGNC) and Louisiana Tech University (LaTech) are proposing the “BRoad Advanced Intelligent Networked (BRAIN) System” consisting of: (i) an innovative Analysis Kernel with evolving cognition based on optimized deep neural networks and collaborative learning; (ii) recognition of new patterns and system trends by a novel Retrospective Change Point Detection (CPD) method for change analysis in temporally evolving systems; (iii) Human-System Integration Subsystem to support active learning to provide a friendly environment for human feedback; and (iv) Distributed Awareness Environment for consoles and optional mobile devices with voice activated commands and effective health information presentation (i.e. faults, data, features, fault cause-effect information, and maintenance actions).
The BRAIN system is tailored for processing NASA ISHM data. A cognitive approach is addressed, where deep learning schemes provide diagnostics capability and support to prognostics considering complex systems interrelations, big data, and uncovering unknown relationships among features. AGNC’s embedded Collaborative Learning Engine is infused and expanded to accommodate human feedback as a methodology for active learning and to process previously unknown system degradation. Two cases scenarios are approached to verify and validate the BRAIN’s core technologies: (a) power system monitoring and interrelations with sensors in a fluid distribution system and (b) leakage detection in pipelines of a fluid distribution system.
The BRAIN system provides an innovative cognitive engine, diagnostic capability for distributed software and hardware architectures, and human-system interfaces. Target applications are NASA’s Life Support Systems (ECLSS), Extravehicular Activity Systems, and Biological Life Support systems (e.g. electrical power systems, environmental monitoring, etc.). Since it coexists with NASA ISHM, applications also include ground and launch systems, distribution systems, various testing facilities, and rocket engine ground testing.
Applications include manufacturing plants, large power plant and power transfer systems, structural monitoring, oil refineries, machinery spaces monitoring, aircraft avionics equipment monitoring, robotic/unmanned systems, military assets in ships and submarines, smart buildings, and others. With some modifications the BRAIN System has the potential to be applied to the Internet of Things (IoT).
Peregrine will use proven technologies drawn together to provide the autonomous and variable radiator-based technology sought by NASA for use on the moon to operate in sunlight at 375 K and also to turn down its performance when in the shadow regions at temperatures near 90 K. This proposed innovation will also meet low mass goals below 5.4 kg/m². This is a solid-state device that requires no external power for operation, it is built from proven and reliable processes and materials with heritage. This innovative autonomous variable radiator provides a real-world solution to lunar thermal control. Peregrine will rely upon its proprietary technology and decades of experience in spacecraft thermal management to design, simulate, verify, build and qualify an advanced variable radiator based upon the use of: 1.) The use of a cryogenic compressor (a diffusion pump-based design) that will allow the radiator to self-switch from full sun operation to shadow region operation autonomously without the use of power, 2.) A high thermal conductivity material (thermal pyrolytic graphite) with over 1,600 W/mK in thermal conductivity to uniformly spread thermal loads, and 3.) The use of well proven metal materials and designs to encapsulate the thermal pyrolytic graphite and cryogenic compressor for autonomous operation. These few elements are all that are necessary in order to provide autonomous variable operation from full sunlight to darkness. This proposed innovation has no moving parts which, leads to high reliability, high performance, no power requirements, and low weight.
Peregrine’s will use advanced materials, analysis, and manufacturing techniques to develop an innovative autonomous variable radiator to provide a real-world solution to lunar thermal control. This variable radiator technology can be applied to deep space probes and for Mars applications along with numerous other NASA missions requiring varying thermal control.
This technology can be applied to many other satellite applications just as for NASA whether that be commercial or military. In addition derivatives of this technoligy could be used for building thermal control or industrial applications to the regenerative use of waste heat for increased efficiency.
This SBIR Phase I project will develop a lightweight, flexible, high-strength conductor that is easy to process and is capable of being deposited in a variety of form-factors. In previous work, large volumetric fractions of Au, Ag, and Cu nanoparticles (NPs) were incorporated into a porous aramid nanofiber (ANF) matrix to realize films that have high electrical conductivity, yet maintain superior mechanical strength, the properties, which are usually hard to achieve simultaneously. Furthermore, the composite films demonstrate excellent flexibility, which is superior to other related classes of reported flexible conductors including carbon based nanomaterials (CNTs and graphene) and other metallic nanomaterials. The unique network structure enables high electrical conductivity and robust mechanical behavior of the metal-ANF films. During Phase I, we will find the relationship between the conductor mass- via the volume fraction occupied by the conductive nanoparticles- and the conductivity. The main objective of the work is to produce a high conductivity cable with minimal mass for all of the conductive NPs employed. Our target is to reduce the mass density of the conductor by an order of magnitude but retain the conductivity so that it is at least 25 % of the bulk value. During the latter part of the Phase, we will implement the conductive composite in the form factor of a power-handling cable as well as a conductive structural element.
The conductor material modality is multi-use and cross-cutting for a broad range of NASA mission applications, including space mission applications that include planetary surface power, large-scale spacecraft prime power, small-scale robotic probe power, and small-sat power. For aeronautical applications, the conductor can efficiently distribute power to aircraft propulsors but with minimal mass overhead associated with the cabling.
Flexibility, retention endurance, and low power consumption are required for electric memory transistors. Energy storage systems must be flexible, robust, lightweight, and exhibit superior electrochemical activity. Flexible conductors are needed to meet the rapidly growing demand in smart sensors, roll-up displays, and other applications with unconventional form factors.
NASA aero-science ground test facilities, including transonic, supersonic and hypersonic wind tunnels, provide critical data and fundamental insight required to understand complex phenomena and support the advancement of computational tools for modeling and simulation.In these facilities, real-time, high-repetition-rate (10 kHz–1 MHz) 2D or 3D measurement techniques are needed to track the high-speed turbulence dynamics. Current state-of-the-art measurement capabilities in harsh wind tunnelenvironments are effective but limited to sample rates of 10 hertz, which is insufficient to track the dynamic of the turbulent reacting and non-reacting flows. This proposal offers an integrated package of truly cutting-edge, high-repetition-rate (up to 1 MHz rate), narrow-linewidth, burst-mode Optical Parametric Oscillator (OPO) system for multi-species laser induced fluorescence (LIF) detection in NASA ground test facilities.The concepts and ideas proposed are ranging from proof-of-principles demonstration of novel methodologies using a pulse-burst laser pumped OPO system for multi-parameter measurements (density, temperature, species concentration, and flow visualization, etc.) in realistic tunnel conditions. The proposed high-repetition-rate OPO-based LIF technique which is suitable for 2D and 3D measurements is a state-of-the-art technique for analysis of unsteady and turbulent flows.
The proposed high-speed OPO-based LIF technique is suitable for most wind tunnel facilities for multi-parameter flow measurements, including NASA 31” Mach 10 facility, 20” Mach 6 facility, 15” Mach 6 facility, 8 foot high temperature tunnel, Arc Heated Scramjet Test Facility (AHSTF), National Transonic Facility (NTF), 0.3-meter Transonic Cryogenic Tunnel (TCT), and NASA HYPULSE Mach 5-25 Shock Tunnel.
High-speed OPO system could be widely applied in many R&D areas, such as gas turbine engines, hypersonic scramjets, hypersonic vehicles, aerospace capsules, and unmanned flights which are important to national security and defense. The other potential market includes industrial aeronautical companies, such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, GE, Pratt-Whitney, and other industrial aerospace interests.
The Sunflower Array is a vertically deployable and retractable solar array for lunar surface missions. It utilizes a single rollable boom to extend the solar array. Rollable booms offer low stowed volume, and a single central boom is the most mass efficient way to vertically raise a structure. AMA’s design focuses on simple, reversible, and repeatable actuations for deployment and retraction of the array. The Sunflower Array is compatible with rollable or foldable blanket arrays or structures. Single degree of freedom launch restraints enable simple deployment. Sun tracking is achieved through rotation at the base of the system. The Sunflower Array is dust resistant, as no mechanisms are exposed. All technologies proposed for this system are inherently scalable for future missions. AMA intends to provide a matured and optimized design for the Sunflower Array and will substantiate performance estimates, boom design feasibility and manufacturing methods, and develop locking designs and deployment mechanisms to substantiate simplicity. Phase I work will include systems level conceptual design trades, structural analysis, loads development, detailed boom design, mechanisms design, and system performance analysis. Phase I work will prepare for detailed design and prototyping in Phase II.
The Sunflower Array is applicable to any future NASA lunar surface mission. As NASA pivots to a lunar focus, more of these missions may arise. The system is designed for multiple deployments and retractions enabling reuse through multiple missions. The design is adaptable for a variety of mission architectures and can be scaled up for an eventual permanent lunar base. The simplicity of the system actuations ensures reliability through resistance to lunar dust. This reliability lends itself to long lifetime on the lunar surface.
Potential non-NASA applications mirror NASA applications on the commercial side. Any future commercial landers can benefit from utilizing the Sunflower Array. AMA can potentially seek to license out the technology for production and manufacturing for lunar missions.
We propose to leverage on-going CPI work to enable a low-cost and low-risk program approach that can be executed as a Phase I SBIR program. The scope of this phase I effort is limited to studying the feasibility of some fundamental parameters of a design targeting HOT MWIR and high data-rate FTIR applications. The following technical aspects of a NASA CPI design will be explored:
Model the basic CPI ROIC specifications needed to support NASA earth science and inter-planetary missions. For HOT IR missions, survey thermo-electric cooler availability and performance as well as the needed LSB size to support shot-noise limited performance. This will help form the power budget for the device. For FTIR missions, explore availability of “2-color” detector arrays and Avalanche Photodiodes (APD) for meeting stated requirements. Evaluate the potential for meeting requirements with or without APD detector arrays.
Methods for reducing the quantization noise floor, which defines the performance associated with the least significant bit (LSB) of the digitized data. Past designs typically achieve approximately 2000e- as the minimum LSB size. Experimental designs have achieved as low as 1e- LSB size, but with noise and linearity issues present. The goal of this effort will be to explore new designs and feasibility to achieve between 30 – 500e- LSB size with a low power and high performance front-end design.
Design trades to determine what counter bit depth can be accomplished as a function of pixel size to achieve global shuttering, read-while integrate, orthogonal transfer, and “2-color” detector operation. Several process nodes will be considered at Fabs found both on- and off-shore. ITAR or EAR restrictions may limit the choice of Fabs in the long run, however this limitation will not be a consideration in this study.
CPI technology will broadly enable future NASA missions to support new modes of operation, achieve unprecedented performance, and enable multi-mode operation. Smaller satellites for Earth Science and Interplanetary missions are possible by reducing the need for supporting electronics to process data, reduce the amount of data to be communicated to the ground, enabling resolution and coverage area that cannot be achieved with existing imagers, and remove constraints that are currently imposed on sensor developers by limitations of the imager.
While the developed NASA CPI ROIC will be useful for scientific, R&D, space, and DoD applications, it is unlikely that it will have broad appeal in commercial markets. To have wider commercial applicability to autonomous systems, robotics, mobile, etc. markets, device scaling to smaller pixels and larger arrays is needed. Future, follow-on research will attempt to scale to commercial markets.
AeroMancer Technologies proposes to develop an 3D Airspeed Backscatter Correlation (3D-ABC) lidar velocimeter for in-flight boundary layer flow visualization and airspeed measurement in spatially and temporally resolved 3D flow fields using a rugged, eye-safe, daytime-capable, reliable Infrared (IR) optical device. AeroMancer’s technique for measuring 3-component spatially and temporally resolved airspeeds is based on the time-lag correlation of aerosol density fluctuations from a 3D map of lidar elastic backscatter signals. Other methods for standoff quantitative flow visualization of complex flow fields have limitations in outdoor testing. The strength of this approach and its advantage over other optical remote sensing techniques is the use of a single-ended system to simultaneously obtain 3D flow fields over a relatively large measurement volume (15m x 27° x 20°), with minimal setup time and to concurrently perform 3D hard-target mapping using an eye-safe optical system, thereby reducing size, complexity and alignment requirements.
In a recent NASA SBIR Phase II project, AeroMancer developed a novel prototype scanning lidar for high-resolution 3D global airspeed mapping in wind tunnels, which captures 3D maps of seeding particle density in the airflow using elastic backscatter from an eye-safe, 1550 nm wavelength IR lidar beam that is rapidly scanned using a new interleaved scanning method. A 3D cross-correlation algorithm is used to extract 3D airflow profiles from pairs of 3D images.
In this project, AeroMancer proposes to build on this existing design by identifying the measurement requirements for in-flight aerodynamic testing; system improvements to enable daytime operation; requirements for aircraft integration including size, weight power and cooling and eye-safety; and design changes to meet the needs of outdoor testing. Using recommendations from this analysis, AeroMancer will develop a conceptual design of the proposed instrument system.
A remote 3D velocimetry system for in-flight quantitative flow visualization can become an integral part of NASA flight test capabilities. The ability to obtain non-intrusive 3D concurrent airflow maps over a relatively large volume can be used to study key NASA challenges in aerodynamics, aeroacoustics and flight dynamics. In addition to flow visualization and airspeed sensing, the proposed instrument could also have potential NASA applications in blade tracking and aerosol transport.
Velocimetry has broad applicability to research, development, test and evaluation in a variety of industries from manned and unmanned air, land and sea vehicles for defense, wind tunnels for the automobile and racing industries, civilian aerospace, etc. Other applications include analyzing the effect of wakes on personnel and equipment at airports, offshore installations/building helipads, etc.
The subtopic being addressed identifies current spacefaring computer hardware as insufficient for executing conventional artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms due to space, weight, and power constraints. Conversely, neuromorphic computing architectures have exhibited the ability to performatively execute AI programs while meeting these criteria. Presented here is one such general purpose neuromorphic computing architecture.
Based on the continuous time recurrent neural network model and instantiated upon the reconfigurable fabric of a field-programmable gate array, clusters of hardware-accelerated neurons can be evolved in real time while responding directly to environmental conditions. Preliminary work with this neuromorphic solution exceeded expectations when solving complex time-series problems while simultaneously minimizing spatial and power consumption.
Unlike many existing machine learning methods, this architecture can undergo hardware evolution for novel solutions or hardware adaptivity for existing solutions that are performing below necessary thresholds. Circuits undergoing intrinsic hardware evolution or adaptation exhibit naturally occurring fault tolerances as a result of real world environmental noise. These inherent phenomena make the continuous time recurrent neural network in evolvable hardware a powerful candidate for extraterrestrial and spacefaring operation.
NASA applications include: lightweight centralized sensory-affectory system for evolutionary robotics applications, energy-efficient neuromorphic implementation for cognitive radio networks, and a fault tolerant and adaptive onboard navigation system for planetary exploration.
Immediate commercial applications include: adaptive electromyographic interpreter for prosthetic limbs, energy efficient sensor preprocessor for internet-of-things (IoT) networks, and high performance analog radio frequency filter for cognitive radio.
NASA is interested in alternative biocides for disinfecting process water. During the proposed project, a resin will be developed for the slow-release of chlorine or bromine. This resin will be used in a simple flow-through cartridge that will act as both a contact kill biocide device and as a source of free chlorine or bromine. A halogen residual of 0.5 to 1.0 mg/L will be delivered to the water. Chlorine and bromine have a long history of use within this range for land-based and marine potable water treatments, respectively. As a result of their widespread use, much data is available concerning their long term health effects, antimicrobial efficacy and materials compatibility. This concentration range is generally accepted as being safe and therefore removal is not required prior to crew consumption. The residual concentration will remain within this range over a wide range of flows. This Halogen Binding Resin (HBR) will be entirely analogous to the original MCV resin but will release chlorine or bromine instead of iodine. The next generation Microbial Check Valve (MCV2) made with this resin can be used as a direct replacement for the currently used MCV. The resin will be developed by modifying the structure of existing halogen binding materials. Currently, existing materials that bind chlorine and bromine provide good contact kill antimicrobial properties but fall short of meeting NASA’s biocide residual needs. Either the halogen is held too tight, resulting in an insufficient water residual, or the halogen is not held tight enough, resulting in an excessively high residual that requires dilution. The proposed research will result in a resin with a high chlorine or bromine loading capacity and slow-release kinetics suitable for disinfecting NASA process water.
The NASA application will be as Flight Hardware for deployment in support of future manned missions. The production and storage of safe potable water is a requirement for all manned operations in space. MCV2 technology will be microgravity compatible, reliable (>3-year life), and will remain functional with system pressures exceeding 30 psig. The MCV2 will find application in various deep space manned exploration mission phases including Mars transit.
This technology is applicable towards water disinfection in locations where access to safe drinking water is unavailable. In 2017, 2.1 billion people lacked access to safe, readily available water. The occurrence of diseases such as typhoid and cholera could be prevented by adequately treating drinking water. MCV2 will provide a more economical and effective solution than existing technologies.
The proposed mono-wing planetary aerial vehicle are small unmanned aircraft with biological inspiration derived from a samara (winged seed). The Titan Aerial Research Vehicle (TARV) mimics the natural aerodynamics of the samara planform and its auto-rotating shape. The TARV will be an exploratory vehicle capable of controlled flight, hover, and repeated takeoff and landing maneuvers on Titan for scientific exploration, with a design based on the current Roboseed, an Earth-based mono-wing aerial vehicle designed and operated by our technical collaborator, Aeroseed LLC.
Titan presents a unique exploration challenge due to its peculiar environment. With an atmosphere denser than Earth’s, abundance of liquids, and intriguing surface features, Titan warrants scientific exploration. Titan’s clouds are condensed methane, which can rain down upon the supercooled surface; and the sky is cloaked in a thick smog-like haze. The atmosphere can exhibit turbulent behavior, and surface temperatures can dip below 100 K. The TARV will be designed to operate in this harsh environment, using Titan environmental models to guide system materials trades, component design, and thermal management.
The TARV will be capable of controlled powered or unpowered flight within Titan’s atmosphere, and will support customizable scientific payloads for significant surface and atmospheric exploration. The rugged design of this planetary aircraft coupled with its ability to maintain precise active and passive flight, hover, land, and takeoff in dynamic, tumultuous conditions presents a versatile solution for in-situ measurement and exploration in dynamic environments like Titan.
In Phase I, ASTER Labs will use Titan’s unique environmental conditions to guide system design, categorize vehicle enhancements to make TARV operational on Titan, determine suitable payloads and integration strategies, and model vehicle flight behaviors via aerodynamic performance modeling and equations of motion characterization.
The simple, ruggedized design coupled with minimal moving parts and built-in orientation control makes TARV ideal for planetary exploration. The mono-wing allows increased airflow compared to traditional aircraft, making it the ideal vehicle for in-situ atmospheric data collection, meteorological investigations, and widespread monitoring of gas concentrations or contaminants. TARV is capable of repeated solid and liquid surface takeoff and landing maneuvers, making the ruggedized vehicle optimal for scientific exploration of planetary bodies.
The TARV’s mono-wing, ruggedized design is unique, as it allows flight in turbulent, unstable conditions. TARV, with adaptable payload capabilities, is a versatile platform for surveillance, data gathering, and mapping. TARV could form a communications-linked network of exploratory vehicles to explore caves, disaster sites, and achieve active weather monitoring.
One potential way to achieve N+3 goals is the introduction of ceramic matrix composite (CMC) materials into turbine engines. The introduction of CMC vanes and/or blades into turbine engines lead to gains in specific fuel consumption (SFC) by allowing higher operating temperatures, reductions in required cooling, and reductions in vehicle weight. Thermal barrier and environmental barrier coatings (TBCs and EBCs) will play a crucial role in future advanced gas turbine engines because of their ability to significantly extend the temperature capability of the CMC engine components in harsh combustion environments. Due to the inherent scatter in both EBCs and CMCs, one needs to analyze the CMC/EBC interface with a probabilistic methodology. The proposed work will develop a software tool that will facilitate the probabilistic/reliability analysis of the CMC/EBC interface. This software tool will compute input sensitivities of the CMC/EBC interface and propagate uncertainties to component models of turbomachinery parts (vanes/blades) with complex geometries.
SiC/SiC ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) are the most promising material system that has the temperature and the structural capability to meet the needs of next generation gas turbine engines that will result in higher efficiency, higher thrust, reduced emissions, and reduced weight. One major barrier to the implementation of CMCs is the lack of environmental durability in the combustion environment. A robust EBC system is an enabling technology for the successful implementation of CMCs in the hot engine sections.
Any applications that use the advanced CMCs such as the land based gas turbines for power generation, require the development of a robust EBC system. The DOD is also researching the CMC/EBC interface.
Deep space human exploration missions present a number of challenges. The distance from Earth makes communication less reliable and mission management more complex, and places a greater burden on human crews. Managing the complexity of the various onboard systems, processes, and resources, including health systems, payloads, etc., will present new kinds of crew challenges and stresses not experienced in Earth orbit where the ground station manages much of the mission. Autonomous cognitive agents that act as “virtual assistants” could interact with the crew and with the onboard systems to help with tasks that would be too burdensome or time-consuming for the crew alone. Cognitive agents based on modular, extensible cognitive architectures are needed to enable effective interaction, reasoning, problem solving, and teaming with human crews. SoarTech proposes to design and develop a prototype cognitive architecture and cognitive agent that can serve as a virtual assistant to support human exploration in deep space, and to assess the feasibility of building and demonstrating a comprehensive prototype in Phase II. In performing this Phase I work, we will leverage our team’s considerable background in cognitive architectures, interactive systems, cognitive systems engineering, user-centered design, and space operations. SoarTech has been researching, developing, evaluating, and integrating interactive cognitive systems for the past 20+ years, including the design and use of cognitive architectures to develop multi-modal interfaces, synthetic teammates, and cognitive agents that allow for natural and intuitive interaction with computing systems. Our astronaut subject matter expert has over 240 days of spaceflight time over three missions on the ISS as Flight Engineer and Mission Commander.
Virtual assistants could be used spacecraft-wide, or each astronaut onboard could have a personalized assistant for his/her role. As we establish remote bases (Moon or Mars), AVA could similarly serve as assistants for the entire base or for each astronaut. Ground operations supporting those missions could also benefit from similar systems. Similar virtual assistants could support NASA researchers doing data analysis and experiment design. AVA could help astronauts on the ground in training and refreshing on specific systems or procedures.
Defense applications include helping to operate the Navy’s AEGIS weapon system, or helping in complex ISR tasks across the services. Civilian uses include virtual assistants in power and manufacturing plants to help manage, monitor, and analyze operations. Medical teams need tools that can be used to query data (e.g., medical records), to support diagnosis and for treatment assessment.
CU Aerospace (CUA) proposes the scaling of an alternative very low-toxicity monopropellant thruster to a 0.5 N class engine. CMP-8 (CUA Mono-Propellant 8) is a non-detonable yet energetic COTS formulation that possesses many system-level advantages including lower cost (COTS propellant and non-refractory thruster construction), lower thermal load (<1000°C flame temp), low viscosity (comparable to water), and common materials compatibility (aluminum, stainless steels, and most elastomers). The existing technology has achieved 187 s specific impulse at 160 mN thrust during demonstrated continuous firing times exceeding 10 minutes. CMP-8 has demonstrated a shelf life exceeding 1200 days (a storage test ongoing since 2015). Phase I studies include preliminary hazard classification of CMP-X (a less energetic formulation allowed on air transport) to establish Insensitive Munitions (IM) characteristics and provide guidance for large scale storage and feed (i.e. critical diameters) as well as catalyst risk reduction studies and characterizations. CMP-X is designed not for highest performance Isp, but as a monopropellant option for customers who can accept a modest 20% performance penalty (relative to AF-315E and LMP-103S) for the advantages of air transportability, considerably fewer range safety concerns, lower flame temperature resulting in considerably less thermal soakback into the spacecraft, and longer continuous thrust burns. CMP-X retains the ability to scale in thrust magnitude and requires minimal catalyst bed warmup time.The primary Phase I technical objective is to produce a flight-like TRL 5 thruster head and improve the integrated system design in order to deliver an integrated TRL 6 CubeSat propulsion system with ACS by the end of Phase II. The estimated Phase II volumetric impulse of a 2U-sized MPUC deliverable is >1200 N-sec with a peak power draw of <5 W and 185 s specific impulse.
MPUC responds to goals in NASA’s Roadmap for In-Space Propulsion with a focus on long life and cost reduction both with common COTS construction materials. MPUC has demonstrated performance that will yield volumetric impulse levels above those of legacy hydrazine systems. Its lack of detonation and demonstrated storability makes it a prime candidate for missions where costs and logistics are dominated by system transportation and range safety concerns. Potential missions include orbit change, drag makeup, and deorbiting.
Potential MPUC system applications include drag makeup allowing extended-duration low altitude orbits, low Earth orbit raising, and/or deorbiting for micro/nanosatellites. The MPUC green monopropellant system offers affordable access to Cubesat propulsion and is easily scalable to larger sizes depending on mission requirements to meet the differing needs of users in DOD, industry, and academia.
The team of CU Aerospace (CUA) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) propose risk reduction design and analyses of a modular spacecraft addition based on our team’s CubeSail technology for accelerated spacecraft deorbiting. This technology represents a high-payoff technology using primarily atmospheric drag, but with the additional option for solar sail deorbiting from higher altitude orbits where atmospheric drag is negligible. The Phase I effort will focus on concept design, analyses, configuration trade off studies, and simulations for a CubeSail-D (Deorbit) design that can be integrated as a module on or into a larger small/nanosatellite. Unique features of the CubeSail-D design are its absence of any sail support structure, and its ability to control the solar sail blade pitch from the end of the sail and therefore enable continuous deorbiting thrust from solar photon pressure, not just aerodynamic drag. This capability of CubeSail-D becomes progressively more important at higher altitudes and is critical above 1000 km, and will also be important during times of minima in the solar sunspot cycle when atmospheric density drops and consequently drag effects decrease. Further, the ability to pitch the blade during deorbit enables alteration of the amount of aerodynamic drag seen by a CubeSail-D equipped satellite and may provide enough control authority for targeted reentry. The goal of Phase II would be delivery of a flight ready CubeSail-D demonstrator as either an add-on module or a self-contained CubeSat demonstrator.
The NASA Technology Roadmap calls for the development of Drag Sail Propulsion (TA 220.127.116.11). CubeSail-D provides a continuous effective thrust propulsion solution, providing enough potential Delta-V for deorbiting from LEO beyond the capabilities of like-sized chemical/electric propulsion options. A low-mass, low-cost deorbit capability would be very attractive for many or most of NASA LEO satellites, especially for those above altitudes of 680 km where the atmospheric density is low enough that natural decay lifetimes for reentry are >25 years.
The complexity and round-the-clock nature of NASA operations in low Earth orbit and future deep space missions, along with isolation in the hostile environment of space, can induce levels of acute and chronic stress that could compromise astronaut performance, leading to errors that could affect science payloads, crew safety and mission success. For the exploration of space a method is needed to assess operator state, quickly and reliably detect stress, and provide objective feedback to the individual, crew, and ground support, in order to mitigate adverse events and mishaps. We propose to develop a system that makes use of equipment that would be inherent to any spacecraft to identify Individualized, Noninvasive Speech Indicators for Tracking Elevations in Stress (INSITES). The goal of this INSITES project is to develop an unobtrusive, objective, and reliable detector of stress that measures changes in speech and vocalizations from equipment (microphones, communications systems, computers) used during operations, without requiring additional sensors or dedicated processing hardware. Under this project, Quantum Applied Science and Research (QUASAR) and the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) will define features in speech known to indicate stress, develop algorithms to extract these features from recorded audio streams, and adapt QUASAR’s machine learning cognitive state classification software, QStates, to process these speech features in real-time from voice audio streams. We will create models for stress based on these features, and provide a real-time visual output describing an individual’s stress level. The team will also develop the plans for software or hardware integration for a completed tool for implementation in NASA spacecraft and habitats to detect changes in stress acutely and over time. Doing so could potentially provide an opportunity to assess and intervene before it adversely impacts mission safety, effectiveness, or success.
Unobtrusive, low volume, easily-integrated stress detection for all NASA missions involving constrained space and weight, including Earth-based training, low Earth orbit, and deep space.
Multiple markets across both military and civilian mission critical environments where personnel operate and communicate in stressful environments. In particular, this technology could extend to military and commercial pilots, air traffic control operators, security or first response teams, as well as elite performance teams where audio communication is enabled by wearable headsets.
This NASA SBIR Phase I proposal presents a cost effective solution of laser additive manufacturing system for SiC mirror support architecture with integrated functions of AM & SM, in-process inspection, and feedback control, by using a single pulsed fiber laser. It is the enabling technology for manufacturing high strength SiC mirror supporting structure. With our successful history in AM and SM processing, this proposal has a great potential to succeed. A proof of concept demonstration will be carried out and samples will be delivered at the end of Phase 1. Prototype of the proposed system in compliant with the small engine requirement will be delivered at the end of Phase II.
In addition to NASA’s SiC support structure manufacturing, the proposed high power fiber laser AM system can be used in other applications, such as space vehicle, ship, aircraft, and satellite manufacturing. PolarOnyx will develop a series of products to meet various requirements for commercial/military deployments.
- 3D printing uses various technologies for building the products for all kinds of applications from foods, toys to rockets and cars. The global market is projected to reach US$44 billion by year 2025.
- Medical devices and biomedical instrumentation, which consists of surgical and infection control devices, general medical devices, cardiovascular, home healthcare, and other devices.
This NASA SBIR Phase I proposal presents a novel method to achieve high emissivity, with a femtosecond (fs) fiber laser. It is the enabling technology for manufacturing high temperature, high strength, and high emissivity surface for electric propulsion components. With our successful history in laser processing, this proposal has a great potential to succeed. A proof of concept demonstration will be carried out and samples will be delivered at the end of Phase 1.Prototypes with various types of components in compliant with the NASA electric propulsion system requirement will be delivered at the end of Phase II.
