The overall technical objective of the Phase II effort is to make OVERFUN as a fully multi-functional aeroelastic software system that can establish either the discrete time state-space plant model or the frequency-domain aeroelastic equation of motion with three embedded unsteady aerodynamic sub-systems; due to the structural deformation, the control surface deflection and the discrete gust excitation, respectively. All three unsteady aerodynamic sub-systems can be obtained by applying the extended complex variable differentiation (CVD) technique to the complex version of FUN3D, referred to as FUN3D-CVD, to generate the numerically exact linearized unsteady aerodynamic forces. As a wrapper around the steady Navier-Stokes (N-S) solver of FUN3D for trim analysis with static aeroelastic effects as well as a wrapper around the complex unsteady N-S solver of FUN3D-CVD for generating the three unsteady aerodynamic sub-systems, OVERFUN can establish a very accurate time-domain plant model or frequency-domain aeroelastic equation of motion that can capture all essential flow physics on a statically deformed aeroelastic model.
To showcase that the OVERFUN generated plant model can be directly adopted by the modern control law design schemes for control system design, a classical and a robust flutter suppression and gust load alleviation control systems will be generated for the Benchmark Active Controls Technology wing with trailing edge flap as input as well as with the upper spoiler as input. A twin-engine transport flutter model (TETFM) that was tested by the Boeing engineers in the Transonic Dynamics Tunnel (TDT) will be selected as the test case to demonstrate the accuracy of the OVERFUN predicted aeroelastic solution for complex configuration by the validation with the TDT measured flutter boundary of the TETFM.
The outcome of the Phase II effort will be a production-ready OVERFUN software system for commercialization in Phase III.
The proposed effort is highly relevant to on-going and future NASA fixed wing projects, which involve innovative design concepts such as the Truss-Braced Wing, Blended Wing Body, and Supersonic Business Jet. The proposed work will offer a computational tool to the NASA designers for early exploration of design concepts that exploit the trade-off between the passive and active approaches for mitigating the potential aeroelastic problems associated with those configurations.
The proposed discrete time state-space plant model generation can be applied to various flight vehicles including blended wing-bodies, joined wings, sub/supersonic transports, morphing aircraft, and similar revolutionary concepts being pursued. The proposed research will be needed for designing the next generation of civil and military aircraft to meet the stringent future performance goals.
The goal of the project is to develop an intelligent framework to construct adaptive parametric reduced order model (PROM) database for aeroservoelastic (ASE) analysis and aerostructural control. In Phase 1, the framework for both equation-based and data-driven PROMs was developed and feasibility to introduce “engineering intelligence” to AE/ASE ROMs was successfully established. Carefully selected ROMs and intelligence algorithms were developed to accomplish autonomous PROM construction. It was verified that ROMs built under the guidance of intelligent algorithms enable unprecedented state consistence and computational performance. For the first time, data-driven ROMs with state consistence were developed in a broad flight envelope. Equation-based ASE PROMs were developed, and demonstrated >12X reduction in model size for control synthesis. In Phase 2, software will be further refined for enhanced performance and functionality. Genetic Algorithm (GA)-guided ROM algorithms will be improved in terms of search space exploration, meta-optimization, and state consistence. Adaptive sampling will be extended to multi-dimensional flight parameter space. Methods to integrate PROMs from separate domains, and sensors and controllers will be optimized to meet various needs in NASA. A modular intelligent environment will be integrated into NASA workflow for technology transition. The software will be extensively validated and demonstrated for automated ROM development, certification, and control design using flexible vehicles of NASA interest.
The developed technology will enable NASA to (1) determine critical flight conditions and guide CFD/ASE computation and flight testing; (2) enable real-time ASE simulation and flight control synthesis, and (3) develop advanced aerostructural control strategies. It will markedly reduce development costs and cycles of aerospace vehicles. NASA projects like High Speed ASE, MUTT, and MADCAT will benefit from the technology
The non-NASA applications include aerospace, aircraft, and watercraft engineering for fluid-structural interaction and fatigue analysis, flow control and optimization, hardware-in-loop simulation, and others. The proposed development can be used for (1) fault diagnostics and optimized design; (3) design and planning of simulations and experiments; (2) development of advanced control strategies.
In response to NASA SBIR topic A1.02, the team of Techsburg, AVEC, and aircraft developer Ampaire have begun implementation of a reduced-order acoustic prediction tool for ducted fan noise sources including inflow distortion and turbulence ingestion. Named the “Installed Ducted-Fan Noise Model” (IDFNM) and branching from Techsburg/AVEC’s recognized collaborative work in noise modeling for pusher propellers for defense and commercial customers, this tool will offer early-stage design support for installed ducted fan-rotor propulsion systems by capturing the aerodynamic unsteady loading and noise sources resulting from inflow distortion and unsteadiness – sources of significant importance for the emerging highly-integrated propulsion-airframe concepts such as boundary layer ingesting fans. Phase I work positioned the team to use Ampaire’s first-generation, aero-efficient TailWind electric aircraft as a demonstrator for novel acoustic prediction tools. Building on the Phase I upgrades to the existing NASA codebase V072, Phase II work will see targeted development of a reduced-order prediction tool for turbulence ingestion noise (TIN), a current technical gap in NASA/industry capability. Leveraging extensive background in the field of turbulence ingestion from academic partners Drs. William Devenport and Nathan Alexander, this tool will derive inflow turbulence statistics by appropriate scaling of correlation functions as measured on four canonical geometries. Combined with accepted blade response models and propagation via Green’s function to the far-field, the result will be a first-of-its-kind prediction tool accessible at low computational cost. Milestones throughout the work will see the acoustic prediction tool validated in the state-of-the-art anechoic wind tunnel at Virginia Tech. The deliverable of this Phase II work is the integrated low-order noise prediction software "Installed Ducted-Fan Noise Model” which ultimately will be commercialized.
This SBIR targets a technical gap in the reduced-order acoustic prediction toolset of NASA/industry. The progress represents a low-risk, high-reward solution to NASA’s need for growth in modeling acoustic sources for propulsors in highly unsteady inflows within the Advanced Air Transport Technology Program. Post-Phase II stakeholders include NASA Glenn (for commercialization and integration of acoustic code with existing NASA-aligned tools) as well as all NASA/industry partners pursuing state-of-the-art, high efficiency, low noise aircraft.
The forthcoming "Installed Ducted-Fan Noise Model” tool will be marketed as a reduced-order prediction tool for industry/academia, lending itself to any number of nascent aircraft configurations including Ampaire’s Tailwind design. State-of-the-art inflow distortion noise modeling may also find inroads in ducted lift fans, HVAC fans, turbomachinery, marine propulsion, and impeller/blower cages.
Current noise prediction methods are ill-suited for the design of future nozzle geometries as they are either too computationally expensive or do not contain the necessary physics to adequately predict noise from desired nozzle types. As such, there is a need for innovative technologies and methods for noise prediction to enable acoustic optimization of multi-stream, 3D nozzles to meet the noise goals for NASA’s N+2/N+3 aircraft. As part of the SBIR program, Spectral Energies in collaboration with University of California at Irvine (the team) proposed to develop a design tool for nozzles that include acoustics. During the course of the SBIR Phase I, the team has demonstrated a viable method for acoustic optimization of nozzles relevant to N+2/N+3 aircraft using RANS based methods. This method was demonstrated to optimize the thickness of the third-stream for reduced noise production. These results were verified experimentally and computationally. During Phase II, the team will continue to improve the optimization methodology by incorporating more first principle physics into the noise model and including more variables that can be used to optimize the nozzle for acoustics, integration/feasibility, and performance. The team anticipates that the design tool developed under this program will be at TRL 6.
The development of this design tool will be critical to the success of NASA’s ARMD focus area of “innovation in commercial supersonic aircraft” and help meet the goals of N+2 and N+3 aircraft. We believe that this technology is directly relevant to NASA’s Advanced Air Vehicle Program (AAVP). Incorporating our proposed design methodology into NASA’s toolbelt will allow for the development of advanced nozzles relevant to supersonic commercial aircraft that can meet the noise requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
Aircraft noise is also an issue for DoD aircraft. The Office of Naval Research has funded multiple projects under its Jet Noise Reduction (JNR) program to develop methodologies for noise reduction. Our proposed tool would be useful for DoD and aerospace industry to develop quieter nozzles for future military and commercial aerospace vehicles.
The objective of this proposal is the development and demonstration of a cost-effective high-fidelity aeroacoustic design tool for future commercial supersonic nozzle designs and installations. Although eddy-resolving CFD methods for computing high-speed jet noise are available, such methods are computationally expensive and are currently deemed impractical for use in a design optimization loop. On the other hand, the prediction of turbulence generated noise using the Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) equations provides a less accurate but more cost-effective approach for practical design problems, wherein the turbulence length and time scales needed to model the local noise source terms can be extracted from the RANS turbulence model solution, as performed by the NASA JeNo code. The objective of this project is to develop a tightly coupled practical RANS-based jet-noise aeroacoustic analysis and design optimization capability which can be leveraged by government and industrial customers to better understand and design efficient propulsion systems that meet well defined and accepted noise metrics. The approach consists of developing an exact discrete adjoint method for a tightly coupled RANS-acoustic prediction method in order to provide sensitivities for gradient-based aerodynamically constrained acoustic optimizations. This capability will be demonstrated on realistic nozzle configurations including single and dual stream chevron nozzles, and marketed to government and industrial customers in the aerospace industry.
The proposed technique will provide a novel tool for enabling the design of supersonic nozzles optimized for reduced far-field noise signatures. This is an important application area for NASA ARMD, since the acceptance of future commercial supersonic aircraft depends heavily on reduced environmental impact. The optimization approach will be developed in a modular fashion and will be easily transferable to NASA in-house RANS codes which incorporate an adjoint capability such as FUN3D.
The jet noise optimization capability will be incorporated into the simulation and design tools developed by Scientific-Simulations and will be marketed to existing and new customers. The approach is seen as a natural extension of the various multidisciplinary adjoint capabilities already developed at Scientific Simulations, and will enable new applications in high-speed jet noise optimization.
Cascade Technologies has developed a massively parallel Voronoi-based mesh generation tool called ``Stitch''. Given a water-tight surface triangulation of arbitrary complexity and a set of generating points (effectively cell centers), Stitch can efficiently compute the 3D clipped Voronoi diagram and output a mesh. This approach was demonstrated to be fast and scalable, as well as robust to complex geometry: an 11.4B cell mesh of the NASA HL-CRM was generated in 22 minutes on 43200 cores.
Because the generation of the Voronoi mesh is already accomplished, the technical objectives of this proposal are focused on investigating and optimizing the details of how the generating points are spatially distributed. The quality of Stitch's meshes relative to decisions regarding the point cloud specification have yet to be fully characterized. Obviously the point cloud, essentially the spatial discretization of the domain, will have a significant impact on solution accuracy.
We will asses sensitivity with respect to several aspects of the spatial arrangement of the point cloud. Within the Voronoi-paradigm uniform isotropic cells, which can impart higher-moment conservation properties appropriate for turbulence, can be achieved by arranging the generating sites with a structured lattice. The different unit cell topologies based on choice of lattice will be investigated. Additionally understanding these lattices at resolution transitions is of interest.
Another focus is further development of anisotropic body-conformal mesh generation. Using only isotropic cells can introduce large cell counts in regions which could leverage anisotropic arrangement and retain fidelity for both wall-resolved and wall-modeled simulations.
A final focus of this work will be to identify potential solvers that can benefit from and utilize the Voronoi meshing technology. This will characterize potential customers and the market for Stitch as a stand-alone product.
As a stand-alone product Stitch will provide high-quality finite volume meshes, which would benefit any solver utilizing polyhedral elements. One example could be NASA's LAVA flow solver. Stitch's ability to quickly and scalably generate uniform and isotropic cells as well as locally anisotropic topology make it an ideal candidate for scale-resolving simulation tools.
CharLES, Cascade's low-dissipation multi-physics LES solver, currently leverages these meshes for accurate multi-physics and multi-scale simulations, which could benefit also NASA.
Consumers utilizing CharLES (e.g., gas-turbine sector of General Electric, aero-thermodynamics research at Honda, and fuel-injection research at Bosch) would benefit from the mesh efficiencies gained through this work. Furthermore, CharLES has been successfully applied to analyze problems of flow separation and control, emissions, aero-acoustics, fan noise, and aerodynamic performance.
The design of new aircraft involves understanding the flow physics around the configurations as well as their stability and control characteristics over the entire flight envelope. Such a coverage is extremely expensive if wind tunnel and flight tests are the primary means of understanding the aerodynamic characteristics. Hence, there has been a push towards use of simulations for understanding aerodynamics of airframes early in the design process. However, high-fidelity simulations can quickly become very expensive, so there is a need to create multi-fidelity databases for aerodynamic data. For this purpose, IAI is developing probabilistic aerodynamic databases that not only provide confidence on the fit, but also characterize the sources of uncertainty. Morever, adaptive design of experiments are performed for maximum efficiency in database creation. The proposed ProForMA tool can fill in a critical gap in design optimization and certification tools used by NASA and the industry.
ProForMA addresses a critical need in NASA’s repository of tools and techniques to develop unconventional aircraft. Several T&E efforts at NASA, have to bear exorbitant costs for fully testing new concepts. The proposed approach contributes to the state-of-the-art in T&E taking advantage of latest advances in HPC to alleviate costs. Benefits of this tool can be leveraged by all programs concerned with unconventional aircraft, such as AAVP, TACP, MUTT and ASE. There is particular interest in certification by analysis and high lift CRM projects.
Other government agencies, interested in unconventional aircraft, such as the AF, may use this tool for programs such as N-MAS and AAW or to reduce costs of T&E. Navy’s UCLASS program also stands to benefit from this. Boeing is already quite interested in this research and envisions a huge potential for ProForMA in understanding stability and control characteristics of new aircraft.
GLSV proposes building a fully featured NASA Auralization Framework (NAF) plug-in which uses acoustic ray tracing techniques in order to fill this need. GLSV has determined that acoustic ray tracing is the best choice for a technology which can provide a reasonable fidelity model which can be solved over length scales seen in urban environments.
The proposed software is in response to NASA’s Vertical Lift Technology and Urban Air Mobility subtopic, which is primarily interested in innovative technologies focused on passenger-carrying UAM vehicles that include development and demonstration of technologies for vertical lift UAM vehicle airframes and propulsion systems, including validated modeling and analysis tools and prototype demonstrations, that show benefits in terms of operating cost, noise, safety, weight, efficiency, emissions, fuel consumption, and/or reliability based on the vehicle mission, operating environment, and system status.
Specifically, the proposed software is a response to the desire for “computationally efficient modeling tools capable of modeling sound propagation in an urban environment for creating auralizations of UAM vehicles”.
GLSV has proposed specific methods using ray tracing techniques to find acoustic paths from the source to the receiver which capture the following physical phenomena:
From acoustic propagation theory as well as from discussing NASA’s prior experience with the NAF, GLSV has determined that capturing these effects will provide sufficient fidelity results to be useful for these new applications.
The proposed technology will be applicable directly to the NASA Auralization Framework (NAF). Per the project requirements, the deliverables of this effort will consist of software plugins to the NAF in order to enhance the accuracy of the simulated auralizations in complex urban environments.
GLSV has determined other applications of the proposed technology outside of NASA to include software tools for noise management of vertical take of and landing (VTOL) vehicles in urban environments in the areas of flight routing, verti-port placement, regulation development and enforcement, and community acceptance. Other applications include: military tactical mission planning and soundscaping.
