NASA SBIR 00-1 SOLICITATION

FORM 9B - PROJECT SUMMARY


PROPOSAL NUMBER 00-1 17.05-9539 (Chron: 000462 )
PROJECT TITLE
TERRESTRIAL AND EXTRATERRESTRIAL BALLOONS AND AEROBOTS



TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)
Platforms for scientific instruments increasingly require attitude knowledge and optical instrument pointing at sub-arcsecond accuracy. No low-cost commercial system exists to provide this level of accuracy for guidance, navigation, and control (GNC) and precision instrument pointing. ATA proposes to introduce a small inexpensive inertial attitude reference system based upon magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) angular rate sensor technology and a 'virtual star' inertial reference concept. The proposed MHD Stable Reference (MSTAR) will integrate technologies of low-noise sensors, actuators, electronics, and software into a miniature system with capability to function as a sub-arcsecond-level reference in payload pointing and attitude control. Our innovation resides in two areas: (1) fusing GNC and optical instrument pointing functions in order to achieve unprecedented accuracy, and (2) applying novel high-bandwidth, low-cost, low-power, rugged MHD sensor technology to meet this goal and enable commercialization. Unlike current approaches, this system can measure and cancel coupled interactions between instrument and platform at high frequency. The melding of low-frequency and high-frequency data and the use of a novel sensor will enable low-cost, low-weight, low-power, precision pointing for NASA's terrestrial and extra-terrestrial balloons and aerobots.



POTENTIAL COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS
MSTAR would enable sub-arcsecond pointing control and sub-arcsecond attitude knowledge determination for balloon-borne stratospheric science payloads. ATA's ultimate goal is a small, inexpensive unit for commercial and government customers. The initial MSTAR is aimed at a high-end market including DoD, DoE, NASA, and other agencies responsible for deploying optical instruments with precise pointing requirements. JPL has already communicated to us a need for comparable precision pointing for optical communication links to planetary probes. The satellite laser communication market is an example of a related industrial high-end customer. Commerical applications in the mid-range include stabilization for balloon-borne surveillance, helicopter-mounted news cameras, air-, ship-, and ground vehicle-based optical instruments and antennas. The MSTAR's unique competitive advantage derives from the accuracy and ruggedness of the underlying MHD sensor technology and the ease of manufacture for these sensor components. This combination enables a much lower cost, even in small volume, than previous high precision pointing and stabilization references.



NAME AND ADDRESS OF PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR (Name, Organization Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip)
Dr. Henry R. Sebesta
Applied Technology Associates
1900 Randolph Rd., SE, Suite G
Albuquerque , NM   87106 - 4266



NAME AND ADDRESS OF OFFEROR (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip)
Applied Technology Associates
1900 Randolph Rd., SE, Suite G
Albuquerque , NM   87106 - 4266