In addition to NASA’s high emissivity surface manufacturing, the proposed short pulse high power fiber laser SM process can also be used in other applications, such as 3D printing, space vehicle, aircraft, and satellite manufacturing. PolarOnyx will develop a series of products to meet various requirements for commercial/military deployments.
IFOS will work with Stanford University’s Center for Design Research to develop a drilling tool with fiber optic based spectroscopic and haptic (multipoint dynamic strain, texture, temperature) sensing capabilities. The former will be based on a hollow fiber bundle(s) up to 1-2 meters in length capable of transmitting wavelengths out to the 15-20 micron range so as to enable detection of a large range of organic fingerprints. The robotic drill system will be designed for probing and in situ analysis of comet ice below the outer subsurface going beyond the limits of surface reflectance spectrometry. In Phase 1, a feasibility prototype with the capability to operate on laboratory ice will be demonstrated.
This project will provide NASA with a tool with organic molecule detection capability that allows in situ analysis of comet ice. The system could be adapted to sampling ice on moons such as Europa, which is subject to particularly high radiation, Enceladus, and polar slopes on Mars. The benefit of in situ analysis cf. sample return is that a larger area can be searched with sample return delayed until interesting results are found.
This project will benefit commercial application of space mining, construction, search and rescue, manufacturing, medicine and, with reduced cost, a large consumer market, haptic capability in robots that perform dexterous tasks in environments dangerous or inaccessible to humans (e.g., handling hazardous materials) and human operator enhancement capabilities (e.g., tele-surgery).
IFOS proposes an innovative multi-purpose and multi-functional dexterous manipulator system for autonomous robots such as Astrobee, featuring an end-effector comprising a set of fingers with embedded fiber Bragg grating (FBG) sensors. This ‘sensitive skin’ can convey tactile and force feedback information to an interrogator that controls the fiber-sensed actuators and downstream, an active wrist. Thanks to synergism with ongoing advanced development efforts at IFOS, it is expected that Phase I of the project will involve the customized design of a miniaturized interrogator – I*SenseNano™ – leading to a Phase II demonstration of the interrogator. Enabled by the latest advances in photonic integrated circuit (PIC) technology, the interrogator with volume under 210 cm3 can be accommodated in the Astrobee, where it will interface with other systems to perform numerous IVA tasks including structure inspection, and parameter sensing.
Enter text here related to the technology’s NASA applications.
The manipulator will allow more dexterous handling of objects, as well as sensing, diagnostics and parameter monitoring in space based platforms such as The Gateway while deployed on autonomous platforms such as the Astrobee and the Robonaut. It is suitable for numerous intra-vehicle activities (IVA) tasks, including payload operations and caretaking, with potential extension to Extra-vehicular activities (EVA) thanks to fiber immunity to electromagnetic Impulses (EMI).
Potential and benefits can be realized for the Medical Device market, rehabilitation Exoskeletons and prosthetics, Defense and Homeland Security, Electronics and Automotive, Mil/Aero/Energy Exploration, Industrial, Home Automation, and Hazardous Material Handling.
A diode laser instrument for simultaneously measuring methane, nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide, and water vapor onboard an unmanned aerial vehicle will be developed in this project. Wavelength modulation absorption spectroscopy will be used to perform the measurements at a 10 Hz rate. The system will use a compact open path multipass cell to provide the necessary optical pathlength. Three mid-infrared lasers will be coupled to the cell. The Phase I project will emphasize development of the optical system and establishing of the sensitivity for ambient concentrations of the gases. These results will lead to the development of a light weight, low power, fast time response Phase II instrument suitable for deployment on a unmanned aerial vehicle.
The instrument will be useful for unmanned aerial vehicle measurements of two of the most important greenhouse gases, methane and nitrous oxide, and the leading man made pollutant, carbon monoxide. The system will be adaptable to use on balloons and ground based systems.
Measurements of methane are useful for identifying industrial leak sources as well as for pipeline monitoring. Nitrous oxide measurements are of interest to the agricultural community since it is a byproduct of crop planting.
Community noise reduction is a critical focus of NASA ARMD, which is studying highly integrated airframe/propulsion systems such as the hybrid wing body (HWB) and the quiet supersonic technology (QueSST) demonstrator. Relative to conventional aircraft, these systems have closer coupling between sound generation and propagation, creating challenges for noise prediction but also opportunities for shielding. ATA Engineering, in collaboration with the University of California, Irvine, proposes to develop methods to efficiently characterize and ultimately predict aircraft noise associated with such propulsion airframe aeroacoustics (PAA).
The methods will utilize near-field surface source models that are informed by high-spatial-resolution, fixed receiver and continuous-scan array acoustic measurements. In Phase I, the team will apply such measurements to canonical experiments and propulsion simulators (e.g, fan or jet exhaust noise) using fixed and scanning sensors to define stochastic source models. These models will support improved acoustic shielding predictions by directly detecting the mechanisms that propagate sound to the far field and using this information to define surface-based source models to predict noise shielding/scattering of integrated propulsion-airframe configurations using boundary element methods (BEM).
Phase II will involve creating a database of surface-based engine source models based on both experiments and CFD to apply the models to an acoustic design and optimization trade study. Additionally, the team will pursue direct measurement of high-resolution source surface models for use in multi-fidelity noise prediction frameworks such as NASA’s ANOPP/ANOPP2. The expected outcome is a novel, efficient means to quantify community noise from integrated airframe-propulsion systems containing significant PAA. This capability will allow NASA and industry to perform acoustic design and optimization of configurations like HWB and QueSST.
The technology enables BEM prediction of far-field acoustics using surface-based sources, enhancing capabilities in two ARMD Strategic Thrusts: Innovations in Commercial Supersonic Aircraft (#2), where a critical theme is “jet and high speed fan/inlet acoustics with airframe interactions,” and Ultra Efficient Commercial Vehicles (#3), where “propulsion noise shielding” is needed for “revolutionary” vehicles. NASA laboratories and wind tunnels could use the tools for studying PAA.
Several commercial and defense applications will benefit from improved PAA prediction. Paramount is certification of commercial supersonic aircraft, which are expected to eventually reach fleets of to 350 business and 1700 civil aircraft. Continued improvement of noise performance for the rapidly growing fleet of subsonic commercial aircraft is also a potential application of the technology.
We propose to advance the state of the art in multi-pass optical cell technology by bringing several novel, previously unpublished, cell architectures to better maturity and to the attention of other researchers. Optical multi-pass cells are devices that are fundamental to achieving high sensitivity in spectroscopic instruments for gas detection and measurement. The proposed project is a unique opportunity for NASA to advance multi-pass optical cell technology in several new directions at once, addressing multiple fundamental design advances with potentially large and lasting impact on the future design of optical instrumentation. The specific NASA SBIR solicitation technical topic that we address, S1.08 Suborbital instruments and sensor systems for earth science measurements, includes development needs for reduced volume multi-pass cell designs and optical subsystems for open path measurements. The solicitation topic also calls for small trace gas sensors suitable for UAV’s, which need low-volume multipas cells. The work we propose addresses stated needs for advances in optical absorption cells and related subsystems, both for open path as well as closed path (low volume) measurements. One of the cell designs we have conceived is specifically for open path measurements, where the base length may vary with the experimental circumstances. That design, the “Retro-Cat Cell” combines a remote retroreflector with an “inboard” mirror combination that acts like a variable focal length mirror, so it can adapt to variable base length. We present four different pathways for improving path-length per unit volume in multi-pass cells. These pathways range from simple filling of excess volumes, to re-injection systems to a new cell architecture. These development pathways are expected to yield results that improve existing commercial multi-pass cells, improve existing instrumentation and make new more compact instrumentation possible.
These multi-pass cell advances will positively impact NASA scientific endeavors that rely upon optical detection of gases, particularly in its Earth Sciences Division. Our new open-path cell design may be useful for increasing the path-length of measurement systems such as the NASA LaRC Diode Laser Hygrometer. New closed path cell designs may be of benefit to numerous NASA centers involved in trace gas measurements, such as: Goddard, Langley, JPL and Glenn. We note those centers because we previously sold then trace gas instruments or cells.
The new open-path cell design will have application to industrial settings with variable base paths, such as fence-line monitoring, or in environmental measurements where the measurement circumstances change. Closed path cells are integral to the set of trace gas instruments produced and sold by ARI, so new designs will enhance our products and capabilities.
Single-photon-counting detectors optimal for NASA long-range freespace optical telecommunications will be developed. The proposed effort addresses NASA’s need for reliable sources of radiation-hardened 1064-nm- and 1550-nm-sensitive single-photon photoreceivers for deep-space communications. There has been previous investment in single-photon-sensitive detector arrays; InGaAs APD pixels operating in Geiger mode (GM) are the most popular single-photon detectors in this spectral range as they do not require cryogenic cooling. However, performance improvements are need in InGaAs GM-APD focal-plane arrays (FPAs), and multiple reliable suppliers need to be established. To address this need, two growth and fabrication campaigns will be conducted. Each five-wafer growth campaign will include: single-element devices of various diameters, small-sized arrays, and larger-format GM-APD arrays. Characterization of the variable-diameter single-element devices, as a function of temperature and area/volume ratio, will be performed to identify sources of dark counts. Testing of arrays will be used to establish breakdown voltage uniformity, optical crosstalk, and yield. The demonstration of the performance of working GM-APD devices will significantly reduce the risk of the Phase II effort. In Phase II, large-format GM-APD arrays will be fabricated and hybridized to an existing deep-space communications readout integrated circuit (ROIC).
NASA applications include: deep-space optical comms; lidar measures as called for by the 2017 Decadal Survey for Earth Science and Applications from Space (high priority for cloud/aerosol/ocean lidar); and future missions to Earth’s moon, Mars, Venus, Titan, Europa, and small bodies (e.g., asteroids and comets) calling for entry, descent, and landing sensor systems. Autonomous rendezvous, proximity operations, and docking are other NASA challenges to which a 3D lidar sensor is relevant.
The innovation has widespread use in military mapping, targeting, and surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as freespace optical communications. It has commercial use in quantum communications, freespace communications, mapping, and autonomous driver-assistance sensor (ADAS) and autonomous navigation systems.
Fiber-optic sensors are used for their low cost, small size, light weight, minimal associated intrusion, high accuracy, and reliability. The proposed effort will establish feasibility of novel fiber-optic sensors from which an associated sensing platform would derive dramatically-improved performance and/or improvement in platform size, weight, power, and cost compared to current commercial offerings.
The technology will considerably improve NASA’s flight test measurement and in-situ monitoring capability over the current state of the art, opening up new sensing possibilities for real-time, in-situ flight/spaceflight measurements.
With an improved understanding of flight/spaceflight structural dynamics, the technology will lead to improved airframe and component designs. With improved, integrated real-time feedback control signal generation and structural health monitoring capability, future aircraft and spaceflight vehicles will operate more safely, predictably, and efficiently.
The proposed technology enables acquisition of real-time, in-flight strain and temperature data related to structural dynamics analysis and health monitoring of aircraft and spacecraft. In addition, the technology enables feedback control signal generation, NDE / modal analysis, and thermal profiling. The technology can be applied to components, structures, aerodynamic surfaces, fixed and morphable flight control surfaces, and electrical propulsion system power sources.
Non-NASA commercial applications of the technology include renewable wind energy, commercial aerospace & aviation, oil & gas, automotive, nuclear energy, and perimeter security.
Past NASA landing missions have used radar for vehicle position and velocity data in the absence of GPS. Future landing missions will require a viable replacement for obsolete radars. Coherent Doppler Lidar technology offers a suitable path for replacing radar with an order of magnitude higher precision as a landing sensor to help control the critical last 5 kilometers or so of landing approach. NASA has developed a highly capable Navigation Doppler Lidar, or NDL which has gone through extensive testing under several field conditions. NDL is about the size of a breadbox and further reduction in Size, Weight and Power (SWaP) is desirable for practical deployment in a wide range of vehicles. SWaP reduction of about an order of magnitude can be achieved through monolithic photonic integration. Freedom Photonics has strong expertise in the development of Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs) and proposes in this effort to develop a Monolithic Integrated Coherent Optical Receiver PIC for Lidar systems, supporting navigation and landing of space vehicles.
* Space Vehicle Lidar for landing applications
* Space Vehicle Lidar for navigation and telemetry
* Lidar systems for aviation applications
* Long range Free Space Optical (FSO) Communications
* Optical fiber communication systems
* Lidar sensors for self-driving automotive applications
* Lidar systems for commercial aviation applications
* Lidar systems for industrial control
* Commercial Free Space Optical (FSO) Communication systems
* Medical instrumentation, such as Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)
* Data transfer interconnects for large data centers
* Long distance optical coherent fiber optic systems
NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) and Lightweight Structures and Materials PT are leading advancements to affordable space exploration. This includes beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO) space exploration requiring innovative lightweight and multifunctional structure concepts. Conformal designs offer enabling mass and volume efficiencies and, multifunctional potential. Steelhead Composites (SHC; Golden CO) – a domestic leader in composite pressure vessel manufacture – will leverage capabilities in design, test, build and manufacture to realize conformal pressure vessels for cryogenic liquid storage and/or as habitable cavities. SHC ultralightweight, all composite (Type V) pressure vessel (> 30% mass reduction) are planned as manufacture-friendly products to efficiently fill non-traditional geometric volume and, serve to influence future spacecraft designs (e.g., lunar landers, Mars landers, habitat modules and ascent vehicles). This program will develop structural design concept studies (Phase I), including a manufacturing assessment and a systems benefits examination, to realize mass, volume and cost savings for deep space exploration. In Phase II, pressure vessels will be fabricated and evaluated, on a scale that is representative of full-scale manufacturing. All efforts will be performed to realize commercial products, for fabrication according to SHC’ AS9100 and ISO14001 (environmental) standards.
Conformal designs offer enabling mass and volume efficiencies and, multifunctional potential that are applicable to NASA applications. Conformal ultra lightweight, all composite (Type V) pressure vessel designs will serve to influence future spacecraft designs including, for example, lunar landers, Mars landers, habitat modules and ascent vehicles.
Conformal designs offer enabling mass and volume efficiencies and, multifunctional potential that are also applicable to non-NASA applications. Nearly all transportation applications would benefit from fuel storage containers that offer increased energy efficiencies. For example, pressure vessels that can store more hydrogen at minimum mass are highly desirable to the automotive industry.
This proposal addresses the NASA's need for innovative multi Watt (1W &5W) polarization maintaining (PM) fiber amplifier and laser transmitter modules in the 2 micron atmospheric transmission window band, and in particular at the 2051nm wavelength. Our OEM modules besides being compact, lightweight, power efficient and rugged, will integrate optics, electronics and electrical & computer control interfaces. Such features will make it an ideal product for integration in future NASA airborne or space systems. The design of amplifier or laser will use a novel PM single clad Holmium doped fiber (HDF) that offers a broad (150nm ) wavelength emission band (i.e. 2000 to 2150nm), an excellent optical efficiency (75%) and a combination of attractive performance, such as large gain (40dB) and dynamic range (>30dB). We will demonstrate both 1W & 5W laser transmitters at 2051nm into our compact 1W-MAKO OEM (97x78x15mm3) and a 5W-SKYLINE OEM (200x150x43mm3), and fully evaluate their performance, first in a CW mode and next in a ns regime -10 to100 kHz pulse repetition frequency. This innovation will pave the way in the use of this PM HDF transmitter modules as building blocks for more complex amplifier topologies and diverse emission wavelengths.
The 2 to 2.13 micron broad band 1 to 5 W polarization maintaining single clad HDF laser transmitter OEM modules will be important tools for NASA remote sensing and LIDAR applications, particularly for the monitoring of CO2 concentration at the 2051nm wavelength. Whether in CW or pulse mode, this eye safe, small foot print, light weight, power efficient and reliable OEM modules will find their place in diverse airborne NASA missions, from LIDAR to high bit rate free space transmitters.
Our broadband Holmium PM OEM laser transmitters, which overlap the atmospheric transparency window, will become the building blocks for PM devices. Mostly their combined features of large input dynamic range and high signal gain of these modules will enable the generation of complex pulsed lasers from coherent Lidar for Doppler measurements to ps-ns pulsed sources for optical non-linear processes.
A new light weight deployable solar power array module is proposed to address the need for a retractable solar array for the initial human lunar lander and future lunar surface applications. The proposed concept leverages recent advancements in thin film solar cell array technology which enables the array to be rolled into a compact cylindrical shape for stowage. The proposed concept will utilize a very simple pneumatic deployment system to deploy the system and a passive constant torque spring to retract the array. The simplicity and reliability of pneumatic/hydraulic systems have led to their widespread use in aircraft applications. The constant force/torque spring mechanism for retraction requires no power, motors, or controls. The combination of current state of the art flexible thin film solar array technology with a very simple and reliable deployment/retraction system will result in a highly reliable solar array system capable of multiple deployments and retractions in the space and lunar surface environments.
Recent systems such as NASA’s Roll Out Solar Array (ROSA) and the Composite Beam Roll-Out Array (COBRA) for small satellites have shown the specific power and specific density advantages of a rollable solar array as compared to conventional rigid solar array panels that require mechanical hinges and frames to fold and package the array. These highly efficient coilable arrays have demonstrated specific power values > 300W/kg and >40 kW/m3.
Our array design will take advantage of the current state of the art thin film solar array technology to maximize the benefits of flexible array technology. Specifically, the array will utilize the LISA-T thin film arrays under development by NASA and NeXolve for a variety of applications. The LISA-T arrays achieve significant areal density improvements via minimization of the parasitic weight of the array substrate and cover glass. The result is an ultralight weight high efficiency array with exceptional flexibility.
Increased spatial and temporal resolution of remotely sensed multispectral imagery is crucial for improved monitoring of land surface dynamics in heterogeneous landscapes undergoing rapid change. Given orbital constraints, satellite imaging sensors such as MODIS and Landsat 8 OLI exhibit tradeoffs between frequent/coarse and sparse/fine scenes, and spatiotemporal fusion techniques have been developed to synthesize images with improved spatial and temporal resolutions from such complementary satellite pairs. In contrast, imagery from manned fixed wing aircraft and UAVs can be acquired both frequently and at high resolution over limited areas. Land surface monitoring would greatly benefit from a capability to combine imagery from these disparate platforms, for which inconsistent or irregular revisit times and variabilities in resolution and spectral bands make existing spatiotemporal fusion techniques insufficient to combine them effectively.
This project will exploit these recent machine learning advances to combine imagery from disparate satellite and airborne platforms, using multi-resolution image time series and transferring fine resolution knowledge gained from higher resolution training images to lower-resolution test scenes. We will test the feasibility of the system to provide improved classification of vegetative land cover and estimations of fractional vegetation cover, particularly for agricultural areas that frequently change on a small spatial scale. During Phase I, we will use an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to make weekly multispectral image collects during the growing cycle of several agricultural crops and combine the scenes with Landsat 8 OLI and Sentinel 2 satellite imagery. We will spatially and temporally subsample the high resolution UAV imagery to simulate imagery acquired from a variety of aerial and additional satellite platforms and compare classifier performance for different spatial resolutions and repeat periods.
Related follow-on opportunities for NASA program infusion include integration with the TOPS-SIMs irrigation management program at the Ecological Forecasting Lab at NASA Ames, and NASA Goddard’s Harvest consortium led by the University of Maryland to enhance the use of satellite data in decision making related to food security and agriculture. We will also target its use in more general land cover, land use and change (LCLUC) classification applications such as earth system simulations at the NASA Center for Climate Simulation.
Fresh vegetable industry regional forecasting of amounts of different specialty crops.
Surface Level Pressure measurements will greatly improve hurricane forecasts (intensification and track predictions) and provide direct measurement of fundamental meteorological dynamics using instruments such as differential absorption radar. A critical component is the TX/RX duplexing switch that must be low loss (<0.5dB), high isolation (>35dB) and power handling of 2W. The low loss is necessary for radar performance (EIRP and G/T) while the isolation is needed to protect the receiver LNA from the transmitter pulse. State of the art solid state switch technology such as PIN diodes are inadequate due to high loss (>1 dB) and insufficient power handling.
MWS, LLC proposes to develop a V-band (65-70 GHz) latching ferrite switch by using self-biased ferrite materials with a high internal magnetic anisotropy in a circulating Y-junction. A momentary and reversible magnetization field is applied to the ferrite to change the rotation direction of the circulation effecting the SPDT switch.
A commercial source of millimeter wave magnetic latching circulators would have benefits to both NASA and the remote sensing and weather radar industry for redundancy switching for mission critical applications and for cloud/precipitation radars. The switches developed will be useful in SmallSat/CubeSat applications due their small size and low average power consumption.
The development of this V band switch and a series of these covering the other millimeter wave bands would be a useful component in the remote sensing and weather radar industry. In addition, these would also find application in other DOD relevant systems. Commercial and military communications satellites would benefit from the V-Band switch development as a compact low loss redundancy switch.
Abstract: We are proposing to develop a SiC DC-DC power electronic interface for driving a stepper motor, which is capable of operating at high temperature (>400oC). We propose to use a non-inverting buck-boost (NIBB) power converter to convert battery voltage to a fixed DC link. This work takes account of detailed design considerations on the power stage consisting of (i) a switching circuit and (ii) SiC gate drivers with minimized parasitics and false turn-on protection. For the voltage gain regulation purpose, an analog-to-digital conversion interface along with a digital control logic will be designed and implemented in our research. In the Phase 1 program we will design and fabricate key components of the SiC DC-DC converter. These key components are a SiC CMOS Oscillator for providing switching to the SiC power devices. We will also design and fabricate the power switching devices integrated onto a single die, as well as the MOSFET gate driver circuit which applies current to the MOSFET power switches. All these circuits will be fabricated in SiC to take advantage of the wide bandgap semiconductor’s ability to operate at high temperatures. In addition to the semiconductor itself, it is necessary to have interconnects and contacts that can also withstand high temperatures. We are adopting earlier techniques involving TaSi2 to our CMOS process to achieve a complete high temperature process. These high temperature methods will be applied to fabricated test structures and components of the DC-DC converter.
High temperature SiC based power converters have wide applications in space (both inside and outside the spacecrafts), especially with respect to high temperature environments such as Venus and solar probes. The high temperature operation of SiC obviates the need for significant cooling, thus reducing the weight and volume of related electronics leaving more room for scientific payloads and reducing the cost. Applications include actuators, motors, inverters and power supplies.
High temperature electronics is potentially a huge market. SiC can operate at temperatures in excess of 400°C, which is beyond that of silicon. Applications for SiC-based electronics include furnaces, jet engines, rocket engines, and automobiles, including their exhaust systems. SiC electronics also obviate need for large cooling systems, reducing weight and form factor.
Navitas proposes a Phase I program to develop and demonstrate a long cycle life cathode for lithium sulfur batteries. The cathode is based on a novel engineered pore structure host material that will deliver advanced performance through the following features: (1) Hierarchical pore structure with pore volume to accommodate high sulfur/polysulfide loading; (2) Electronic conductivity to enable high utilization of sulfur; and (3) High affinity to both sulfur and polysulfides to minimize sulfur dissolution. Phase I will demonstrate a lithium-sulfur cell with a cathode design able to reach >500 cycles with projected specific energy >400 Wh/kg. Phase II will develop >6Ah prismatic pouch cells to TRL 6 with >1000 cycle life (80% capacity) and demonstrated specific energy >400 Wh/g. If successful, the proposed technology will at least double the cycle life of lithium sulfur batteries and advance beyond state of the art (<200 cycles) to address the key limitation for space applications.
With improved cycle life, lithium sulfur batteries will meet multi-use/cross platform space energy storage application requirements. Successful deployment would result in significant mass and volume savings and operational flexibility. Potential applications include long duration energy storage for lunar surface operations such as landers, habitats and rovers. The weight savings and safety of lithium sulfur batteries will be beneficial in large surface energy storage systems which may range from 500 kWh on Mars to 14 MWh on the moon.
The Navitas lithium sulfur battery will provide an advantage to end users through improved battery energy density/cost and by reducing the battery size/price vs. established lithium ion batteries. Early adopters are small unmanned aerial systems, electric & hybrid-electric aircraft propulsion, and consumer electronics manufacturers. Ultimately a share of the electric vehicle battery market also.
SynaptiCAD, in a NASA SBIR which ended in 2015 (contract NNX15CP26P), created a software environment which facilitated the creation of engineering models, subsystems which use those models, and integration of the subsystems into a coherent system model which could then be executed using a time & event simulator based on SystemVerilog. The work was continued under an Air Force SBIR which emphasized system of systems (SoS) and acausal simulation. SynaptiCAD proposes to enhance this modeling and simulation environment with functionality designed to improve collaboration, multi-fidelity modeling, and analysis of architectural variants. These three themes follow each other naturally and form a nucleus around which to build a highly scalable complex systems design toolset. Collaboration will include the use of web-based libraries so multiple parties can work concurrently on models, subsystems, or system simulations. Multi-fidelity modeling will feature tools to replace models of differing fidelity, map variables automatically between fidelity levels, and wizards to help the user perform these tasks. The toolset will be able to introspect the system being developed to discern its architecture and allow trade studies to take place by varying architectural parameters. The proposed environment will be designed flexibly, to accommodate future insertion into 3rd party workflows such as MBSE/SysML. The use of time & event simulation will provide the mission planner with a comprehensive understanding of a proposed spacecraft in relation to its scientific mission at an early conceptual stage and extending throughout its life. The same simulation tool will be usable in later stages of design given its ability to manage multiple layers of fidelity and the associated collaboration features undergirding this capability. The tool will provide a rigorous understanding of the science potential of a mission vs. cost, risk, schedule, and other programmatic factors.
Complex design projects will benefit across the spectrum of NASA Science, Space Technology, Human Exploration and Operations, and Aeronautics. Future missions such as LUVOIR, HabEx and Lynx would especially benefit. The proposed technology benefits a wide range of user roles: management support, science mission planning, engineering, fault analysis, etc. Initial applications will include satellite systems, telescope design, and robotic exploration. A strong role is anticipated at centers that already use MBSE technology (e.g. JPL, GSFC).
Beyond NASA, applications will be focused primarily on the aerospace and defense sector where the DoD and prime contractors, such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing, have already indicated an interest in these capabilities. After establishing penetration in A&D, SynaptiCAD will pursue secondary markets such as automobiles, heavy equipment, and shipbuilding. Siemens has shown some interest in this idea.
In Subtopic Z4.01, NASA has identified a critical need for lightweight structures and advanced materials for deep-space exploration. International Scientific has developed a number of advanced multifunctional materials to protect against the hazards of space radiation, including protons, alpha particles and heavy ions from galactic cosmic rays and other ions from solar particle events. In order to raise the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of these advanced polymeric radiation-shielding materials, International Scientific Technologies, Inc. proposes to develop an active-monitoring experimental package for use on the MISSE-FF platform. Phase I Technical Objectives include identification of advanced lightweight materials and structures for use in the active monitoring of radiation-shield effectiveness, selection of active radiation detectors/dosimeters for measurement of radiation-shielding effectiveness on the exterior of the International Space Station, and design of active experimental package on MISSE-FF for space-radiation shielding-effectiveness study. The anticipated results of the Phase I research program is the design for a flight-qualified MISSE radiation-shielding demonstration to advance the TRL of polymeric radiation-shielding materials to facilitate commercialization.
NASA directorates that can use the proposed space radiation-shielding technology are the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD), and Science Mission Directorate (SMD). Other programs that can benefit using this technology include the Flight Opportunities Program (FOP), International Space Station Program (ISSP), Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) Program, and In-space Robotic Manufacturing and Assembly (IRMA) Project.
The DoD and DHS will find applications that include protection of soldiers, first responders and emergency medical personnel against radiation resulting from so-called dirty bombs as well as from hazards brought about through accidental release of radiological materials. Workers in medical and industrial facilities will also benefit from shielding garments having reduced weight and thermal stress.
Makel Engineering, Inc. (MEI), John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) and Wesleyan University (WU) propose to develop the Venus In-Situ Mineralogy Reaction Array (VIMRA) Sensor Platform. VIMRA is a harsh environment sensor array suitable for measuring reactions of Venus gases with surface minerals using a platform which could be part of the science instrument payload for planetary landers such as the Long Lived In-Situ Solar System Explorer (LLISSE.) The platform will be developed to accommodate a variety of minerals of interest on the surface of Venus. In addition, VIMRA can be used on Venus simulation chambers such as NASA Glenn Extreme Environment Rig (GEER) for extended durations to support fundamental science.
The goal of Phase I is to develop and demonstrate the sensor platform operation in Venus simulated surface environments using the APL Venus Environment Chamber (AVEC). Phase I of the program will focus on design and demonstration of sensor material systems and sensing capability with several mineral types of interest for Venus. The electric measurements on the array of minerals could provide information on the type and rate of gas-solid reactions and thus constrain type and rate of atmospheric gas interactions with the minerals in the array. Prototype mineral sensors will be fabricated and tested in Phase I to demonstrate the technology to TRL 4 by testing in relevant laboratory conditions. In Phase II, the VIMRA sensor platform will be combined with SiC electronics to provide a high temperature capable payload suitable for extended operation on the surface of Venus. The proposed VIMRA will complement recent and ongoing efforts on the development of harsh environment instruments suitable for atmospheric analysis in future Venus missions, addressing a technology gap by developing sensors to monitor mineral/gas reactions.