In Phase I, a comprehensive tool suite for the quantitative assessment of UAM aircraft ride qualities
with respect to passenger comfort. As a result of this effort the validation of the tool suite was
attempted however due to the lack of publicly available validation datasets for the dynamic handling
qualities of UAM aircraft this effort proved difficult. The proposed Phase II work will attempt to
comprehensively address this gap in knowledge through the construction of a Scaled Modular Aerial
Research Testbed. The main design of the SMART vehicle will be to allow for installation of a
modular vertical lift system with modules representing common UAM aircraft configurations. The
vehicle will be outfitted with provisions for scaling of the aerodynamic and mass properties intended to
allow for the matching of the sub-scale vehicle’s dynamics to larger full-scale dynamics. A series of
ground tests will be conducted to document the ‘as-built’ configuring, measurements will include key
geometric and structural properties as well as mass properties. The SMART vehicle will be flown
indoors through a series of flights including a tethered ‘jerk’ flight test intended to represent an external
impulse gust disturbance. The use of the SIDPAC tool suite will be used to design flight test cards as
well as post-processing flight data to validate the 6DoF dynamics tool suite produced from the Phase I
efforts. The as-built vehicle characteristics and flight test data of three different UAM configurations
will be provided to NASA at the end of the effort enabling validation of UAM and rotorcraft dynamics
Potential NASA commercial applications for the validated PANTHER tool suite include the direct
engineering services in the design and feasibility studies of UAM configurations and the assessment
of UAM operations in urban wind environments. Additionally, the SMART vehicle NASA access to a
dynamically scaled reconfigurable vehicle enabling the flight testing and maturation of emerging
technologies further enabling UAM operations.
Potential Non-NASA commercial applications include engineering design and analysis services utilizing the validated the PANTHER tool suite as well as the development and maturation of ESAero’s PHM and DEP technologies on-board the SMART vehicle. Applicable markets include commercial UAM OEMs as well as commercial and DoD entities interested in VTOL Group 1 through Group 3 UAVs applications.
Current prototype motors and inverters for small aircraft electric propulsion have impressive efficiency of about 95 and 97% and typical power density of a little over 2kw/kg and 5kw/kg respectively. We can improve each of these metrics with a rigid winding which is formed in situ to increase slot fill and a 99.5% efficient inverter based on massively parallel, wide bandgap power switches. With independent “Brains” and “Brawn” sections, the inverter is scalable and can be distributed within the motor case, allowing fault tolerance and thermal integration benefits. The reduced weight and cooling needs represent an effective range enhancement of about 8% when configured for the X-57 cruise motors.
Scalable technology, at least 10-100kW for main propulsion, electric actuation, auxiliary drives etc
Our innovations are relevant to any motor and inverter application with a high demand for performance, typically aerospace and military
Future hybrid aircraft, such as NASA’s N3-X plan, will require all-superconducting electric motors and generators in order to achieve power densities in excess of 10 kW/kg with strong drivers for it to be an all superconducting design that operates at 40 K or greater. Unlike the DC rotor, the stator must operate in AC mode, for example, from 0-0.5 T at > 100 Hz, making it impossible to use high temperature superconducting (HTS) tapes due to their high losses in AC fields, requiring instead fine wires with loss reducing features like axial twist, higher inter-filament resistances, and cable-ability into a transposed form. Our innovation consists of an all-HTS, lightweight high power motor, in which the stator coils are wound with our unique low loss, transposed cables, that are comprised of our novel, low loss, small diameter HTS 2212 wires – not wide tapes, where these wires are equipped with all required loss reducing features while operating at >40 K with a current density that provides > 10 kW/kg power as specified in NASA Subtopic A1.07. Based on the Phase 1 results, an optimized, practical 2212-based wire and cable will be developed for fabricating a stator that meets low loss, current density and > 40 K operating temperatures targets, with coils produced and tested to validate progress. As the first step, loss reducing features and current densities of best mode wire designs identified in Phase 1 will be developed, along capability for longer length production. A low loss cable design will then be developed with loss testing validating that both wire and cable meet the required loss levels - a feat that has been out of reach with HTS until this program. Coil building techniques will then be advanced by fabricating and testing racetrack forms and applying this know how to build and test a demo coil with all the features required to provide >40 K superconducting stator operability in the specified high power density.
Mainline: high specific power, high efficiency motors (to 13 kW/kg) such as those specified for electric airplane propulsion operating above 20 K.
- Superconducting bus bar
- Fusion thrusters
- Magnetic shielding
- Magnetic energy storage (SMES)
Non-NASA commercial applications include:
- Ship Propulsion Motors
- Ramped field fusion reactor magnets like the CS coil
- Magnetic energy storage
- Wind generator
- Accelerator magnets
- Efficient, compact transformers
The Interdisciplinary Consulting Corporation (IC2) proposes to continue development of dual-axis shear stress sensors that are applicable in ground test facilities covering a large range of flow speeds in response to NASA SBIR 2018 Phase I solicitation subtopic A1.08. The proposed sensing system addresses a critically unmet measurement need in NASA’s technology portfolio, specifically the ability to make time-resolved, continuous, direct, two-dimensional measurements of mean and fluctuating wall shear stress in wall-bounded turbulent and transitional flows in subsonic and transonic facilities. The realization of this capability not only benefits advanced air vehicle development but also impacts fundamental compressible boundary layer physics research areas such as transition to turbulence in three-dimensional flows, extending the current capabilities of NASA’s ground test facilities.
The proposed innovation is a dual-axis, instrumentation-grade, robust, high-bandwidth, high-resolution, silicon micromachined differential capacitive shear stress sensor for subsonic and transonic applications. The sensor system will enable localized, non-intrusive, vector measurement of mean and fluctuating wall shear stress for characterization of complex boundary-layer flows in ground-test facilities. The differential capacitive measurement scheme offers high sensitivity to in-plane shear stress as well as common-mode rejection of pressure fluctuations. Two sets of differential capacitors provide shear stress measurement capability in two orthogonal directions to provide the wall shear stress vector. Backside electrical contacts using IC2’s patent-pending fabrication and packaging process enable the sensor to remain flush with the test article surface while significantly reducing fabrication complexity and cost. The modeling aspects of the proposed design approach facilitate design optimization for various applications and flow conditions.
The proposed technology enables dual-axis wall shear stress measurement in a wide range of subsonic to transonic test facilities including: NASA Langley Research Center's 14' by 22' Subsonic Wind Tunnel, Basic Aerodynamics Research Tunnel (BART), and 16' Transonic Dynamic Tunnel; the 9' x 15' Low-Speed Wind Tunnel at NASA Glenn Research Center; and the 11' x 11' Transonic Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel at NASA Ames Research Center.
Customers seeking or currently designing next-generation civilian or defense aircraft have a similar measurement need. Furthermore, active flow control requires compact, accurate measurements of fluid parameters such as wall shear stress. Non-NASA applications include:
New classes of aircraft, providing personal, on-demand mobility, are under development and are poised to revolutionize short-duration air travel. The impetus for this work comes from advances in electronics and controls, and increases in electric motor power densities. As these aircraft are integrated into the transportation system, they will encounter icing conditions that may challenge the design performance of these vehicles. This effort will map a patented algorithmic icing detection scheme, previously developed for use on the Navy’s V-22 Osprey tiltrotor, to the propeller/rotor systems for this category of air vehicle, with extensions for using measurements on the electric motor itself to infer both icing level and icing growth during flight operations. By focusing the detection filter to the lift/propulsion subsystem, the detection algorithm may be hosted directly within the motor control processor electronics, thus allowing for distributed icing sensing concomitant with such vehicle’s distributed propulsion configurations. As these VTOL vehicles are dominated by lifting propeller/rotors, the determination of the level of icing on this important component for these aircraft will enhance safety and may be used for icing mitigation and/or vehicle flight guidance. The proposed work plan includes an icing tunnel test demonstration of the technology on a representative lift/propulsion subsystem and culminates with flight testing of a UAS platform in a natural icing environment.
Support NASA’s strategic objectives of increasing safety, promoting growth in operations, particularly for low-carbon propulsion vehicles (ARMD’s Thrust 1 and 4). Enhance safety via improved icing detection on electric powered air vehicles. Extend icing accretion analysis toolchains for simulation of flight vehicles with distributed and disparate propulsion and lift systems. Increase capability for self-aware vehicles with enhanced autonomy for mitigating off-nominal flight condition effects.
Provide in-flight icing monitoring on key lift/propulsion systems for personal/on-demand aircraft, as well as autonomous UAV systems. Couple to on-board systems for actuation of anti-icing and de-icing systems. Support flight condition monitoring and guidance systems for directing or commanding profiles to depart sensed icing environment.
Hypersonic aircraft, especially reusable hypersonic aircraft, require advancements in high temperature materials because of the extreme temperatures resulting from frictional heating. One aspect of this problem is making seals that can function through a very large temperature range, perhaps up to 1000 °C or higher. Metallic springs essentially lose their ability to function at 600 °C or below. Silicon nitride compression springs have previously been evaluated by NASA and have been found to be capable of functioning throughout that temperature range, but lack the strength required for most applications. They undergo very limited deformation before failure. TDA will improve the feedstocks and modify the existing process for manufacturing ceramic springs. Through improvements to the grain structure, the resulting springs will overcome their previous limitations.
Ceramic compression springs are being developed so that scramjet engines’ high temperature seals can be preloaded. However, the high temperature – capable springs could also solve problems in the control surface and/or leading edge thermal protection system. These needs are particularly acute for re-usable hypersonic transports, including the descendants for the National Aerospace Plane. High-temperature springs with sufficient strength could also potentially be used to create a seal between the heat and the back shell of (re-)entry vehicles.
Many uses exist outside of NASA, including certain (single-use) air-breathing hypersonic weapon systems; the chemical resistance and high temperature stability of ceramic springs will allow new sealing options in many high-temperature industrial processes. Ceramic springs allowing seals between smaller, simpler pieces of tooling can cut costs by obviating the need for larger, more complex tooling.
There is substantial evidence suggesting that a Lithium-ion cell undergoes internal structural and mechanical changes prior to a catastrophic failure. Some of these changes include electrode expansion, electrode ruffling, dendrite formation, internal gas formation, and internal density changes. A key characteristic of these changes is that most of them occur prior to any external measurable parameter variation, such as in terminal voltage, surface temperature, or mechanical surface strain. Therefore, detecting internal cell structural and mechanical changes early and with adequate resolution has several benefits, including the prevention of catastrophic accidents sufficiently ahead of time, and the gathering of additional information that can be used to more accurately assess the health and life of cells during operation. We propose a novel approach that simultaneously detects and corrects these internal cell changes early and using hardware that can be permanently installed externally on the surface of a lithium-ion cell. Our approach enhances the safety and prognostics associated with lithium-ion batteries, and its reconstruction capability has the added benefit of rejuvenating a cell to extend its life. Finally, the proposed solution will be implemented on small, low cost, and low power hardware to ensure its seamless integration to existing commercial cells and systems.
It is estimated that the proposed system can have a substantial impact in the following NASA projects: Advanced Air Transport Technology (AATT) project, Flight Demonstrations and Capabilities (FDC) project, Transformation Tools and Technologies (TTT) project, as well as the NASA X-57 prototype and other efforts where electric and/or hybrid-electric propulsion systems are being engineered at NASA.
Battery technologies are critical for renewable energy systems. Batteries are also a critical component in large data centers and in aerospace systems where failures must be detected early, accurately, reliably, and cost effectively. Our customers should include US government agencies, such as DOD, NASA, DOE, and commercial companies such as Boeing, GE, Tesla, GM, Ford, among others.
Procedures play a large role in successfully testing and operating complex equipment. They provide step-by-step instructions for system check-out, experimental set-up, test plans, and responding to off-nominal situations. They also provide an electronic record of all test activities. As NASA moves away from traditional paper procedures to more flexible electronic procedures, there is an opportunity for a more flexible and efficient electronic procedure review, approval, verification, and publishing process. The existing process, both at NASA and in commercial companies, is based on routing Microsoft Word documents with "track changes" turned on and obtaining physical signatures on cover pages. This process does not take advantage of new developments in on-line collaboration (e.g., systems like Google Docs) nor developments in automated verification of structured documents. The traditional procedure change management process also does not integrate with electronic procedure platforms creating silos of information. This proposed work will build an innovative change management system for electronic procedures. This system will automatically route new or changed procedures via web servers to reviewers, collect comments and revisions for display back to the procedure author, show the changes from one version of the procedure to the next, perform automated procedure verification, and keep an audit trail from procedure development through procedure publication. A simple interface that allows "one click" automated verification and publishing of a new or revised procedure once all approvals have been given would greatly increase the usefulness of electronic procedures in test environments.
TRACLabs will continue to work with the Air Volt project at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC) in deploying and supporting PRIDE for test procedure execution. As PRIDE extends to other projects at AFRC, a fully-capable change management system will be a requirement. We are also working with NASA JSC on using PRIDE for Extra-vehicular Activities (EVAs) and Visiting Vehicle Officer (VVO) activities. We are also exploring applications to operations at NASA Ames Research Center including the Astrobee robot on ISS.
TRACLabs is working with oil and gas companies in deploying PRIDE in their world-wide operations. These companies have expressed explicit interest in this project. TRACLabs is also working with chemical manufactures in deploying PRIDE for their world-wide operations. TRACLabs is working with several commercial space companies who are licensing PRIDE for their operations.
An intelligent flight control system is developed with learning capabilities and a high degree of assurance that can be certified by the FAA and tested on a modular reconfigurable UAS. Existing lack of intelligence, adaptability and high performance of current automatic flight controllers is addressed by taking advantage of high-performance computing platforms, state-of-the-art machine learning and verification algorithms to develop a new intelligent, adaptable and certifiable flight control system with learning capabilities.
The autopilot system will be able to learn from flight experience and develop intuition to adapt to a high level of uncertainties. To provide a high degree of assurance and make the learning autopilot system safe and certifiable, a conventional autopilot system is integrated based on a run-time assurance architecture. A monitor is developed to check aircraft states and envelope protection limits and handover aircraft control to a conventional autopilot system if needed. Provable guarantees of the monitor and the controllers is provided using formal analysis. The hybrid flight control system has adaptability and intelligence of skilled pilots and is capable of performing complex analysis and decision making in real-time. An artificial neural network model is built and trained to mimic the performance of classical robust optimal controllers, extending robustness, adaptability and curiosity of artificial neural network controllers and integrating a Real-Time Assurance system.
Technology demonstration of the intelligent flight control system is achieved by flight testing of a Modular Air Vehicle, where the configuration can be customized to fit flight test needs and test adaptability of the proposed technology. A Modular Air Vehicle is designed and prototyped. Once the intelligent flight controllers are integrated with the airframe, ground and flight tests will be carried out to verify the performance and reliability of the proposed technology.
The developed autopilot could be used on many of NASA UASs and newly developed aircraft, such as the X-57 and the GL-10 Greased Lightning. The Modular Air Vehicle can be used for all sorts of research projects since it is very easy to change the configuration for any of NASA needs for flight test research, VTOL research, autopilot research, system failure research, etc.
The autopilot can be used on any commercially and military available UAS system. The Modular Air Vehicle will be commercialized for use at universities and other research institutes world-wide for flying research on different type of unmanned vehicles. A smaller version will be developed for science and technology classes in high schools.
This SBIR addresses the need for robust airborne software design processes that are scalable, efficient, and low-cost to ensure safety features and design assurance for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and manned aircraft. Xwing’s proposed tool (Tracer) manages software requirements and traceability at all levels; from the system-level objectives and use cases to the software requirements, corresponding code and the test cases. Tracer enables stakeholders and engineers to identify bidirectional impacts of changes to requirements or system code.
Xwing is currently developing capabilities for detect-and-avoid (DAA) for autonomous aircraft, and deriving and generating requirements based on DO-365. Those requirements were used as a Phase I test case for Tracer. The use case scope focused on tracking for detection of threats. The use case served to collect valuable usability experience and information, gather feedback and improve Tracer functionality.