VIMRA coupled with ongoing high temperature electronics development supports the Decadal Survey finding that the Venus In-situ Explorer mission is a New Frontiers high priority mission. VIMRA complements measurement systems targeted in the 2009 Venus Flagship Mission Study (e.g., GC-MS, nephelometers, cameras/optical detectors). The technology can be leveraged for less extreme environments (e.g. desiccated/hydrated minerals in Mars), other harsh environment planetary systems (Mercury), and long-term surface reactions (space weathering.)
Beyond, NASA, the technology can be used to determine material compatibility with reactive environments, and real time corrosion sensing in harsh gas environments such as molten salt bath headspace, combustors, and clean coal plants.
Astrobotic proposes the development and prototyping of a low Size, Weight and Power, Performance, and Cost (SWaP-PC) visual navigation system capable of implementing industry standard visual navigation methods such as Terrain Relative Navigation (TRN) or visual Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM). The system components will provide a compact form factor fitting within approximately 1U (10 x 10 x 10 cm), weight less than 2 kg, and require less than 5W to power, enabling its use in power constrained applications such as CubeSats and SmallSats. The system’s interfacing would be designed to allow for flexibility of usage as either a part of a larger navigation solution or a standalone sensor on a small exploration spacecraft. A Xilinx Zynq 7020 System-on-Chip will be integrated into a larger system that includes a camera and IMU. This system will be used to test a version of Astrobotic’s Terrain Relative Navigation (TRN) algorithm modified to utilize Xilinx Zynq 7020 processing capabilities and balance performance with the computational limits of the low SWaP system.
Recent advances in computing enable Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to conduct high quality missions with the implicit promise of lower cost and effort than manned aircraft. However, a lack of methods, architectures, and tools to enable verification, validation, and certification of UAS flight control systems is a major technological barrier to widespread adoption of UAS in civil aviation and NASA research.
Our innovation, Safety Assurance through Flight envelope Estimation in Real-time (SAFER), establishes trust through real-time estimation of safe and robust flight envelope boundaries and providing feedback and command limiting to keep the UAS within those boundaries. We propose to estimate these boundaries with an independent hardware module, requiring only effector commands as input, and enabling any UAS to meet verification, validation, and certification requirements.
Internally, our system will consist of an Inertial Measurement Unit, Global Navigation Satellite System receiver, and a processor. A cascaded set of Extended Kalman Filters will estimate inertial and synthetic air data states from IMU and GNSS data. Real-time identification and estimation methods will use these states to identify and estimate highly accurate and globally valid aircraft models, which will be used to estimate flight envelope boundaries and flight control system stability margins. Stability margins will be projected to the flight envelope boundaries to identify the envelope with adequate stability margins. Effector command limiting and feedback will be provided to keep the UAS within the stable and robust flight envelope boundaries.
Phase I will establish feasibility through developing a prototype system and testing in simulation and flight test. Phase II is expected to mature the technologies and integrate low risk components. With an independent estimator of states, stability, and flight envelope boundaries, many potential applications exist within civil aviation and NASA research.
Enables any UAS to meet verification, validation, and certification requirements, dramatically lowering the time and cost of flight research and NASA Earth Science remote sensing.
Independent estimation of state data for rapid control system development and strap-down flight data recording.
Estimation of flight envelope boundaries for increased situational awareness and safety.
Independent estimation of flight envelope enables advanced and autonomous flight termination systems.
Enables any UAS to meet verification, validation, and certification requirements, including current UAS and non-deterministic systems.
Independent estimation and recording of state data, stability, and flight envelope for post-incident analysis and as a monitor for UAS insurance companies.
Estimation of incipient stall and flutter for increased situational awareness and safety.
Novel aircraft concepts enable a future Air Transportation System (ATS) with reduced emissions, reduced noise, improved mobility, and radically new modes of transportation, such as urban air taxis, autonomous deliveries of goods, and improved weather and ground traffic monitoring. The future ATS will need to support an incredibly diverse set of vehicles operating from urban vertiports in addition to conventional airfields.
Approach and landing systems were originally designed for tube and wing aircraft operating between large airfields with long, clear approach paths free from obstacles. Similar performance characteristics across the fleet enabled the creation and publication of standardized approach and landing trajectories. Future aircraft, especially those designed for high cruise efficiency, may not be capable of meeting standardized approach and landing performance criteria.
Urban air mobility concepts typically require small vertiports without clear approach paths increasing the likelihood of encountering wind shear and turbulence during approach and landing. Low wing loaded and disc loaded vehicles, which include many future air vehicle concepts, are more susceptible to turbulence and face larger deviations from the desired trajectory in turbulent conditions.
We propose researching, developing, and commercializing an innovative solution to these challenges called the Performance-based Approach and Landing System (PALS). PALS will use information about the air vehicle’s performance and estimates of current turbulence and wind shear levels to autonomously create safe performance-based trajectories for approach and landing. PALS will be able to estimate and control the aircraft’s future position along the generated trajectory to coordinate with air traffic control or directly with other aircraft. PALS is a key component in enabling a future air transportation system consisting of a diverse set of vehicles operating from urban vertiports and conventional airfields.
We propose to build and critically test a TRL4 High Access Raman Probe with Onboard Optical Numerization (HARPOON), a nextgeneration ultra-compact laser Raman Spectrometer equipped with multiplexed fiber optic sensing points.
HARPOON's core unit, hosted inside the spacecraft, contains the laser, spectrometer, and electronic modules. The core unit serves two miniature Raman heads, which enable both external and internal close-up analyses: (1) A Raman head integrated at the end of a robotic arm, lander leg, or telescopic boom for close-up in-situ, surface analyses; and (2) An internal Raman head that performs on-line analysis of samples delivered to a spacecraft's analytical laboratory. The heads house light focusing and collection optics and autofocus, and are connected to the core unit via fiber optics bundles.
HARPOON boasts an innovative combination of adaptive spatial coding optics and detector that enables unique measurements: in-situ chemical identification and quantitation of complex organic compounds, including pre-biotic compounds (e.g., amino acids); biomolecules (organic biomarkers such as proteins, lipids, and nucleic acid polymers); minerals; salts; volatiles. In Phase 1 we will develop and integrate key subsystems of HARPOON and critically evaluate its performance using standards. We will demonstrate the ability of HARPOON to perform novel, dual-probe Raman astrobiological analysis in landed spacecraft. Thus, we directly address the SBIR Topic S1.11 request: “development of in-situ instrument technologies and components to advance the maturity of science instruments focused on the detection of evidence of life, especially extant of life, in the Ocean Worlds … Technologies that reduce mass, power, volume, and data rates for instruments and instrument components without loss of scientific capability are of particular importance … technologies that can increase instrument resolution and sensitivity or achieve new & innovative scientific measurements.”
HARPOON enables key investigations required to understand the habitability of several targets in the Solar System. The following missions highlighted can benefit from HARPOON: a) landed exploration missions to Venus, Moon, Mars, Europa, Titan, comets, and asteroids; b) sample return missions to Moon, Mars, comets and asteroids. HARPOON may be used to identify and map available planetary in-situ resources, and to spur the development of autonomous ISRU devices for robotic and human missions
HARPOON responds to critical challenges at the scientific/engineering boundaries of highly sensitive in-situ sensing including characterizing materials, qualitatively, quantitatively, in real-time, and non-destructively. Thus, HARPOON has high potential to impact: Health and environment monitoring; Forensic analyses; Ocean sensing; and Natural resources exploration and development.
Significant risks result from the plume-surface interaction during propulsive landings on unprepared regolith in extra-terrestrial environments. Dust and debris particles are liberated and may strike the landing vehicle and surrounding assets and may obscure ground observation for safe landing. In addition, craters are formed on the landing surface, posing an additional challenge to vehicle stability and surface operations. CFDRC has developed the Gas-Granular Flow Solver (GGFS) capable of simulating the multi-phase gas-particle interaction and the complex physics within the regolith compositions found on Moon and Mars. Eulerian-Eulerian models are applied to efficiently model the gas and particle phases as continuum fluids. This capability has successfully been introduced into NASA project applications for Mars lander development. With the current focus on returning to the Moon in the near future, this plume-surface effects simulation capability must now be applied in the lunar vacuum environments. In this case, a mixed continuum/rarefied approach must be used to properly simulate the gas-phase dynamics. This project will combine existing capabilities for gas-granular flows with mixed continuum/rarefied gas flows into a coupled toolset using a novel micro/macro coupling approach. This combination facilitates a local switch to continuum or rarefied gas flow in a seamless automated process. During Phase I, the mixed continuum-rarefied gas flow capability will be implemented and its influence on the particle phase response demonstrated. A plan will be devised for modeling the reverse effects of the particle phase on the state of the mixed rarefied gas phase. A list of required validation cases for this new capability and suitable experimental facilities will be identified to generate validation data in Phase II. Phase II effort will complete implementation of all models and perform extensive validation and application demonstrations.
Potential NASA commercial applications include all NASA led lunar lander development projects. Small commercial lander activities and NASA sponsored instrument payloads under the CLEPS program will require accurate definition of the plume-particle distribution environment below the landers near the surface encountered by the landers and the payload instruments. The development of medium/large size robotic and human class landers, in the context of the Lunar Gateway outpost, will require detailed information on plume-surface interaction risks.
Potential non-NASA applications include mixing in pharmaceutical industries, where flow and heat transfer through particle beds can force local conditions to be non-continuum due to the small length scales. The tool will be relevant to multiple applications that encounter ablation through porous media in low-pressure environments such as terminal high-altitude National Missile Defense vehicles.
The liberation of dust and debris particles caused by rocket plume flow from spacecraft landing on the unprepared regolith of the Moon, Mars, and other extra-terrestrial destinations poses a high risk for robotic and human exploration activities. This regolith particle flow induced by a spacecraft landing occurs in a combination of “extreme environments” that combine low gravity, little or no atmosphere, with rocket exhaust gas flow that is supersonic and partially rarefied, and unusual mechanical properties of the regolith. Of these environmental factors, characterizing the regolith granular material fluidic behavior and gas-granular interactions is the most complex and least developed. In the proposed effort an integrated project team consisting of CFD Research, University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University will develop an integrated approach for developing a combined measurement and modeling methodology to further improve accuracy of the gas granular flow solvers used for analysis and design by NASA engineers. Targeted experiments will be conducted to analyze gas-particle flows in high-speed and low-speed dilute conditions on both monodisperse and polydisperse particulate mixtures. Crucial data for model validation such as particle velocity fluctuations, particle concentrations and bulk velocities will be obtained. Subsequently, model improvements will be made for both, Eulerian-Lagrangian and Eulerian two-fluid simulation approaches and improved capabilities demonstrated. Particular effort will be made toward advancing the granular phase constitutive relations the numerical framework relies upon for polydisperse compressible flows.
Potential NASA commercial applications include all Lunar and Mars lander development projects and missions landing on asteroids and other objects. Mars lander plume-surface analysis will be provided to propulsive Entry, Descent, Landing and Ascent systems integration teams. Lunar lander customers include small commercial landers and instrument payloads under the CLEPS program. Robotic precursors and human landers operating from the Lunar Gateway Station will require landing debris environments risk analysis for landers and surrounding assets.
Potential non-NASA applications include a wide range of sand and dust related military and civilian applications such as rotorcraft sand/dust brownout and engine dust ingestion. In addition, multiphase flows occur in many applications in chemical, and fossil-energy conversion industries where accurate modeling of particle shape play a huge role in the flow behavior of real particulate systems.
Fission power systems (FPS) are a candidate power source for long duration NASA surface missions to the Moon and Mars, and offer significant advantages over competing options, including longer life, operational robustness, and mission flexibility. Electronics associated with the power conversion and power management and distribution (PMAD) systems in FPS have to operate reliably under high temperature (100s of deg C), high power (1-10 kWe), and severe radiation. Silicon carbide (SiC) is a promising solution with superior electronic properties for power applications. SiC devices offer higher temperature operation, higher breakdown voltages, and higher power conversion efficiency than silicon devices. However, vulnerability to heavy-ion induced failure and uncertainty in response to nuclear radiation are challenges facing FPS applications of SiC technology. CFDRC, Vanderbilt University and Wolfspeed propose a modeling and experiment-based approach using commercial SiC technology to address this challenge. In Phase I, we will use the Geant4/MRED radiation transport code to calculate the actual neutron and gamma dose experienced by FPS electronics, derive corresponding inputs and perform TCAD modeling of SiC power diodes and MOSFETs for insight into physical mechanisms behind their response, and develop detailed radiation testing plans. We will perform x-ray testing of SiC power devices (100-1000 kRad(Si)) to obtain total dose response data. In Phase II, we will perform additional neutron, gamma, and heavy-ion tests to characterize the response of SiC devices and selected circuit versus temperature and bias. We will leverage parallel projects to analyze heavy-ion induced single-event effects in SiC diodes and MOSFETs. TCAD and mixed-mode modeling will be done to further understand radiation and temperature-dependent mechanisms and to investigate design solutions for increased radiation tolerance. Promising solutions will be prototyped, tested, and delivered to NASA.
Space qualified, high voltage/high temperature power electronics is aligned, per the NASA Space Power and Energy Storage Roadmap - TA 03, with science and exploration missions. Nuclear radiation- and high temperature-tolerant SiC power electronics supports kilowatt-class fission systems and is an enabling technology for missions to the Moon and Mars to support in-situ resource utilization experiments, pre-crew surface stations, etc. Modeling tools for power system devices will provide a Cross-Cutting Technology applicable to all NASA missions.
Space qualified SiC power electronics will find application in power systems in commercial satellites and DoD space systems (communication, surveillance, missile defense). High-voltage SiC devices are promising for PMAD systems in all-electric and hybrid cars, grid-scale energy storage, wind/solar systems, off-grid power systems (crewed vehicles and habitats), geothermal drill sites, etc.
Physical Sciences Inc. (PSI) proposes to develop a solar concentrator system for lunar In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) applications. In this system solar radiation is collected using a concentrator array which transfers the concentrated solar radiation to the optical waveguide (OW) transmission line made of low loss optical fibers. The OW transmission line directs the solar radiation to the thermal receiver for thermochemical processing of lunar regolith. Key features of the proposed system are:
1. Highly concentrated solar radiation (103~ Colozza, Anthony, Heller, Richard, Wong, Wayne and Hepp, Aloysius, “Solar Energy System for Lunar Oxygen Generation” NASA/TM – 2010-216219, AIAA-20101166, April, 2010.104 suns) can be transmitted via the flexible OW transmission line directly to the thermal receiver for oxygen production from lunar regolith;
2. Power scale-up of the system can be achieved by incremental increase of the number of concentrator units;
3. The system can be autonomous, stationary or mobile, and easily transported and deployed on the lunar surface; and
4. The system can be applied to multiple lunar ISRU processes.
PSI proposes to develop component and subsystem technologies for the solar concentrator system for lunar ISRU applications including: oxygen extraction from lunar regolith; lunar regolith processing for surface stabilization; and manufacturing of building blocks for in-situ lunar construction. The specific technical objectives of the proposed Phase I program are:
(1) Develop and evaluate the design concept for the key components of the solar concentrator system to be transported, deployed and operated on the lunar surface; and
(2) Develop the lunar dust removal method applicable to the solar concentrator system for lunar ISRU applications.
The primary application of the proposed solar concentrator system is for the production of oxygen and other useful materials on the lunar surface. The solar concentrator system can be used for sintering lunar regolith for surface stabilization and construction. In addition, the system can be used for thermal or electric power generation and plant lighting and illumination for the lunar base. Therefore, the solar concentrator system is the key enabling technology for building up the infrastructure for the lunar base.
There are a number of terrestrial uses for the solar concentrator system related to heating applications including water heating (for domestic and industrial usage), transportable heat source for the detoxification of contaminated soil, heat engine for small power plants and industrial process heat. Also concentrator subsystems may find applications for building and indoor plant growth lighting.
The most promising systems for implementing long range, high bandwidth, Free Space Optical Communication (FSOC) links for deep space missions rely on fiber-based transmitter architectures. While such systems offer benefits in power conversion efficiency, size, weight, and cost (SWaP-C), these systems generally lack modularity due to a lack of high power fiber connectors and switch gear. Due to the specialized equipment and training needed splice fiber components, this lack of modularity confounds the installation of fiber systems through various mechanical interfaces, and makes field repair of an integrated fiber system nearly impossible.
To address these issues, Q-Peak proposes to develop an environmentally insensitive, low insertion loss, expanded beam fiber connector with high average and peak power handling (>100W, and >100kW respectively). Q-Peak is well positioned to achieve such high levels of transmitted power by leveraging novel opto-mechanical technologies which were developed in a number of recent efforts to achieve similarly high power connectors for flight applications at both short and Mid-IR wavelengths.
Such a connector will widely benefit all sectors of the fiber laser industry. By enabling modular construction of laser subsystems, it will be possible to qualify high power fiber components ex-situ, thus drastically improving first-pass yields. For medical and industrial applications, a common laser source can be more easily paired with multiple tools. Such flexible use of laser sources will help to make laser technology more economically viable to a wider variety of industries.
This technology can be used in the assembly, testing, and integration of high power fiber laser systems for FSOC applications as in the solicitation. Other potential NASA applications are power distribution for laser tools and appliances, as used for cutting, welding, stripping, 3D printing, and other tasks by connecting tool to source using a fiber optic cable assembly. Power supplied remotely from the laser source through hermetic bulkhead fittings might find use in on-orbit and landed EVA environments.
Industrial, dental & medical lasers-Tool changing, source multiplexing
Directed energy-Field replaceable amplifiers, isolators, combiners, etc.
Missile defense-Source distribution thru airframe
Telecommunications-Power distribution in satellite bus in FSOC systems for satellite internet
Fiber laser manufacturing-Facilitate QC on low yield devices, Reduce time to market, Fiber device intercompatibility
Current fault detection and correction techniques require either an operator-in-the-loop to identify and respond to on-board satellite anomalies or a hard-coded, rules-based fault response tree to algorithmically respond to triggers and perform corrections or escalate the fault. Both processes consume time and resources from system engineers or ground operators and are unlikely to identify novel patterns in onboard data and telemetry that signify a fault event. Orbit Logic proposes the Fault Learning Agent for Prediction, Protection, and Early Response (FLAPPER) solution, to be implemented as a pair of Specialized Autonomy Planning Agents (SAPAs) that expand our onboard Autonomous Planning System (APS) architecture to include machine learning capable of detecting, isolating, and mitigating anomalies in real- or near-real-time with minimal ground intervention. FLAPPER will analyze a subset of onboard spacecraft health and safety data and telemetry to train against and later autonomously detect and categorize spacecraft faults. Categorized faults will then be mapped to acceptable corrective action responses to be carried out autonomously or with expert oversight from operators given the inferred data. Transitioning the fault detection and correction capabilities to an autonomous and onboard application will benefit the mission’s success by reducing the time the spacecraft spends in anomalous states.
The FLAPPER solution has the potential to be applied to human exploration, deep space, un-manned exploration, and any additional spacecraft missions. As long as the spacecraft supports hardware/software, the spacecraft can benefit from the proposed Fault Management technology.
The FLAPPER solution has the potential for application aboard any non-NASA spacecraft, watercraft, factories, data centers, automobiles and even at home (A/C units, hot water heaters, etc.). Benefits can be seen in all machinery or monitored components to mitigate faults as well as warn the user if a system is degrading and may require maintenance.
According to a recent Grand View Research report, the global 3D bioprinting market size was valued at USD 965.0 million in 2018 and is anticipated to grow at over 19.5% for the next 10 years. This includes all aspects of medical materials including metals, plastics, ceramics, biomaterials, cells, tissues and organ substitutes. Advances in bioprinting are gaining importance and the tissues generated will soon become available for transplantation. In parallel, however, the use of human tissue analogs is becoming increasing valuable in drug discovery. The tissue chip and micro-organ fields are growing at compound annual growth rate exceeding 34%. These technologies and products are collectively known as organs-on-chips (OOCs).
OOCs are microfluidic 3D cell culture devices that closely mimic the key physiological functions of body organs. The chips are not designed to mimic an entire organ but simulate the physiology of a single functional unit of an organ system. They have resulted from scientific advances in cell biology, microfabrication and microfluidics which allow the emulation of the human micro environment in vitro. This unique feature of OOCs is made possible by integrating biology with advanced engineering technologies such as bioprinting. Human OOCs are miniaturized versions of lungs, livers, kidneys, heart, brain, intestines and other vital human organs embedded in a chip.
The OOC and bioprinting fields are intrinsically linked and many groups, including Techshot researchers, are looking to leverage bioprinting OOCs to circumvent fundamental structural challenges faced in the race to bioprint large-scale organs for research and discovery. To this end, Techshot has designed and built the first multi-head, ISS resident bioprinter with culture capability. The methods and system we are proposing here could print micro-organs in this facility to address the emerging OOC market and exploit the unique research potentials in microgravity.
Techshot will offer the Organ-on-a-Chip (OOC) manufacturing capability to microgravity researchers and NASA’s Exploration Medicine Capability (ExMC) element. Personalized medicine and basic research are possible with OOCs to improve astronauts’ health and predict the physiological changes that occur with long-term space exposure. This OOC in-space manufacturing capability could help enable human pioneering beyond low earth orbit.
Applications involve drug testing and individualized drug responses. The FDA is striving to reduce the dependency on animal and human clinical experimentation. Billions are spent on drugs that fail in efficacy trials. By understanding OOCs, humanized systems can evaluate drug responses to specific diseases or chips unique to individual patients can be made to evaluate treatment regimens.
In this proposal we will develop key enabling components of, environmentally ruggedized, smaller size, radiation hardened and higher precision inertial navigations sensors. Such sensors are necessary for various future NASA applications. These applications include scientific exploration of earth, the planets, moons, comets, and asteroids of our solar system using smaller and lower cost spacecraft to meet multiple mission requirements. We propose a new approach for the design and fabrication of miniaturized Fiber Optical Gyroscopes (FOGs) that can operate without degradation of performance during exposure to extreme space environmental conditions, including 10 M-rad total dose as expected in the Jovian mission, as well as the high vibration experienced during launch, landing and surface explorations. Our proposed gyros enable the production of an environmentally robust, radiation hardened IMU, with enhanced bias performance and substantially reduced noise (ARW) of 0.002 deg/rt-hr at a volume smaller than 33 cubic inche and 0.02 deg/rt-hr with < 20 cubic inch IMU
NASA missions such as JUICE (ESA), Europa, LWS, Sun Orbiter (PARKER), SDO, IRIS, Van Allen probes, DAWN and more require a prolong exposure to radiation. Other missions may encounter severe vibration and shock operational environment (SLS, Orion). Our system offers the possibility of supporting such missions with smaller size, higher performance inertial system offering significant performance improvements over the state of the art for spacecraft navigation, attitude determination and control.
The technology can benefit many commercial programs, supporting smaller size space-crafts and longer mission duration. The DoD Navigational and high-end tactical market is also an expanding constantly pushing for higher performance and smaller size. The radiation hardened, ruggedized solution could be especially advantageous for various MDA applications such as CKV, THAAD, MKV and AEGIS.
NASA is seeking to develop real-time realistic nondestructive evaluation (NDE) and structural health monitoring (SHM) physics-based simulations and automated data reduction/analysis methods for large datasets. We propose the combination of a neural network approach with a traditional finite element simulation to generate realistic thermal-based NDE methods for precise determination of structural defects such as cracks, delaminations, and ageing. The proposed approach will allow simulating the structural behavior of complex structures and different types of materials, including any metal alloy and composites. Although the method will be first developed to simulate thermal-based measurements such as thermography, flash thermography, and vibrothermography, the framework could be expanded to other domains including, ultrasonic, microwave, Terahertz, and X-ray. The proposed method has the potential to reduce simulation time by 2 orders of magnitude and an increase the compression rate by 2 orders of magnitude also. Due to the machine learning approach of the method, the accuracy and reliability will increase overtime as the number of validated experimental data increases.
The method will improve the quantitative data interpretation and understanding of large amounts of NDE/SHM data that will lead to safer, more robust, and more enduring structures operating in space. Performance prediction and defect characterization will also be greatly improved, leading to more efficient and timely maintenance operations and scheduling, which will also reduce costs.
Because of the capability of real-time realistic simulations, a software package could be integrated as a plugin in popular computational software such as COMSOL. The method could also be implemented in current existing commercially available NDE setups (flash thermography and vibrothermography) to provide robust extraction of defect features virtually any type of experimental setup.
Space energy storage systems are required to enable/enhance the capabilities of future planetary science missions. Venus aerial and surface missions pose challenges for energy storage systems where the temperature and pressure can be up to 460 Celsius and 92 bars, respectively. Therefore, high temperature batteries are significantly needed for future long duration Venus missions. Lynntech proposes to develop high temperature all solid-state Fluoride-ion batteries (FIB) using a solid-state electrolyte, and high capacity electrodes with excellent chemical and thermal compatibility with the electrolyte. Lynntech’s advanced all solid-state batteries can provide high energy, high power, and long life with high safety and reliability over a wide temperature range of 150 to 500 Celsius. During Phase I, Lynntech will assess the viability of the most promising electrodes and electrolyte formulation, determine the performance of components in full cells, and deliver lab-scale cells to NASA. During Phase II, Lynntech will optimize the components and prototype cells to meet NASA’s cell performance goals. The advanced high temperature all solid-state Li-ion batteries can provide significant mass and volume savings, as well as operational flexibility for NASA exploration missions.
High temperature all solid-state FIB batteries have shown promise to increase the energy density, power density, life, and safety over a wide temperature range of energy storage systems for NASA applications at high operation temperatures for inner terrestrial surface and low altitude and other systems. Additional NASA applications would include satellites, remote power equipment, telecommunications systems, remote sensors, detection devices where solar concentration heating can be harnessed.
High temperature all solid-state fluoride ion batteries can provide improved energy density, cycle life, and rate capability of energy storage systems for both commercial and military applications where operation temperatures can be elevated. Commercial applications include hybrid electric vehicles. Military applications include aircraft, military ground vehicles, and grid power systems.
As Space systems become more complex and missions’ objectives become more challenging, with combination of advanced instrumentation, robotic systems and manned spacecraft, there is a clear need to rely on effective tools for performing trade evaluations in a cost-effective way. Currently there are model-based approaches used to develop system design. There is not a process for how to use model-based technology to conduct trade evaluations nor a cohesive toolset that combines the multiple analysis methods used to support trade analysis. Our proposed concept is to provide a model-based process and tool-suite that will support end to end system design trade evaluations, design optimizations and reporting. The proposed tool suite will use model-based system engineering techniques and visuals with a mix of traditional reporting elements: tables, graphs, etc. Our proposed innovation will define a trade space modeling methodology, provide a trade evaluation tool that will run analyses and extract results in a trade study report (with visuals and charts for ease of comparison) and displays results in an interactive user interface for optimization support. Tietronix has extensive experience with model-based systems engineering and fault management engineering that we will leverage. Our concept will provide an environment to integrate multiple evaluation methods into one. The tool suite will reduce the amount of effort to perform a trade evaluation by: 1. minimizing the number of tools used to conduct analysis, 2. auto-generating trade study reports from the model, and 3. allowing optimization capability within the tool to support multiple runs.
NASA future plans for the Lunar Deep Space Gateway and Transport (DSG&T), the multiple modules and the planetary surface habitats, will be able to benefit from the envisioned tool suite. Additionally, potential Moon landers as well as multiple types of advanced robotics systems are potential users of our concept. Other NASA projects for the development of different subsystems such advanced life support systems, Crew Health and Performance system, advanced space suits can use the method and tools we will develop.
Any complex system in the defense community or in the commercial world will benefit from trade study methodology and supporting tools based on the MBSE approach. The potential targets include any type of Cyber Physical Systems such as UAV/UCAV in the DoD and advanced autonomous vehicles, and power plant systems In the commercial world.
The near-term goal for NASA’s Moon to Mars campaign is the delivery of payloads to the Moon for scientific study and the advancement of technology capabilities to support sustained long-term lunar surface operations. Lightweight, reliable and energy dense power generation and energy storage systems are key enabling technologies to support such long duration lunar mission. Rechargeable secondary batteries with high specific energy of > 400 Wh/kg are specifically required to support planetary rovers, landers, and probes. Lynntech proposes to combine Li metal anode with Lynntech’s high capacity cathode work to potentially achieve high specific energy numbers up to 500 Wh/kg at the cell level. The Phase I project will work on addressing the safety and reliability of the Li metal anode based battery design. The phase I will focus on demonstration in relevant pouch cell format. The Phase II will demonstrate the battery at relevant scale for select application such as unpressurized lunar rover.
Apart from the targeted lunar surface mission support for rovers, landers, crew exploration vehicles and habitats, the proposed energy dense lithium ion batteries will find use in multiple NASA applications such as satellites or orbiters (LEO, GEO, HEO and planetary), astronaut equipment and EVA suites.
Proposed batteries will find military and space applications such as soldier power, communication systems, weapons systems, remote sensors, detection devices and UAVs. Specific benefits for military include extended duration missions and improved capabilities. Private sector applications include electric vehicles, auxiliary power units, and consumer electronic devices.
A novel injector is proposed in response to "Robust design solutions for liquid oxygen injection and subsequent stable combustion with high temperature (5100 Rankine / 2850 K) hydrogen flowing at low pressure (3-15 psia) and high velocity (~Mach 0.2)" subtopic, listed under "Advanced Propulsion Systems Ground Test Technology" focus area. This injector features fully 3D-printed Liquid Oxygen (LOX)-centered swirl coaxial design with high-speed hydrogen flowing peripherally and impinging axially on central LOX conical spray. We believe that due to ability of the center swirl element to atomize LOX to a fine degree and penetrate into Gaseous Hydrogen (GH) free stream, this injector would be able to ignite with hot GH without a separate ignition system, and sustain combustion thereafter in a stable and efficient manner. Because of its potential to be easily tunable in response to combustion dynamics observed in operation, we expect to develop this injector for a stable operation at a rapid pace. This injector can be used in any system flowing hot high-speed hydrogen or hydrogen-rich mixture needed to be burned or neutralized, such as NASA's ground testing of nuclear rocket engines or similar hydrogen-rich combustion devices. Phase I will focus on technical feasibility demonstration and procurement of two sub-scale prototype injectors, with and without premix of LOX-GH propellants upstream of primary combustion zone, completing at TRL 2. If this project proceeds into Phase II, it will focus on sub-scale and full-scale hot-fire development testing and demonstration, for follow-on commercialization and field operations, completing at TRL 6.