The work in Phase I was performed along two main workstreams: 1) development of the requirements tracing tool, and 2) refinement through implementation of a DAA use case. Phase II will continue these workstreams, and add a third : development of a framework for certification of AI-based systems. These certification frameworks will be applied to vision-based DAA, expanding on conventional deterministic DAA previously explored.
The current certification process for avionics is not adapted to complex algorithms and to “AI-based” algorithms such as deep neural networks used in vision-based DAA. Despite their lack of explainability such algorithms can exhibit high performance. Xwing recognizes that such algorithms will enable the automation of functions where human judgement was previously necessary. It may also reduce the size, weight, and power required by some sensors. Frameworks added to Tracer in Phase II will help realize these benefits.
The Tracer tool, along with its application to DAA requirements and the extension to AI-based systems, supports the System-Wide Safety Project at NASA Ames Research Center. Since Tracer is a distributed tool, it has the potential to be a useful for any project where NASA is a stakeholder. Users of the tool could include a NASA program manager tasked with ensuring that requirements are met. Another opportunity is to build pre-packaged sets of requirements and test cases that are pre-approved for airworthiness, thus expediting new flight tests.
The Tracer software is intended for sale to manufacturers of aerospace who wish to achieve levels of certification for those systems, which may range from lightweight small UAS up to manned Part 25 aircraft. Other potential customers are manufacturers of different safety-critical systems (e.g., automotive, naval, medical) that have a strong software component (e.g., autonomous systems)
The aerial inspection technology we have begun developing in Phase I shows promise for a commercializable system. Our team has supporting technology in place and the relevant background to bring this innovation to TRL 6 through the Phase II effort. Our contacts in industry state strong cases for the usefulness and marketability of this innovation.
The team will develop towards the project objectives within the following nine project tasks: (1) define requirements and concepts of operation, (2) develop a robust visual state estimation method, (3) develop improved aircraft configuration and controls for effective contact maneuvering, (4) develop a user interaction paradigm and user interface prototype, (5) develop sensing subsystem with new sensor, (6) develop integrated imaging and lighting, and improved contact mechanism, (7) perform system integration and testing, (8) perform in-field system demonstrations, and (9) pursue commercialization paths and plan for Phase III.
For the outcome of Phase II, we set the following as the primary development goal: To collect an array of contact measurements and imagery on a realistic structure in one flight and create registered data products. The demonstration will aim to follow the baseline CONOPS developed early in the project. The team will create a photo-rendered 3D model of the structure first for context. With inspectors and/or asset owners present, the team will operate the sUAS to perform multiple inspection flights. Each flight will perform a grid of contact measurements, including macro-imaging. Flights will be performed under remote control for take-off and landing and autonomously during the sensing array maneuvers. Final data products will be created off-line and shared with the inspection subject matter experts. This demonstration process will serve as a means of validating system requirements, verifying that the system meets requirements, and continuing engagement for commercialization efforts.
In-Space: Spacecraft exterior inspection while in-orbit or in transit; aerial contact inspection/aerial manipulation have additional uses aligned with NASA's interests.
Terrestrial: Inspections of NASA facilities and equipment such as wind tunnels, pressure vessels, test stands, and rocket stands; inspection of planes and rockets during and after the assembly process (e.g. measuring gap thicknesses between panels to check that they are within specification).
Inspection work for a range of structures; applicable to industrial equipment, civil infrastructure and buildings. Examples: vessels such as liquid storage tanks and water towers; smokestacks; industrial facilities with boilers, gantries, large ducts, etc.; bridges for rail, car, and foot traffic; buildings, interior and exterior.
This effort builds on a highly successful Phase I to develop a computational, near real-time, aircraft noise monitoring tool called UAM Noise Integration Tool (UNIT). UNIT avoids the need for costly physical noise collection networks and equipment. It enables early determination of aircraft noise impacts and likelihood of public acceptance in populated areas, which are critical to the feasible design of operating concepts for UAM and e-VTOL vehicles. There are three parts to the innovation: (1) the ability to calculate noise impacts in near real-time at any location, (2) the ability to model the noise produced by conceptual UAM and fixed-wing aircraft, and (3) the development of people-focused noise metrics that consider the movement of people throughout the day. UNIT is designed to operate in a real-time environment and provides inputs to flight path optimization algorithms to minimize noise impacts to shifting population densities during the day. It is highly relevant to NASA’s Subtopic A3.01 Advanced Air Traffic Management Systems Concepts, which cites “achieving high efficiency in using aircraft, airports, enroute and terminal airspace resources, while accommodating an increasing variety of missions and vehicle types, including wide-spread integration of UAS and ODM operations.” UNIT responds to the RFP area of “concepts for emergent risks,” since noise is a potential UAM showstopper due to the high frequency of ODM operations and public noise impacts. History tells us that communities are highly sensitive to noise. Public backlash to ODM/UAM and e-VTOL noise could thwart the concept and technology before it launches. NASA’s Parimal Kopardekar has stated that noise is one of the top three challenges for UAM. The results of our efforts will be useful to NASA’s current interest in enabling UAM through their ATM-X project and Grand Challenge research efforts, as well as being commercializable for airports, urban communities, and UAM operators.
The ATM-X Testbed can use our integrated UNIT software to produce real-time simulations to analyze the environmental impacts of future UAM e-VTOL scenarios, as well as non-UAM scenarios with conventional fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. UNIT can be used for planned flight demonstrations, such as the UAM Grand Challenge, and the ATM-X Initial UAM Ops Integration sub-project by supporting optimization of future noise-sensitive routes. Other NASA programs such as RVLT could use UNIT to support analysis of community noise impacts.
UNIT (1) replaces expensive physical noise monitors with modeled virtual receptors to compute noise values on the ground, (2) provides near-instant feedback on potential environmental impact changes to improve designs for ANSP airspace redesign processes, (3) supports low-noise e-VTOL aircraft design processes, and (4) enables noise-sensitive flight path planning for UAM service providers.
For safe navigation and collision avoidance during autonomous UAS operations, where UASs are directed by onboard flight management systems, valid/trusted position data must be available and processed in real-time for safety of flight and mission effectiveness.
The desired result from this SBIR project is a multi-functional avionic system that is small and lightweight enough to be used on small UASs (sUASs), and capable of functioning with both the traditional ATCRBS/transponder position reporting system and the GPS-based ADS-B position reporting system. It will have to transmit and receive on both ADS-B frequencies and be capable of responding with standard 1090 MHz Mode A/C information to interrogations from ATCRBS and TCAS. A highly desirable feature will be the ability to interrogate cooperative (transponder equipped) aircraft in “blind airspaces” where ATCRBS cannot reach. This interrogation would primarily be intended for avoidance of collisions and could be relatively low power and short range while providing information to a pilot (onboard or remote) in time to avoid a midair collision. Finally, because this system will mostly be used on sUASs and small GA aircraft, a low-cost design is highly desired.
This SBIR demonstrates that advanced development of software defined radios (SDRs) has produced highly capable, multifunctional, miniature avionics suitable for all aircraft, including small UAS, and addressing the concerns and weaknesses of both ATCRBS and ADS-B position reporting systems. A side-benefit attributed to this micro-avionic system is reduced usage of the transponder spectrum, responding to the concerns of overcrowding 1090 MHz spectrum.
The validation of aircraft ADS-B signals (and the position information derived from on-board GPS systems) for both manned and unmanned aircraft is critical to maintain the safety of the airspace. All NASA vehicles in or entering the airspace need to be assured that the position of all platforms is known with a very high integrity. This system can be used both on platform, or from a local ground station to assure the position of all platforms is correct.
The validation of aircraft ADS-B signals (and the position derived from on-board GPS systems) for both manned and unmanned aircraft is critical to maintain the safety of the airspace. All vehicles need to be assured that the position of all platforms is known with a very high integrity. This approach enables fully autonomous operation in those situations it is required.
Turbulence is widespread in the atmosphere, and safe aircraft operations require predictions of turbulence to reduce encounters with severe and extreme turbulence, and appropriate responses when hazardous turbulence is encountered. Current airspace operations rely largely on humans to mitigate turbulence hazards at the flight planning stage and in flight. The future air transportation system with greatly expanded use of UAS and with new types of Urban Air Mobility operations will have increasing levels of automation and autonomy, and many operations will be conducted without a skilled human operator onboard. Automated systems will be needed to perform turbulence hazard mitigation tasks currently allocated to humans. Future operations will also involve new types of vehicles, especially distributed electric propulsion (DEP) VTOL vehicles, and a greatly increased density of operations in environments with unique turbulence characteristics, including the urban canyon. Enabling increasing levels of autonomy envisioned for future airspace operations without compromising flight safety will require novel technologies for predicting turbulence, automatically planning missions that minimize turbulence hazards, recognizing and quantifying turbulence in flight, and appropriately and automatically responding to inflight turbulence. In the context of a passenger carrying DEP VTOL vehicle, Phase I demonstrated the feasibility of quantifying turbulence in flight, of learning a turbulence environment over multiple flights, and of mission planning based on the learned environment. Phase II examine the sensitivity of DEP VTOL vehicles to a broader range of turbulence characteristics, select a set of turbulence models that captures the most relevant turbulence characteristics, extend the online turbulence quantification and learning algorithms to this expanded set of models, and demonstrate expanded mission planning capabilities supporting a broader range of missions.
The proposed technology will help to enable increasingly autonomous operations, directly supporting the goals of the UAS Integration in the NAS project started by ARMD in 2011, and the UAS Traffic Management (UTM) project begun in 2015. The proposed work will also support NASA's emerging interest in Urban Air Mobility, enhancing safety for both manned and unmanned vehicles, and benefitting passenger comfort.
The proposed technology will enable increasingly autonomous SUAS operations, such as BVLOS inspection operations and package delivery by commercial operators such as Amazon and Uber Eats. The proposed technology will benefit other future vehicles that operate with a high level of automation or autonomy, especially vehicles such as air taxis that will operate at low altitudes in urban areas.
NASA’s 2018 SBIR solicitation topic A3.02 requests “Autonomous systems to produce any of the following system capabilities: Prognostics, data mining, and data discovery to identify opportunities for improvement in airspace operations.” Identifying opportunities for improvement is a critical ongoing need in the air traffic management domain, for which achieving high levels of performance is a daily concern. In Phase I, Mosaic ATM developed and delivered a machine learning model to predict terminal area (TRACON) transit times for flights arriving to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) based on a broad array of flight and weather input data. We also delivered a visualization capability that enables analysts to connect observed variations in TRACON transit times with their most important causes. For Phase II, we will build upon our Phase I outcomes by expanding both the sophistication of our methodologies and the performance domains we address. We will develop deep learning models of NAS performance metrics for two challenging domains: the capacity of New York area airports and the capacity of en-route airspace in the Eastern US. We will advance the state of the art in explainable deep learning for complex systems by following a rigorous process for extracting understandable basis vectors, by iteration over the internal variables of a hybrid neural network. By doing those two things, we will achieve a foundation for traffic manager decision support enhancements, to provide guidance on how to configure the Time-Based Flow Management (TBFM) system and the Traffic Flow Management System (TFMS) to maximize system-level performance. Finally, we will implement a user interface that is integrated with the NASA Sherlock ATM data warehouse, to enable NASA domain analysts to explore the models and the important features affecting performance, in a collaborative way.
The key innovation with the Integrated Adaptive Route Capability (IARC) system, is a web-based application replacing FAA’s legacy Route Management Tool (RMT) with advanced automation expanding capacity to efficiently automate and manage Pre-validated Route Options - within the U.S. National Airspace System (NAS) and globally - using autonomous technologies. IARC will provide improvements in (1) machine-learning capabilities, (2) real-time information sharing with stakeholders, (3) inclusion of future UAS routing needs, and (4) integration of weather constraint model forecasting on routes. These four areas are foundation to a product that needs replace legacy RMT used within FAA and be eventually commercialized globally
If successful, it is envisioned NASA’s current Traffic Aware Strategic Aircrew Request (TASAR) would benefit by having IARC provide flight plan and reroute solutions that deliver a pool of options for routes to draw upon. The options are pre-validated routes that are pre‑cleared of potential conflicts with known weather hazards and airspace system constraints. In an advanced version of TASAR. In addition, support a need for UAS operators and service suppliers (USS) to have pre-validated routes to use for mission and flight planning.
The FAA and air carriers will have strong interest, as a means of providing a single source route capability with increased functionality. Innovating advanced, automated mechanisms for ANSPs—both domestic and international, and resolving current route identification and use processes will expand the capacity to efficiently automate and manage pre-validated route options for system stakeholders
Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms, which are at the heart of emerging autonomy technologies that are revolutionizing multiple industries including aviation, defense and manufacturing, are perceived as black boxes whose decisions are a result of complex rules learned on-the-fly. Unless these decisions are explained in a human understandable form, the end-users are less likely to accept them and certification personnel are less likely to clear these systems for wide use. Explainable AI (XAI) is an AI algorithm whose actions can be easily understood by humans. Phase I of this SBIR developed EXplained Process and Logic of Artificial INtelligence Decisions (EXPLAIND)—a prototype tool for verification and validation, as well as in-operation explanation of AI-based aviation systems. We successfully used EXPLAIND to generate reliable, human-understandable explanations for decisions made by a NASA-developed AI algorithm used to detect aircraft trajectory anomalies. Controllers participated in cognitive walkthroughs of EXPLAIND’s explanation interface, which successfully explained the rationale behind one frequently detected anomaly type. EXPLAIND thus represents an important step towards user acceptance and certification of AI-based decision support tools (DSTs). In Phase II, we propose to build on the successful Phase I technology to create a commercial, licensable, universally-applicable, cloud-based AI explainability software platform. We pursue three thrusts in Phase II: (1) Operationalize EXPLAIND for aircraft trajectory anomaly detection applications, (2) Expand EXPLAIND to be a universal explainability approach and apply it to benefit other NASA XAI research programs, and (3) Apply EXPLAIND to non-aviation applications with significant commercialization potential: computer vision systems in self-driving cars, credit rating algorithms in the financial industry, and insurance claims processing algorithms in the health insurance industry.
EXPLAIND can benefit NASA AI algorithms used for (1) Aviation anomaly detection (for NASA System-Wide Safety project). (2) Image perception and drone team pattern-formation in support of autonomous search & rescue missions (for NASA ATTRACTOR project). (3) Image recognition applied to NASA Earth science datasets. (4) UAM/UTM path planning, de-confliction, and scheduling (for NASA ATM-X project). (5) Increasing Diverse Operations (IDO) Traffic Management. and (6) Science Mission Directorate’s distant planet discovery algorithms.
EXPLAIND can benefit commercial AI algorithms that are used for: (1) Practical air and ground aviation anomaly detection (for FAA Office of Safety); (2) Computer vision based navigation of self-driving cars; (3) Credit and claims processing in Financial and Health Insurance industries; and (4) Making business decisions in areas governed by new explainability and ethics related regulations.
Robust Analytics proposes a suite of near-term technologies that can support managing multiple autonomous or semi-autonomous aircraft including Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and Urban Air Mobility (UAM) vehicles simultaneously. Our approach builds off the existing knowledge base of airline operations, leveraging emerging technologies that enable autonomous flight.
Our approach enables monitoring of vehicles systems and data, coupled with auto-upload of dynamic flight data required to support safe and efficient flight operation (e.g., change in flight plan, evolutionary new destinations, etc.). We build on our expertise in airline dispatch and software applications for air-ground integration.
Our system adds to existing tools and software, providing an evolutionary pathway for the monitoring and control of multiple semi-autonomous and autonomous flights by a single operator. We propose and develop new functionality to accelerate this transition. Our vision aims to extend and enhance our current expertise to transition the functions of today’s airline dispatchers to future airspace and vehicle concepts.
Our research will support several NASA projects and milestones. For In-time system-wide safety assurance, we offer a design and prototype that could support a safe transition to autonomous operations. For ATM-X and urban air mobility, we define the ground-based capabilities required for managing unpiloted fleets and offer NASA a technology solution to air-ground integration to support monitoring and control. Our prototype would be available to support ISSA and UAM demonstrations during a Phase II period of performance.
DOCAF will benefit the developers and future operators of new urban air mobility and package delivery services by meeting the need for a ground-based operational control system. Our Phase II supports early deployment of those new services by defining the ground-based capabilities they require and by offering a technology solution to air-ground integration to support monitoring and control.
Our Flight and Airport-Airspace Monitor (FAAM) will provide airline dispatchers and airline operations center managers a real-time tool to estimate the safety margin of a terminal airspace and flights operating in that airspace. Our concept divides the safety monitoring architecture into two components: an Airspace/Airport Monitoring component, and a Flight Monitoring system. The Airspace Monitor combines data on weather, infrastructure state, traffic density, and aircraft positions and planned trajectories with predictive analytics on aircraft separations and conflict rates to infer the (hidden) risk state of the airspace. The Flight Monitor uses airline and aircraft-based data to evaluate potential aircraft risks from equipment state and certification, and the potential for pilot fatigue based on elapsed crew duty time and time of day. Our architecture can readily add real-time crew monitoring in future instantiations.
Separating the airspace and flight monitoring modules offers a significant development and deployment benefit. All the data for the Airspace Monitor are publicly available and the module can be built and applied NAS-wide without restriction. All airline proprietary and personal data are contained within the Flight Monitor under direct airline control. The airline can access our airspace risk assessment monitor and combine it with its proprietary flight and personnel information to monitor its flights. Our Flight Monitor also offers the available infrastructure to expand into more detailed pilot and aircraft monitoring.
Our tool integrates with airline operations decision support systems to provide a real-time monitoring and alerting system for dispatchers. Our system will also provide for continuous data collection and storage, enabling follow-on trend and statistical analyses of flight operational issues, pilot fatigue, and anomalies by airline safety officials and NASA researchers.
FAAM offers a key component for meeting the ISSA milestone for terminal area safety margin monitoring. The Airspace Monitor providing RSSA requires real-time monitoring of aircraft with access to information that only the airline possesses. Our architecture combines the public airspace monitoring with airline proprietary flight operations data to offer a comprehensive monitoring solution.
FAAM targets airlines as the initial users, supporting dispatchers as they plan and monitor flights as part of their business and regulatory responsibilities to maintain flight safety. Deployed widely, FAAM would form the foundation for NAS-wide safety margin monitoring and alerting system, a System Command Center for safety monitoring and alerting.
The Liquid Sorption Pump (LSP) is a new technology for acquiring CO2 from the Martian atmosphere for use in In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) systems. In the LSP, a solvent, such as an alcohol, ketone, or acetate is cooled to temperatures below -100 C, where it becomes an effective solvent for Mars atmospheric CO2. After absorbing 5 percent or more by mole CO2, the solvent is pumped to another vessel where it is heated to 30 C, releasing the CO2 at pressures of more than 1 bar. The clean warm solvent is then sent back to the absorption vessel, exchanging heat with the cold absorption column effluent as it goes. After the clean solvent is cooled to near the design absorption temperature in this way, a mechanical refrigerator is used to achieve the final temperature reduction. Advantages of the LSP are that it can operate continuously day or night without the need for mechanical vacuum roughing pumps, solid freezers, or large sorption beds, requires less power than other options, is readily scalable to high outputs, and that it stops all sulfur, dust, or non-condensable gases from reaching the ISRU reactor system. In the proposed SBIR Phase 2, an operating protoflight LSP unit meeting the full-scale NASA CO2 acquisition requirement needed to support will be demonstrated and its performance assessed.
The primary initial application of the LSP is to provide a reliable, low cost, low mass technology to acquire CO2 on the surface of Mars out of the local atmosphere at low power. Such a system can be used to enable human exploration of Mars, as well as a Mars Sample Return mission. The LSP is dramatically superior to current alternative methods of collecting Mars CO2 because its power requirement is much less. Compared to roughing pumps or solid sorption beds, the LSP can reduce CO2 acquistion power requirements by an order of magnitude.
The LSP could be used to separate CO2 from flue gas and other exhaust streams on Earth. Once separated the CO2 could be used to enable enhanced oil recovery (EOR). The USA has hundreds of thousands of dormant oil wells that could be revived by using CO2 to pressurize them and lower their viscosity. This will allow for a dramatic expansion of US oil production while combating climate change.
In Phase I, OxEon investigated several cathode compositions for redox tolerance. The modified nickel cermet based cathode compositions were subjected multiple oxidation reduction cycles to evaluate electrolysis performance in button cell configuration. Several of the cathode compositions showed capability of electrolysis operation after oxidation reduction cycle including exposure to oxidizing environment for as long as 48 hours. The performance dropped slightly after each cycle but the cells were still functional. Cells were subjected to 20 thermal cycles and one rapid heat up of 15 °C/min. The cell performance completely recovered after each cycle.
In Phase further optimization of the cathode composition and fabrication process is planned. After evaluation in button cells, stacks using the selected cathode composition will be assembled and tested. Tests include electrolysis of CO2, H2O separately and together. Stacks will be subjected to multiple redox cycles and thermal cycles including rapid heat up to evaluate their capability to continue to produce oxygen and fuel with minimal change in performance.
The intended target application is Mars ISRU. Specifically, the electrolysis stacks will generate oxygen and fuel on Mars using in-situ resource such as carbon dioxide from Martian atmosphere and subsurface water.
The stacks will be used to produce hydrogen an oxygen by steam electrolysis. The intended application for the produced hydrogen is for transportation. Co-electrolysis of CO2 and H2O to produce synthesis gas which can be either converted to synthetic methane or liquid hydrocarbon fuels. The primary target application is the storage of intermittent renewable energy.
The innovation proposed here is a high performance, high fidelity simulation capability to enable accurate, fast and robust simulation of coupled cavitation and fluid-structure interaction (FSI) in flows involving cryogenic fluids of interest to NASA (such as LOX, LH2, LN2, etc.). Cavitation and other unsteady flow-induced phenomena in some components of liquid rocket engines as well as testing can induce not only high-cycle fatigue but also structural failure, and possibly extensive damages to these components. The key features of the proposed work are: (a) Accurate and efficient unsteady cryogenic cavitation simulation methodology, and (b) A robust first principles based fluid-structure interaction (FSI) capability. Additionally, an overset grid methodology to support overlapping grids and hole-cutting for simulating relative motion of valve and pipe components will be developed along with a robust grid deformation methodology to model relative motion to predict the vibration and noise during the operation of valves for cryogenic fluids. These methodologies will be tightly coupled within the framework of the Loci-STREAM code which is a Computational fluid dynamics solver already in use at NASA for a variety of applications. To summarize: the proposed work will upgrade the current cavitation models in Loci-STREAM, improve the numerics of the solution algorithm from an efficiency point of view, improve the coupling of the cavitation models and the FSI module with Loci-STREAM, and will result in an accurate and robust predictive capability to model the transient fluid structure interaction between cryogenic fluids and immersed components to predict the dynamic loads, frequency response of facilities and to substantially reduce the costs of NASA's test and launch operations.
(a) Analysis of cryogenic propellant delivery systems (tanks, runlines), and control elements such as LOX control valves
(b) Coupled hydrodynamics, valve timing and scheduling, & cavitation in cryogenic propellant/oxidizer feedlines, and flow devices (venturis, orifices)
(c) Behavior of valves, check valves, chokes, etc. during the facility design process
(d) Design of test facility components: resistance temperature detector (RTD) probes, bellows expansion joints
(e) Design of tubopumps in LREs
(a) Coupled cavitation and fluid-structure interaction modeling in liquid turbopumps.
(b) Fluid-structure interaction (aeroelastic) modeling in gas turbines.
(c) Design of test facility components.
(d) Aerodynamic flutter.
Contractor has completed all scheduled work and accomplished the Technical Objectives (milestones): (1) Finite Element Analyses (FEA), (2) Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) analyses, as well as (3) Seal Design and Material Selection. A 4th Technical Objective was added:(4) Geometry Design and Material Selection, as critical to the successful design of a manufacturable valve.
FEA optimized design
Highly iterative design process modeled with ANSYS
Piston design met balance requirements with displacement ≤0.002”
A-286 stainless steel was selected as the material for the piston
CFD flow-path optimization
Highly iterative flow-path process modeled with ANSYS
Decision to use the Drilled Holes Concept rather than the 3-Hole Strut results in 86.5% of the Cv (700) of the ideal ball valve
Seal design and material
Collaboration with Saint-Gobain
Decision to use a bi-directional, spring-assisted, pressure-energized, polymer fiber-filled Teflon seal
Seat geometry and material
Collaborative process that included FEA and CFD analyses
Decision of 60º and Silicon Aluminum Bronze C64200 material
The 12 Tasks of the Work Plan in the SBIR Phase I were completed. NASACustomer requirements were investigated and confirmed; industries and markets were researched and new commercial opportunities identified.
The manufacturability of the ultimate valve design was validated with the receipts of two quotes from two pre-qualified machine shops, both of which indicated their willingness and ability to manufacture a FPV prototype. The modifications to the FPV during the SBIR Phase I Feasibility Study have resulted in a safer, cost-effective, far more reliable alternative to conventional ball valves currently used for rocket engine ground testing at Stennis Space Center’s (SSC) E Complex.
Contractor believes that the FPV, as modified, will be proven as a “drop in” replacement for the existing ball valves at NASA's rocket propulsion testing grounds. Contractor also believes that the FPV can be miniaturized for cryogenic fluid flow control aboard space craft and storage stations in deep space environments.
The following additional commercial opportunities were identified: private space flight; oil and gas processing; upstream and midstream pipeline; hydrocarbon exploration and production; and, aircraft markets. Additionally, Contractor believes that the FPV can be successfully modified as a Pilot-Operated Relief Valve (PORV) and a Pressure Relief Devices (PRD) for many other applications.
Parabilis Space Technologies is pleased to propose development of a novel additively manufactured, dynamically-adjustable, in-line, cavitating flow-control and measurement venturi for use in advanced propulsion system ground testing. This innovative capability dramatically adds to and extends the advantages of using a cavitating venturi to isolate combustion chambers or other downstream process fluctuations from upstream feed pressure conditions. This design will greatly simplify propulsion testing and reduce costs for cases where desired liquid flow conditions are either not precisely understood or cover a range of high-precision flow rates. The proposed geometry is capable of scaling to both ultra-high pressure and high flow rate applications. The primary innovation consists of a unique floating pintle design and associated structural support with built-in pressure taps. These “printed-in” pressure taps provide both a total pressure measurement upstream of the venturi contraction and a venturi throat pressure measurement, facilitating built-in flow rate measurement and/or determination of liquid/vapor transition.
The proposed additive manufacturing technology provides significant benefit to a wide range of NASA applications, especially very high-pressure, high-flow, or extreme-temperature fluid applications such as hot hydrogen, LOX/methane, and LOX/H2. The proposed innovation can also contribute substantially as a drop-in and scalable replacement for NASA’s existing flow control devices, and the further development of ground testing meters that would provide insensitivity to downstream pressure fluctuations.
Large propulsion testing companies like NTS are target customers, but smaller propulsion testing companies will benefit substantially from this technology because of the low cost and flexibility this system allows.
There is also a larger segment of the non-space market that requires precision flow control and variable flow rate including applications in the trillion-dollar oil and gas industry.
NASA is developing common launch infrastructure to support multiple types of rockets. In order to reduce cost and simplify service, automation of multiple processes is highly desirable. In this approach, improved NASA Autonomous Control Technologies will perform functions such as anomaly and fault detection, fault isolation, and diagnostics and prognostics for critical components. Our focus is propellant management systems, since loss of integrity in propellant lines can have tragic consequences, as demonstrated by the Space Shuttle Challenger accident, which was caused by a faulty O-ring. AT-Tek’s “smart seal” technology will answer the clear need for instrumented monitoring of critical seal components of propellant delivery systems. AT-Tek’s Phase II effort will advance the smart seal technology developed during Phase-I, taking advantage of dramatic increases in the sensitivity of detection of critical seal parameters. Compact electronics built into flange/clamp assemblies will be developed to wirelessly and remotely interrogate smart seals. The integrated smart seal package will self-monitor such parameters as compression and elasticity of the seal material, both of which are critical for preventing seal failures. AT-Tek’s technology will enable detection of a degraded seal before actual failure, and provide for preventative adjustments of process parameters (pressure, temperature, etc.), or a bypass of the degrading connection without aborting the process. These capabilities will minimize risk of seal failures, even if maintenance of the degrading seal is not readily possible. The ultimate goal of this innovation is to integrate smart seals into autonomous propellant management infrastructure, and implement Condition-Based Maintenance (contra time-based) of critical elastomer seals for the first time.
Ground launch operations . The focus of this innovation is to introduce smart seal in the autonomous propellant management infrastructure that are under current NASA development to reduce operations and maintenance costs of ground and payload operations.
Life support and habitation systems . Maintaining airtight barrier between internal space of a habitat and external environment, found on planetary surfaces, asteroids, moon or outer space is of critical importance. Smart seal can also be used in next generation Space suit.
Nuclear power plants: Multiple critical seals in nuclear power plants. Natural gas pipelines: The seals are a frequent cause of leaks in pipeline valves. Smart seals can address this deficiency. Smart factories: the current trend toward development of “smart factories” within the concept of the Industrial Internet of Things requires novel sensors that monitor the condition of critical components.
As early as the Gemini missions, NASA has monitored physiological parameters during spaceflight for the collection of real time and recorded data during critical missions. This has helped NASA better understand man’s reaction to space by monitoring astronauts’ temperature, respiration, and cardiac activity.
The proposed Dynamic Kinematic Recorder (DKR) is designed to measure the biomechanical vibration, impact and motion of astronauts’ head, neck, body and helmet. Astronauts can be subjected to excessive vibration and shock during launch, re-entry or abort scenarios. Biomechanical measurements in these conditions have unique challenges. Safety of flight is essential and the proposed DKR is required to be an ultra-low power system that minimizes size and weight and runs autonomously.
DTS has unique experience developing similar systems over the past 27 years, including work with NASA measuring crew biomechanics. DTS has developed systems to measure the kinematic motion of rodeo riders, aerobatic pilots, ejection seat manikins, roller coaster riders, soldiers in combat, and most recently football players through a research project funded by the NFL. All DTS systems are designed in accordance with SAE J211 recommendations.
Recent technology advances in MEMS sensing and microprocessor technology now make it possible to deliver a relatively low cost, small, light and autonomous system to measure crew biomechanics. Unique to this proposal is a technical breakthrough in angular sensing technology that reduces size and power by orders of magnitude. DTS proposes to deliver a revolutionary prototype 6DOF Dynamic Kinematic Recorder that will have greater than 10-fold reduction in size and mass compared to existing systems. This autonomous system would be small, ultra-low power and weigh less than 20 grams.
Due to its ultra-low power and miniature size, the development of the proposed Dynamic Kinematic Recorder (DKR) will allow for the monitoring of biomechanical linear and angular accelerations in applications where it was not practical to do so with previous solutions. The DKR can be used to monitor astronaut exposure to vibration and shock, as well as monitoring seat or other spacecraft structures.
The Dynamic Kinematic Recorder (DKR) has wide application in other industries. First and foremost is the measurement of head motion to help understand traumatic brain injury in sports and soldiers in blast and field environments. Other applications include high value asset monitoring during shipping. A DKR could be attached to the asset to monitor shock and vibration levels during transit.
Pancopia proposes the development of a low cost, reliable second-stage biological reactor to remove high levels of nitrogen from the biological wastewater treatment unit (rCOMANDR) unit being developed at Texas Tech University (TTU). Pancopia will partner with TTU to develop the second-stage reactor which has the potential to removing an additional 85% of the nitrogen in wastewater.