Ultra-efficient direct contact drying (using no heat) can be extremely valuable to minimize human solid waste during long-duration space flight and sustained lunar surface operations. The technology can significantly improve resource sustainability, water recycling, and crew health and hygiene related to metabolic waste (feces). In support of the Moon to Mars campaign, direct contact ultrasonic drying has the potential to be a valuable technology for unique material drying needs ultimately aiding long-duration human space flight.
In addition to government applications, Ultrasonic Technology Solutions intends to further develop the technology for industrial and commercial use in a variety of manufacturing applications, for example, paper and pulp drying, biomass drying, chemical powder drying, pharmaceutical processing, and fabric drying.
Deployable Space Systems has developed an innovative deployable solar array for CubeSat and SmallSat applications that offers a 2X increase in deployed solar array area given the very restrictive CubeSat stowed volume when compared to State-of-the-Art (SOA) CubeSat solar array systems. The basic array structure is also dual-use and can be configured as a deployable radiator. This innovative and simple array design provides a robust, linear solar array deployment, maximizes the amount of solar power that can be deployed from the side of a 3U CubeSat (>50+ W/wing) and is significantly stronger and stiffer than current State-of-the-Art CubeSat-class solar arrays. The solar array design features a deployable backbone structure for ultra-high deployed strength and stiffness. All of the solar array components are chosen to minimize the stowed height of the array. Once successfully validated through the proposed Phase 1 and Phase 2 programs, the innovative CubeSat / SmallSat solar array will be mission-enabling for future high-power missions.
NASA applications include future science, exploration and earth observation missions requiring significant advances in CubeSat and SmallSat deployable solar array and/or radiator technology. The increase in deployed power and extremely small stowage volume of the proposed array system over state-of-the-art technologies is mission enabling for future higher power missions of interest.
Non-NASA space applications are comprised of practically all missions that require CubeSat class satellites and deployable solar arrays and radiators with increased capacity. The solar array small stowed volume, available power, affordability and configurability attractive for the end user.
In this project, we build upon decades of magnetometer experience to develop solutions for ultra-long lasting, reliable and accurate magnetometers for space and planetary science applications.
Magnetometers are workhorse instruments in space exploration. Our work aims to bring reliable, accurate sensors to a wealth of applications in space including characterization of Europa.
Reliable, long-lasting atomic magnetometers are of value in geophysical survey and exploration, as well as for national security and defense applications.
Windhover Labs proposes to create an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) to enable rapid software development of NASA’s Core Flight System (CFS) projects by managing and auto generating flight software configuration and table data, integrating real time commands and telemetry, and providing an integrated scripting engine for testing. Open extensible, flight software combined with a highly integrated development environment will allow manufacturers and researchers to quickly develop, verify, and validate novel design concepts. Windhover Labs has developed a CFS based open-source flight software backbone and ecosystem, called Airliner, for Groups 1 and 2 Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) (less than 55 lbs) that is designed specifically for small Single Board Computer (SBC) based avionics boards. The ecosystem already includes a robust simulation, extensible ground control system, as well as a Python based test automation system. This proposal will develop the integrated development environment that, when combined with Airliner, will facilitate and accelerate the development of the next generation of UASs of all configurations.
The proposed Integrated Development Environment can also be used by any project that uses Core Flight System (CFS). Windhover Labs has supported 7 space related projects in the past year that use CFS. CFS is rapidly being accepted as a common framework for all current and future space related projects. To date, every project is forced to develop their own set of tools to manage the numerous configuration items. A common Integrated Development Environment to manage all configurable items would be a welcome asset to the CFS toolchain.
Over 1 million drones have been registered with the FAA to date. Windhover is targeting its Airliner commercial drone flight software for the new commercial drone market. This proposed IDE will complete the Airliner tool chain with easy to use configuration management, accelerating Airliner market penetration among enthusiasts, researchers, and drone manufacturers.
The 2017 decadal survey called out a need to reduce mission costs for space-based earth observation. To help meet this need, Quartus Engineering Incorporated (Quartus) is proposing leveraging analytical models and existing opto-mechanical designs to provide a shift in the approach to the development of space-based optical systems for deployment on CubeSats and small satellite platforms. It is common for technology to be leveraged from mission to mission, such as customizable CubeSat, small sat, or larger satellite buses. This is less common with precision optical subsystems, which are often designed from the ground up to meet the science needs of a mission. If the appropriate work is done to validate the analytical tools used to design optical components and subsystem designs, beyond a particular use case, these tools could be used to adapt current component and subsystem designs to new missions. This approach could lead to semi-custom precision optical systems for space applications, much in the same way spacecraft bus suppliers support the science community. This SBIR proposes the validation of the designs and analytical tools used to assess the SAGE IV Pathfinder telescope for structural, thermal, optical performance (STOP), such that these designs and analytical tools can be used to accelerate development and reduce costs of future NASA and other science missions.
As mentioned at the start of this proposal, the 2017 decadal survey called for a means to reduce costs of earth observation missions. The work outlined in this proposal is a step in this direction. By taking an existing optical instrument, in this case the SAGE IV Pathfinder telescope, and expending the effort to validate the analysis tools and designs beyond a specific application, it allows for the extrapolation of this design to other use cases.
Being able to use the same tools and methodology to existing systems reduces the uncertainty associated with the cost and schedule of building a complex optical system for the first time, which translate to reduced schedule and cost risks associated with a new mission. This allows complex one-off optical systems to leverage economy of scale in a way typically unavailable to commercial missions.
Leiden Measurement Technology LLC proposes to design and construct the HYMDOL: a high-resolution, compact microscope utilizing a micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) digital micromirror device (DMD) to enable hyperspectral Raman and fluorescence microimaging with sub-micron resolution. HYMDOL will be designed as a rugged, compact instrument, suitable for mission deployments on icy worlds where it could be used for life-detection and mineralogy studies. This technology seeks to replace traditional laser-scanning confocal microscopy as it has the advantage of being able to take traditional full-frame images of a sample using both coherent and incoherent light sources without the need for a second condenser, enabling temporally-resolved imaging and fast, triage imaging capabilities; operates on significantly lower power; and is inherently robust ( DMDs are immune to more than 1500 g shock, 20 g vibration).
The main objectives are to (1) engineer the key subsystems of HYMDOL: including a multi-spectral source integrated with a DMD; (2) build a laboratory breadboard system demonstrating HYMDOL's core functionality; and (3) Define and determine key design requirements for the Phase II instrument. LMT will use Zemax and SolidWorks CAE/CAD/software to engineer the optical system in detail. With these designs, LMT will source and procure a suitable DMD, light source, and other optical elements that will be used to build a breadboard microscope to physically demonstrate the ability to capture hyperspectral microimages.
HYMDOL will have many potential NASA applications, especially as a highly-capable life-detection instrument on icy worlds. With it's ability to perform sub-micron Raman/fluorescence hyperspectral imaging, HYMDOL will be able to identify materials, especially biomarkers, at a scale relevant to microorganisms and life-detection. HYMDOL could also be used as a mineralogical microscope or even on the space station to study biological processes.
There are many non-NASA applications for HYMDOL including characterizing graphene/CNT materials and pharmaceuticals; performing forensics studies; studying mineral (micro-)structures and other geologic applications; studying geomicrobiological systems; characterizing materials; performing medical diagnostics of tissue samples; and working with novel bead-based solid phase suspension arrays.
Avalanche Technology will offer MRAM chiplets based on its pMTJ STT-MRAM technology. Avalanche’s MRAM chiplets use Generic MRAM Interface (GMI). The GMI is modeled on the widely-used HBM interface and is optimized for memory accesses. In addition to the memory interface, MRAM chiplets need a second interface to communicate with the rest of the chiplets in a multi-chiplet system. For example, Intel’s Advanced Interface Bus (AIB) protocol is in the forefront for direct chiplet-to-chiplet communication for DARPA’s CHIPS (Common Heterogeneous Integration and Intellectual Property (IP) Reuse Strategies) program. To be used in AIB-based systems, Avalanche’s MRAM chiplet will have an AIB interface and an adapter from the AIB to the HBM interface for the MRAM array.
Demonstration of Compute in memory (CIM) for Neuromorphic applications utilizing proven Radiation Hardened STT-MRAM products from Avalanche Technology for Harsh environments.
Deep learning and Artificial Intelligence in a wide variety of tasks such as computer vision, image and speech recognition, machine translation, robotics and medical image processing.
The commercial UAM market creates unique weight and safety requirements based around frequent take-offs and landings in densely populated areas. To ensure passenger safety during hard or crash landings, a new array of technologies must be developed to bring superior safety to the industry in lightweight and compact forms that meet the needs of UAM vehicles. To address this need, Urbineer plans to use our unique background and market position to bring proven crashworthiness technology from the open-wheel Formula racing industry in the form of composite impact attenuators tailored to effectively disintegrate on impact, dispelling large amounts of energy and protecting both the occupants and the expensive fuselage. Urbineer’s approach is a fixed carbon fiber composite design optimized for maximum energy dissipation through controlled crush and minimum weight while being fully faired and integrated into the lower OML aero skin of the vehicle. The team envisions simple, externally-mounted, and replaceable attenuators that are standardized across platforms in design requirements, placement, and certification. Further following the model used in Formula racing, Urbineer sees a standardized protocol with design guidelines and clear dynamic test procedures to reduce crash attenuator certification cost and simplify the development and qualification of vehicle crashworthiness. NASA possesses the necessary technical background and influence to guide these efforts. The SBIR process provides a great resource to accelerate the development, and Urbineer possesses the technical expertise and strategic industry partners to develop and commercialize composite crash attenuators. Urbineer Inc is an engineering firm composed of experienced, hands-on, multidisciplinary engineers with a strong background in driving concepts to completion. The team has extensive experience in composite airframes, impact attenuator design/analysis, fabrication, and program management of complex systems.
NASA has VTOL vehicles and existing designs such as NASA GL-10 Greased Lightning. NASA is an official partner of Uber Elevate and this technology is important to overcoming safety barriers in support of flight operation goals of 2023. NASA has a drop test center in Langley and this would be a great build off of the previous test performed for Crash Test of an MD-500 Helicopter with a Deployable Energy Absorber Concept. NASA can help test UAM vehicles standardize mission and testing requirements for energy absorption.
Army FVL and FARA program VTOL designs are an ideal area to explore multifunctional composite crush structures. The On-Demand Air Taxi market vehicle concepts are without a real standard for crashworthiness with a unique mission profile and safety need. To reduce development cost our crash attenuators allow the vast vehicle configurations to be standardized without significant redesign.
NASA seeks novel low power thermal-to-electric miniature energy conversion technology to potentially define the next-generation of future power systems. These converters are required to transform thermal energy from Radioisotope Heater Units into on-demand electricity essential to space exploration probes, unmanned surface rovers, small landers, small satellites, and similar small-scale systems operating in darkness. In response, Creare proposes to develop an extremely compact, robust, free-piston Otto‑cycle based energy conversion system. Our innovation fuses advances in miniature two-stroke engines, and high-reliability free-piston technology. We have achieved a remarkably simple system design with a single moving part, requiring no recuperators or valves. Keys to our high efficiency include reduced parasitic heat losses, the use of a high molecular mass/low thermal conductivity working fluid, tight clearances and high pressure ratios. Our converter leverages decades of advances at Creare in the design and fabrication of miniaturized spaceflight piston-compressors, high-reliability vacuum pumps, and low‑power thermodynamic systems such as turbo-Brayton generators and cryocoolers. In Phase I we will validate our performance models through the development of a laboratory-scale prototype, demonstrating power generation at prototypical heat source and heat sink temperatures. During Phase II we will demonstrate a complete prototype system and prime it for spaceflight testing.
Potential NASA applications for our converter technology include coupling with radioisotope heat sources to support low-power devices such as space exploration probes, unmanned surface rovers, small landers, and small satellite systems operating in darkness. Our converter can be sized to support a wide range of power levels from larger spacecraft applications to smaller more compact electronics required for manned exploration of the lunar and Martian surfaces. Alternative heat sources include concentrated solar radiation.
Terrestrial versions of our converter would be coupled with non-nuclear heat sources such as fossil fuel/biofuel combustion, refuse burning, and concentrated solar energy, to produce electric power for small-scale military and civilian applications. These miniature heat engines are attractive as potential prime movers in Micro-Air Vehicles and as battery replacements in man-portable devices.
ADA Technologies, Inc. (ADA) proposes the development and subsequent manufacturing/commercialization of our high specific energy (>400 Wh/kg) nanoengineered lithium-sulfur (Li-S) battery technology to meet National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) energy storage needs for lunar/space applications. Next generation lunar/space platforms will be equipped with significantly increased capabilities compared to today’s systems requiring a transcendent increase in battery specific energy (>400 Wh/kg) while maintaining a long operational life (thousands of cycles at various depth of discharge) and long shelf/service life (multiple years). The rechargeable Li-S battery is an attractive Next Generation, Beyond Li-Ion system that can satisfy the requisite specific energy demands. ADA’s solution addresses fundamental challenges associated with Li-S battery chemistries to provide performance and reliability/safety advantages, compared to state of the art (SOA). Promising results have been demonstrated in ADA preliminary studies, representing a great potential to meet NASA performance and safety goals.
A successful technology development effort of ADA rechargeable Li-S battery technology will benefit current and emerging NASA next generation lunar/space applications including landers, habitats, science platforms, robotic and crewed rovers. Our enabling Li-S battery technology can also ideally be applied to other NASA space programs such as the Moon to Mars Campaign.
ADA next generation Li-S batteries are application agnostic and can be used in DoD next generation spacecraft (reconnaissance, navigation, communications satellites, unmanned aerial vehicles) and in commercial markets including electric drive vehicles that can benefit from ADA advanced Li-S batteries to significantly increase drive range with enhanced safety.
Microelectronics Research Development Corporation (Micro-RDC) proposes to develop a low cost radiation hardened integrated circuit (IC) technology that creates new solid-state circuits at reasonable cost. The project will enable delivery of electronics that can operate in space for a prolonged time and without errors.
The enhanced technology should encourage many firms to participate in recently announced lunar payload projects and for the Moon to Mars campaign. Almost any application that NASA desires to address, such as thermal management, energy storage, rad hard-high performance computing, cryogenic fluid management, various lunar sensors, solar arrays, and coordination of space vehicle swarms requires rad hard electronics able to withstand ionizing space radiation for a prolonged time.
The premise behind this novel approach is to leverage in-house Micro-RDC expertise in radiation hardening to device design. Micro-RDC will develop and then lay out a set of test structures that will be tested for the total ionizing dose (TID) and single event upset (SEU) effects. Layout modification will be completed on elements prone to degradation transistors on already existing, commercially available processes (e.g. bulk 0.13um from Jazz) without any changes to the process itself.
Once fabricated, test bars will be properly characterized under ionizing source and cryogenic temperatures, replicating circuits operating in space.
Upon completion, Micro -RDC will deliver a set of rad-hard pcells with the same current-voltage (I-V) and other electrical characteristics found in standard cells, but with much higher resistance to adverse TID and SEU effects. Devices will be properly characterized and modeled, ready for low cost use in redesigns and new designs by end users and system integrators.
To demonstrate the viability of the approach, Micro-RDC will redesign a test vehicle (micro-controller 8051 in Phase II) that will be re-tested for radiation hardness and robustness.
NASA will see a direct benefit from this project by having access to a radiation-hardened-by-design approach that will significantly lower expenses of new integrated circuits. This will encourage many design houses to deliver advanced ICs for a variety of applications, such as the recent lunar payload and Moon to Mars campaigns. The results of the program will be made available to fabs creating multiple sources and competition capable of modifying standard cells to expand design kits for rad hard cells that will greatly benefit the end users.
Results of this program will show how to enhance the capabilities of older fabrication lines with depreciated equipment for rad hard applications. The older fabs will be able to prolong their economic lives by providing technologies to the burgeoning commercial space market. The availability of low cost and rad hard processes will encourage many small design houses to enter the space market.
The process of chilling propellant transfer lines, before ignition of liquid rocket engines is initiated is a critical step before launch. Similarly, establishing fuel depots in low earth orbit to replenish propellant supply of long-range exploration missions also places a greater reliance on the chilldown process in ensuring safe and efficient protocols for cryogenic propellant transfer. Over the past few decades, several experiments related to the quenching of heated tubes in a cryogenic environment have been carried out to understand the phase change process and the resulting complex two-phase regimes. These studies have established that the phase change process evolves through different stages of film, transition and nucleate boiling before the walls are quenched and single-phase convective heat transfer between the wall and the cryogenic liquid is restored. Efforts at developing empirical correlations of the heat transfer coefficient and porting it to thermal-fluid codes has resulted in large deviations between predictions and experimental observations of quenching time. The innovation in this proposal involves the development of a comprehensive high-fidelity multiscale simulation framework that accounts for all the boiling regimes related to the chilldown process by utilizing a sub-grid scale nucleate boiling model embedded within a multiphase CFD solver.
The commercial launch operators can use our tools to estimate propellant quantities and transfer times at launch. Other important applications include the medical industry where applications vary from the preservation of tissues and organs to life-support systems. The technology proposed here can play a critical role in addressing important safety concerns in light water nuclear reactors.
The Innovation Laboratory, Inc., propose to develop a suite of technologies that can be used to expand the availability of the Urban Air Mobility (UAM) vertiport. Our innovation, VertiSafe, is a collection of technologies, some traditional, and some unconventional, that when used in conjunction provides a clear view of the weather constraints and provides effective weather mitigation strategies to enable operations in near all-weather conditions. The ultimate goal is to have 24/7/365 all-weather UAM vertiport operations for as many of the vertiports in the National Airspace System (NAS) as possible.
The proposed technologies can be used in NASA applications to enable safe, efficient, and flexible UAM operations for a variety of UAM air vehicles in a wide range of weather conditions across the NAS.
These technologies can help UAM vertiport operators strive for full 24/4/365 all-weather operations in the future, benefiting the vertiport operators as well as the Air Service Providers (ASPs) for UAM airlines.
Urban Air Mobility (UAM) will only be realized if the amount of people and vendors participating grows at a sufficient rate that allows for UAM to be profitable and beneficial to the passengers, airside service providers (ASPs), vertiport operators, and other stakeholders. With the economy of scale, larger fleet sizes will bring down prices, and lower prices will encourage a greater number of passengers from a larger economic background to participate. To this end and given that UAM is based on on-demand services where there is not a known schedule to establish a cost basis, we anticipate that the costs associated with a daily operation of an ASP in UAM will be highly dependent on cost feedback, subject to the very dynamic state of the UAM system. Our innovation provides an on-demand cost estimate of the cost of point-to-point ASP services given the current state of the UAM system. With effective cost feedback, ASPs and Vertiport operators can optimize their costs, make intelligent routing decisions, and accelerate the growth of UAM.
NASA can potentially use our SBIR technology to estimate costs and benefits of UAM in different urban environments. Our SBIR technology can help build the business case for UAM, can provide the cost estimates for different trade studies associated with UAM, and can be directly integrated into fast time simulations, Human in the Loop (HITL) simulations, and analytical studies supporting UAM.
ASPs and Vertiport operators will likely incorporate our SBIR technology into their operations to provide timely on-demand cost estimates to aid in UAM decision support . Our SBIR technology can help to make cost estimate comparisons associated with trial plans, flight plan reroutes during nominal, off-nominal, and emergency events, and to assess the impact of those decisions after the fact.
High precision observations of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) may enable astronomers to test new theories of dark matter & dark energy and currently unexplained events such as cosmic inflation & cosmic acceleration. Detecting CMB polarization would provide evidence for inflationary theory and open a new window on physics in the very early universe. Cost effective balloon experiments can probe the CMB, and develop technology for future space missions. NASA desires technology for low mass, high thermal performance LHe insulated dewars for future balloon-borne instruments. Light Weight Dewar (LWD) is a novel lightweight dewar concept, using a thin, lightweight vacuum shell supported by underlying IMLI layers and integrated with a lightweight dewar wall, that could achieve heat flux as low as 0.3 W/m2 and up to 79% mass reduction over current LHe dewars.
LWD uses discrete load-supporting spacers to form a structural insulation system able to support thin metal vacuum shells at balloon observatory atmospheric loads while minimizing heat flux through the spacers and layers. Quest’s expertise in engineering high performance insulation systems that support external loads, along with experience gained from designing lightweight vacuum shell and insulation layers with load supporting spacers for two NASA programs, should enable the Quest team to successfully design, build and test a lightweight dewar that provides good thermal performance for LHe storage for high altitude balloon cryogenic sensors.
The Quest team believes a novel system integrating a ventable/sealable lightweight Vacuum Shell, supported by IMLI, can be engineered for high performance at float altitude and provide good thermal performance and lower mass than current state-of-the-art dewars, enabling future 5m optics.
NASA is interested in a future ARCADE mission, and lightweight dewars are necessary to achieve larger 3 – 5m optics. LWD may enable future large balloon cryostats. LWD may prove beneficial to NASA and Primes for a variety of new spacecraft, launch vehicles and missions, helping achieving Zero Boil Off, a critical need for long duration, manned spaceflight. Active cryocooler based ZBO systems, using VJ- and vapor-cooled IMLI technology, could improve cryogenic propellant storage for future Lunar Gateway or orbital fuel depots.
Light Weight Dewar technology may provide benefits for low temperature balloon experiments, funded and conducted by institutions. This technology might prove useful for a variety of science missions needing thermal control. LWD might provide improved lightweight thermal insulation for storage and preservation of cryogens for a variety of uses, such as commercial, medical, industrial and research.
Proposed is a piece of extendible software for the rapid preliminary design and comparative evaluation of different solar array structures, equipped with modules for two cutting-edge array architectures of special interest for up to medium-large (<300 m2) applications such as near-term Lunar missions.
The software, based on the Microsoft Excel platform, will run on any computer with MS Office fully installed. It will consist of (a) a main user interface where different solar array designs can be compared via graphics and parameters, (b) worksheet modules for the design and evaluation of specific array architectures, and (c) "under the hood" code blocks hidden from the user. The two array architectures to which the program will be readily applicable when the effort completes are the Compact Telescoping Array (CTA) and the UltraFlex design. Other options can be included later, with additional program modules.
The product will be user friendly, well documented, and ergonomically designed with adaptive graphics and other features visually aiding the user. Its computational engine will employ classic as well as innovative symbolic, numeric, and hybrid techniques. It will assess key performance metrics (to evaluate stiffness, strength, and packaging performance). It will allow and guide design with a hierarchical (component to system) approach for space, and for gravity with upright array orientation. Data to aid modeling for advanced numerical analysis (FEA) will also be output.
Preliminary low-cost solar array design with advanced functionality and the comparative evaluation of different array designs and architectures for any of a variety of missions, including:
- near-term and other Lunar missions
- missions on/to Mars and other celestial bodies
- deep space missions and transport spacecraft
The product will directly permit
- applications like those by NASA
The technology developed will permit
- further software for rapid system design and evaluation
- a spreadsheet toolkit
Nalu Scientific LLC (NSL) proposes to design and build the Single-photon-sensitive Waveform Enhanced and Lightweight Lidar (SWELL). This novel device will improve upon current Lidar technology by being low-cost, low-power, and highly compact. This will be accomplished by leveraging NSL’s extremely high timing precision waveform sampling and digital integration technology. NSL has developed several application specific integrated circuits (ASICs) with built-in digital signal processing and control interfaces that could make extremely precise time of flight (ToF) single-photon measurements of back-scattered laser light pulses for use in orbiting or aerial LIDAR applications. The integration of sampling and feature extraction onto a single ASIC will reduce the required printed circuit board (PCB) complexity and eliminate the need for an expensive and power-hungry Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA). This will save power, space, and cost for implementing high-precision LIDAR systems.
Future NASA scientific missions will require remote sensing equipment with lower power, smaller form factors, increased robustness, and higher sensitivities. Integration of Lidar systems into a system-on-chip ASIC would achieve these goals and be of interest in numerous applications. Possible uses range from high-beam-count orbital Lidar imaging systems to high-precision and low power imaging sensors for planetary missions.
The trend for commercial satellite payloads has been towards CubeSat scale devices. These devices allow for significantly reduced timelines and catastrophic risks. However, current generations of Earth imaging Lidar are not compact enough for CubeSat applications. Our technology would provide a product that could be utilized by a variety of industries interested in orbital geospatial mapping.
Deployable Space Systems, Inc. (DSS) has developed a next-generation high performance solar array system specifically for NASA’s future Lunar Lander and sample return missions. The proposed Lander solar array has game-changing performance metrics in terms of extremely high specific power, ultra-compact stowage volume, affordability, low risk, high environmental survivability/operability, high power and growth capability, high deployed strength and high strength during deployment (for mission environments that have high gravity and wind loading from atmospheres as examples), high deployed stiffness, high reliability, retraction and re-deployment capability, and broad modularity / adaptability to many missions. Most importantly, the proposed innovation has a demonstrated in-space capability to provide multiple and reliable deployments, retractions, and re-deployment operations allowing for continuous mobility operations and shuttling. No other solar array has demonstrated the ability to deploy, retract and re-deploy multiple times in space or through ground testing. The proposed technology innovation significantly enhances Lander and sample return vehicle capabilities by providing a low cost alternative renewable power generating system in place of the standard RTG systems currently being used. The proposed innovation greatly increases performance and autonomy/mobility, decreases risk, and ultimately enables missions.
Applications comprise practically all Exploration, Space Science, Earth Science, Planetary Surface, and other missions that require affordable high-efficiency PV power through of an ultra-lightweight, compact stowage, high strength / stiffness, and highly-modular solar array. The technology is particularly suited for Lander missions that require game-changing performance in terms of affordability, high performance, unsupported deployment in a gravity field, and deployment / retraction / re-deployment capability.
Non-NASA applications comprise missions that require affordable high-efficiency PV power through of an ultra-lightweight, compact stowage, high strength / stiffness, and highly-modular solar array. The technology is particularly suited for missions requiring game-changing performance in terms of low cost, high performance, and deployment / retraction / re-deployment capability for resiliency.
Many of NASAs high priority missions in the next decade are located in extreme environments with low, inconsistent or no sunlight. In these cases, NASA has traditionally used RTGs. However, RTGs are inefficient (<8%), with specific powers of just 2.7 W/kg. Complicating issues is the scarcity of GPHS units due to a long drought of plutonium production. Even with a restart in production, this necessitates judicious use of remaining GPHS units.
ExoTerra’s proposed advanced micro Brayton energy converter operates a pair of units off a single GPHS. The units are 40% efficient, enabling 100 W of electrical power and a >40 W/kg specific power. The system uses advances in manufacturing techniques to enable high efficiency heat transfer among components and miniaturize the Brayton Cycle components. By using a pair of units, we balance inertias across the spacecraft to maintain control.
The proposed Phase I effort completes system design of the micro Brayton unit. We then fabricate a compressor unit to demonstrate the advanced manufacturing techniques. We perform a demonstration test to measure the performance against predictions and feed into Phase II development.
Provides power for NASA missions in areas with limited sunlight, including the search for water at the lunar poles, performing ISRU or supporting a lunar outpost during the 2 week lunar night, or Europa exploration. The system can fit into microsatellite scale missions – including pending commercial lunar payload services vehicles. It can also supply power to microsatellite class nuclear electric propulsion systems for outer planet missions with microsatellites. This increases affordability though reduced launch costs.
Remote Military power supplies
Throughout NASA’s technology roadmap the need for improved materials is called out in nearly all Technology Areas and are highlighted as the enablers behind the structures, devices, vehicles, power, life support, propulsion, entry, and many other systems that NASA develops and uses to fulfill its missions. This need is evident in the next-generation aerospace programs, which demand lightweight composite materials that can endure higher service temperatures in structural and hot section components. New materials are required with improved properties, combinations of properties and reliability. While composite materials have become ubiquitous in aerospace structures over the past decade, they have the major limitation that they are prove to delamination through interlaminar cracking. Trimer Technologies recently identified a unique interlaminar reinforcement technology based on graphene applied to the surface of a prepreg which through preliminary testing has been shown to increase the Mode II fracture toughness of IM7/8552 prepreg by 42% compared to bare prepreg. This material enhancement is achieved using a low-cost approach which is scalable and can be applied directly to the surface of existing prepregs or formed and applied in line with filament winding or automated tow placement procedures. The research proposed will study the graphene formation, demonstrate roll-to-roll manufacturing and optimize the graphene structure to maximize the strength and toughness of fiber reinforced composites. The proposed approach offers a novel, scalable and low-cost method to increase the toughness of composite materials with thermally stable and high strength graphene. Moreover, the superior electrical and thermal properties of graphene may be leveraged to reduce manufacturing costs and add multifunctionality.
NASA’s Technology Roadmap calls for advanced composite materials that are low cost yet offer improved mechanical strength and toughness to maximize the performance of next generation of aerospace structures. This research will directly address this goal through a new low-cost technique to increase interlaminar strength and toughness of polymer matrix composites. Because composites are being utilized across NASA’s mission, the technology proposed here has clear potential to impact a wide range of aerospace applications.