Second-stage anammox-based filter can help remove high levels of nitrogen from the effluent of the biological reactor being developed at Texas Tech. A combined system could permit NASA to biologically recycle wastewater to potable water efficiently, reliably, and cost effectively.
Nitrogen removal from municipal wastewater is a multibillion dollar market and anammox-based technology has the potential to decrease cost by two-thirds compared to current treatments. Development of a practical, reliable anammox filter would permit market entry into the estimated 8,000 plus wastewater treatment facilities that must upgrade their nitrogen removal in the next two decades.
Silver and its compounds are of significant appeal as biocides for long-duration space missions, as they are capable of destroying or inhibiting the growth of a wide spectrum of microorganisms including bacteria, viruses, algae, molds and yeast, while exhibiting low toxicity to humans. The general pharmacological properties of silver are based upon the affinity of silver ion for biologically important moieties such as sulfhydryl, amino, imidazole, carboxyl and phosphate groups, and these multiple mechanisms are primarily responsible for its antimicrobial activity. Silver can impact a cell through multiple biochemical pathways, making it difficult for a cell to develop resistance to it, and it can be precisely and efficiently delivered using controlled-release technology.
An engineering approach is detailed that optimizes the epidemiological features of silver compounds in conjunction with the chemical and mechanical design features desirable for long-duration space missions. Phase I builds upon three distinct engineering approaches to produce flow-through silver biocide delivery devices based on controlled-release designs that have multiple decades of success in process industrial applications. Phase II will consist of design optimization and extensive parametric testing to support on-site NASA tests and long-duration flight requirements. Phase II will also investigate a regenerate approach to maintaining device activity over multi-year operational lifetimes, and advanced QA/QC protocols that will ensure effectiveness in very long term and remote applications on Mars and Lunar bases. The long-term results and benefits to the manned space program are high antimicrobial effectiveness, low toxicity, simple operation and integration into advanced life support systems, maximum operational life, and superior mass/volume efficiency compared to any other possible approach.
The Advanced Organic Waste Gasifier (AOWG) is a technology designed to convert organic wastes generated during human spaceflight into clean water for mission consumables and gases suitable for venting to minimize vehicle mass for Mars transit and return missions. The AOWG integrates steam reformation, methanation, and electrolysis to convert organic waste into water, dry vent gas, and a small amount of inorganic residue, thereby reducing transit propellant and tankage mass. The AOWG reduces risks associated with storing, handling, and disposing food waste and packaging, waste paper, wipes and towels, gloves, fecal matter, urine brine, and maximum absorbency garments in microgravity environments. The reformer provides nearly complete conversion of feeds to valuable water and jettisoned gas with minimal losses and consumables requirements while operating at pressures just above the ambient environment. The baseline AOWG Phase II design incorporates significant novel enhancements to previous state-of-the-art Trash to Gas (TtG) steam reforming technology including a feed shredder, feed dryer, continuous feeder, tar destruction reactor, and water purification. The largely automated AOWG limits crew operation requirements primarily to loading packaged wastes into the feed hopper and occasional discharge and compaction of ash residue.
The proposed Phase II AOWG will be developed with a focus on achieving complete organic waste gasification simultaneous with maximum water production using feeding, materials handling, and ancillary systems geared to microgravity operations. These concepts will be integrated into a protoflight Phase II design, which will consider and accommodate the microgravity environment necessary to operate the AOWG through startup, steady operation, and shutdown. This progression of development will lead to implementation in advanced human space missions.
AOWG system is key for human space exploration, converting organic crew wastes into clean water, a small mass of sterile inorganic residue, and clean gases suitable for venting from the spacecraft. The AOWG is targeted toward minimizing overall transit vehicle mass, which minimizes mass requirement for propellants and tankage. Waste mass reduction with water recovery is critical for life support and to reduce overall flight costs.
AOWG has applicability for terrestrial energy recovery, fuel and chemical synthesis from renewable resources, agricultural wastes, municipal wastes, and organic-containing wastes including paper and plastic. These organic-containing resources processed by AOWG methods produce syngas to convert into methanol or other fuels and chemicals using Fischer-Tropsch or other catalytic synthesis processes.
NASA requires breakthrough battery cell technologies that are much safer than current state-of-the-art lithium-ion cell technologies in order to achieve NASAs far-term energy storage goals for human and robotic missions. A new generation of spacesuits is needed to support EVAs for future surface exploration missions. These new suits will require decreased mass and volume, improved functionality, and excellent reliability. The battery pack will be the main source of power and weight and needs to provide an energy source for life-support functions, communications, system health status, and other needs. In addition, the battery must operate safely under harsh conditions of extreme temperatures, mechanical injury, and tolerate radiation. There are major safety concerns related to thermal runaway and the potential for cells to explode. NOHMs Technologies is proposing to develop non-flammable hybrid electrolytes for safe, high energy density, high voltage, and high power batteries for space suit applications. The development of non-flammable electrolyte formulations is critical for expanding the use of high energy, high voltage batteries for space applications. NOHMs proposed electrolytes operate over a wide temperature range, and are electrochemically stable to ensure long battery lifetimes. The proposed technology is based on innovative functional hybrid materials developed by NOHMs Technologies, Inc.
Next-generation space platforms using unmanned space vehicles, space suits, landers, and satellites will demand more power to sustain long range missions and complex sensing capability. Our battery technology with safety and high energy density can enhance capabilities and extend the duration of future NASA space missions.
NOHMs is developing safe electrolytes for a range of products. NOHMs will use advanced space and defense applications to prove the technology, then transition to larger commercial markets (e.g. electric vehicles), for which size, weight, and battery life are critical. With its advantages in safety and performance NOHMs Technologies battery is uniquely positioned to be a disruptive force.
The NASA objective of expanding the human experience into the far reaches of space requires regenerable life support systems. This proposal addresses the fabrication of structured (monolithic), carbon-based trace-contaminant (TC) sorbents for the space suit used in Extravehicular Activities (EVAs). The proposed innovations are: (1) the use of thin-walled, structured carbon TC sorbents fabricated using three-dimensional (3D) printing; and (2) the patented low-temperature oxidation step used for the treatment of carbons derived from polymers compatible with 3D printing. The overall objective is to develop a trace-contaminant removal system that is rapidly vacuum-regenerable and that possesses substantial weight, size, and power-requirement advantages with respect to the current state of the art. The Phase 1 project successfully demonstrated 3D-printing of polymer precursors, along with carbonization and activation to produce monoliths with excellent shape, dimensional and ammonia adsorption/desorption properties. The Phase 2 objectives are: (1) to optimize sorbent properties and performance; (2) to design, construct, test, and deliver two full-scale TC sorbent prototypes; to provide guidelines for their integration with the PLSS. This work will be accomplished in six tasks: (1) Sorbent Development and Optimization; (2) Subscale Sorbent Testing at UTC Aerospace Systems; (3) Prototype Design; (4) Prototype Construction; (5) Prototype Testing; and (6) System Evaluation.
The main application of the proposed technology would be in spacecraft life-support systems, mainly in extravehicular activities (space suit), but after modifications also in cabin-air revitalization.
The developed technology may find applications in air-revitalization on board US Navy submarines, in commercial and military aircraft, in the future air-conditioning systems for green buildings, and in advanced scuba-diving systems.
The portable life support system (PLSS) of the advanced extravehicular mobility unit (AEMU) provides the necessary environment for a crew member to operate within the space suit. Within the PLSS, the oxygen ventilation loop provides carbon dioxide washout, gas temperature control, humidity control, and trace contaminant removal. Historically, there have been issues with the measurement of air flow for the oxygen ventilation loop. With the Apollo EMU, there were humidity issues with the implemented flow meter. For the Space Shuttle/ISS EMU, the flow sensor was a flapper/microswitch combination that only measured a discrete threshold for flow. The proposed innovation allows for continuous air flow measurement from 1 to 8 acfm with static pressures of 3.5 to 25 psia in the pure oxygen environment. This new method meets the low pressure drop requirement and allows operation beyond low earth orbit (LEO) with radiation hardened electronics. An engineering demonstration unit (EDU) will be developed during Phase II.
NASA's Extravehicular Mobility Unit, or EMU, is a personal mini-spacecraft that comprises the space suit assembly and life support systems. The current EMU has a manually operated extravehicular visor assembly (EVVA) that provides protection from micrometeoroids and from solar ultraviolet and infrared radiation. For the integration of EVVA with NASA’s next generation space suits helmet bubble, dynamically switching technologies are needed to provide tint-ability, radiation protection, and optimized transmittance. Giner proposes to develop an electrochromic space suit helmet bubble that would provide high optical contrast between its clear (transparent) and dark (opaque) states, tunable switching, and a control module that would allow for both user and ambient light control. This electrochromic visor will provide >55% contrast at 550 nm, rapid (~ 1 sec) switching, and low power requirements. Taking advantage of flexible transparent electrodes, a new generation of solution processable electrochromic polymers, and robotic coating on doubly-curved surfaces, Giner will develop and thoroughly test a prototype visor that meets or exceeds the performance and durability requirements listed by NASA. At the end of the program, a full size (10” 13” hemi-ellipsoid dome), self-powered prototype visor will be delivered.
The main application for our electrochromic visor is NASA’s next generation Z-2 spacesuit. Our helmet bubble would allow instant darkening when exposed to sunlight or by user input to protect the astronaut’s eyes from solar glare. In addition, our device could provide tunable change in transparency (variable shading) on windows used in space stations and vehicles, or on deep space shelters.
The ability to tune the color of helmets would be useful for military personnel such as aircraft pilots. There is also a broad range of civilian applications for our electrochromic polymer in its laminate form including building windows, automotive glass, commercial aerospace, eye wear and helmet visors.
To meet NASA’s need for compact, low-cost and autonomous deployable solar array systems to support near-term Lunar and future Martian exploration objectives, Roccor proposes to continue developing the Articulating Solar Panel Energy (ASPEN) system by replacing the z-folded membrane PV blanket baselined for use in the CTSA architecture with an array of discrete modular thin-substrate solar panels supported by cables to enable panel articulation in unison much like “Venetian blind” blades. Significant advantages of articulated PV panels include more efficient power generation, lower procurement costs, and reduced mass and stowed volume.
The ASPEN array technology is compatible with all central-column-tensioned-membrane solar array architectures including Lockheed’s Flexible Substrate Solar Array (FSSA), Roccor’s Flexible Substrate Resilient Array (FSRA), and NASA’s CTA/CTSA. Key improvements and advantages of the proposed Phase II ASPEN technology include:
Roccor’s proposed Phase II program would deliver a sub-scale engineering demonstration unit of the ASPEN technology for application to both lunar and Martian surface operations.
The proposed ASPEN technology is highly modular and applicable to a wide range of use cases, including not only Lunar and Martian surface arrays, but also satellite arrays. NASA recently unveiled a new campaign to return to the Moon, and eventually Mars. All of these exploration missions will require higher performance power generation systems. This Exploration Initiative presents a significant opportunity for Roccor to infuse the ASPEN solar array technology into a wide range of missions.
ASPEN’s attributes will attract interest from the commercial satellite industry. This industry is trending towards higher through-put platforms (i.e., more power-hungry buses and payloads) and all-electric propulsion (SEP) for lower-cost orbital transfer and station keeping. Both trends bode well for adoption of next-generation solar arrays like the ASPEN array.
NASA future applications require non- incremental advances in high temperature materials. Specifically, advanced future propulsion systems require significant improvement in the upper temperature operating limit of composite materials.
Carbon-carbon (C-C) composites exhibit unique properties on increasing strength with temperature but suffer from oxidation at temperatures above 550 C. Over the years significant efforts in the oxidation protection of C-C composites included internal inhibition, external coatings and sealants.
The reliability of such oxidation protection system is greatly limited by the intrinsic risk of coating spallation. On the other hand the internal inhibition by itself is incapable of providing sufficient substrate protection at high temperatures without the external coatings.
Phase I results provided initial paradigm shift into the feasibility of internal oxidation protection system for 3500 F to 4200 F applications.
This Phase II builds on very encouraging and insightful Phase I results and provides for a comprehensive, unique molecular level inhibition of the fiber, intrabundle matrix and interbundle matrix. System chemistry will be optimized to offer NASA a plethora of opportunities in such demanding applications as extension nozzles and combustors offering max temp operation up to 4,200 F with the material system chemistry and molecular inhibition design enabling the composite based parts to experience very large temperature gradients and providing effective oxidation protection of the substrate.
In short, the uniqueness of this molecular inhibition system, based on Allcomp’s provisional patent, eliminates the need for external coatings and sealants. By the elimination of the external coatings the huge coating spallation reliability problem will be solved offering a paradigm shift applicable not only to NASA propulsion applications but the plethora of other NASA applications, military, and commercial applications.
An inherently oxidation resistant molecular-inhibited C-C composites without the need of external coating protection capable for operating at temperature up to 4200 F can be easily scaled up at low cost for large extension nozzles, high temperature integrated combustor / throat/ exit cone, and advanced heat shields for NASA’s launch vehicles and re-entry vehicles. Examples are NASA Space Launch System and Robotic Lunar Vehicles - Lunar Orbital Platform Gateway to Lunar Surface.
Advanced oxidation resistant C-C can be used in in the propulsion path of advanced missiles systems and for the hot structure of the hypersonic vehicles.
In the commercial space market, light weigh, low cost, and scaleable oxidation resistant C-C can also be in the propulsion path of their launch vehicles.
The development of robust and efficient Entry, Descent and Landing systems fulfill the critical function of delivering payloads to planetary surfaces through challenging environments. Future NASA missions will require new technologies to further space exploration and delivery of high mass loads. Of particular interest is the development of reusable hot structure technologies for primary structures exposed to extreme heating environments on atmospheric entry vehicles. A hot structure system is a multifunctional structure that can reduce/eliminate the need for a separate thermal protection system. Thus, there is a need for the development of new technologies to support the realization of low-cost, reusable hot structures applicable to atmospheric entry vehicles. A key barrier is the requirement for the lightweight form to not only carry mechanical loads but also accommodate high temperatures (1000-2200°C), severe transient heating, and temperature gradients through the thickness. Novel materials and associated fabrication processes are needed to balance the demand for structural cohesiveness with desired thermal properties required to protect structure interiors. Sporian Microsystems has developed advanced ceramic materials for harsh environments with a particular focus on materials technologies based on ultra-high temperature polymer derived silicon carbonitride (SiCN). The long-term objective of this proposed work is to heavily leverage Phase I efforts with prior preceramic precursor based insulating materials development, and revise processes that can be used to realize hot structure systems. The Phase II effort will focus on revising and optimizing the additive manufacturing processes developed in Phase I to incorporate the fabrication of both dense and foam components of multifunctional hot structure systems. If successful, Sporian will be well prepared for Phase II efforts focused on producing demo units for NASA testing and addressing vehicle integration.
Thermally and mechanically stable hot structures at high temperature have many applications within NASA including programs such as HyperX, X-37, Mars Astrobiology Explorer Cacher, Jupiter Europa Orbiter, Uranus Orbiter, and Mars Trace Gas Orbiter, as well as facilitates NASA objectives such as ERA, Advanced Air Vehicles Program, Vehicle Systems Safety Technology, and ARMD Advanced Composite Project. Sporian’s proposed technology addresses many of the Strategic Thrusts outlined in NASA’s Strategic Implementation Plan.
The potential markets for a lightweight, high temperature, refractory material is large. This insulation material can be used for Department of Defense hypersonic vehicles, missiles, and rockets for programs such as HAWC, HSSW, Falcon Project, HyRAX, Tactical Boost Glide, Boeing Minuteman, Lockheed Martin Trident, Boeing X-51 Waverider, Raytheon SM-3, and other long range stand-off applications.