The quality of the interlaminar region is one of the most important factors in the design of a fiber-reinforced composite and will be address in this SBIR. With commercial composite applications ranging from wind turbines to prosthetics and vehicles, the technology will provide a means for increasing material durability and failure resistance, making composites more economical and sustainable.
Models-as-Microservices (MamS) is a paradigm shift for agile and concurrent MBSE with globally distributed stakeholders. Model authors can publish models and data, in any format or database, as web-based microservices that can be dynamically composed and orchestrated to realize different engineering workflows for a given project or mission. Model authors can configure the subset of model information, level of access control, and update frequency, e.g. publish only major revisions and not each iteration, when models are published as microservices. Once published, these microservices are accessible to all stakeholders via standard REST/HTTP APIs using open standards-based concepts.
Although each model/dataset is based on authoring tool-specific schema, the microservices published from those models are based on an extensible set of concepts in open standards, such as SysML 2.0, STEP (ISO 10303), and OSLC specifications. Engineering workflows can be configured by parametrically linking the endpoints (inputs/outputs) of the microservices using standard notation, such as SysML activity/parametric models, or BPMN process models. Once configured, the workflows can be executed automatically on a scheduled basis to run verification and validation campaigns and generate nightly builds of the system, such as technical data packages and corresponding reports.
The breadth of models includes, but is not limited to, systems engineering (e.g. SysML and UAF/UPDM), requirements (e.g. spreadsheets, ReqIF, DOORS, Jama), mechanical and electrical design (MCAD/ECAD, e.g. NX and Creo), engineering and manufacturing bills-of-materials (PLM eBOM/mBOM, e.g. in Windchill and Teamcenter), software modules (e.g. in Git repositories), project management (e.g. JIRA and MS Project), simulation (e.g. Simulink, Modelica, FEA/CFD models), models originating from home-grown tools, and data in common formats (e.g. CSV, Excel, XML, JSON, RDF).
Technology developed in this project is applicable to all current and future NASA missions, both human exploration and robotic, that are actively deploying or investigating model-based systems engineering capabilities in a distributed and collaborative environment. Some notable examples are (1) Lunar Gateway, (2) Lunar Outpost, (3) Mars 2020, (4) Europa Clipper, (5) Europa Lander, and (6) Mars Sample Return. The Intercax team is actively working with several mission teams at NASA JPL that are adopting MBSE.
Collaborative, distributed, and concurrent MBSE is taking a center stage in many industries, such as aerospace, defense, automotive, transportation, energy, healthcare, consumer goods, and electronics. Intercax has customers across these industries. The capability to integrate models originating within and outside the organization with automated information flows is crucial for these industries.
ExOne is proposing to develop its Binder Jetting Additive Manufacturing process for silicon carbide recuperators in support of NASA Electrified Aircraft Propulsion (EAP) initiatives. Lighter weight, higher efficiency, high temperature heat exchangers have been identified as a need in the A1.04 subtopic. ExOne will demonstrate the technical feasibility of using AM to build silicon cardide heat exchangers by optimizing print parameters and post processing techniques to maximize the SiC volume fraction in the final material. ExOne will characterize the materials and demonstrate a sub scale heat exchanger component to show the potential to create highly complex shapes in silicon carbide quickly and cost effectively. Phase II will focus on scale up and a full recuperator prototype demonstartion and validation.
Heat exchangers, recuperators, optics (mirrors and support structures), high temperature structural materials for hypersonic applications.
Semiconductors, semiconductor tooling, high temperature furnace components,
A flight laser transmitter is proposed that will increase reliability and reduce size and weight for lidar applications by using a passive Q-switch (PQS) in the master oscillator (MO) of a high power solid state Nd:YVO4 master oscillator power amplifier (MOPA) laser configuration. The PQS eliminates the use of an AQS and the associated hardware and electronics. The AQS requires a high voltage electronic driver that provides a fast switching speed of a few nanoseconds, and a high voltage power supply. The AQS crystal is located in the master oscillator resonator and requires maintaining accurate alignment to the resonator beam axis. A high power intracavity polarizer is also required to provide high losses when the Q-switch is in the off state. These AQS components are all replaced with a single PQS crystal with relatively minor alignment requirements to the resonator beam axis. Cr:YAG PQS crystals have been used in the past for microchip lasers that are Cr:YAG crystals diffusion bonded to an Nd:YAG crystal with coatings applied to the ends to form a laser resonator. These lasers have short pulse-widths (< 1 nsec) and have little control of the rep-rate. More recently Cr:YAG PQS crystals have been used as separate elements in an MO resonator to control pulse width, and have been used with Nd:YVO4 crystals, since the wavelengths are about the same. The pulse width can be increased to 8-10 nsec by using a longer resonator, and the laser rep-rate can be controlled by operating the laser diodes in the QCW mode for pumping the Nd:YVO4. The Cr:YAG PQS does not become 100% transmissive and introduces some additional resonator losses. The losses can become negligible in a MOPA configuration if the MO is designed for, and operated at a relatively low power. Several stages of amplification can be used to raise the output pulse energy to the level required for space based lidar applications.
The transmitter is primarily a candidate for use in NASA lidar systems where high energy, high rep rate pulses are required to provide enough return signal for detection at long ranges, such as from space. Lidar applications from SmallSat platforms have this requirement as a result of the long ranges involved. The NASA ER-2 high altitude aircraft could also serve as a platform for lidar with high power transmitters to provide an increased field of view.
Non-NASA applications include military lidar for ranging and imaging, particularly with the emerging use of UAV military platforms, and agriculture and forestry UAV lidar monitoring. Some of these lidar transmitter applications may be required to operate at an eye safe wavelength around 1550 nm, which can be provided by output wavelength conversion to 1550 nm using KTP in a high power OPO.
The SBIR Phase I project will addresses NASA's need to develop technologies for producing space systems that can operate without environmental protection housings in the extreme environments of NASA missions. Specifically, this project will develop advanced actuators using unique piezoelectric single crystal materials and such actuators will have low driving voltage, large stroke, high driving force, low profile and light weight, low thermal mass, broad operation temperature down to cryogenic temperature, and high reliability. The excellent performance is achieved by using a patented technology that combines (1) d33 mode piezoelectric operation that is at least 100% stronger than d31 mode, (2) piezoelectric single crystal with high piezoelectric response at cryogenic temperature, (3) multilayer design to reduce driving voltage, (4) force amplified design to increase stroke and reliability, and (5) multi stack design to reduce the mechanical impedance. The Phase I project will be built on our previous projects on cryogenic valve and actuator technologies.
NASA is interested in expanding its ability to explore the deep atmospheres and surfaces of the Moon, planets, asteroids, and comets through the use of long-lived (days or weeks) balloons and landers. Survivability in extreme high temperatures and high pressures is also required for deep atmospheric probes to the giant planets. Long life, long stroke, low power, and high torque/force actuators with sub-arc-second/nanometer precision are critical components to achieve these goals.
While these piezoelectric actuators are mainly for NASA applications as they are designed with expensive piezoelectric materials, they can also be used in commercial applications by using the same design but with lower cost piezoelectric materials.
The search for extraterrestrial life has improved since the discovery of water fountain plumes emanating from icy moons such as Enceladus and Europa. These water jets produce micron and sub-micron ice grains that, according to the Cassini probe contain possible elements indicative of life.
Under prior NASA support, we have discovered that hypervelocity ice grain impacts into aerogel create a rearward ejecta of water vapor through the impact cone into the surrounding vacuum. Ice seeded with organic molecules survives this impact and can be detected in-situ mass spectrometrically. Unpublished work at the Ames vertical gun range has shown that oblique angle impacts with bacteria can allow the bacteria to survive morphologically. The ability to image with a light microscope and/or SEM in-situ aboard a spacecraft passing through an ice plume would complement any molecular indication of life.
There are many possible NASA applications for the proposed technology. Any method of passing through a comet tail or a water fountain plume, or even through an atmosphere would allow biological and particulate species of interest to be captured and preserved safely for a possible return mission. The essentially zero vapor pressure of ionic liquids makes the technique suitable for use in space, as captured species in the IL substrate could not evaporate. ILs are conductive, making them well suited for SEM and TEM in-situ.
Non-NASA applications include the ability to examine the morphological characteristics of pathogens after mass spectral interrogation in a partial-pressure region, something that is not possible with todays MS instrumentation. Other applications include atmospheric analysis of pollutants at high altitude, and for general meteorological study.
As Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Traffic Management (UTM) ecosystems move from technology demonstrations to operationalization, aggregate-level system robustness needs to be addressed. System robustness and resiliency to failure are essential elements of any safety-critical system, which to date, have not been adequately explored or fleshed out within the context of UTM. While it is anticipated that airworthiness standards will be developed for UAs themselves, it does not appear that enough research is being performed regarding the impact of individual component and service faults or failures on the reliability of the UTM ecosystem.
CAL Analytics has teamed with Assured Information Security to accomplish the following Phase 1 research:
-Analyze current UTM system design for brittle areas
-Identify the impact to UTM system safety created by identified brittle areas to aid in prioritization of research areas for enabling In-Time System-wide Safety Assurance (ISSA)
-Develop techniques for testing UTM system robustness
-Propose new Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for relaying State, Status, Mode, Version, and Fault information
-Develop scalable health and integrity monitoring techniques for UTM ecosystems
-Develop cybersecurity monitoring techniques for distributed cyber-physical UTM systems
-Develop scalable fault tolerance techniques for UTM architectures and components
-Develop graceful degradation techniques for UTM ecosystems
The results of this research will form the basis for a UTM health and integrity monitoring system that will:
-Monitor and detect UTM ecosystem faults
-Automate contingency management to tolerate or recover from faults for higher system uptime
-Automate a root cause analysis to pinpoint fault sources for faster mean time between repair
These capabilities will ultimately be integral to address safety and advance the UTM industry. A robust UTM system will form the building blocks for future Urban Air Mobility (UAM) research.
Health and integrity monitoring of a UTM ecosystem will help NASA research as UTM is transitioned from a research project to productization and commercialization. As NASA shifts gears to UAM, a safe, reliable and robust UTM framework must exist. Hooking our technology into the LVC-DE system will allow NASA to simulate and test the reaction to many more edge-case and off-nominal scenarios. This research will also assist with standards development through RTCA and ASTM, by standardizing interfaces and reactions to common off-nominal scenarios.
Applications include commercialized UTM ecosystems where maintenance and operations may be controlled by a public or private entity, such as a DOT or large company (e.g. Amazon). Our initial customers will include the NY UAS Test Site and the Ohio DOT. Additional applications include any system of systems where safety, uptime, autonomy and scalability are a factor, including onboard UAs.
The Lunar Flow Battery (LFB) is a scalable, long-duration energy storage solution featuring minimum capacity fade over many cycles that uses electrolytes derived from lunar regolith to minimize launch mass. The LFB operates by storing two separate solutions of redox-active species which are pumped past the cathode and anode respectively to produce a current. By pumping the redox-active fluids across the electrodes, the energy and power can be scaled independently. What makes the LFB distinct from other flow batteries is its use of locally available resources to produce the electrolyte solutions, thereby reducing the launch mass. Lunar-sourced iron, titanium, sulfur, oxygen, and water provide the bulk electrolyte solutions while the more sophisticated components such as membranes, pumps, and electrodes are transported from Earth. Compared to alternatives such as Li-ion batteries, the LFB has vastly superior cycle life and the energy storage is readily scalable, making it an ideal solution for long-term, stationary storage over the lunar day/night cycle. By using locally available materials to produce the redox-active species and with no need for replacement cells for dozens of years, the energy storage capacity is high relative to the total launched mass. The Phase I program will investigate the selective dissolution of ilmenite (FeTiO3), an ore available in high concentrations in lunar mare basalts, using sulfuric acid to produce iron and titanium sulfate electrolyte solutions and incorporate these solutions into a functional redox flow cell. This cell will be cycle tested to quantify its performance with regards to capacity fade and specific energy while any operational issues or degradation pathways will be addressed.
The principal future application of the LFB is to provide long-duration energy storage for a permanent lunar base. The LFB is ideally suited for such a remote outpost with long day/night cycles where locally available resources can provide the basic materials to produce a large-scale energy storage system with a lower launch mass than alternatives. This system could be scaled up or multiplied to provide power to any number of long-duration scientific platforms, human habitats, and ISRU processing systems.
The LFB technology could provide an alternative solution for large-scale remote storage where access to resources is limited. Alternatively, the development of sulfuric acid processing of mixed metal oxides could provide an improved method for the production and recycling of titanium dioxide as a pigment for the coatings industry, opening up ilmenite deposits for cheaper TiO2 production.
NASA has plans to deliver small science and technology demonstration payloads to the Moon. Some of these payloads may be small robots or rovers which could explore their immediate surroundings and make scientific findings which are not possible using stationary landers. One of the most difficult thermal challenges for lunar rovers is to survive the lunar diurnal cycles. This becomes especially challenging for small rovers or robots (~ 1 to 10 Kg) which, due to scaling laws, have a high surface area to mass ratio compared to larger spacecraft. As a result, it is unlikely that a small rover would be able to survive such a cold and long lunar night on its own.
The Pop-Up Flat Folding Habitat (PUFF-Hab) is an innovation which would allow small robotic explorers and rovers to survive cold lunar nights by retreating into the PUFF-Hab when temperatures fall. The habitat is a structure covered in Multi-Layer Insulation (MLI) which uses a combination of insulation and heat stored in the lunar regolith to prevent temperatures from falling excessively inside the habitat. The ultimate goal would be to allow nighttime survival of small robotic explorers and rovers without the need for survival heating by keeping internal PUFF-Hab temperatures above -40 °C.
The PUFF-Hab would be folded flat for Earth launch and lunar landing in order to conserve volume. Once the PUFF-Hab is on the lunar surface, it deploys from the side or footpad of the base station using a small release mechanism and unfolds using springs and/or strain energy stored in the PUFF-Hab structure.
This objective of this proposal is to advance the technology readiness level (TRL) from 2 to 4, by designing a habitat which will keep internal night time temperatures above -40 °C, showing that the thermal design is robust using analytical models and sensitive studies, and demonstrating the ability of a breadboard prototype to un-fold using a single release mechanism.
The Pop-Up Flat Folding Habitat (PUFF-Hab) has applications to any NASA lunar mission which desires for small rovers (~ 1 to 10 Kg) to survive the lunar night. In addition, the innovation could be scaled up for larger rovers to help reduce or eliminate survival heating during the lunar night. The innovation also may have applications to help reduce survival heating for Martian rovers by serving as a wind breaker, even though Multi Layer Insulation (MLI) is not an effective insulator on Mars due to the presence of CO2 gas.
The Pop-Up Flat Folding Habitat (PUFF-Hab) could also benefit privately funded missions to the lunar surface or to Mars. Deployable structures are an active area of research interest in the space industry so advancements in deployable structures for this application could benefit other more general applications as well.
Long-term monitoring of Titan’s atmosphere and planetary surface requires a robust autonomous vehicle capable of interacting with Titan’s heterogeneous surface and profiling its chemically dynamic atmosphere. Creare proposes the Titan Ringlet, a drone capable of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) that can transition to horizontal flight to extend the range beyond that of a typical multirotor vehicle. VTOL capabilities simplify the interaction of the vehicle with the planetary surface and enable true vertical profiling of the atmosphere, while the ability to transition to horizontal flight increases the spatial range of possible observations. Creare’s drone utilizes a novel nonplanar wing geometry and mechanically simple controls without the need or complexity of traditional fixed-wing control surfaces. The drone packs efficiently into an aeroshell for safe entry into the Titan atmosphere and then separates from the aeroshell for a precision vertical landing on the surface. Compared to a pure rotorcraft (vertical flight), the fixed-wing cruise flight mode of Creare’s drone increases maximum range by three times, increases maximum endurance by two times, and increases maximum altitude by four times.
The primary intended application for Creare’s Titan Ringlet is to support NASA and its planetary exploration missions. The design resulting from this effort could be adapted to planetary exploration missions to other planetary bodies with an atmosphere. This design can also be adapted for terrestrial applications to help achieve NASA’s Earth observation objectives.
The applications for Creare’s Titan Ringlet drone are broad and far reaching for terrestrial applications. These could include routine commercial services such as drone delivery services, atmospheric profiling, and monitoring and surveillance activities for agriculture and utility companies. Each application would likely entail application-specific requirements and customization of the system.
We propose an innovative arm-mounted instrument for acquiring and analyzing planetary subsurface materials. The instrument extracts 5×1cm cores, and immediately performs in-situ, time-resolved, coregistered imaging and spectroscopic mapping at high resolution – 10µm and 50µm, respectively. Rapid analysis of cores is critical to characterize original material before it has time to lose its volatiles or oxidize. The significant attribute of our technology is the ability to focus on a specific layer or location on the core surface – something that none of the previous, current, or even future surface missions have capability to do.
The goal of Phase I is to develop and integrate key subsystems of the Dual in-situ Spectroscopy and COring instrument, DiSCO, and critically evaluate their performance using standards. Phase I will advance DiSCO to TRL4. DiSCO is the first instrument that boasts integrated drilling/coring/caching, imaging, and laser spectroscopic mapping systems. DiSCO integrates a combined fiber-based optical imaging, laser Raman spectroscopy (LRS), laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS), and laser-induced native fluorescence (LINF) system into an SBIR-funded, demonstrated drilling and coring platform.
DiSCO advances planetary exploration by enabling unprecedented observational and analytical capabilities on landed spacecrafts by integrating drilling, coring, caching, imaging, LRS, LIBS, and LINF technologies into a compact arm-mounted instrument. Thus, DiSCO: (i) obviates the need for drill-sample/core-analyze approaches, which are popular (Curiosity and ExoMars) but severely limited, (ii) provides evidence relevant to selecting subsurface sample sites, (iii) enables careful selection and caching of subsurface samples, (iv) and facilitates assessment of subsurface composition and transformation processes of metastable materials. These features and capabilities make DiSCO a potential disruptive tool for a wide range of future landed missions.
Our innovation improves instrument measurement capabilities for planetary science missions such as Discovery, New Frontiers, Mars Exploration, and other planetary programs, including: landed exploration missions to Venus, Moon, Mars, Europa, Titan, comets, and asteroids; sample return missions to Moon, Mars, comets and asteroids. In addition, DiSCO may be used to identify and map available planetary in-situ resources, and to spur the development of autonomous in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) devices for robotic and human missions.
While coring robotics and spectroscopic sensing are established fields, DiSCO combines them, for the first time, to develop a new tool for subsurface geochemical/mineralogical investigations. DiSCO will enable technological spin-offs in geological prospecting; environmental monitoring/assessment; agricultural soil quality monitoring; oil & gas exploration and development; homeland security.
The portable life support system for the exploration space suit (xPLSS) must control CO2 and humidity levels inside the space suit pressure garment. The preferred approach is to use a pressure swing adsorption process based on Amine Swingbed technology. One of the key technical challenges for xPLSS operation on the Martian surface is the need to vent CO2 and water vapor from the swingbeds to an ambient pressure that is generally greater than the bed desorption pressure. We propose to develop a boost compressor that will enable the swingbeds to operate on the Martian surface. The boost compressor will pump CO2 and water vapor from the beds to the external environment with a pressure rise that is high enough to overcome the local ambient pressure. Compact size and high efficiency will enable use of the system as part of a portable life support system. In Phase I, we will prove the feasibility of our approach through proof-of-concept testing, analysis of boost compressor performance, and design of a prototype boost compressor. In Phase II, we will build a prototype boost compressor and demonstrate its operation under conditions that simulate Martian surface operation of the xPLSS.
The primary NASA application will be CO2 and humidity control for future exploration space suits. Scaled-up versions could be used for CO2 and humidity control for rovers and habitats on the Martian surface. Relevant NASA activities include the xEMU program, the International Space Station, and the Deep Space Gateway. Small vacuum pumps are also needed for scientific instruments used by unmanned planetary surface rovers.
Miniature, efficient vacuum pumps will have numerous terrestrial applications for use in portable analysis instruments. Applications include natural resource discovery, forensics, explosive and chemical agent detection, and biological tissue characterization.
As the power levels and sizes of small satellites grow, new applications open up, along with new challenges for thermal control. Greater amounts of heat must be transported across longer distances, making it more difficult to control component temperatures using simple, passive systems. We propose to develop an innovative thermal storage technology for small satellite thermal control systems. Our technology offers high-energy storage density, excellent thermal conductance, and simple system integration. Thermal storage will enable high-power small satellites to continue using passive thermal control systems instead of active thermal control systems while operating high-power components in variable thermal environments. In Phase I, we will prove the feasibility of our approach through proof-of-concept experiments and prototype design.
The proposed technology is compact, inexpensive, simple, and offers performance well beyond the state of the art. Using high-capacity thermal storage will allow small satellites to operate at higher powers in more challenging thermal environments without the need for complex active thermal control systems. This will enable higher performance and improved reliability for small satellite imaging systems, pulsed data transmission, and laser communications.
Small satellites launched by DoD and commercial organizations can also use the proposed thermal storage technology for enhanced thermal control.
Large solar arrays required for next generation space exploration require new technology. The performance goals required for these missions are not attainable using OTS technology. The Compact Telescoping Array (CTA) is under development to meet these needs. One important component within the CTA architecture (and any H-configuration solar array) is the Telescoping Truss Mast (TTM). Opterus, working in close collaboration with the system prime, will develop the design and fabrication characteristics of the TTM to meet required needs of the next generation arrays. Reliability will be improved through the development of advanced tooling and process controls. Improved structural performance may also accommodate further mass optimization and structural margin. Other functional characteristics for the TTM will be developed supporting higher level functionality for truss deployment and retractability.
CTA technology directly supports the lightweight needs of future very high-power SEP mission requirements both near and far term. In the near future, the CTA system should be validated as the premier power system for high powered, mass-efficient spacecraft which will certainly boost the commercialization potential. The Monolithic Truss Segment (MTS) also supports NASA’s vision for robotic assembly in the form of the Tension Actuated in Space Manipulator or TALISMAN.
The CTA wing has been shown to scale well to megawatt power levels and beyond. Increasing power requirements and strong market demand are both positive indicators for the future of the technology. This technology supporting H-configuration blanket technology is well-situated to compete in this demanding market at the expected performance levels compared to those of other space power products.
Opterus proposes PMACs: Precision Multifunction Autonomous Connections. PMACs are a node-strut connection system designed for hybrid deployable and robotically assembled large precision optical structures. PMACs enable 10 to 30 m diameter primary mirror telescopes to be autonomously assembled on orbit. The system is multifunction and carries data, power, and fluids over the connection and is additionally high stiffness, dimensionally stable and high conductivity. A kinematically functional prototype will be manufactured in the Phase I program. The system features precision crawler assembly robot attachment points for data and power with known locations to simplify assembly positioning and metrology. The connections allow insertion of truss elements with zero axial force or distortion to maintain alignment precision. Using a grid network topology, the struts are smart with multiple sensors and networked analogue to digital converters. Embedded temperature and strain sensors are also planned for strut dimensional and health monitoring. The system is designed to be assembled, calibrated, and characterized on the ground and rapidly assemble on orbit with a minimum of robotic operations.
Missions in astrophysics are the primary NASA commercialization paths for PMACs. These include occulters for Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) and the New Worlds Technology Development Programs. Additional programs include FIR Surveyor, Large UV Optical Infrared Surveyor, the X-ray surveyor in the Formative Era, the Cosmic Dawn Mapper and the ExoEarth Mapper in the Visionary Era. Assembled structures are also critical to NASA’s Moon to Mars program.
Non-NASA commercialization paths include commercial and DoD applications. Similar to NASA, DoD has a persistent need for large aperture sensing systems. Needs range from large optical systems to large antennas for GMTI and AMTI as well as signals intelligence and geolocation. Commercial space is also experiencing a rise in in-space assembly needs.
Extraction of oxygen from lunar regolith is a critical milestone in establishing a lunar station that supports missions to Mars and beyond. Oxygen extraction systems rely on solar concentrators to heat regolith to the required reaction temperatures. Opterus proposes development of a lightweight, high power, deployable solar concentrator (DSC) to support this need. Existing traditional rigid reflectors are accurate but untenably heavy, while previously developed inflatable reflectors are light, but have high shape error and low efficiency, which limits their achievable temperatures. Opterus’s DSC is a thin, composite, folding parabolic concentrator that uses curved fold lines and connecting hinges to achieve both low mass and high shape accuracy. The proposed reflector technology is made thin and light by using extremely stiff carbon composite material, which would be made highly reflective through vapor deposition of a metal topcoat. DSC’s hinges fully connect reflector gores to maintain stiffness, while still allowing the reflector to fold for launch. Opterus estimates that such a reflector, if made to an approximately 1 m diameter, would have a power-to-weight ratio of approximately 2980 W/kg. Within the proposed Phase I effort, Opterus will work with NASA to size a concentrator that meets NASA’s system needs, and then optimize our existing folding shell design to minimize weight and packed size, minimize shape error and maximize concentration ratio. The composite lay-up will be selected to minimize the coefficient of thermal expansion. Opterus will produce a scale prototype up to 1 m diameter, measure its shape under 1g loading and demonstrate packing. Opterus will also perform a detailed thermal analysis to determine expected shape error from thermal loading. In a Phase II effort, Opterus will complete system design, as well as demonstrating a complete system with a physical vapor deposition reflective coating.
Opterus’s proposed deployable solar concentrator (DSC) is expected to see first use in NASA lunar missions, as part of a system to extract oxygen from lunar regolith. As stated in the solicitation, “Solar concentrators have been used to successfully demonstrate multiple [In-situ Resource Utilization] technologies,” but existing rigid concentrators are too heavy for space applications. Opterus will align DSC development with NASA’s Moon to Mars mission. DSC is also applicable to potential ice melting missions and solar concentration for power.
DSC technology is also applicable to antenna and radar applications, which are of interest to the commercial sector and the Department of Defense for constellations of small satellites with communication, imagery, and moving target applications. These systems are short lived and must be low cost. Existing mesh reflector antenna are costly, while DSC reflectors are cost-efficient to build.
This SBIR Phase I project aims to improve the mirror quality of the PZT stack actuator DMs. With verified DM performance in terms of key performance parameters such as stroke, leakage current, speed, influence function as well as the validity of the superposition law in the DM control, the innovation further strives to optimize the manufacturing process to ultimately improve the mirror quality of the DMs in order to make them worthy of being considered for future NASA's flagship missions. The innovation leverages on our experience in developing stack actuator DM system with integrated ASIC driver electronics, enabling the next-generation DM-ASIC systems that are featured with: reduced number of wires from thousands to several tens, reduction of the power dissipation by two (2) orders of magnitude, shrinking of the form factor (weight/size) of the DM driver electronics by up to two (2) orders of magnitude, and reducing the DM cost by about 5 times. With both DM and the driver ASIC scalable by mosaicking to 96x96, 128x128 or larger format, the innovation holds promise of filling the NASA Technology Gap on DM and associating driver electronics connectors/cables as listed in the recently released Exoplanet Exploration Program Technology Plan Appendix 2018.
With both DM and the driver ASIC scalable by mosaicking to 96x96, 128x128 or larger format, the innovation holds promise of filling the NASA Technology Gap (Gap ID: CG-3) on DM and associating driver electronics connectors/cables of the recently released Exoplanet Exploration Program Technology Plan Appendix 2018, and will be able to serve future exo-Earth flagship missions such as HabEx, Exo-C probe, and LUVOIR by providing higher actuator count DM-ASIC systems with less cables, low mass, volume and power. .
Commercial markets for these systems include retinal imagers, supernormal human vision systems, and amateur telescopes. The research is also expected to lead to a family of compact, low-cost, high performance spatial light modulators for direct retinal display, head mount display, and large-screen projection display applications (digital cinema).
NASA requests a high spatial-resolution, wide-area scan of lunar soil composition, especially within impact craters, that may contain a higher concentration of usable material such as 3He and H2O. Soil with a higher hydrogen content will tend to slow down (i.e., thermalize) neutrons rather than absorb them, thereby depressing the fast and epithermal components of the neutron energy distribution while enhancing the thermal component.
The primary objective of the proposed effort will focus on the integration of a neutron detector onto a space-worthy mobile platform. An integrated mobile platform provides numerous benefits compared to a stationary instrument, in that it provides greater area coverage and high spatial resolution data. The mobile platform chosen is the CubeRover, currently being developed by Astrobotic Technology, Inc. under a Phase II SBIR contract 80NSSC18C0037. The CubeRover was selected due to its light weight and ability to support the power and data requirements of the neutron detector. The proposed neutron detector is the Omni-Directional Multichannel Neutron Energy Identification Instrument (OMNI), which is currently being developed by Radiation Detection Technologies, Inc. under Phase I SBIR contract 80NSSC18P1952. Whereas both ongoing SBIR contracts are focused on the development of a standalone system, the proposed effort will focus on integrating both systems together (called NeuRover) to provide a mobile neutron detector for lunar volatile characterization and mapping. Furthermore, the resulting technology can be infused into several lunar missions and deployed at numerous locations on the lunar surface. The NeuRover can effectively look for water ice on the lunar surface, which allows for unmatched vertical and lateral spatial resolution.
A compact, low-power NeuRover would yield benefits to the NASA mission beyond the search for hydrogen below the lunar surface as proposed. A major hurdle to overcome to ensure the success of the human exploration of space and extraterrestrial bodies is to limit the radiation dose to astronauts. A commercially-available NeuRover system could help to understand these issues to a greater degree of accuracy than existing technologies, by inexpensively roving in unknown areas before human astronauts are sent in for missions.
An application for a roving (autonomous), robust neutron energy spectrometer would be in the field of nuclear non-proliferation. It is possible that with the increase in nuclear fuel and waste storage, and along with the unfortunate radiological accidents at various sites, e.g., Hanford, Fukushima Daiichi, NeuRover’s remote roving capability may be beneficial for inspecting these sites.
Sources of sensor error leave a UTM (UAS Traffic Management) system vulnerable. The impact of anomalous sensor behavior can be devastating to a UTM system. Degraded sensor accuracy can lead to broken tracks or split tracks within a UTM system. Degraded sensor sensitivity may result in a Mid-Air Collision with an aircraft not detected by UTM sensors. It may also result in more Loss of Well-Clear violations and more frequent Near Mid-Air Collisions.
This proposal recommends research and development in the area of monitoring a diverse set of UTM sensor outputs for detection and identification of anomalous sensor behavior as a technique to enable In-Time System-wide Safety Assurance (ISSA). In addition, research will be performed to develop an in-time methodology for translating out-of-spec sensor data to overall UTM system safety.
CAL Analytics has teamed with Hidden Level to accomplish the following Phase 1 research tasks:
Perform market study of UTM Sensors
Perform study to determine minimum required sensor data elements to enable ISSA
Develop a framework for comparing sensor outputs
Perform study to assess separability of anomalous sensor behavior
Develop requirements and performance metrics for guiding Phase II algorithm development
Perform study exploring methods to assess system safety given degraded sensor performance
Document results of studies in final report with recommendations for Phase II.
The results of this research will form the basis of a UTM ISSA technique that will:
Enable detection and reporting of anomalous sensor behavior through data mining
Identify impacts to UTM system safety using anomalous sensor behavior to assess the impact to overall UTM system safety.
Monitoring anomalous sensor performance within a UTM ecosystem will help NASA research as UTM is transitioned from a research project to productization and commercialization. As NASA shifts gears to UAM, a mechanism to identify, report, and assess the impact of anomalous sensor behavior must exist. This research will also assist with standards development through RTCA and ASTM, by providing insight into standardizing interfaces and reactions to common off-nominal scenarios.
The Non-NASA applications for this project include incorporating the anomalous sensor behavior detection and safety algorithms into a Software as a Service platform that monitors the health and integrity of a UTM ecosystem. This software will automate contingency management to improve UTM system fault tolerance, and ensure safety is maintained, and help automate failure root cause analysis.
Current state-of-the-art navigation systems incorporate optical gyroscopes and optical accelerometers as inertial sensors. These devices contain no moving parts and can sense rotations and accelerations with high bandwidth. However, there is a fundamental tradeoff between the size of an optical gyroscope and its sensitivity. Highly sensitive gyroscopes are needed to meet navigation goals, but Size, Weight and Power (SWaP) are extremely precious resources in spacecraft or UAVs. Using fast-light effects generated in fiber with Stimulated Brillouin Scattering, we will enhance rotation sensitivity of conventional Ring Laser Gyroscope (RLG), to develop gyros that can deliver higher performance with lower SWaP than existing navigation system. Previous results have shown sufficient fast-light effects with COTS components to demonstrate the technology, RLG operation under various conditions, and quantitative measurements of stability in a working prototype. In the proposed Phase I work, we will investigate specific modifications to miniaturize the form factor, stabilize against environmental disturbances, and integrate the measurement and control functions. This will enable a practical, standalone navigational device which demonstrates improved performance using fast-light effects to be developed during Phase II work.
A robust, high performance, and cost effective gyroscope suitablewill have significant impact on demanding NASA applications that require navigation or stabilization of small platforms, such as:
Tracking and control of launch vehicles for placing payloads into orbital or sub-orbital trajectories.
Precision inertial feedback during orbital maneuvers or stationkeeping operations on manned or unmanned spacecraft.
Actively stabilize instrument platforms during sensitive astronomical observations or scientific measurements.
Self-guided ordinance and unmanned aerial vehicles, where existing high performance systems are too large to use.
Stabilizing weapons platforms or communications devices mounted on ground and naval vehicles of all sizes.
Accurate navigation and gyrocompasses in a small form factor in the oil and gas industry for well-drilling.
This Small Business Technology Transfer Project is aimed at developing and testing an ADS-B transponder in a fully integrated single chip using Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) process. This transponder is capable of operating both in 978 MHz UAT and 1090 ES modes. This chip-based micro ADS-B unit is aimed at the owners and operators of prosumer and industrial unmanned air vehicles (aka UAVs, drones, UASs), who are currently mandated by the FAA to have ADS-B as a form of sense-and-avoid capability in place by Jan 2020. Over 800,000 of these small UAVs have been registered at the FAA currently in the US, and these are expected to be used in low-altitude, high density, urban operations, where a low powered ADS-B transponder will be sufficient for air traffic reporting and sense-and-avoid. The cost of available light-weight ADS-B units in in the $2000-$8000 range, which is untenable for users of small UAVs. Our proposed chip-based ADS-B unit will provide a 10-100X reduction in pricing, making ADS-B functionality available even to the smallest UAV. The availability of a low size/weight/power/cost ADS-B unit will enable the safe integration of small UAVs into the national airspace, and clear the path for rapid adoption of UAVs into commercial and industrial uses such as package delivery, medical supply chains, mining, telecommunications, agriculture, firefighting and disaster relief, commercial aerial photography, etc.
NASA is currently leading the charge for the UTM, the Unmanned Traffic Management system, with a huge initiative to support high density, low altitude UAV operations of small UAVs. This proposed chip-based ADS-B unit will be of low size, weight, power and cost to enable it to be hosted even on the smallest and least expensive UAV, while enabling full ADS-B In/Out operations.
Commercial and industrial uses of small UAVs such as package delivery, medical supply chains, mining, telecommunications, agriculture, firefighting and disaster relief, commercial aerial photography, etc. Other customers include UAV OEM manufacturers, universities and research firms, and military UAV operators.
Nabla Zero Labs will investigate the feasibility and technical merit of the Astrodynamics Cloud: A technology enabling the collaborative design, analysis, and optimization of spacecraft trajectories. We aim to support autonomous, integrated, and inter-operable modeling capabilities throughout NASA's mission portfolio, as well as the rapidly-growing small-satellite industry.
The technology consolidates both new and existing software, algorithms, and data structures into an on-line, high-performance service. It is based on four core components:
1. The Trajectory Graph Data Structure, used for management, traversal, and persistent storage of available transfers.
2. The Search Strategy Interface, used for interaction between the graph and existing or new software and algorithms for rapid exploration of transfer options near and around planets, satellites, and small bodies.
3. The Trajectory Optimization Interface, used for interaction between the approximate rapid-search solutions and algorithms for high-fidelity trajectory optimization in multi-body environments.
4. The Distributed Analytics Engine, used for decentralized collaboration, analytical support, and orchestration of massively-parallel, high-performance workloads, such as situational awareness, machine learning, and Monte Carlo analysis.
We aim for our technology to continue pushing the current generational leap from sequential computing to concurrent and parallel. In addition, we propose a novel paradigm shift: from an outdated single-user and batch-oriented workflow, to a truly collaborative multi-user and incremental view.
Our technology is be directly relevant to mission design and flight mechanics groups at NASA. Specific missions include Europa Clipper, currently under development by Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Applied Physics Laboratory, and the Icy Worlds initiative. Our technology may significantly extend the capabilities of existing software developed with NASA funds, such as Monte, GMAT, Otis, Malto, and Mystic, and serve as a spring-board to attract new customers to those powerful applications.
We aim to offer astrodynamics-as-a-service to the rapidly-growing small-satellite industry. The industry is expected to reach the 30- to 40 billion valuation mark by the next decade, and require the design, analysis, optimization, and control of over six or seven thousand individual space assets. We aim for our platform to fulfill all their astrodynamics needs.
Future NASA missions that include Earth Science and Planetary Science missions will benefit from the development of nanostructured antireflection coatings. Broadband antireflection optical coatings covering the ultraviolet to infrared spectral bands have many potential applications for various NASA systems. Tunable nanoengineered optical layers enable realization of optimal nanostructured coatings with high laser damage thresholds, and high reliability in extreme low temperature environments and under launch conditions. The antireflection coatings offer omnidirectional suppression of light reflection/scattering with increased optical transmission to enhance detector and system performance for various NASA applications. As part of the proposed NASA Phase I SBIR program, Magnolia will model, design and develop high performance nanoengineered antireflection optical coating technology that can be implemented in future NASA missions.
AR coating technologies for spectral bands from the UV to IR can particularly benefit NASA Earth Science and Planetary Science applications, enhancing detector performance and scientific return of missions. Nanostructured AR coatings offer exciting possibilities for enhanced UV/IR sensor SNRs and fast response times, making them especially useful for NASA missions. One area of great interest for the nanostructured AR coatings is minimizing signal scattering/reflections from the various surfaces of optical and imaging instruments in space.
Commercial applications for the nanostructured AR coatings include optical components such as lenses and windows; optoelectronic devices such as sensors and photovoltaic panels; and electronic displays, e.g., in smartphone and tablet devices. The AR coatings provide improvements in sensitivity and system performance for various commercial sensing and imaging applications.
NASA has demonstrated a resolve to land instruments on the corrosive, high-pressure (~100 bar), high-temperature (470°C) surface of Venus. NASA Glenn Research Center’s JFET-R technology is the only one that has shown 1000’s of hours operation under Venus surface conditions. The limitation of this process is that the current integrated circuit die and feature sizes make it impractical for large complex designs. Ozark IC has developed high-temperature packaging technology capable of integrating several JFET-R die onto a single layer substrate. Complex Venus-surface ICs, such as a microprocessor, can be created by marrying these two technologies.
The objective for this proposal is a multi-chip packaging technology that hosts several JFET-R die to effectively create complex electronic functions for Venus surface conditions.
The project will utilize additive and subtractive manufacturing techniques to create high-temperature single-connector terminals, high temperature/high density multiple conductor connectors, and single or multiple level high-temperature substrates. This, in combination with NASA’s JFET-R technology will create a design technology which will be used to develop a multi-chip high-temperature microprocessor. These advancements in terminal and board manufacturing design should enable denser chip designs. Several prototype connectors will be designed, manufactured, and tested. Once a reliable connector and board system has been identified, an integrated module will be tested at 470°C.
Questions to be answered during the Phase 1 are:
The proposed packaging technology is the next logical development step for NASA’s JFET-R process towards enabling processing capability on the corrosive, high-pressure (~100 bar), high-temperature (up to 500°C) Venus surface. The system will also be useful for other high temperature environments, such as Mercury, as well as high temperature avionics, re-entry, and propulsion sensing and controls
Any application that needs a very high temperature system integration, such as high temperature data processing, measurement or actuation is a potential market. Examples include: geothermal resource exploration to improve drilling efficiency, jet engine sensing and actuation for distributed engine controls, and avionics for high temperature sensing and actuation in hypersonic aircraft.
In response to the 2019 NASA SBIR solicitation topic Z2.01, “Spacecraft Thermal Management”, Advanced Cooling Technologies, Inc. proposes the development of a Variable Conductance Cold Plate to provide spatial and temporal isothermality over a 0.5 m2 area despite changes in heat load or inlet coolant temperature. The proposed design builds on ACT’s experience with passive two-phase devices, as well as our pumped two-phase expertise, to address the needs outlined in the subtopic titled, “Mechanically Pumped Two-Phase Flow Thermal Control System Technology Development”. In Phase I, ACT will design and demonstrate, through simulation and experiment, a prototype cold plate capable of managing heat fluxes up to 5 W/cm2 while maintaining spatial isothermality to within 3 K and temporal isothermality to within 0.05 K/min. This capability results from a passive design that exploits two-phase phenomena and the unique behavior of fluids at saturation conditions.
Compared to single-phase systems at significant heat loads, two-phase thermal management systems reduce spacecraft mass, volume, and power usage while providing performance improvements such as enhanced heat transfer and temperature uniformity. The Thermal Management Systems Roadmap (TA14) challenges researchers to develop two-phase thermal management systems that can manage high heat loads with improved temperature control. Such systems have been described by numerous NASA research papers and, as outlined there, these systems have significant mass- and power-saving potential, as well as additional capabilities such as isothermality and heat sharing. The purpose of the work proposed here is to support pumped two-phase thermal management system development by addressing technology gaps that are related to heat collection as identified in the referenced work and outlined in the solicitation.
The potential applications for the proposed cold plate are NASA missions that require spatial and temporal temperature control for improved instrumentation functionality. Additional applications for this cold plate and associated two-phase system would include spacecraft with thermal demands beyond the capabilities of capillary systems and those interested in low-cost alternatives to conventional thermal management systems.
In Phase II, ACT will extend the development of the cold plate to a complete two-phase thermal management system. During this phase, ACT will investigate application with the growing commercial satellite and spacecraft market. We currently provide passive thermal management solutions for this market and the proposed design would add to this product line.
Busek proposes to initiate the development of a semi-autonomous, teleoperated welding robot for joining of external (or internal metallic uninhabited volume at zero pressure) surfaces in space. This welding robot will be an adaptation of a versatile Busek developed system called SOUL (Satellite On Umbilical Line) with a suitable weld head attached to it.
SOUL is a small (<10kg), nanosat-sized space vehicle hosted by and deployed from a larger mother ship (Host Space Vehicle, HSV) as needed to perform a variety of duties. SOUL was originally developed to capture large space debris (and towed by the HSV to a disposal orbit) which now includes servicing. Upon completion of its mission the SOUL is re-stowed inside the HSV in a marsupial-like manner.
Unlike “free flying” robots, the SOUL never runs out of power, communicates securely with its HSV over a fiber optic link embedded in the umbilical without the need for encryption, and in
case of malfunction, does not become another uncontrolled space debris. Thus, SOUL is a low risk system that in case of malfunction, is retracted by the HSV and re-stowed.
Unlike fixed robotic arms attached to large spacecraft, the low mass, low momentum of the SOUL precludes damage inducing accidental collisions that may create additional space debris. The SOUL system was awarded a US patent. When equipped with suitable welding device, SOUL can perform both micrometeoroid damage repair and join metallic surfaces by welding.
In Phase 1, one or two candidate welding technologies will be selected and tested in Busek vacuum chamber. The principal candidates include Laser, Electron Beam, arc-based techniques (TIG and MIG) and spot-welding. Busek has Laser, robotic TIG for 3D printing, and Spot welders in house. The existing SOUL vehicle will then be examined to assess the changes required to carry the selected welder. Finally, the existing SOUL will be tested to determine if its position control is adequate for welding.
In addition to welding applications SOUL has the following broad application set:
The SOUL system and or its elements have a long list of possible commercial applications which in some cases overlap with NASA applications. Examples include:
The Cryogenic Cam Butterfly Valve (CCV) is an innovative valve that can effectively operate across a wide range of temperatures, seal better than valves currently available on the market at those temperatures and can easily meet the demanding material requirements of a liquid oxygen (LOX) system. The CCV was designed to replace obsolete Royal/Hadley valves, which have been used at NASA’s Stennis Space Center (SSC) since the 1960’s as isolating valves in cryogenic fluid systems at SSC and have become costly to repair.
The CCV is innovative because it is the only butterfly valve that it can adapt to dynamic changes due to changing temperatures. Temperature changes cause materials to expand and contract. For example, a 12” long aluminum rod chilling down in liquid hydrogen (LH2) from room temperature to -423 degrees F will shorten the rod length by approximately 1/16”. This may seem like an insignificant change, but it can cause a significant leak if the critical dimension between the valve disc and seat change. Ideally, cryogenic valves should be able to compensate for these dynamic temperature changes and maintain a tight seal, but the different valves that were procured to replace the existing Royal/Hadley butterfly valves have not been successful passing the rigorous SSC cryogenic tests and material requirements for LOX systems. It is this inability of existing butterfly valves to reliably perform as needed which triggered the innovative design of the CCV.
The CCV can seal better than other butterfly valves on the market because of the dual movement possible in the hybrid design. To improve the sealing performance, the CCV combines the rotational movement of a butterfly with the translational movement of a globe valve.
The NASA SBIR Phase I Solicitation for 2019 identifies near-term operational cost reduction and improvements for ground test components by improving ground, launch and flight systems as areas of focus; this Proposal focuses on the development of an innovative cryogenic butterfly valve that will perform consistent and reliable at ambient and cryogenic temperatures. The CCV will eliminate the need for temperature specific testing (i.e., cryogenic environments) for components, while improving the performance reliability in the field.
Better cryogenic fluid flow control systems are anticipated for liquid hydrogen, liquid nitrogen, liquid oxygen and liquefied natural gas for the industrial gas, private space flight, electrical energy, chemical processing, and oil refining markets; these will be driven by market demand for more efficient, cleaner fuels, as well as more practical LNG transportation through the supply chain.
The proposed compact and highly efficient mode-locked fiber ring laser is well suited for broadband THz spectrometer based on asynchronous optical sampling time-domain spectroscopy (TDS). Our novel design overcomes the hurdle of environmental instability associated with previous mode-locked fiber lasers. Our design is a self-starting passively mode-locked fiber ring laser with a novel cavity configuration without using discrete fiber optical components. The special ring cavity design enables stable mode-locked operation over a large temperature range and mode maintaining without the need for polarization-adjusting devices. In Phase I, we will experimentally demonstrate the feasibility by constructing a bend-top mode-locked ring laser with a novel integrated optical component module. The success feasibility prototyping will form the base for the fabrication of a fully functional fiber laser with 100 mW output power and <100 fs pulses as well as 100 MHz repetition rate with high stability in Phase II.
The proposed laser source with femtosecond lasers with low volume, low mass and high stability are necessary for development on a compact broadband THz spectrometer based on asynchronous optical sampling time-domain spectroscopy (TDS).
Mode-locked fiber lasers have attracted interest for their use in next-generation optical communications, optical sensing, optical signal processing, optical metrology, and optical interconnects because this class of lasers can be used to generate femtosecond pulses with very low timing jitter.
NASA seeks intelligent monitoring and control methods to significantly extend the life and improve the safety of hybrid-electric propulsion, all-electric propulsion, and other applications where energy storage sources are used, such as in satellites and aerospace aircrafts. Lithium-based batteries are increasingly being used in many aerospace applications due to their superior energy and power density. Most of these systems have standardized electric power buses, but batteries are frequently custom made to provide high performance, which incurs in a high cost. On the other hand modularity and distributed control of energy storage systems promise many advantages over these centralized and custom systems, such as reduced cost, increased reliability and fault tolerance, increased supplier availability, improved thermal management, and the possibility to efficiently interconnect heterogeneous, but complimentary, batteries to deliver energy efficiently under dynamic load scenarios. Performance however is a factor that must improve to make modular distributed systems even more attractive. We propose a distributed and modular technology that will allow NASA to create batteries by interconnecting smaller Lithium-based battery pack modules in a flexible and efficient manner while gaining in energy extraction performance. The proposed technology accomplishes this efficiently and regardless of specific chemistry in a master-less distributed way while minimizing size, weight, and using lower power electronic components when compared to conventional approaches. The interconnected battery system combines unique distributed algorithms with a hardware design that utilizes every pack efficiently regardless of specific chemistry. This is accomplished by a joint estimation and prediction approach that considers present battery state and future load dynamics. The result is an energy storage system with longer life and with all the attractiveness of a distributed and modular system.
Our proposed system has relevance in several NASA applications, such as Cube satellites, electrical systems in aircrafts, rovers, landers, habitats, and future planetary science missions. As a single, but detailed example, report JPL D-101146 highlights several needs that must be addressed within NASA missions. All point at the need for higher specific energy and operations under extreme temperatures, which can be better addressed through efficient modular and distributed systems.
Technologies as the one proposed are critical for renewable systems (solar, wind), and for transportation markets which are increasingly moving towards hybrid/electric vehicles. The military is also critically interested in modular energy storage systems due to higher fault-tolerance, one example is the U.S Army transition from Lead-acid to Lithium-based 6T battery modules for their entire fleet.
The innovation proposed here is a novel tank‑and‑aeroshell arrangement that exploits the latest composite manufacturing practices to advance the state‑of‑the‑art beyond what was possible during the NASA/Lockheed Martin X-33/VentureStar program. By using advanced stitched‑composite design and manufacturing methods, a more efficient airframe design becomes possible that fundamentally addresses the manufacturing flaws, scale‑up challenges, and permeability issues that caused the X-33 tank specimen failure. The approach proposed in this SBIR is a highly‑integrated, load‑bearing, unitized skin‑stringer‑frame composite propellant tank that would be infused‑and‑cured in an oven, before being mechanically‑joined to a separately processed, discretely‑stiffened, carbon‑carbon aeroshell that would be capable of meeting the stringent structural weight fractions required for single‑stage‑to‑orbit vehicles. This SBIR Phase I proposal focuses on a few key development activities that would demonstrate the feasibility prospects of a unitized tank concept relative to the weight and permeability parameters that were achieved for the X‑33/VentureStar multi‑piece composite tank design approach.
Innovative material and structural concepts that provide reductions in mass and volume for next‑generation space vehicles shows up as a key focus area in nearly all NASA and Air Force technology roadmaps for futuristic high-speed air vehicles. The underlying technology also has potential application to other non-spherical pressure vessels such as space habitats.
The technology presented here is directly applicable to numerous Air Force and commercial launch applications.
NASA is currently seeking technologies that will support use of single-loop thermal control systems (TCSs) aboard spacecraft for human class missions and mechanically-pumped, two-phase flow TCSs. Mainstream proposes a compressor that satisfies both objectives by enabling use of a single-loop, two-phase thermal control system to replace the current two-loop TCS. NASA has historically used two-loop TCSs to mitigate crew toxicity risk, whereby one loop collects heat within the crew module (CM) with a low-toxicity fluid and transfers the heat to a second loop in the external service module (SM) that rejects heat through the radiators. Our proposed system eliminates the intermediate heat exchanger and duplicate components (pumps, valves, etc.). Oure design thermal control system that uses advanced component designs, innovative cooling concepts, integrated control valves, lightweight materials, and a high-speed compressor to achieve low input power and a component mass roughly 1/4th the mass of the current pumping unit. The compressor is by far the most critical component to develop. In Phase I, Mainstream will refine the design of the compressor, fabricate a prototype, and experimentally demonstrate the compressor performance. Phase I will conclude with the experimental demonstration of compressor performance targets including: 1) 8-kW cooling capacity, 2) less than 700 W of input power, 3) 8.2 kg mass, and 4) gravity insensitivity.
NASA applications for the proposed compressor is future thermal control systems for Orion-like manned missions and Deep Space Gateway and Transport missions. Any manned space vehicle would benefit from the expected mass and crew safety advantage offered by the innovative single-loop thermal control system proposed.
Non-NASA applications for the proposed technology include any manned space vehicle launch for exploration or tourism purposes. The European Space Agency has an aggressive interest in a moon landing in the near future. Additionally, non-government commercial entities such as Space-X, Blue Origin, Bigelow Aerospace, and others include space tourism as a future goal.
In the pursuit of supplying the highest quality 3D woven material, for Woven Thermal Protection Systems (W-TPS), Bally Ribbon Mills (BRM) is proposing a diagnostic tool to measure and monitor the beat-up force for 3D weaving equipment. Current weaving techniques relay on the loom operator to see or hear variations in the weaving process and detect problems early so defective material is kept to a minimum. Many times, even for the most experienced weavers, when variations are identified a defect is already woven into the product. BRM is proposing to modify and beat-up motion on the 24-inch-wide NASA HEEET loom to incorporate load cells between the beam and the lay heads to measure the beat-up force at real time.
BRM believes the material properties gathered during this SBIR work would be directly applicable to the NASA HEEET program. BRM also believes that the money invested on this SBIR would reduce material cost on future missions by providing the NASA engineers with another design option when developing WTPS materials.
Potential hypersonic applications.
In this program, Freedom Photonics is proposing to develop an integrated RF photonic channelizer and downconverter. A single RF photonic IC can operate over ultra-broadband RF range with a performance that match or exceeds the RF equivalent, in particular with respect to spurious signal rejection. It is expected that a combined Phase I and Phase II effort will develop a first packaged prototype that will be made available for NASA for evaluation.
NASA broadband microwave and millimeter wave passive sensing applications, as set out in the solicitation. Sspace applications have a need for flexible and dynamic frequency translation between many microwave/mmwave communications bands within communications platforms. A small SWaP broadband photonic solution has the potential to outperform any RF system.
Low SWaP RF channelizer and downconverter with maintained performance. These need to be adapted and developed for small size and power constrained platforms, such as UAV, UAS, and small Satellite systems. Low-loss optical delay lines to allow for pre-processing of the optical signal, or to implement tunable delays for phased array and other applications.
Accelerometers, which are required for vibration cancellation, that can operate in extreme conditions, especially in the high radiation environments around Jupiter's moons are currently not available.
The innovative claims for the proposed effort are as follows:
The team will determine the viability of the opto-electro-mechanical technology and its applicability to acceleration sensing at low temperatures. The underpinning of Phase I of this effort is the development of a high-Q optically driven MEMS resonator as well as auxiliary optics and electronics allowing compact packaging of the device. An early demonstration of this capability will be made and a clear improvement path will be developed to further improve the performance.
The proposal is related to section "S1.09 Cryogenic Systems for Sensors and Detectors" of the call and is significant for solving the challenge of creation of a cryogenic accelerometer that can operate at 150 K, withstand a 0.01 Tesla magnetic field and are radiation hard to 2-5 megarads.
OEwaves’ commercialization strategy for the highest accuracy and smallest CMOS-compatible optomechanical accelerometer proposed includes sales to DoD as well as commercial inertial navigation system (INS) applications suitable for land, airborne (particularly UAVs), and naval platforms.
NASA requires future Electrified Aircraft Propulsion (EAP) with lightweight, high-efficiency power distribution systems that have flight critical reliability have led to requirements for weight reduction by a factor of 2-3 as well as improved efficiency. Higher efficiency reduces losses and makes thermal management more achievable in an aircraft. Turboelectric, hybrid electric, and all electric power generation as well as distributed propulsive power have been identified as candidate transformative aircraft configurations with reduced fuel consumption/energy use and emissions. In these power applications, soft magnetics play an important role in the power system. Current and future power and electronic systems including motor drives, inverters and converters, and pulse-forming networks (among others) are currently limited by size, cost, and power (largely due to size and magnetic/inductor components losses). In this program, Powdermet will develop advanced soft magnetic material with high magnetic saturation and lower losses for 100kHz-300kHz power application in aerospace exploration. The proposed Phase I SBIR program will demonstrate Powdermet Inc’s ability to produce an advanced nanocomposite soft magnetic with high permeability magnetic with high energy efficiency at high frequency. This novel soft magnetic will feature as high magnetic saturation (>1.8 T), high operating temperature (>200 °C) and high permeability (>1000). More important, the proposed soft magnetic will high energy efficiency and low loss during the 100kHz-300kHz (especially, the low eddy current loss at these frequency)
This advanced nanocomposite soft magnetics can be widely used inElectrified Aircraft Propulsion, as well as advance aeronautic equipment. Turboelectric, hybrid electric, and all electric power generation as well as distributed propulsive power can benefit from the proposed advanced soft magnetic to reduce the weight as well as improve propulsion and launch efficiency.
The proposed soft magnetics can be widely used in DC-DC converters, wide band gap semiconductors, electric grid and other industry applications. The proposed nanolaminate materials could replace laminated cores in transformer and inductor circuits, making these devices much smaller and lower cost. In addition, these soft magnetics can be used in the electric vehicle to save weigh and space
The potential for overheating either the faceplate or the body of a device injecting liquid oxygen (LOX) into a duct in which hydrogen is flowing at high temperature (2,850K) is extremely high. The temperature of the hydrogen alone (i.e., without combustion) is above the melting point of many materials, so adding to that the additional heat flux of a closely-anchored diffusion flame zone is an extremely difficult design challenge. Rigimesh is a tried and true transpiration cooling technology that has been used in the manufacture of injector faceplates used in a number of high power liquid rocket engines, including the J-2, RL-10 and Space Shuttle Main Engine.
Our innovation, which we will prove to be feasible in Phase I, is an imbedded, single-piece LOX injector manufactured exclusively using selective laser melting (SLM), a modern additive manufacturing (AM, also known as 3D printing) technique. Using an AM approach provides the ability to infinitely tailor the transpiration cooling (optimizing to local conditions) at significantly reduced cost and manufacturing lead time over state of the art Rigimesh. And because SLM is proven to be capable of printing extremely complex components (more below), the injector is not restricted to simple, flat geometries. The designer is absolutely free to use any geometry to simultaneously provide the required injection performance within the constraints of the given duct geometry.
Exploration Upper Stage Engine
Planetary Lander and Ascent Vehicle Main Engines
Tethers Unlimited, Inc. (TUI) proposes to develop the “ARTIE”, an androgynous robotic tool-change interface for hard and soft capture of tools and infrastructure support for robotic assets on the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway. ARTIE serves as a miniaturized power and data grapple interface for use on robotic assets, such as TUI’s KRAKEN robotic manipulator and NASA’s Astrobee. A Gateway version of Astrobee and KRAKEN can share tools and payloads with other assets for more efficient use of Gateway resources. The androgynous nature of ARTIE will allow the same interface to be used throughout the Gateway as an infrastructural element. ARTIE can also serve Astrobee docking, support of a Gateway KRAKEN for base mounting and inch-worming, and dynamic reconfigurability of all Gateway robotic assets. The low-profile nature of ARTIE also reduces the cost and overhead of including soft-capture fixtures on payloads tools and infrastructural elements where autonomous support is anticipated. In the Phase I effort, a proof of concept mechanism will be built and demonstrated to establish the feasibility of a small form-factor androgynous hard and soft capture connector, maturing the TRL to 4. In Phase II, the design will be implemented as an Astrobee payload for functional testing on the ISS.