We propose an artificial intelligence (AI) technology that significantly expands NASA’s real-time and offline ISHM capabilities for future deep-space exploration efforts. Our proposed system, Anomaly Detection via Topological feature Map (ADTM), will use Self-Organizing Map (SOM)-based architecture to produce high-resolution clusters of nominal system behavior. What distinguishes SOMs from more common clustering techniques (e.g., k-means) in the ISHM-space is that they map high-dimensional input vectors to a 2D grid while preserving the topology of the original dataset. ADTM will use SOMs as the building blocks for a hierarchical case-based model of a system. Using a combination of case-based reasoning (CBR), clustering, and classification techniques, ADTM will detect, predict, and explain anomalies, and guide users in implementing effective mitigations. This approach provides the critical ability to handle previously unknown anomalies and faults. An additional feature of ADTM is the ability to cross-correlate subsystems in order to capture the cascading effect of faults from one subsystem to another, as well as discover latent relationships between subsystems. Such analysis would significantly aid in the maintenance activities of NASA’s deep-space missions. ADTM will include tools to allow users to visualize the status of the system at various levels of granularity, configure and receive alerts about current or predicted future faults, and navigate the system models to trace root causes.
The Phase I effort implemented prototype versions of ADTM’s SOM-based clustering and classification techniques. The prototype was successfully demonstrated on three real-world datasets from NASA and on one simulated dataset for a CubeSat. The level of success attained during Phase I provides a sound foundation for the Phase II effort. We have assembled a strong team that collectively reflects deep expertise in AI, NASA space missions, and predictive health maintenance.
The Phase I effort has shown value to NASA. The Phase I prototype successfully detected anomalies in three different datasets provided by NASA. We will continue to apply ADTM to the NASA Sustainability Base system and the Lunar Orbital Platform Gateway System. Other application areas include the ISS as well as space habitat simulations like HI-SEAS, D-RATS, NEEMO, and HERA, and various future manned and unmanned spacecraft. We have a statement of interest from Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems as a possible transition to their space systems.
We have stated interest from Northrop Grumman which has several programs relating to predictive health maintenance for air and ground systems. There is an increasing demand for such systems in the military as well. We will leverage the funding opportunities provided by military technology acceleration programs like AFWERX and Defense Innovation Unit to transition ADTM to military uses.
With future missions of increasing complexity, duration, distance, and uncertainty, there has been a growing need for methods and tools that can permit the effective formation of early stage conceptual designs that are not only cost-effective, but also productive and resilient to failures. Work performed during Phase I, involved development of a method and tools to address these challenges for space-based systems. However, further development is needed to expand these approaches, making them viable for a more general set of problems. Furthermore, improvements both to the quality of solutions obtained, and the efficiency with which these solutions are obtained is necessary. Finally, development of flight software to improve performance of complex space systems will demonstrate real-world benefits of this Phase II effort.
This proposal addresses these issues with the following innovations:
The significance of the innovations is that the proposed methods and tools will:
NASA applications that can benefit from the increased resilience provided by the methods and tools developed include next-generation habitat systems, such as those being developed under NASA’s NextSTEP-2 BAA, and the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (including the Power Propulsion Element). Also, assets required for NASA’s recently announced return to the Moon, which are complex systems within a system-of-systems, can benefit from the tools, for both robotic and human exploration of the surface.
The advent of the in-space satellite assembly and manufacturing technology, coupled with the emerging ability to service satellites, means that commercial satellite architectures are undergoing a transformation. The commercial satellite industry requires these tools to optimize the performance and resilience of next-generation commercial satellite systems to minimize overall lifecycle cost.
The proposed innovation, an Astronaut Agent, will fulfill several onboard functions and will aid the astronauts in several ways. It will have access to and monitor all sensor values, camera views, and information from external communications. Among other things, it will use these data to detect unsafe conditions, faults, and anomalies and to diagnose the root causes and automatically notify the crew, reconfigure equipment, call up necessary procedures, and add tasks to the schedule, as appropriate. The Astronaut Agent will have the ability to issue commands to the various spacecraft subsystems and command and monitor internal and external robotics in order to offload tasking from the human astronauts. It will aid astronauts by off-loading some procedure steps, while verbally and/or graphically stepping the astronaut through others, at the same time monitoring important sensor values and camera views as required by the procedure. It will be able to manipulate/re-plan the master onboard crew/resource timeline as required by circumstances or as requested by the crew. It will provide a user-friendly, natural language spoken and gesture interface to answer questions and receive requests. It will use commonsense knowledge of what kinds of things are most important and/or most urgent and whether to notify (which) crewmembers.
Several astronauts have expressed excitement in the Astronaut Agent and 2 are enthusiastically involved in the Phase II. We will demonstrate and test the Agent’s capabilities in Phase II, with JSC’s Mars Transit Vehicle Simulation (MTV Sim), MSU’s LabSat (actual satellite hardware (in a lab) which can have hardware faults induced), and the JSC Gateway simulation, headed by Julia Badger, who has expressed strong interest in integrating our Agent. The head of the NEEMO missions, Bill Todd, has expressed eagerness to allow our Agent to be used and evaluated by astronauts during a future NEEMO mission.
The Astronaut Agent is applicable to manned spacecraft such as the Gateway Habitat (and its associated elements such as the power propulsion element and lunar landing vehicles) and the MARS Transit Vehicle (MTV). MAESTRO capabilities within the Astronaut Agent for performing fault detection, diagnosis, recovery/reconfiguration/replanning, rescheduling, and adaptive execution are relevant to NASA unmanned spacecraft, either running onboard or on a ground station from the telemetry stream.
Commercial and DoD unmanned and manned spacecraft including Lockheed Martin’s Orion, SpaceX’s Crewed Dragon, Boeing’s Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 Starliner spacecraft, and Blue Origin’s New Shepard Crew Capsule. Large complex facilities, such as power plants, refineries, power plant and refinery turnarounds, factories of all types, ship building, mining, and commercial aerospace.
There is a significant gap between the properties of materials that are produced using current 3D printing processes and the properties that are needed to support critical space systems. The main limitation for polymers is the interlayer adhesion between layers in the buildup direction. The polyetherimide/polycarbonate (PEI/PC) composite recently demonstrated on the International Space Station is a significant step forward in development for 3D printing in space. However, 3D printing with PEI/PC represents the current practical limits of additive manufacturing (AM) in space due to the temperature requirements to produce other higher-performance materials.
The Phase I SBIR demonstrated the ability to retrofit a simple commercial AM printer with a high-temperature head and low-power laser diodes to enable printing of carbon fiber reinforced (CFR) PEEK, one of the strongest polymers available, along with other polymer formulations like ABS. Increases of up to 240% in tensile strength were demonstrated in the buildup direction using the lasers to provide targeted supplemental heating. Power requirements for the full printer system were 600W, compared to 3,600W and higher for commercial printers coming onto the market that can print PEEK. In this Phase II SBIR, AMI, an ISO 13485-Certified medical device developer and manufacturer, will further develop, test, and commercialize the CFR PEEK composite feedstock and printer retrofit approach, with improved strength through focused photothermal polymerization. Penn State experts on 3D printing, polymer formulation and the effects of thermal history on 3D printed part strength will participate in the project. A local company with expertise in compounding PEEK, will collaborate with the team to produce feedstock ready for 3D print with enhanced layer adhesion.
Additive manufacturing of high performance thermoplastics provides a unique opportunity to enable in situ production of: a) large aerospace structures that not possible with terrestrial manufacture and delivery b)devices or structures on other planetary bodies, and c) temporary, on-demand tools and items capable of being recycled and reused by astronauts.
Additive manufacturing of CFR PEEK to produce: 1) custom orthotics, 2) molds for injection molding, and 3) implantable PEEK devices (orthopedics) due to biocompatibility history of PEEK and better match to mechanical properties of bone compared to metals. The medical effort requires conducting quality activities like Verification and Validation on parts printed individually.
The Phase I results have demonstrated the feasibility of using FDM, optimized feedstock combinations, and composite architecture to produce high strength parts. During Phase II, this initial success will be expanded on for this overall technology to become a feasible candidate for ISS accommodation. Accordingly, during Phase II the FDM unit will be modified to meet ISS compatibility standards and a prototype of this unit will be developed. In addition, the composite architecture, fiber layup, and feedstock combinations down selected from Phase I will be further optimized to improve structural capability beyond what was already achieved during the Phase I effort. Advanced feedstocks will be further developed not only for enhancement of structural properties but also from the perspective of outgassing. The team recognizes that for a true structural part built on the ISS, it may not be possible to conduct comprehensive mechanical testing on ISS to validate the part itself. During Phase II, a comprehensive finite element modeling (FEA) approach will be undertaken to predict mechanical properties as a function of feedstock combination and composite configuration. This FEA model will be validated using extensive mechanical and fracture testing data. Such a validated model will be a useful tool to select feedstocks and composite architecture combinations prior to printing a part on the ISS. Sufficient testing of down selected feedstock combinations and composites will be conducted to develop at least an S basis design allowable. We also propose to pursue FDM printing of metallic parts and demonstrate the potential of using the same FDM unit to print both composite and metallic parts. Development of such a versatile FDM unit will be a significant contribution to enhance ISS or NASA’s FabLab capabilities by reducing the launch payload mass and reducing the footprint.
Direct NASA applications include in-space and on demand manufacturing of critical components. It could directly support the requirements of NASA’s FabLab efforts. FDM technology and feedstocks can be used for multifunctional composite structural radiation shields for the protection of humans and electronics during deep space missions and structural components for space transportation vehicles. Potential NASA contractors include SpaceX, Boeing, Orbital-ATK, Lockheed, Bigelow Aerospace, etc.
- Department of Defense: on-demand printed parts in theater of operation.
- Automotive Industry: lightweight printed composites to enhance fuel efficiency.
- Aerospace Industry: commercial fuselage and jet engine nozzle.
- Construction Industry: fiber reinforced material feedstock for Contour Crafting
- Medical Industry: products ranging from medical devices to cell culturing.-
Cornerstone Research Group Inc.’s (CRG) demonstrated expertise in polymer AM materials development, systems engineering, and feedstock recycling for ISRU offers NASA the opportunity to obtain AM process monitoring and control systems for online quality control of feedstock production and printed parts. CRG’s proposed approach applies sensors, hardware, and software algorithms to monitor and adjust feedstock production AND printing processes in real time as well as certify feedstock and print quality. Hardware and software developed on this program by CRG will be integrated into future platforms initially targeting the ERASMUS Recycler sub-module already under development to support NASA’s ISM. Integration of CRG’s in-situ automated quality control technology into a duplicate of the ERASMUS Recycler submodule will occur during this Phase II effort.
In Phase 1, an integrated fluid delivery platform and a custom made plasma driver has been developed for direct write, plasma jet printing technology. Direct write printing technologies play a key role in the fabrication of next generation of printed electronics products. The need for multiple tools for printing and processing different sets of materials will increase the payload, occupy large space and consume more resources in ISS, all of which are undesirable. Some challenges for mission infusion include development of suitable hardware and software for automated process development, multi-material printing, electrical, chemical safety and no air borne particulate by products of process. Some of the major technical milestones to be achieved in phase 2 is development of the above mentioned features including hardware and software development, design and development of fluid delivery for multi material printing and demonstration of multi material printing, biological & organics decontamination demonstration and electrical, chemical and air safety of the product for ground based testing. The phase 2 work is intended to develop the technology for potential infusion in to In-Space Manufacturing (ISM) Multi-material Fabrication Laboratory (FabLab) being developed under NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP). The main objective of phase 2 is to deliver a ground based plasma jet printing equipment fully capable of printing a wide range of materials including metals, semiconductors, dielectrics and organics using an advanced hardware and software control. Space Foundry is also developing cross cutting plasma jet capability for ISRU including sterilization and organics decontamination of science tools for preventing false positives and for planetary protection.
The overall objective of this R&D work is to take the first steps towards printed electronics manufacturing in space through mission infusion in to NextSTEP-2 FabLab. Some of the In-space manufacturing (ISM) applications of the technology includes on-demand fabrication of energy storage devices, gas sensors, bio sensors, interconnects, RF antenna etc., The ability to integrate the print head with additive manufacturing equipments will allow embedding structural electronics, health monitoring etc., on the manufactured product.
Printed electronic devices including flexible electronics, printed antenna and flexible hybrid electronics (FHE) are next generation internet of things connected smart devices that have applications in both consumer and industrial segments. Plasma jet printing has high potential to address the problems associated with printed electronics manufacturing, in particular the interconnects.
MIS is pioneering the use of the microgravity environment on the International Space Station (ISS) for manufacturing technology and product development. MIS has leveraged NASA SBIR support to create the first polymer additive manufacturing machines in space, develop a hybrid additive-subtractive metal manufacturing technology, and investigate the creation of large single-crystal industrial materials in microgravity. The next step in the industrialization of LEO is the formulation of base materials, such as specialty glasses, that can be refined into higher value products in microgravity. The Glass Alloy Manufacturing Machine (GAMMA) is an experimental system designed to investigate how these materials form without the effects of gravity-induced flows and inform process improvements for commercial product development. While focused around creating fluoride glass preforms (glass cylinders that can be pulled into fiber optic cable), the system can also be used to melt a host of glass compositions, experiment with different dopants, and start the process of creating larger and higher quality glasses aboard the ISS. The initial system development focuses on remelting glass materials originally created on the ground and quantifying differences with ground control experiments. MIS plans to continue this technology development to fully design a system capable of several different experiments for optimizing glass quality in microgravity. These experiments will include processing the constituent powders into samples, using containerless processing to remove potential impurities in the preforms, varying gravity levels through use of a centrifuge, and other experiments which can only be performed on the ISS platform.
Exotic optical fiber is useful in many different applications such as lasers, spectroscopy, and high-grade sensors. Because of the unique properties when manufacturing fiber in space, specific types of fiber gain tremendous value by lowering the attenuation and reducing microcrystals in the glass yielding a much better product. Mid-IR fiber lasers are enabled by the specialty optical fibers and are attractive due to high efficiency, compact packaging, superior reliability, excellent beam quality, and broad gain bandwidth.
GAMMA exotic fibers are able to transmit data across distances with low attenuations and less amplifiers. compared to traditional silica optical fiber Technological companies handling large amounts of data daily, such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc. would all be interested in having optical fiber which has better performance over a wider bandwidth.
Of interest to JPL, GRC and GSFC are laser communications telescopes (LCTs) with 30 to 100 cm clear aperture, wavefront error (WFE) less than 62 nm, cumulative WFE and transmission loss not to exceed 3-dB in the far field, advanced thermal and stray light design for operation while sun-pointing (3-degrees from the edge of the sun); -20° C to 50° C operational range (wider range preferred), and areal density <65kg/m2. Telescope dimensional stability, low scatter, extreme lightweighting, and precision structures are a common theme across the NASA 2017 Physics of the Cosmos and Cosmic Origins Program Annual Technology Report. Multiple Priority Tier 1-4 technology gaps can be found, and the higher priorities require a solution in time for the next Decadal Survey. A common solution of interest that has been cited is silicon carbide and 3D printing or additive manufacturing. RoboSiC technologies provide both. GT proposes to design, 3D print and additively manufacture a prototype Gregorian LCT using the patent pending RoboSiC-S technology demonstrated in Phase I, including bolts, truss structures, mirror mounts. Off-axis mirrors will be printed. RoboSiC-S provides the degree of passive athermality required for the LCT optical pathlength and wavefront error stability, concomitant with low areal density mirrors (7.75-10 kg/m2) and structures (4-5 kg/m2), and a theortical first unit cost for an LCT with a fast steering mirror is $1.5M, a factor of 3-4 less than current LCTs. A Phase IIE project is planned which will integrate 3D printed RoboSiC mirrors into the telescope and perform environmnetal and other tests to raise the TRL to 6 for commercial sales.
The NASA market opportunity for free-space optical communications requires increased data volume returns from space missions in multiple domains: >100 gigabit/s cislunar (Earth or lunar orbit to ground), >10 gigabit/s Earth-sun L1 and L2, >1 gigabit/s per AU-squared deep space, and >100 megabit/s planetary lander to orbiter. RoboSiC telescopes are applicable for detection of gravity waves, detection of dark, cold objects such as exoplanets and asteroids, or even missions to study the sun.
Non-NASA applications include commercial free space communications, complex telescopes for Astronomy, Imaging, Surveillance and Remote Sensing applications, e.g., fire fighting, power and pipeline monitoring, search and rescue, atmospheric and ocean monitoring, imagery and mapping for resource management, and disaster relief and communications.
Absent an atmosphere, the limit for a minimum-orbit altitude (< 50 km) at the Moon, or other airless body, is currently bounded by the technological limitations of the guidance, navigation, and control (GNC) subsystem. Breakthrough improvements in this subsystem will enable new scientific investigations, such as (1) low altitude, direct sampling of the lunar particles naturally lofted by the complex dynamics of the Lunar exosphere, (2) close proximity examinations of the Lunar magnetic “swirls”, (3) deploying low energy sensors (such as the instrument on Lunar Prospector) to map and quantify water ice deposits, and many others. To access this challenging orbital regime and fly Sustained Low Altitude Lunar Orbital Missions (SLALOMs), Advanced Space is proposing the integrated Auto-maneuver Location Processor using Integrated Navigation Estimates (ALPINE) system, that leverages previous investments by NASA and industry to operate autonomously in this highly demanding and rewarding environment. SLALOM combines spacecraft instruments, particularly Flash LIDAR, that generate high accuracy, real-time in-situ navigation measurements, with the automated ALPINE flight software system needed to process that data with minimal latency. The result is a spacecraft equipped with the navigation knowledge and maneuver design capability needed to maintain extremely low altitude Lunar orbits with limited command and control from Earth.
The spacecraft autonomy capabilities made possible through ALPINE will enable new scientific investigations, such as (1) low-altitude, direct sampling of the lunar exosphere, (2) close proximity examinations of the lunar magnetic “swirls”, (3) deploying sensors to map and quantify water ice deposits, and many others. NASA would also be the prime beneficiary of the capabilities as they apply to the exploration of other airless bodies in the solar system including moons at Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.
Non-NASA applications for ALPINE include support for commercial lunar operations and resource prospecting. Lander systems will benefit from the deployment of sustained low-altitude missions through enhanced landing accuracy and autonomy benefits to their missions.
CU Aerospace (CUA) proposes further development of the Dynamically Leveraged Automated (N) Multibody Trajectory Optimization (DyLAN) tool, which solves impulsive and low-thrust global optimization problems in multibody regimes, and can do so in an automated fashion. NASA and commercial entities are in need of advanced methods that allow for rapid analysis of complex optimal trajectory problems, so that the most informed decisions with regard to mission design can be made at an early stage in the planning process. This includes having a solver that can intelligently search the large problem space, do so quickly, and with a great enough level of fidelity to ensure that the trajectory can be continued to a flight fidelity level. Advanced optimization tools for the low-thrust multibody problem do not currently exist, yet this regime is seen in numerous mission designs. In Phase I, CUA demonstrated that the solution approach taken by DyLAN produces significant results, finding unintuitive optimal solutions rapidly and without the need for the user’s oversight. During Phase II, CUA will improve the global and local optimization capabilities of DyLAN, so that a wider breadth of problems can be solved and brought to higher physics fidelity. These internal improvements will complement DyLAN’s proposed ability to harness NASA’s open source GMAT and CSALT tools for additional capabilities; including the ability for export into GMAT. These features will provide a mission analysts with the capability to extend or continue any interplanetary solution with ease into a multibody domain. The parallel computing capabilities of DyLAN will be further extended, so that larger search spaces and more difficult problems can be solved quickly. DyLAN will also undergo both internal and external beta-testing; by industry and NASA. Phase I has proven the viability of the approach and the capacity for further improvement, with Phase II, a full scale software prototype will be delivered.
DyLAN addresses an existing preliminary mission design problem that currently requires a human-in-the-loop; extremely inefficient and mission limiting. DyLAN will meet NASA’s Technology Roadmap goals of advanced modeling and simulation tools that allow for expanded solution spaces enabling new design concepts while decreasing cost by using higher fidelity and computationally efficient simulations. DyLAN goes beyond these goals by connecting NASA software, EMTG and GMAT, into a highly productive design toolchain; multibody to interplanetary.
DyLAN’s early demonstration proves that commercial entities using DyLAN for multibody missions (libration, resonance transfer, departure/arrival) will possess a strong advantage over competition. Interest from Northrup Grumman, a.i. solutions, and KinetX reaffirm this position. DyLAN provides the only avenue for entities (commercial/academia) without world experts to design such missions.
Quantum Opus is excited to propose compactifying, enclosing, and automating ALL of the required vacuum, cryogenics, and electrical systems of a superconducting nanowire single-photon detection system into a 14-inch tall by 17-inch wide by 18-inch deep package and re-engineering the optical collection mechanisms to be compatible with existing NASA telescope infrastructure. The end product will be a multi-optical-channel, rack-mountable system roughly the size of an oscilloscope which can, at the push of a button, or remote command, go from a completely dormant to active state. This would include: pumping out its own vacuum can, activating the integrated helium compressor at appropriate vacuum pressure, and biasing the nanowire detectors at desired base temperature, while enabling continuous counting for near-infrared photons at rates approaching 1 GHz on each optical channel. Wall plug power draw will be ≤500 W and down time for maintenance will only be required every 50,000 hours of run time. The system will host two types of detector payloads, single-mode fiber coupled detectors for integration into terrestrial fiber-optic quantum communications networks and detectors coupled to 50-micron core graded-index multimode fibers for connection to telescopes for either classical or quantum free-space communication. Dark count rates are expected to be between 1 and 10 dark counts Hz per 1550-nm mode for a net dark rate of 1 to 10 kHz for the multimode coupled devices. This will be a transformational technology enabling global-scale deployment of receiver stations for a space-integrated, hybrid classical/quantum, optical communications network for high-rate optical data return from and unassailable secure command and control communications to space telescopes, asteroid mining craft, and other remotely controllable spacecraft.
Field deployable receiver for quantum and classical free-space optical communications and terrestrial fiber-based quantum communications to enable secure command and control data and high rate science data return from space assets. Could enable quantum secured optical communications ground station network compatible with future missions such as: Mars optical communication (e.g. Deep Space Optical Communications project), Lunar Laser Communications and Laser Communications Relay Demonstration, Agriculture/climate data receiver (e.g., ECOSTRESS).
We propose to advance the state-of-the-art in short wave infrared (SWIR) avalanche photodiodes (APD) to meet NASA’s needs for advancements in star tracking technology. In the Phase I effort, we undertook a feasibility study for development of field programmable SWIR detectors using a PIN-APD architecture with antimonide-based superlattice materials. This study demonstrated that a PIN-APD architecture provides superior signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) at low bias voltage and, with an optimized material, can also provide the best SNR at high bias voltage (with avalanche gain). The goal of the proposed Phase II effort is to engineer the process of turning these materials into a focal plane array (FPA). This demonstration will fabricate, passivate, and hybridize a small format array (~256×256) to a commercially available APD readout integrated circuit (ROIC). This demonstration imager will validate and support NASA’s mission for advancing star tracking by enabling detection of optical communications signals (1550 nm) and imaging the starfield across the near infrared (NIR) and SWIR.
An Imaging array for beaconless pointing as a part of the Integrated RF and Optical Communications (iROC) development effort at NASA
Dynamic Imaging array for short-wave lidar and stmospheric gas monitoring
Enhanced lodar and imaging navigation
Reconfigurable and combined systems and optical communicatios.
Hi operating temperature, high sensitivity detector for quantu, key distribution (QKD), as an example of quantum communications
In the next decade, quantum technologies will provide revolutionary advances in communications, sensing and metrology, information processing, timekeeping, and navigation. Of particular interest to this NASA solicitation is the transformative potential of quantum technology in the realm of communications. Furthermore, transmission of quantum information over arbitrary distances raises new possibilities in sensing, networked clocks, and distributed quantum computation. The entanglement distribution at the heart of all these applications relies on the same underlying “quantum repeater” technology. ColdQuanta’s objective in this Phase II SBIR is to produce a critical enabling quantum repeater component: a long-lived quantum memory that is strongly coupled to optical fields for storage and recall of single photons.
During Phase I, ColdQuanta investigated generation of atomic ensembles with ultra-high optical density (OD>100) for generation and storage of quantum information because high OD is critical for attaining high memory efficiency. However, the residual atomic motion in the Phase I ensemble results in dephasing of the quantum memory on a timescale of several microseconds, rather than the many milliseconds required for long-range quantum networking. Nevertheless, the Phase I study demonstrated ColdQuanta’s ability to produce high OD ensembles of cold atoms to boost memory efficiency. The remaining task, proposed for Phase II, is to modify the Phase I atom ensemble generation scheme by trapping the atoms in an optical lattice, which limits residual motion and therefore motional dephasing allowing memory lifetimes up to 0.3 seconds to be observed. Development and fabrication of the photon-coupled quantum memory system in Phase II will be highly efficient because the system can be produced by minor modification of ColdQuanta’s existing DoubleMOT commercial product, which comprises the vacuum cell, magnetics, and optics needed to produce cold atom ensembles.
While the explicitly stated NASA application of interest from the solicitation is in quantum communication, the proposed technology enables distribution of entanglement between remote locations which introduces new possibilities not only in quantum communication (long-range secure communication over unsecured channels) but also in quantum networked arrays of clocks (for improved stability, accuracy, and security) and sensors (for example, extension of telescope interferometric baselines improving measurement angular resolution).
A solid state yet rapidly tunable etalon based on liquid crystal (LC) etalon technology is constructed using minimized LC birefringence response time in an optimized electric field. The key technological innovation is the use of liquid crystal to tune the etalon. While this type of etalon has been in use for many years, a development effort is undertaken to reduce the time it takes to tune a LC etalon over a free spectral range from a few milliseconds (current state of the art) to 100-500 microseconds (proposed). Phase I results show promising ability to tune LC’s at speeds faster than 500 microseconds. The primary application of this technology is integration into a space based lidar (light detection and ranging) system, particularly in differential absorption lidar (DIAL) systems. DIAL is one of the most powerful active remote sensing techniques due to its spatial and altitude resolution, measurement precision, and insensitivity to surface emissivity. As such, it can be used to monitor spatial and temporal changes of minor molecular atmospheric constituents in the lower troposphere. The filter is designed for observing water vapor from orbit. An accurate assessment of global water vapor distribution is key to more precise modeling of climate feedback from clouds and improved weather forecasting.
The primary application is the provision of fast frequency tuning for space based lidar systems. However, the proposed tunable etalon can be modified for use in on-orbit hyperspectral imaging systems or high speed dynamics sampling. A promising non-lidar application is micro-scale sampling of atmospheric winds to provide additional forecast data above and beyond data available using balloon soundings. This is applicable to both traditional weather forecasts and hyperlocal forecasts needed in forest fire management and agriculture.
Non-government applications include use as a spectral sensor for narrow spectral signatures with applications in the oil and gas markets, both exploration and leak and pollution detection. Mineral detection and the detection of chemical impurities in minerals as well as agriculture are also potential applications. All of these markets will experience high degree of growth over the next decade.
Compact and rugged single-frequency pulsed UV lasers are needed for measurement of ozone and the hydroxyl radicals (OH). The determination of the concentration of OH in the atmosphere is central to the understanding of atmospheric photochemistry. The goal for this SBIR Phase program is to demonstrate and build a highly robust high-power fast-tuning single frequency pulsed UV laser near 308nm for OH IPDA lidar measurement by using high average power and high peak power singe frequency fiber lasers. The UV laser will exhibit a pulse energy of greater than 100mJ, pulse width of 5~10ns, and beam quality less than 1.3. We will build a deliverable prototype UV laser for NASA.
To meet NASAs requirements for remote sensing from space, advances are needed in state-of-the-art lidar technology with an emphasis on compactness, efficiency, reliability, lifetime, and high performance. UV laser is needed for measurement of ozone and the hydroxyl radicals (OH). The determination of the concentration of OH in the atmosphere is central to the understanding of atmospheric photochemistry. This proposed tunable narrow linewidth laser near 308nm can be used for integrated path differential absorption lidar for OH measurement.
This tunable single frequency UV lasers near 308nm and single frequency visible laser near 616nm can be used to build commercial lidar for gas monitoring applications, for optical sensing, and for scientific research.
The National Academies Decadal Strategy and NASA have identified critical earth observations including Surface Deformation and Change and Clouds, Convection and Precipitation. These observations are well suited to synthetic aperture radar instruments. The missions span operating frequencies from L to Ka Band. Precision mesh reflectors are uniquely suited to provide large frequency bandwidth while maintaining small packaging forms with low mass. Tendeg proposes to create a cylindrical parabolic reflector that can be used across many missions. This will include the ability to operate at frequencies up to 36 GHz while maintaining the ability to operate at frequencies down to L-Band. This will allow the proposed reflector to operate with current multi array feeds, or scanning phased array feeds, of different frequencies on the same vehicle. This in turn will allow buses equipped with this reflector to carry out several of the Decadal proposed missions which require SAR technologies. The proposed baseline design is a 5:1 aspect ratio aperture that will be a 1 x 5m deployed effective aperture. The proposed design is scalable to larger apertures and can accommodate a fixed feed with either center fed or offset fed apertures. The antenna has high structural stability which results in high on-orbit resonance frequencies, precision deployment repeatability, low distortions due to on-orbit temperatures and ability to accurately RF test in 1G. The proposed design would leverage technologies already developed by Tendeg as part of previous SBIR activities.
The National Academies Decadal strategy for earth observation currently places a high priority on five designated foundational observations. Two of these are 1) Surface Deformation and Change and 2) Clouds, Convection and Precipitation. Each observation mission has different operational frequency requirements which need to be met. The missions span operating frequencies from L to Ka Band. These missions can include canopy penetrating radar for Earth surface characterization up to atmospheric weather predicting radar missions.
Non-NASA applications can be similar with regards to topography, agriculture, forestry, geology, glaciology, oceanography, volcano and earthquake monitoring, and predicting weather phenomena. The antenna can also be used for military surveillance and reconnaissance. This capability is enhanced by the ability to operate at dual frequencies providing high resolution tracking.
The goal of this proposal is to extend Schottky receiver technology through the frequency range from 2 to 5 THz, with emphasis on the needs of future NASA missions. Initial examples include the SSOLVE receiver at 2.5 THz and a heliophysics mission concept at 4.7 THz. In general, the Schottky receiver technology will be useful for all missions in this frequency range that cannot make use of cryogenic receivers. Important examples will include planetary and lunar probes, atmospheric studies and heliophysics. Also, the source technology that will be demonstrated to pump the Schottky mixers can also be used as local oscillator sources for large arrays of cryogenically cooled hot electron bolometer receiver arrays, such as those planned for SOFIA and other platforms.
The Schottky receiver technology will be useful for all missions in the 2-5 THz frequency range that cannot make use of cryogenic receivers. Important examples will include planetary and lunar probes, atmospheric studies and heliophysics. Initial examples include the SSOLVE receiver at 2.5 THz and a heliophysics mission concept at 4.7 THz. Also, improved source technology will be used to pump large arrays of cryogenically cooled hot electron bolometer receiver arrays, such as those planned for SOFIA and other platforms.
Molecular spectroscopy, plasma and accelerator diagnostics and materials science. Commercial test and measurement equipment will be extended to higher frequency. The receivers and sources will replace time domain terahertz systems for spectroscopy. The more powerful solid-state LO sources will also supplant vacuum tube technologies.