The ARTIE interface will provide tool-change functionality for robotic systems supporting astronaut activities and autonomous operations on the ISS and the Deep Space Gateway, on platforms such as AstroBee and the MANTIS teleoperation system. It will also support robotic manipulator functionalities for in-Space Assembly activities such as construction of the 30 m iSAT Space Telescope.
The ARTIE interface will enable TUI"s KRAKEN robotic arm to perform multiple functions in robotic assembly and in-space manufacturing systems such as the LEO Knight smallsat servicing vehicle, the OrbWeaver payload, and the AF/SMC Advanced Space Testbed (XST) Platform.
Kraenion's is an applied machine learning company developing a Computer Vision and Machine Learning (CVML) software platform named Vision Engine. It provides robust pre-trained visual intelligence solutions and keeps up with the latest in AI research, but can be customized for specific customer needs. It was engineered to produce good neural networks quickly on modest computers. This engineering investment has been worthwhile: we were able to get 100% accuracy on the DeepSat Earth Science dataset in under 1 hour on a laptop. Vision Engine includes an active learning based neural network training technology where the training software is aware of the cost of labeling data. Unlike traditional neural network training that assumes a large labeled dataset, our system carefully picks samples that maximize the learning opportunity and presents it for labeling to a human annotator. This provides much higher return on dollars invested for data annotation in areas like Earth Science where unlabeled data is abundant, but there is a scarcity of labeled data.
Safety and reliability of avionics equipment is crucial to the aviation industry, as failure of a single avionic component can lead to a catastrophic accident. This is especially true of unmanned vehicles in which a fault or failure can rapidly lead to an unsafe state. By implementing a system which can unobtrusively monitor the electronic health of the unmanned vehicle in real-time, routine aging leading to end of life failure or any transient high stress events which can affect the ongoing health and safety of the system can be identified and measures can be implemented to prevent system failure or unsafe conditions. Nokomis’ approach to identify functionality and health diagnostic data relies on identifying changes in unintended RF emissions and characterizing them using a hybrid of spectral quantification metrics and machine learning algorithms. Avionics electronics and other complex systems are comprised of multiple discrete components, each of which experiences failure due to aging in a different way. Unintended emission signatures for avionics contain features, which have a direct relationship to the health of individual components as well as the health of the entire system. The proposed application of a miniatured, ultra-sensitive RF sensor allows for automatically identifying the detected RF sources as a standalone capability within the sensor unit itself, thereby reducing communication link traffic necessary to processing power within the warfighter interface.
The primary application is intended for use in by unmanned vehicles to provide a safety system to identify any threats to vehicle performance and mission. The real-time threat analysis system will enhance vehicle safety without the need for an operator to either identify issues or initiate measures to compensate for unsafe operating states. There are multiple additional NASA programs which could benefit from the technology proposed herein. These include the Integrated Vehicle Health Management and Exploration Systems Mission Directorate.
Nokomis has identified a significant need in the commercial market for aircraft safety. Safety and system health is an important issue for vital electronics used in aerospace, the system proposed in this effort has the ability to meet the needs of a billion-dollar commercial market space. The market and application of unmanned aerial platforms for a wide variety of commercial applications.
This proposal targets a design of new management methods for power generation, distribution, and conversion in complex energy systems with multiple energy sources (fuel and electric) while ensuring necessary efficiency and electrical stability. The proposed methods are in response to the need for new modeling, simulation, and control of aircraft dynamics and the need to support electrification in future aircraft. The proposed innovation consists of three intertwined contributions: (1) a novel energy-based framework for modeling electrified aircraft propulsion (EAP) for future aircraft systems in terms of energy and power interaction dynamics; (2) a novel coordinated near-optimal nonlinear control design in energy space with provable performance; and (3) protection logic integrated with such control design. Our most relevant starting concept underlying this project is the idea that a generalized reactive power can be defined for multi-physical complex systems, and it is, therefore, applicable to assessing stability/efficiency trade-offs in candidate EAP systems across any vehicle. The innovation is a step toward combining systems science and first principles in support of engineering and managing candidate transformative aircraft architectures. At present there is no analytics for such synergic approaches, and, as a result, it is not possible to enable systematic control design of energy generation, distribution, and consumption in aircraft systems. While the idea of using energy methods is not new, related analytics and algorithms for modeling complex vehicles do not exist. This project is the first of its kind to demonstrate the feasibility of managing candidate transformative aircraft configurations by means of dynamic management of energy exchanges across its components and subsystems. In this project, the novel energy-based modeling, control and protection design will be demonstrated on an actual Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft architecture.
This project defines a first-of-a-kind management framework for modeling and control of EAP aircraft architectures. This unifying energy-based framework is a direct step towards enabling EAP by aiding control and protection logic design and assessing the impact of smart control on stability/efficiency trade-off across small engines, distribution and propulsion side. The proposed framework can be further extended to electric power systems for vehicle space missions, and manned deep-space missions.
The main potential non-NASA applications are for complex energy systems such as terrestrial energy systems, microgrids, commercial aircrafts and ships; out of which all require new ways of operating and control of multi-physics subsystems. Concepts introduced in this project have potential applications for autonomous operation of small reconfigurable military microgrids.
Advanced Cooling Technologies, Inc. (ACT) proposes a thermal concept for the ice penetration probe for Europa subsurface exploration. A preliminary vehicle architecture based on several thermal features that are meant to mitigate/solve a series of challenges specific to the mission is considered. The concept consists of:
The proposed thermal concept applies to both nuclear and radioisotope powered systems. The convertors are thermoelectric modules.
The main objective of the proposed program is to develop a thermal probe architecture that is capable of penetrating the thick and cryogenic ice layer from Europa by melting in the most effective and reliable way and also overcome the related challenges. Phase I will focus on concept feasibility demonstration, which will be done by developing a sub-scale ice melting probe prototype with front vapor chamber, variable conductance wall and steam jet steering subsystems integrated. Ice penetration and navigation capability of the sub-scale ice melting prototype will be demonstrated through an experimental system. ACT will work on thermal management system design and optimization and USNC will undertake the nuclear-based power conversion system design and power/mass budget assessment. The deliverables in Phase I will be a comprehensive report summarizing all R&D efforts and a full-scale system design that integrates both power and thermal management systems.
The immediate application for the proposed concept is Europa subsurface exploration. The probe functionality is based on several passive thermal features that would allow both ice penetration and potentially subsurface liquid water navigation. Additional NASA applications could be represented by exploration of other icy planets.
The nature of the power source (radioisotope or fission based) that the proposed melting probe uses may drastically reduce its potential for use in non-NASA applications. However, the probe’s architecture and its thermal features may be useful in an electrically powered configuration for subsurface exploration in Antarctic and/or Arctic regions.
Future astrophysics missions require efficient, low-temperature cryocoolers to cool advanced instruments or serve as the upper-stage cooler for sub-Kelvin refrigerators. Potential astrophysics missions include Lynx, the Origin Space Telescope, and the Superconducting Gravity Gradiometer. Cooling loads for these missions are up to 300 mW at temperatures of 4 to 10 K, with additional loads at higher temperatures for other subsystems. Due to low jitter requirements, a cryocooler with very low vibration is needed for many missions. In addition, a multistage cooler capable of providing refrigeration at more than one temperature simultaneously can provide the greatest system efficiency with the lowest mass. Turbo-Brayton cryocoolers have space heritage and are ideal for these missions due to negligible vibration emittance and high efficiency at low temperatures. The overall size, mass, and performance of Brayton cryocoolers are highly dependent on the technology employed in the recuperative heat exchangers (e.g., recuperators). On the proposed program, Creare plans to develop an advanced compact, lightweight recuperator focused on the low temperature range of the Brayton cryocooler. In Phase I, we will perform design trade-off assessments, fabrication trials, and demonstration testing. In Phase II, we will build and demonstrate an advanced recuperator for cryocoolers operating at temperatures down to 4 to 10 K.
The successful completion of this program will result in an extremely efficient low-temperature cryocooler with negligible vibration. This type of cryocooler is ideal as the upper-stage cryocooler or primary cooler for cooling advanced, low-temperature space instruments. Potential NASA missions include Lynx, the Origin Space Telescope, and the Superconducting Gravity Gradiometer.
The military market for the cryocooler technology is for cooling hyperspectral imaging systems on space‑based observation, surveillance, and missile defense systems. Commercial applications include cooling communication satellites; superconducting instruments, digital filters, and magnets; low‑temperature gas‑separation systems; hypercomputers; and superconducting quantum interference devices.
As the National Airspace System (NAS) evolves into a more automated system, it will be essential that human operators can effectively team with their automated Decision Support Systems (DSS) to manage the performance of the system. When automated systems recommend courses of action, the human operator must understand the operational recommendations with sufficient depth and clarity to evaluate their appropriateness and monitor the performance of the system. In this proposed effort, we will conduct specific research in human-autonomy teaming in the context of Traffic Flow Management (TFM) DSSs.
In this proposed research effort, Mosaic ATM will address this underlying cause of the lack of trust on the part of the human specialist in ATM DSSs by developing the ability for ATM DSSs to explicitly identify backup plans associated with the primary recommended course of action. By providing an explicit backup plan, the ATM DSS will better align with the human’s approach to the operational situation and will be more transparent in its function. The human user will gain trust in the automation by seeing deeper into the DSS’s evaluation process, knowing that the automation has a backup plan at the ready in case its primary recommendation evolves into an unsatisfactory state.
In this research, we will address the deep and fascinating algorithmic and human factors research topics to align ATM DSS information displays and even their ‘way of thinking’ with the human TFM specialist. Algorithmically, we will study how to define the backup plans and associate a plan B with a plan A. How do we compute the amount of time that is available for switching to the backup plan? From the human factors perspective, how do we convey the information to the TMC so that the recommendations are trusted and accepted?
-The primary non-NASA commercialization avenue for the proposed concept is transition into operation and use by the FAA
Completing the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) transition to Trajectory Based Operations (TBO) requires frequent, fast negotiations to adjust flight trajectories to account for the many uncertainties in National Airspace System (NAS) operations. These negotiations will be required not only pre-departure, but also while aircraft are en route. Furthermore, increasing numbers of flight deck applications and air/ground connectivity will make it easier than ever for airspace users to request trajectory amendments, but the FAA is not currently designed to handle that scale of exchanges. Mosaic ATM proposes a new approach to trajectory negotiation that leverages new data exchange architectures and increasingly autonomous capabilities. Our proposed approach supports trajectory negotiation that incorporates airspace user and FAA constraints and preferences, yet takes place outside the FAA’s ecosystem of legacy automated capabilities that are difficult to upgrade, allowing rapid deployment and scaling to achieve automated trajectory negotiation for an increasing number and variety of airspace users.
In Phase I, we will document requirements for the automated Trajectory Negotiation Service, develop and evaluate the algorithms for automated negotiation, and develop an architecture for a cloud-based automated Trajectory Negotiation Service. This supports Phase II development of a prototype capability that can be integrated into NASA’s ATM-X Test Bed for technical and stakeholder evaluation. Our approach is agnostic to vehicle type as well as ultimate deployment environment, supporting deployment as a stand-alone cloud service, a service within the FAA’s System Wide Information Management (SWIM) infrastructure, or as a capability within the Traffic Flow Management System (TFMS) or within commercial flight planning and filing capabilities.
Phase II integration into the ATM-X Test Bed supports future NASA concept development and evaluation:
Over the past decade, hobbyist and commercial small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) operations in the United States have greatly expanded, and forecasts predict that the trend will continue into the foreseeable future. With this expansion has come conflict with traditional manned aircraft. Already, and within the last five years, there have been several mid-air collisions, near-miss incidents, and other accidents involving sUASs. This proliferation of unmanned aircraft operations raises serious safety concerns for manned aircraft. To confront this present and growing danger, pilots need a robust, system-wide alerting system to increase situational awareness (SA) of nearby sUAS activity.
In this proposal, Mosaic ATM and Drone Traffic outline a plan for a software product that increases pilot SA by warning them of actual and potential sUAS activity in their area. The proposed innovation, the Smart UAS information Network (SUN), will integrate and fuse a wide array of disparate surveillance data, including airborne and terrestrial sensors and crowd-sourced sUAS activity reports, to present timely and user-tailored sUAS safety alerts to pilots. The ultimate vision for the proposed innovation – a Waze for aviation – is as a stand-alone flight application, or as a supplement to existing applications such as ForeFlight, living within a pilot’s electronic flight bag (EFB). At the heart of the innovation is a combination of deep learning techniques for classifying and identifying sUASs and generating their likely trajectories. A rich graphical user interface will provide current flight status, future trajectory information, and SUN’s safety-focused sUAS warning information embedded within 2D and 3D mapping displays.
NASA is interested in more sophisticated thermal control technologies that can operate in severe environments with a wide range of heat loads. Effective heat rejection is needed for a number of NASA missions especially those associated with planetary and lunar orbits where extreme temperature differences due to lighted versus dark regions challenge radiator systems. Supplemental heat rejection systems are needed with these radiators to fully reject the heat loads from space vehicles. Phase change material (PCM) heat exchangers are capable of supplementing these radiators, especially for long duration missions. These systems store excess thermal energy during periods of high heat loads or hot thermal environments by melting a material within the heat exchanger. At a later time, this heat within the heat exchanger is removed freezing the phase change material. This frozen phase change material is thus capable of adsorbing a heat load again continuing the process.
Innovations in PCM heat exchangers are desired to continue improving the storage capacity of these units in support of many cross-cutting programs at NASA ranging from ISS, to cubesats, satellites, and rovers. In particular, NASA is challenging design innovations for these PCM heat exchangers that have more phase change material and less structural mass, specific goals being at least 2/3 PCM and less than 1/3 structural mass.
Commercial opportunities for the PCM heat exchanger can support electronic systems especially for smoothing out thermal energy during pulsed operations. Additionally, when electronic systems’ cooling systems are temporarily unavailable, a PCM heat exchanger can function as a standby system protecting the electronic system.
NASA has identified a need for energy storage solutions with high energy density and reliability for lunar surface operations. Regenerative fuel cell (RFC) systems are a promising candidate for conditions requiring long duration discharge, such as a 354-hour lunar night. Giner proposes to modify their established non-flow-through-fuel-cell (NFTFC) design to reduce mass in a regenerative fuel cell (RFC) system. Giner will accomplish this by combining the cooling and water removal chambers, which will reduce the mass of the internal NFTFC components by 25%. The Phase I NFTFC optimization shall be performed on Giner’s 50 cm2 active area hardware, which can modified for high pressure and lightweight relatively easily. Giner will also assemble and test a proof-of-concept shared endplate stack containing an NFTFC and an electrolyzer, a modification that will further reduce mass in an RFC system. During the Phase II, Giner will design and assemble a full scale shared endplate stack containing an NFTFC and electrolyzer with light-weight endplates rated to 2000 psig. Giner projects an NFTFC energy efficiency of approximately 1000 W/kg by the end of the Phase II effort.
Within NASA there are almost innumerable needs for high energy density storage. This includes lunar and Martian missions and outposts, as well as extraterrestrial vehicles and the high altitude aircraft. Improvements to NFTFC energy density and reliability will make Giner’s RFC systems more attractive candidates for each of these applications.
Giner has provided RFC systems or discrete NFTFC and ELX stacks to several commercial aerospace companies primarily interested telecom, environmental sampling and border patrol applications. Giner perceives this to be a $50M+ market opportunity by 2025.
A high cycle life and high energy density rechargeable battery will address an important growing demand for safe, efficient, low-cost, environmentally sustainable air transportation. These advances will enable “thin-haul” aircraft with low-carbon propulsion systems that provide low-cost passenger and package transportation. Advances in electrified aircraft propulsion (EAP) will also introduce a new class of small aircraft with vertical take-off and landing capability for on-demand, urban air taxi and regional commuter service applications. Lithium-sulfur (Li-S) batteries are promising next-generation energy storage devices for NASA EAP program applications because of their high theoretical gravimetric energy density of 2500 Wh/kg, which is up to 5 times higher than today’s commercial lithium-ion batteries. However, their use has been limited by poor cycle life caused in part by the poor stability of Li metal anodes during cycling. In this Phase I, Giner will develop a novel strategy for stabilizing the Li metal anode to achieve stable, long term cycling of Li-S cells.
The developed technology will enable the use of high energy density Li-S batteries with increased cycle life for various NASA missions and programs such as: EAP applications (urban air mobility, thin haul, and short haul aircraft), EVA applications (life support, communications, power tools, glove heaters, lights and other devices), satellites, and other spacecraft and vehicles such as JUNO and the planned new Mars rover.
This coating technology will enable commercialization of high energy density Li-S batteries with increased cycle life, lower cost. This improvement would make Li-S batteries practical for EV applications. Additional markets include power for: persistent unmanned aerial vehicles, aerospace vehicles, satellites for military communication, large-scale grid energy storage, and consumer electronics.
Implementation of Trajectory Based Operations (TBO) to date has been limited to a subset of the National Airspace System’s (NAS’s) operating environment. The result is that key TBO systems, such as TBFM, are not functional and are turned off at times when unable to support the current NAS operating conditions. To fulfill the promise of TBO, systems like TBFM need to be robust to the broad spectrum of NAS operating conditions. ATCorp’s TBO Operational Transition Automation (TOTA) provides automation to assist the human operator with the ability to safely and efficiently transition from one set of NAS operating conditions to another while maintaining a trajectory based operation. For example, if weather impacts the nominal planned trajectory of a set of flights arriving at a busy NAS airport and the aircraft are required to be vectored around the weather, the current TBFM system does not support this maneuvering of flights and TBFM is no longer used to provide time-base metering. TOTA, however, provides automation to allow the controller to reflect the vectoring maneuvers around the weather in the TBFM system, allowing TBFM to support time based metering for this operational weather scenario.
TOTA provides NASA with the approach to providing a more robust solution and to enable TBO to support a broader spectrum of NAS operating conditions. This can be key to successful transitioning of TBO technology to the FAA and for supporting the transition to NextGen.
TOTA would provide significant improvement to the overall performance and acceptance of TBO in real world applications, supporting TBO implementation with the FAA and other Air Naviagation Service providers (ANSPs) around the world.
The proposed framework and software are directly applicable to NASA’s Sustainability Base, Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, and the International Space Station to improve the resiliency by identifying and mitigating faults, improving operational effectiveness, and predict degradation. Long-term spaceflights and space habitats are characterized by increased complexity resultant from environmental, physical, and human-in-the-loop challenges that leads to operational uncertainty. The space habitat must be resilient to unexpected anomalies without the need for human intervention.
We propose to develop a “resilient-by-design” framework demonstrated in a prototype toolkit. A digital twin simulation will be used as a virtual test bed for analyzing emerging energy technologies and future scenarios providing situational awareness. The framework will accommodate assured levels of performance, reliability, and resilience under the presence of uncertainty and sparsity in knowledge or data. The methodology to implement a resource management strategy will be based on novel probabilistic threshold conditions. Relevant fault metrics including false alarm rate, missing detection rate, and detection time will be assessed. The prototype software will be developed on the Trick Simulator / core Flight System platforms to facilitate easy transfer to current systems.
The proposed framework and software are directly applicable to NASA’s Sustainability Base, Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, and the International Space Station to improve the resiliency by identifying and mitigating faults, improving operational effectiveness, and predict degradation. The framework will recognize acceptable changes, extract relevant features, and establish conditions upon which to act. The software will be developed on the Trick Simulator / core Flight System platforms to facilitate easy transfer to current systems.
This technology would also be useful for disaster planning, e.g., FEMA, fire planning, and urban design, and to any organization working on a design for resilience systems including applications that require validation of different solutions with a focus on quick and effective decisions. We will pursue an aggressive commercialization strategy to bring the technology into market place.
Radiation in space poses threats for both astronauts and electronic equipment. While it is relatively easy to shield against non-ionizing RF and microwave radiation, shielding against higher energy ionizing radiation – gamma rays, protons, neutrons and galactic cosmic radiation (GCR) – is much more challenging. With longer missions to Jupiter or future manned missions and with the use of smaller spacecraft that cannot accommodate additional weight needed for shielding, the importance of lightweight shielding to NASA has increased. Radiation shielding approaches that have been considered through prior work include fabricating spacecraft out of hydrogen-rich radiation absorbing and scattering plastics instead of aluminum, placing external liquid hydrogen fuel and internal supply water around astronauts as radiation absorbers, and creating strong electromagnetic fields to deflect the radiation. To be effective, however, conventional shielding materials need to be thick and material thickness increases the total unwanted mass to be carried by a small satellite, and the amount of power required to create a deflection field would require significant fuel. NanoSonic proposes to develop lightweight composites consisting of multiple layers of graded atomic number (Z-number) materials as effective ionizing radiation shields beyond Low Earth Orbit. NanoSonic shall advance the Technology Readiness Level to 3 – 5 during Phase I. The composites could be used as the structural shells and support members of small satellites so serve multiple purposes. Preliminary research results with NanoSonic’s materials in the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences at Colorado State University, and at the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, have shown that our materials significantly attenuate X-rays and gamma rays without secondary radiation, and structurally survive simulated 50-year exposure to solar energetic particles and GCR.
This program would develop a lightweight radiation shielding composite. We foresee integration with future spacecraft as a path to market our materials on a much larger scale. These radiation shielding composites offer enhanced safety and reliability for space structures as they include components for moderate protection against galactic cosmic radiation (GCR), solar energetic particles (SEP), and secondary neutrons. This radiation shielding methodology could represent a large market to improve virtually any existing spacecraft shielding needs.
Similar, multifunctional nanocomposite shielding materials are being developed for other applications by NanoSonic building on our Metal Rubber family of materials, in the 1) electronics, 2) aerospace and defense, and 3) biomedical engineering areas. We foresee integration with current commercial partners such as Lockheed Martin and others as a path to market our materials on a much larger scale.
Exascale computing for Large-Scale Numerical Simulation requires a new technology for optical communication. VCSEL based transmitters run out of bandwidth at 56 Gbps PAM4, and the latency of PAM4 is incompatible with exascale computing. Other available technologies are excessively expensive, have high power consumption, are far from proven or they require temperature control. Our proposed concept integrates an Electro-Absorption Modulator (EAM) with a Surface-Emitting (SE) laser capable of > 100 Gbps/channel NRZ which can be arrayed to > 1.2 Tbps for a 12 element array and using Course Wavelength Division Multiplexing (CWDM) with 6 wavelengths can reach > 7 Tbps. Using NRZ instead of a more complex format reduces latency dramatically. The proposed device can operate over a wide temperature range, at least 25C to 100C and potentially over the full military range (-55C to 125C) without temperature control. The SE Laser-EAM has a 50% (0.3 pJ/bit vs 0.6 pJ/bit) reduction in power per bit compared to VCSEL solutions, and the transmission distance is dramatically improved. The proposed low cost device can be manufactured by the billions. The SE Laser-EAM array can be flip-chip mounted onto silicon. This unique device has ten times the reach of VCSELs, more than sufficient for any data center or exascale computer. The SE Laser-EAM is made from elements which are already proven and understood, but put together in a manner which achieves the performance exascale computing needs. In the final product a driver circuit will be integrated with the SE Laser-EAM array along with the CWDM optics to create a 7.2 Tbps transmitter module.
As the HPSC needs of government institutions such as NASA grow with exascale computing and they move to replace and update aging systems such as Pleiades with more distributed computing concepts like that in Electra, latency will ultimately limit the computing performance. The proposed transmitter with the novel SE Laser-EAM solves the latency problem as well as the bandwidth, footprint, and power consumption problems of optical communications in Exascale computing which is vital to the success of NASA's mission.
Data centers and HPSC in the US continue moving to single mode fiber data links, and the requirement for low cost, high speed optical transceivers is driving a multibillion dollar component market. The direct sales of our laser/EAM based transmitter would go to optical transceiver integrators such as Menara Networks, Advanced Optical Interconnects (AOI), Finisar and Lumentum.
In response to NASA’s need for advancing compact, light-weight, low power instruments geared towards in- situ lunar surface measurements, geophysical measurements, regolith particle analysis, and lunar resource exploration Q-Peak in partnership with University of Maryland proposes to develop a laser-based mass spectrometer. At UMD, Dr. Arevalo’s group has been working with an international group of experts to develop mass-spectroscopy instruments that use linear ion trap (LIT) and Orbitrap for higher mass resolution and better accuracy in detecting molecules. More recently Dr. Arevalo has been funded through Development and Advancement of Lunar Instrumentation (DALI) program to develop CRATER (Characterization of Regolith And Trace Economic Resources). CRATER has been conceived as a lander-payload instrument and it pioneers two cutting-edge subsystems: a UV laser and a CosmOrbitrap mass analyzer. CRATER will investigate the dynamics of the moon-forming events, detect life forming blanks, and explore economical important resources in the Moon.
Q-Peak proposes to design, develop and prototype a laser that will produce ~1 mJ of energy at 1064, 532, 266 and 213 nm. A switching mechanism to select particular wavelength will be employed along with a variable attenuation mechanism to continuously change the output energy from 0-100%. Estimated volume of the laser head is < 50 c.c.
A key factor in miniaturizing the laser is to design custom miniature optics, combine feature such as passive q-switch and output coupler, and bond the optics in place after they are aligned externally. Q‑Peak will partner with University of California, San Diego to develop a universal soldering material to bond optics to its heatsink that has different CTE compared to the optics.
NASA applications are in the search of life in the extra-terrestrial by detecting organic/inorganic molecules by means of LDMS, LIBS, LIF, Raman spectroscopy. With slight variation in wavelength when operated at high PRF such as 10-30 kHz the laser can be used for lidar, terrain mapping and autonomous rendezvous of satellite. When integrated into a micro mass spectrometer the instrument can be used for air monitoring and breath analysis for future human habitation in space.
An ultra-compact UV laser nominally operating at 266, and 213 nm can be used in advanced R&D and industrial manufacturing such as micro-material processing for the manufacturing of printed circuit boards and electronics. UV lasers are used in biotechnology, atomic molecular spectroscopy, chemical dynamics and medical markets for sterilization and disinfection of devices.
Bulk metallic glass (BMG) has gained popularity over the last two decades as alloys have been developed that can remain in a supercooled state at sufficient intervals to allow for processing in a similar manner to plastics. Their physical properties, including an unusual combination of hardness, strength, and elasticity, have made them ideal candidates for the production of strain wave gears. Both the lack of ability to produce thick components and the cost per gram of the material result in preclusion of subtractive manufacturing methods as the primary mode of part formation. Instead, components are formed from metallic glass using injection molding, thermoplastic forming or 3D printing. Unfortunately, draft requirements associated with molding techniques and the lack of precision in 3D printing often make some form of subtractive post-processing inevitable. This creates a manufacturing challenge for both high volume and rapid prototyping applications. Currently, CNC milling and electric discharge machining (EDM) are the primary methods for post-processing of near net shape BMG components. Unfortunately, CNC milling is unable to deliver on needed thin features due to the hardness and elasticity. EDM on the other hand imparts thermal stress on the components and can promote crystallization near the affected machining surface. We propose using pulsed electrochemical machining (PECM) as both a manufacturing solution for volume production and for prototyping. Traditionally, PECM is used as a volume solution to manufacturing and is already capable of filling this need for the BMG community. Voxel Innovations is currently working with BMG manufacturers to incorporate PECM in this way. In the proposed research, we present a method for allowing PECM to meet BMG rapid prototyping needs (specifically targeting this effort towards strain wave gears), allowing prototyping and volume manufacturing to maintain continuity in how it is accomplished.
Prototyping of bulk metallic glass strain-wave and planetary gears for extra-terrestrial cold-world robotics.
The boundary layer plays a critical role in aerodynamics, acting as a barrier to the transfer of momentum from the air to the flight vehicle. In-flight measurements of velocity fields in the boundary layer could be used to establish the transition point to turbulent flow. This Phase I SBIR project will investigate a novel method for imaging flow velocity based on filtered light scattering. It does not require seeding of the flow, and thus is suitable for in-flight tests. This approach can be implemented with diode lasers, which should result in size, weight and power compatible with installation aboard small aircraft, or in high-vibration environments such as hypersonic vehicles. The method could also be used as the basis for velocity measurements in wind tunnels or in combustion research.
In flight imaging of flow velocity around aircraft, including the boundary layer and flow fields in hypersonic engine intakes. Remote measurement of velocity of rocket exhaust. Imaging flow fields in wind tunnels. Imaging air and fuel mixing in combustors.
Optical diagnostics for fluid velocity are used extensively in combustion research and increasingly in atmospheric research. Imaging of vibrations in mechanical components, such as engines.
Mainstream proposes to develop a vapor compression (VC) thermal management system suitable for long duration lunar equatorial missions. Because the high lunar surface temperatures during daytime operation exceed the maximum allowable temperature for most electronics, an active lifting cycle is needed rather than typical spacecraft thermal control strategies such as passive thermal links or mechanical pumped loops. The objective of Phase I is to design and demonstrate the key enabling technologies needed to produce a fully functioning VC heat pump prototype. The most significant technological innovation needed to achieve a highly reliable lunar VC heat pump is the improvement of microgravity compressor technology. The main focus of Phase I of this program is to adapt our microgravity refrigerant compressor technology for operation at the extreme environmental conditions of lunar equatorial missions. Our approach leverages our experience with spaceflight-proven microgravity compressors and advanced heat exchanger design. In Phase I, we will design, fabricate and test these key technologies for lunar lander thermal management.
NASA has identified a need for improved thermal management systems in the equatorial lunar environment, where surface temperatures can vary between ‑183°C and 100°C. Mainstream’s compressor technology has potential to benefit any space-based system in extreme environments. Increasing the rejection temperature through a lifting cycle can reduce radiator size and weight. Other applications include manned lunar habitat climate control, food preservation freezers, low lunar orbit missions, and Venus exploration missions.
Potential non-space applications include high energy laser cooling systems and industrial high temperature heat pumps. Few manufacturers supply high temperature heat pumps with sink temperatures over 100°C with one main barrier to entry being lack of available low-GWP, high-temperature refrigerants. Mainstream’s compressor has the potential to penetrate these markets.
Creating a ground penetrating radar (GPR) antenna for both Earth and planetary science applications requires high efficiency, robust operational frequency, as well as low size, weight, and power (SWaP) features. Furthermore, the value of an antenna that provides these core competencies and that is versatile enough to be integrated on numerous platforms is of high value to NASA and the commercial space industry. The benefits of such technology could enable the characterization of lunar lava tubes, subsurface water-ice, and the location of planetary ore deposits in a manner that is both affordable and simple to integrate with larger systems. The challenge is that this solution does not currently exist in the market. Choosing a solution that meets the aforementioned criteria often requires combining multiple antennas, thereby increasing SWaP and complexity. The proposed antenna solution intends to resolve this challenge, and the proposing team of Astrobotic Technology, Inc. (Astrobotic) and the Ohio State University (OSU) have the expertise and technological development to do so. The performance and operational requirements of the proposed antenna are summarized as follows:
The success of Phase I research will lead to a novel under-rover ultra-wide band GPR antenna design. Manufacturability will be assessed and real performance will be validated during Phase II and will culminate with an engineering model of the antenna that can be easily infused into future missions through the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program or a Phase III SBIR opportunity that leverages any of Astrobotic’s existing Phase I and Phase II related contracts.
In addition to surveying the planetary subsurfaces, there are numerous applications on Earth that demand mobile GPR. These applications include construction, land surveying, mapping building integrity, characterizing hazardous waste leakage, and identifying archaeological artifacts. Furthermore, Astrobotic would be a user of this antenna for future rovers that require GPR capabilities.
From a hardware perspective, NASA’s currently deployed state-of-the-art (SOA) in space computing utilizes 20-year-old technology that may be inadequate for future missions. NASA’s intention is that the new SOA for in-space processing will be High Performance Spaceflight Computing (HPSC) Chiplet based. However, in order to provide advanced computing capabilities and application programming support, a fault tolerant, reliable real-time (RT) Linux OS that makes available the full capabilities of the HPSC Chiplet is highly desired. The proposed research effort will substantially enhance the SOA by delivering a flight qualifiable, verifiably reliable, fault tolerant, dynamically upgradeable, RT Linux for the HPSC Chiplet, capable of supporting parallel and heterogeneous processing for autonomy, robotics and science codes. Antara’s fully configurable Reliable RT Linux will provide a natively multi-threaded, secure and re-entrant kernel with near-time determinism and advanced preemptive scheduling. Furthermore, the kernel will be compatible with RHEL, CentOS, Ubuntu and custom filesystems for wide applicability. Phase I efforts will deliver a TRL-4 prototype and associated documentation to establish the feasibility and performance potential and enable other researchers to contribute to the HPSC Ecosystem. Successful implementation of the innovation will enhance the HPSC Ecosystem and support major programs in Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate and Science Mission Directorate. The innovation will deliver a cross-cutting capability to support potential near-term infusion targets such as Mars Fetch Rover, WFIRST/Chronograph, Lunar Gateway, SPLICE/Lunar Lander and the Moon to Mars campaign.
Antara's robust, fault-tolerant, reliable RT Linux designed to make available the full capabilities of the HPSC Chiplet is a horizontal (i.e., fundamental enabling/cross-cutting) capability that will enhance the HPSC Ecosystem and support major programs in Human Exploration & Operations Mission Directorate and Science Mission Directorate. Potential near-term infusion targets include Mars Fetch Rover, WFIRST/Chronograph, Lunar Gateway, the SPLICE/Lunar Lander and the Moon to Mars campaign.
Key Space Situation Awareness elements such as Data Integration, Exploitation and Characterization SOA will be significantly enhanced by the capabilities of the HPSC Chiplet and Antara's Reliable RT Linux. Commercial Aerospace companies collaborating with NASA that are adopting the HPSC Chiplet will be able to license Antara's innovation for advanced parallel and heterogeneous processing.
DornerWorks is seeking to enhance the capabilities and ecosystem of the open source Xen Project hypervisor, targeting full integration with the High Performance Space Computing (HPSC) platform’s High Performance Processing Subsystem (HPPS) through this project. There will be several tangible benefits stemming from this Phase I project.
This project will show the Xen Project hypervisor to be a viable, open source, bare metal, hypervisor solution for the HPSC. Embedded hypervisors have been ported to hardware similar to the HPSC-HPPS, like the Xilinx Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC and the NXP i.MX 8, for products in several different commercial markets to:
This project will also add capabilities and make improvements to the Xen Project hypervisor to better suit it for use with the HPSC hardware and software components. A gap analysis between the Xen Project hypervisor’s capabilities and HPSC requirements will have been performed, identifying remaining improvements or new feature to be implemented in Phase II. This project will also substantively improve the Xen ecosystem with regards to space programs and missions by adding Xen support of a real time operating system (RTOS), like RTEMS, on A53 processors. This will be of value to future programs targeting the HPSC, and of immediate value for programs currently developing software on similar hardware available today, such as the Xilinx MPSoC used on platforms like Innoflight’s CFC-400 Compact Hybrid Architecture for Multi-Parametric Sensing (CHAMPS) Flight Computer.
This project provides open source contributions to the developing HPSC ecosystem by enabling use of a hypervisor, or by providing another hypervisor to use, and by adding support for another RTOS on the HPPS. The HPSC platform is targeted for Rover, Landers, High Bandwidth Instrument, and SmallSat/Constellation missions. This project also provides benefits to current missions targeting similar hardware, like the MPSoC, to host multiple instances of core Flight Software System (cFS) to help provide redundancy on a single chip.
Improvements to the Xen Project hypervisor and ecosystem benefit NASA and non-NASA applications alike. Improving real time capabilities will benefit customers in a variety of markets with real-time requirements. Increasing the number of operating systems that can run on Xen virtual machines is also valuable to the larger market, e.g., a RTEMS/Xen configuration is of interest to several parties.
Reliable, real-time health monitoring is crucial for ensuring crew safety and well-being, especially with limited in-vehicle medical resources and spaceflight induced health risks. However, while individual modalities for vital sign sensing have been well studied in controlled indoor settings, there is little research on a composite sensor system, and limited literature on RF sensing in a reflective module environment. In this Phase I proposal, we suggest potential for greater coverage and accuracy by leveraging the unique abilities existing remote sensing techniques, as well as the reflective nature of vehicle modules. AKELA proposes to develop a brassboard sensor system containing RGB and IR video cameras and passive bistatic radar (PBR) utilizing vehicle embedded WLAN; to develop vital sign data extraction and fusion algorithms; and to conduct laboratory experiments analyzing the feasibility and performance of vital sign monitoring by individual modalities and of the composite system in a module-like setting. For the PBR component, we will also investigate the potential benefits of vital sign Doppler velocity detection from receiving nonlinear harmonics emitted by devices in the environment in the presence of the WLAN, compared to receiving at the WLAN transmit frequency. With growing interest in continuous, unobtrusive day-to-day health monitoring, potential markets for this technology include standoff health, stress and fatigue monitoring for office employees, aerospace and military personnel, physicians, and patients.
The proposed remote sensing system aims to provide in-vehicle health monitoring for astronauts during training and missions. This system would also provide capabilities for health monitoring and human detection/tracking in similar environments (with reflective walls and, if necessary, harmonic emissions). If the system is not immediately applicable to more general environments, possible adaptation of the RF component to accommodate non-reflective enclosures would allow functionality in other NASA facilities, such as offices and laboratories.
With the growing interest in continuous, unobtrusive health monitoring, and the widespread use of WLANs, potential non-aerospace applications include standoff health, stress and fatigue monitoring for military personnel and other individuals in similarly reflective cabins. The system may also be extended to operate in typical drywall rooms, to monitor individuals in homes, offices, or hospitals.
Traditionally, limitations in spacecraft computing capabilities have limited the amount of collected data that is stored onboard a spacecraft. The lack of sufficient onboard resources have also resulted in custom data storage architectures that vary by mission in the absence of a standard data access framework. Onboard computing capabilities have improved significantly through targeted investments in technologies in recent years and will continue to grow in the future. Additionally, ground-based processing, which inherits time-lag, communication availability, and limited bandwidth issues, will be incapable of meeting the increasing demands for operational and scientific data processing objectives. As flight software systems mature to take advantage of increased onboard computing resources, a standardized infrastructure will be needed to store and access data onboard.
Advanced Space proposes to demonstrate the feasibility of ODIS, the Onboard Data Infrastructure for Spacecraft. ODIS utilizes standard SQL interfaces and open-source relational databases that operate within a standardized framework for data storage and retrieval. Additionally, Advanced Space proposes to design and implement a Database Memory Manager (DMM) that will allow increased data storage onboard a spacecraft. ODIS will be demonstrated within NASA’s Core Flight System (cFS) software architecture. With the ability to utilize standard industry-accepted interfaces such as SQL to facilitate onboard processing of operational and scientific data, ODIS can dramatically increase the scientific yield of future missions. Technologies that use machine learning and spacecraft autonomy will especially benefit from ODIS as data is essential to machine learning implementations. Investing in this capability now and demonstrating in compliance with cFS FSW architecture will accelerate development of autonomous and flexible software and avert a future with differing, incompatible, and low performing architectures.
The application for this technology is any future space missions that require onboard data processing to improve autonomy, science yield, and overall mission performance. NASA adoption of ODIS for all onboard data storage and retrieval operations will establish a standardized approach to mission data handling, enabling inter-spacecraft data exchanges and many advanced spacecraft operations that are required or highly beneficial for deep space applications.
The existence of a standardized, open-source framework for data storage onboard spacecraft will enable sophisticated flight software on any spacecraft mission. Onboard databases can support commercial missions by increasing the amount of instrument data return and enabling onboard autonomy. ODIS would allow for collaborative spacecraft and networking of space assets across organizations.
The proposed innovation uses the powerful function approximation capabilities of neural networks (NNs) to enable real-time trajectory correction for spacecraft with electric propulsion (EP). We use a NN to “learn” the relationship between state and control near a reference trajectory, then use the NN to optimally follow the reference path in the presence of uncertainty. This innovation applies recent advancements from the field of artificial intelligence to spacecraft guidance and control. NN technology for EP automation has two key benefits: 1) the accuracy and optimality of running an onboard sophisticated program, and 2) a low computational requirement similar to legacy linear control architectures.
The innovation enables increased spacecraft autonomy and makes spacecraft robust to large errors or large changes in target trajectory. Legacy onboard control algorithms are incapable of maintaining a spacecraft in highly sensitive orbits such as Earth-Moon libration point orbits (including NRHOs). Spacecraft with EP systems currently rely on frequent ground contacts in order to get updated thrust instructions. The proposed innovation will enable spacecraft with EP to autonomously follow a nominal path or rendezvous with another spacecraft in sensitive regimes, without significant onboard computation. The innovation benefits a wide variety of NASA projects, particularly the Lunar Orbiting Platform - Gateway, which will operate in this sensitive regime with an electric propulsion based Power and Propulsion Element.
Example applications and benefits of the proposed innovation include: reducing operational costs for constellations of spacecraft, enabling EP spacecraft to perform transfers which are too sensitive for ground-in-the-loop control, autonomous stationkeeping in sensitive orbits, and ground-based Monte Carlo analyses of sensitivity and/or contingency cases.
This technology will enable spacecraft with EP to autonomously follow a nominal path or rendezvous with another spacecraft in sensitive regimes, without significant onboard computation and without frequent ground support. The innovation benefits a wide variety of NASA projects, particularly the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, which will operate in this sensitive regime with an EP based Power and Propulsion Element. Other NASA missions with EP will also benefit from reduced fuel costs and reduced operations costs.
Commercial and other users of the technology will be similarly aided by new degrees of autonomy and precision flying. The innovation reduces the need for continuous real-time support, reducing costs and helping ensure high levels of service availability. As the industry transitions to large constellations, autonomy is essential to minimize human operator costs and enable new business models.
Simulating science objectives is an essential component of NASA missions to reduce risk, whether the target is Earth or any solar system body. As technology has improved, so has the fidelity, complexity, and precision of scientific instrumentation. In addition, modern communications bandwidth of the spacecraft allows for the transmit of more data than ever. These increased capabilities have placed extra demands on science data generation. Simulated science data for use in planningare required for a successful mission, not only in flight, but through all stages of mission planning as well. Unprecedented collaboration between science teams and operations teams require large swaths of cumbersome technology for sharing, integrating, and visualizing simulated data. This significant complexity hinders the ability of responsible parties to make informed, sensible, and rapid decisions.
The proposed Spaceline tool will directly facilitate NASA in their goal of developing Mission Design Analysis tools to increase the accuracy of science modeling and enable design of future observing systems by predicting and optimizing their impacts on science data collection. Spaceline will be a welcome addition to any mission wherever science planning will reduce costs and risk. Spaceline’s architecture calls for a well-maintained server architecture and a very simple browser based front end to drive a real-time, interactive experience.
Spaceline would support commercial Earth orbiting constellations as well as Space Situational Awareness applications. Spaceline can test the efficacy of constellation-based sensors which monitor the activities of other spacecraft and provide a training tool for operations team members. The visualization portions of Spaceline will be easy to insert into third-party web sites or museum kiosks.
Traditionally, PPUs for electric propulsion have been designed around a specific thruster type with little attention given to compatibility with other vendor thruster models or changing power needs. Furthermore, many of the traditional designs based on the Weinberg converter are restricted to specialized, low voltage, bus systems. The proposed research will test the feasibility of using multiple anode power modules for PPUs in the 12kW or higher. The purpose of this phase-one proposal is to convince the reader that there may be significant advantages of the power-brick-array worth exploring.
Using well designed, reliable, wide-range, module arrays has become increasingly popular for military power conversion. It is not unusual to see 5kW converters being made from arrays of 300-watt power bricks. The advantages lie not only in the convenience of design but also there is reliability in high volume electronics. Space-rated electronic components carry their reliability guarantee from extensive testing but commercial power supplies made in high volumes have been thoroughly field tested and have a higher degree of robustness.
Colorado Power Electronics (CPE) has developed a hall thruster anode power supply that has both wide input range and wide-output range. This 2.25kW module can be used in a power array much like the power modules from Vicor ™ or Synqor ™. This wide-ranging topology has been used successfully for plasma loads with an estimated $2 billion market sales since inception. Originally patented in 1996 this topology is still the go-to design for modern thin-film-deposition.
The scalability limit appears to be enormous. If we use military power-brick designs with fifty-brick structure as a model our current power-brick total power would exceed 100kW. This power level should satisfy most thruster requirements for several decades.
Redundancy for electric propulsion has been limited to redundant PPU-thruster pairs. There is no redundancy within the PPU itself. The proposed power-brick topology offers a level of redundancy not found in other PPU designs due to the limitations of mass and volume.
With increasing volumes power-brick operating costs will drop due to minimum-lot-buy requirements and other economies of scale.
We are currently proposing power modules for linear accelerators and induction brazing for soil sample recover. There will been many reusable design elements and circuits that will further improve economies of scale.
Cornerstone Research Group (CRG) proposes the development of a modular palletizing system to facilitate automated transport, placement, and exchange of mission payloads in space. CRG will demonstrate a mechanically robust, self-aligning, and electrically isolating payload module connector system capable of supporting integrated electrical and communication connections. The proposed approach can be expanded to later include other types of integrated connections. This state-of-the-art palletizing system, will facilitate self-aligning and reversible mounting of both pallet decking onto backbone structures (e.g. trusses) and multiple payloads onto the pallet. This unique joining system provides NASA with a reliable, scalable structural assembly capability that can be used with autonomous systems. Leveraging CRG’s prior development work on shape memory polymer fastening systems and actuators, the proposed R&D herein will provide NASA with a multifunctional joining system with technology readiness level (TRL) of 4 at the conclusion of the Phase I effort
An important evolution of NASA’s mission is underway where it acts to support the commercial space industry. An aspect of that evolution into a commercial space industry is to add smaller launch vehicles to the inventory while working on reducing acquisition costs whenever possible. Cornerstone Research Group, Inc. (CRG) proposes to deliver greater affordability and performance for medium to large composite structures for small launch vehicles using low pressure assisted composite molding. The major benefits are derived from the use of lower cost materials associated with liquid molding, while adding a small back pressure during cure using less intensive infrastructure. The use of unique low pressure methods for curing prepreg composites has been demonstrated by others. The use of low pressure processing with liquid molding is a logical extension of the technology. The resulting proposed process, while taking advantage of the cost benefits of traditional liquid molding, also leads to higher fiber volume and the potential of more integrated structures, which in turn leads to higher performance similar to autoclave cured composites while reducing the capital costs associated with an autoclave. Processing in this manner will maintain compatibility with existing qualified resins and reinforcements, and enable more mass-efficient composite structures.
NASA’s SBIR topic S2.01 Proximity Glare Suppression for Astronomical Coronagraphy expresses specific interest in proposals for process improvements needed to improve performance of current wavefront correction devices. We propose to develop a manufacturing process for microelectromechanical deformable mirrors (MEMS DMs) that eliminates high spatial frequency topography due to print-through. In NASA's extreme wavefront control systems used for space-based coronagraphy, topography needs to be at or below 1nm rms to avoid being a limiting factor in achievable dark hole contrast. High spatial frequency topography on MEMS DMs can inhibit high contrast imaging in coronagraph systems through undesired diffraction. In previous work we have developed a clear, quantitative understanding of the root causes and sources of high-spatial frequency shape errors in MEMS DMs, and have demonstrated feasibility of one promising approach to eliminate those errors. The proposed new process involves modifications of the annealing processes, sacrificial materials specifications, layer thicknesses, and processing procedures used in MEMS foundry-based fabrication of DMs, and will lead to production of DMs with surface figure errors measuring 1nm rms, about an order of magnitude lower than the current commercial state-of-the-art. We will conduct experiments on test structures to optimize topography-reducing techniques while simultaneously ensuring high yield. By combining recent process innovations that improve topography with other recent innovations that markedly increase manufacturing yield, we will create a path toward producing ultra-smooth, high-yield MEMS DMs that will become enabling components for the space-based coronagraphs that NASA is relying on in its mission to search for habitable exoplanets.
Deformable mirrors with reduced high spatial frequency topography have a few astronomical NASA commercial applications. There are a number of missions/mission concepts that require the wavefront control provided by the proposed high-actuator-count deformable mirrors. These include the Large UV/Optical/Infrared Surveyor (LUVOIR), the Habitable Exoplanet Observatory (HabEx), Alpha Centauri Exoplanet Satellite (ACESat), and the Centaur pathfinder mission.
Deformable mirrors with reduced topography have non-NASA commercial applications:
Ground-based astronomy: Installations such as the Magellan Telescope and the planned ELTs.
Space surveillance and optical communications: Funded by Department of Defense, these have classified agendas.
Microscopy: Modalities affected include multi-photon fluorescence and localization microscopy techniques.
MicroLink Devices proposes to develop triple-junction (3J) epitaxial lift-off (ELO) solar cells containing Bifacial Back Metal Mirror (BBMM) technology to allow for reduced mass through device structure thinning as well as cooler and more efficient operation by selectively rejecting excess broadband infrared (IR) radiation. These BBMM 3J solar cells will achieve 33% 1-Sun AM0 beginning-of-life (BOL) power conversion efficiency and greater than 2.5 kW/kg specific power thus enabling compact and low mass solar photovoltaic arrays for NASA science missions.
Efficient and power dense 3J ELO BBMM solar cells are attractive for next-generation spacecraft power and solar electric propulsion (SEP) systems. Photovoltaic arrays based on the proposed 3J ELO BBMM solar cells will be ideal for NASA missions where greater efficiency and specific power than existing Ge wafer-based 3J solar cells are required.
Manufacturers of commercial satellites and high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are interested in MicroLink’s low mass and power dense ELO solar cell technology.
NASA is developing an Exploration Portable Life Support Subsystem (xPLSS) for next-generation Exploration Extra Vehicular Mobility Units (xEMU) planned to replace existing space suits. NASA has identified technology gaps in current xPLSS due to the amine swing-bed system not being design for the partial atmosphere of Mars. To solve this, NASA is requesting the development of a robust “Boost Compressor” which can pull vacuums down to 0.1 torr and outlet pressure tolerance over 15.2 PSIA to simplify system complexity.
Common pressure swing adsorption (PSA) solutions include dynamic blowers utilizing high impeller speeds to create a differential pressure. Operating up to 100,000 RPM makes them compact and lightweight but the impeller design causes the flow rate to depend on the differential pressure. When pressure is increased, flow diminishes. Here, the blower would be limited to discharge pressures below 5 PSIA, rendering it insufficient to achieve NASA goals.
Another option is positive displacement compressors that handle larger pressure differentials, exhibit minimal flow reduction with an increased pressure differential, and handling larger turndown ratios. These are preferable when a wide range of operating conditions, varying pressures and speeds, and higher reliability are required. Their ability to handle inconsistent conditions ideally suits these for PSA applications. The downside is that they are speed limited by bearing loading, making them less ideal for space applications.
Air Squared is proposing the development of a Spinning Scroll Boost Compressor (SSBC) that merges the strength of both technologies by capturing high-pressure differential without sacrificing high-speed performance. The innovative spinning motion of the scrolls eliminates various centrifugal loads, allowing it to operate at speeds >8,000 RPM, reducing size and weight. This removes the need for a counterbalance, reducing bulk by eliminating counterweights and easing bearing loads.
The SSBC will define next-generation PSA for xPLSS xEMU in Mars and Deep Space exploration. Capable of operating over several different partial atmospheric environments in a compact footprint, the SSBC will provide flexible xPLSS design adaptable to varied NASA missions and provide a foundation for both Lunar Gateway habitation and human exploration of Mars. These innovations will accelerate the SSBC’s adaptability for both the ORION Spacecraft and Human Exploration Research Opportunity (HERO).
Given the improved pressure and flow rate, adaptability as a compressor, vacuum pump, and expander, and reduced complexity of spinning scrolls, several positive displacement solutions would benefit from the development of the SSBC. Qualified spinning scroll machines would upgrade the performance of aerospace environmental control systems, vacuum mass spectrometry, and waste heat recovery.
Made In Space (MIS) is the leader in manufacturing technologies for the outer space environment and has built an Exploration Manufacturing technology portfolio that contains methods for additive, subtractive, and casting manufacturing processes. However, technology advances and system requirements continue to push the boundaries of what is needed by future space explorers and commercial products.
Beginning with the Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF), MIS has progressively pursued additional manufacturing processes using the core subsystems of AMF as a baseline. VULCAN, a metal additive and subtractive manufacturing machine, and EMMA, an electronics manufacturing machine, are two programs that are currently underway. AMF, VULCAN, and EMMA provide a basis for pursuing in-space welding and are used to guide MIS from initial systems requirements development, through creating the critical design of this capability.
MIS proposes to develop a Mobile End-effector Laser Device (MELD) capable of on-site, on-demand joining and repair of space structures. MELD is a self-sufficient end-effector that interfaces with a robotic arm and uses the arm for mobility. Key subsystems are directly contained in the end-effector such as power supply, laser system, cooling system, vision system, and avionics. This system is programmed to be autonomous and relies on minimal human interaction, depending on the task. The MELD system provides a tool that applies to many use cases and repair functions that are vital to future long duration exploration missions.
The International Space Station and Lunar Gateway are two large NASA assets that require maintenance due to the environments they are in. Free orbital debris, micrometeorites, and other hazards cause unseen and unplanned damage to the outsides of these habitats and must be considered when human lives are at stake. MELD would be used to remediate any damage that would occur to the external surfaces by either welding over or adding material to the outside of the surface for additional strength and protection.
The autonomy provided by the combination of a robotic arm appendage and MELD provide significant cost benefits to mass production and construction companies. High levels of accuracy and precision are two main principles that must be followed with welding and could potentially be disastrous if not achieved. Welding of car struts, foundation beams, and large construction benefit from using MELD.
Storagenergy Technologies Inc. proposes a novel high energy all solid-state Li-S battery (ASSLSB). If successful, the proposed high energy battery systems will enable high power/energy storage for future science and exploration missions and offer benefits to other national needs.
Because of the benefits of the proposed ASSLSB in terms of its high energy, high power and excellent safety, the novel battery has the following space applications, such as missions using electric propulsion, robotic missions, lunar exploration missions to NEO and MARS, crewed habitats, astronaut equipment, robotic surface missions to Venus and Europa, polar Mars missions and Moon missions, and distributed constellations of micro-spacecraft.
The proposed high energy ASSLSB offers benefits to other national needs. This includes national defense systems such as unmanned aerial vehicles, unmanned underwater vehicles, and soldier portable power systems, all-electric and hybrid cars, grid-scale energy storage systems etc.
In this program, we will develop a novel, fast tunable laser seed source in the 1045nm wavelength range, for use in LIDAR remote sensing applications.
LIDAR remote sensing
Remote sensing, optical communications, optical coherence tomography, directed energy weapons
Space weather benchmarks are recognized as a crucial product for a variety of government and industry stakeholders. Until now, they have been computed primarily from a scientific perspective, on an individual basis, and, to a large extent, without cross-validation. We propose to develop a tool that combines the most robust techniques currently available, together with a wide range of data from the Heliophysics System Observatory (HSO), and the option to upload user-supplied data, to produce the most accurate estimates of benchmarks, together with their uncertainties. During our Phase I effort, we will develop a prototype web-based tool that illustrates how space weather benchmarks can be estimated using the most sophisticated statistical methodologies, which have been previously investigated by our team. We will focus on measurements identified in NSF's SWORM Phase I report, which includes data from a range of regions within the heliophysics domain. Importantly, we will carefully quantify the uncertainties with these benchmark estimates, a quantity that is at least as useful as the actual benchmark value. We will incorporate additional methodologies (e.g., Peaks-Over-Threshold) as appropriate and present the prototype tool to potentially interested stakeholders (e.g. the SPDF and CCMC) during month five. We will deliver a final report describing the prototype tool make it available to the community through an open-source GitHub repository. We anticipate that this tool will find broad appeal within the NASA community, and, ultimately, across many other scientific and engineering disciplines where an accurate assessment of risk likelihood is necessary. We would plan to commercialize this work by providing tailor-made solutions for customers, including support and service.
Our tool would be valuable to a variety of NASA groups, including the Space Physics Data Facility (SPDF) and the Community Coordinated Modeling Center (CCMC). The SPDF, who manage Heliophysics Observatories and web service APIs, such as CDAWeb, provides web-based and command-line interfaces for accessing NASA mission data. Our tool would complement these models by adding a new and unique capability. More generally, it would be useful wherever time series data are collected and analyzed, which would include many groups at ARC, JPL, and LaRC.
NOAA and the SWPC, in particular, collect time series data from a fleet of satellites, with a particular emphasis on forecasting terrestrial and space weather. The tool we will develop would complement their current capabilities, allowing them to make probabilistic forecasts. Further afield, in industrial applications, we anticipate that a general-purpose benchmark tool would be hugely beneficial.
TERRAVOLT Phase I will serve as initial proof of concept for a real-time geoelectric field prediction capability. Specifically, the proposed work will leverage historical magnetometer databases and the USGS/Earthscope EMTFs to develop a capability to calculate and predict geoelectric fields in real time. In order to accomplish this goal, we will leverage recent advances in data analytics and machine learning that have not been widely exploited in space weather prediction:
Our proposed effort will leverage all of these advances to provide a new capability for providing real-time forecasts of geoelectric fields that can be applied at any location where an operational time series is available and a suitable EMTF is known.
Data processing tool to enable real-time geoelectric field/GIC calculation and forecasting
Operational monitoring of space weather impacts on critical infrastructure and early warning of potentially hazardous activity
This proposal is responsive to NASA SBIR Subtopic S1.02: Technologies for Active Microwave Remote Sensing; specifically the item titled “1 Watt G-band (167-175 GHz) Solid State Power Amplifier for Remote Sensing Radars.” The technical goal is a compact and reliable amplifier module with one-watt of output power and 20% power added efficiency (PAE) at the stated frequency band of interest. As described in the solicitation, the NASA applications include SmallSat based cloud, water, and precipitation missions, similar to the highly successful RainCube (which operated at 37.5 GHz). Compact size and power efficiency are required for the SmallSat form factor and also to reduce costs for the envisioned swarm mission technology. The Phase I research includes the completion of the simulation and design study for the new amplifier chip and the demonstration of the waveguide power combining technology that will be required to achieve the one-watt goal without sacrificing significant PAE. The deliverable results will include two primary items that should prove the feasibility of the technology. These are the design report from that states the expected performance of the new amplifier MMIC and the delivery of a prototype amplifier module operating at the frequency band of interest that utilizes the four-way power combining with sufficient efficiency to meet the NASA goals.
NASA applications include cloud, water, and precipitation missions that require radar sources above 100 GHz, particularly SmallSat and CubeSat missions, as well as swarm missions. Higher power amplifier modules will also enable higher power terahertz sources for radio astronomy local oscillators; most relevant are astronomical measurements of molecular lines at including ~1.4, ~1.9, ~2.6, and 4.7 THz; especially for the case of large arrays with many dozens of pixels.
More powerful and efficient amplifier modules, coupled with frequency multiplier with greater power handling ability, will benefit the entire terahertz community. Applications include dynamic nuclear polarization enhanced nuclear magnetic resonance, electron paramagnetic resonance, plasma diagnostics, imaging radars and higher frequency test & measurement equipment.