The primary objective of the proposed SBIR Phase II research is to extend the room temperature millimeter-wave (MMW) technology developed by Micro Harmonics to isolators operating at cryogenic temperatures. Two very successful cryogenic prototype devices at WR-10 (75-110 GHz) were designed in the Phase I effort. The measured insertion loss at 77 K is 0.3 dB and the isolation is greater than 25 dB across the band. In the Phase II program we propose to develop a line of cryogenic isolators optimized for cryogenic temperatures operating in every waveguide band from WR-15 through WR-5.1 and to deliver prototype devices at each band to NASA. We will also design cryogenic isolators for the WR-4.3 and WR-3.4 bands. These components will fill an unmet need and find immediate application in many cryogenic systems now being developed for NASA missions.
Cryogenic cycling puts mechanical stresses on the constituent parts of the isolators that can ultimately lead to premature failure. Part of the proposed research is to identify and mitigate potential failure mechanisms so that the isolators can reliably withstand multiple cryogenic cycles over the lifetime of the device. This task is accomplished through sophisticated thermal stress modeling as well as repeated cryogenic cycling of the isolator assemblies.
A WR-2.8 (260-400 GHz) isolator designed in the Phase I will be assembled and tested. This isolator will be the first of its kind at this frequency. A novel line of MMW voltage variable attenuators (VVA) will also be developed. The VVA’s utilize the Faraday rotation effect in a similar way as the isolators, but with a variable magnetic bias field instead of a fixed saturated magnetic field. Initial investigations indicate that the effective attenuation range should be at least 1-35 dB in the WR-10 band. NASA researchers at JPL have expressed their interest in these devices.
NASA develops many sensitive cryogenic detection systems including millimeter-wave and terahertz sources, detectors and receivers for NASA’s Submillimeter Missions such as Marvel, VESPER, MACO and SIRICE. There are potential applications in the local oscillator chains in the high-resolution heterodyne array receivers at 1.9 THz being developed to support SOFIA and the Stratospheric Terahertz Observatory (STO-2) as well as the 4.7 THz multiplied local oscillator source for the observation of neutral oxygen.
The international radio astronomy community develops a large number of cryogenic systems. This includes the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in the US. Cryogenic systems are used when the absolute highest sensitivity is required. They are used predominantly in scientific applications including spectroscopy and biomaterial analysis but also find use in military and commercial applications.
This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project seeks to develop an innovative Nano-electromechanical systems (NEMS) based uncooled broadband detector (NEMS detector) with average with high quantum efficiency over the spectral range of 3µm – 50 µm and high detectivity. This device will have a broadband spectral range to support MWIR to Far IR imaging at high performance. The Phase II work will be continuation of Phase I work to include detector modeling, simulation and optimizations, sensing materials growth and optimization using a process compatible with CMOS process, process development, fabrication of test-structure, and their characterization. Further design optimization will be performed based on experimental and simulation results. In addition, design of detector array will also be carried out which will be scalable to large format array. The Phase II development of the NEMS detector will demonstrate a path toward to commercial development of the device as an uncooled broadband IR detector for NASA applications.
Earth Science missions, atmospheric science AIRS (3.7-14.5 µm), measures air temperature and humidity for weather forecasts, and TES (3.2-15.4 µm), measurements of tropospheric ozone from space. ASTER (8-14 µm), for solid earth and hydrology science, and HyspIRI Mission, Visible-Shortwave Infrared (VSWIR) Imaging Spectrometer and a Multispectral Thermal Infrared (TIR) Scanner. Sustainable Land Imaging – Technology (SLI-T) Landsat-9 Landsat-10 instruments, sensors, components, and measurement.
Military and homeland security include target detection for acquisition, tracking, and pointing of directed energy systems on next generation airborne platforms, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms and remote sensing. Commercial applications include Spectroscopy and Instrumentation for Pharma, Forensic, Automobile, Medical, and Scientific Imaging, and Security segments.
The objective of this program is to develop a monolithic, multichannel, photon counting readout integrated circuit (ROIC) that can interface with microchannel plate photomultiplier tubes (MCP-PMT) for high-dynamic range space-based light imaging, detection, and ranging (LIDAR) applications. The ROIC will be designed and implemented in a standard, commercially available silicon-germanium (SiGe) bipolar Complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (BiCMOS) process that is well suited to high-speed applications while offering a degree of radiation hardness due to the SiGe. ROIC will be designed to interface with an MCP-PMT detector and have enough flexibility to interface to other photon counting detectors such as silicon photomultipliers (SiPMs).
The goal of this proposal is a fully integrated ROIC that interfaces to an MCP-PMT or SiPM array, creating a nearly universal photon counting solution. This meets the existing and urgent ROIC requirements of NASA missions in the realm of aerosol, cloud and oceanographic (ACO) LIDAR measurements. The arrays can also be used for Cosmic Particle Detection missions and is readily adaptable to both airborne and space deployed LIDAR systems.
A fully integrated, ROIC that interfaces to an MCP-PMT or SiPM array is also of interest to a number of other government and non-government commercial applications.
Department of Defense
Department of Energy
Non-Government Commercial Applications of a SiPM ROIC
Freedom Photonics will leverage existing commercial relationships to address these applications.
Sensors for spaceborne aerosol, cloud, and ocean (ACO) lidar must possess very wide dynamic range to cover the weakest stratospheric returns from the Rayleigh region and the strongest atmospheric targets, such as bright water clouds and strong reflections from the ocean surface. Currently this is not possible using a single sensor. To address NASA’s need for next-generation spaceborne lidar systems for ACO profiling, Voxtel proposed to develop a high-dynamic-range photon-counting (HiP) sensor. The 65,536 pixel element (256 x 256-format) HiP sensor integrates Voxtel’s highly sensitive (400 – 1000-nm with ≥ 50% photon detection probability, PDP, at 532 nm), low-noise (≤ 10 Hz dark count rate per pixel), silicon single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) detector technology, which is integrated with novel in-pixel circuits to achieve a dynamic range of 100 million counts per second per pixel and the fast transient response required for both atmosphere and ocean profiling. The HiP sensor is manufactured using a commercial, high-volume, military/automotive-grade, complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) process, which makes it reliable, with high yields, and low cost.
The HiP sensor is the first integrated sensor for both ocean-profiling lidar from space and advanced retrievals of dense cloud properties, enabling multi-wavelength HSRL for vertically resolved profiling of clouds and aerosols in atmosphere and optical properties in ocean. Missions include the Decadal Survey for ESAS ACE, airborne and space-based measurement of water-vapor profiles. Other applications include direct-detection wind lidar, environmental & coastal monitoring, agriculture & precision forestry, forestry management & planning.
VIS-NIR (400 – 1000-nm) commercial lidar 3D imaging & photon counting applications: ADAS systems for automotive & autonomous vehicle markets; autonomous navigation & collision avoidance; 3D gesture & user interface; FLIM; rail mapping; security & surveillance; urban planning; BIM for construction, building management, and infrastructure; and defense & emergency services.
This proposal outlines a digital pixel readout integrated circuit (DPROIC) to achieve extremely high dynamic range, high speed and elegant functionality for infrared image focal plane arrays. This digital pixel readout will be a complete camera-on-chip architecture when combined with single or dual polarity dual band detectors in a hybrid fashion. It will have a wide operating temperature range to support a broad range of detector architectures. The proposed DPROIC will be implemented in a mature CMOS process with much more reasonable mask costs as compared to that of state-of-the-art line width processes, saving money and broadening the possible supplier base. The final product will be flexible enough to be used as a generic readout integrated circuit for a broad range of NASA missions and other applications.
- Earth observing including water vapor, sea ice, land & water temperature, ecosystem dynamics, weather science, land resource mapping
- Compact and low power short duration missions such as cube satellites
- Solar System and astronomy applications such as imaging cold bodies near bright objects, measuring temperatures and atmospheres of planets
- Any application requiring two color (any combination of & from shortwave to longwave) detectors to determine precise irradiances at two different wavelengths radiating from the same area at the same time
- Any infrared application requiring high dynamic range and improved sensitivity
- Ground and air combat applications
- Military surveillance compatible with sun-approach warnings
- Any application requiring high dynamic range and a lower-cost system
- Homeland security applications - Fire/disaster emergencies
- Security and surveillance in hostile scene situations
- Industrial and medical applications
NASA and NASA funded missions/instruments such as Aura/MLS (Microwave Limb Sounder), SOFIA/upGREAT and STO/STO-2 have
demonstrated the need for local oscillator (LO) sources between 30 and 300 um (1 and 10 THz). For observations >2 THz,
technologically mature microwave sources typically have microwatt power levels which are insufficient to act as LOs for a multi-element heterodyne receiver.
LongWave Photonics is proposing to develop a high power, phase/frequency-locked, single mode, THz QC-VECSEL quantum cascade
laser (QC-VECSEL) system with >2 mW cw power (estimated 5mW) at 77K at 3.4 THz and deliver it to NASA at the end of Phase II. QC-VECSELs operating at 4.7 THz band will also be investigated and will be delivered to NASA if the performance is suitable. The system includes a THz QC-VECSEL gain chip based on metasurface gain structure with an integrated cavity adjustment structure. The VECSEL LO will be packaged in a high-reliability Stirling cycle cooler with modification to minimize vibration noise. The source could be frequency locked to a stable microwave reference with <100 kHz line width. Moreover, the unique tuning mechanism for QC-VECSEL could achieve 250 GHz of tuning at 4.7 THz, meeting the design requirement for future HERO instrument on Origins Space Telescope (OST).
NASA applications include the use of the QCL as an LO for >2 THz receivers for future missions. Here the narrow linewidth (<100 kHz) of the QC-VECSEL can be used to resolve Doppler-limited low-pressure gasses (~MHz linewidth). The QC-VECSEL LO will be a compact replacement for any gas-laser LO. The resulting source will be a compact, reliable, table-top, frequency stabilized, yet highly tunable, high power THz LO with high beam quality which can sufficiently pump multi-element HEB receiver array.
Initial applications are research markets for low-pressure gas spectroscopy. The narrow line width and the ability to provide real-time frequency information of THz radiation also has great appeal. THz QC-VECSEL can also provide fast frequency sweeping ability which opens new applications such as THz optical tomography (OCT).
PhotonFoils will develop single crystal silicon carbide grids and membranes for X-ray telescopes and laboratory instruments. SiC grids are needed for microcalorimeter shields on Lynx, which cannot meet design requirements with existing grid materials. SiC grids can also also improve the signal stability of cooled imaging X-ray detectors, such as Lynx HDXI and Axis, by reducing contaminant accumulation in the optical path. NASA requires fine-featured, durable grids as membrane supports for X-ray, EUV, and particle detectors. SiC also offers a path for providing membrane support mesh with superior X-ray transmittance, usable in instruments such as spectrometers, without generating fluorescence artifacts associated with metal grids. The Lynx X-ray Grating Spectrometer will need an Optical Blocking Filter, for which SiC would provide a superior grid. Our proposed SiC grids would provide far superior heat shedding compared to existing grids used for near-solar missions. In addition to grids, our proposed fabrication technology can produce high strength, high bandgap membranes for laboratory X-ray windows, transducers, and transmissive detectors (e.g. X-ray dosimeters and position monitors). These membranes could be used for LWIR filter substrates, or for back-illuminated UV detectors with high collection efficiency.
In Phase I we prototyped methods to fabricate single-level SiC grids. In Phase II we will employ these methods to fabricate 2-Level grids, with geometries analogous to the silicon grids used for Hitomi SXS. In Phase II, we will also fabricate SiC membranes, and single-level grids, for various terrestrial and space telescope applications.
Grids for microcalorimeter entrance filters, Grids for cooled imaging detectors, Grids for electrical isolation, Plasma-facing membane transducers for thrust engines, High transmittance grids for improved EUV and particle beam filters, Quantum Efficiency Enhancement grids for improved microchannel plate imaging, Improved telescope entrance shields, Non-absorbing LWIR filter substrates, back-illuminated UV detectors with low leakage and high collection efficiency
Membranes for UV detectors with multi-GHz bandwidth
Beryllium-free X-ray pressure windows
Instrumented X-ray window flux meters, position monitors and imagers
Grid supports for pressure windows
Heat shedding grids for synchrotron beamlines, lasers, and high power EUV light sources
Harsh environment transducers
Gridless, artifact-free ptychography and tomography windows
In this proposed project, we plan to complete the further research and develop of a novel platform solid-state image sensor, Quanta Image Sensor (QIS), for future NASA missions, and other scientific, industrial, and consumer low-light, photon-counting applications. The outcome of this project is a visible-blind UV/EUV photon-counting quanta image sensor with high-speed and accurate photon-counting capability without the necessity of electron avalanche multiplication. The sensor will have a linear multi-bit photon-counting response, among other exciting features, such as up to ~100% duty cycle, zero dead time, low dark count, low operating voltage and power consumption, large format with high spatial resolution, room temperature operation, high quantum efficiency in UV/EUV wavelengths, and strong radiation tolerance.
The ultimate goal of this project is to produce a Quanta Image Sensor (QIS) with enhanced quantum efficiency (QE) in UV/EUV wavelengths and high radiation hardness. The R&D work in Phase I provides a fundamental base for this development, and the real device design and fabrication will be completed in Phase II of this project. During Phase II, a second-generation QIS test chip will be designed, fabricated, and tested. The new test chip will serve as a plat-form to demonstrate the proposed new technologies that will bring necessary features to the future NASA applications. If successful, the test chip will significantly improve the readiness level of the QIS technologies and their implementation in NASA applications. A lot of exciting experiments and validation can be conducted based on the test chip both in a laboratory environment and in some space-relevant environments. A camera/imaging system will be built surrounding the new test chip to satisfy the requirements of those validation and experiments.
The applications include a wide range of astrophysics studies. For example, the studies of exoplanet atmospheres, surface reflectance, proto-planets, coronagraph, and the intergalactic and circumgalactic medium. The outcome of this project will benefit the flagship NASA missions such as LUVOIR, HabEx, and ESA-NASA Solar Orbiter. Besides, the potential product will be the only type of detector that can provide the photon number resolving capability to enable accurate UV/EUV quantum yield measurements.
The outcome of this project is beneficial to a wide range of applications. For example, scientific, high-end imaging applications such as life science, fluorescence microscopy, and chemistry studies such as flow cytometry. There are also sizeable markets in medical dermatology imaging, high-resolution surface inspection in automotive and industrial applications, and flame detection.
This proposal will develop curved microchannel plates (MCPs) and collimators for spaceflight instrumentation. The curvature will improve measurement quality and volume utilization by allowing the detector to conform to the physical geometry of the instrument. For example, an instrument may view the space environment in 360 degrees of azimuth with cylindrical symmetry. In this case, a cylindrical MCP may be used to exploit the instrument housing geometry to simplify either direct particle detection, or detection of secondary electrons that provide timing signals. Where secondary electrons must be detected, the compatibility of the curved MCP with the instrument geometry may be used to shorten electron flight paths, and consequently reduce high voltages needed to steer secondary electrons to their MCP target. Additionally, continuous, curved MCPs can relieve structural mounting complexity and the consequential vibration mode complexity.
The MCPs will be made by bending glass capillary arrays, then applying thin films to provide the functionality of a microchannel plate electron multiplier. This two-step approach makes possible nearly any shape for an MCP. Another benefit of this approach is that the microchannels will always have the same angle relative to the surface normal at any location. This will make the detection efficiency the same for all particles with normal incidence at any location on the MCP.
A similar approach can be used for simple, lightweight collimators. Microchannels can be oriented perpendicularly to the surface, and the curve made to fit the symmetry of the entrance system. A carbon foil may be added to the surface of the collimator to provide a secondary electron for timing measurements. Although the cylindrical nature of the microchannels introduces some specular reflection from the interior of the channels, this approach offers the benefit of mechanical simplicity and light weight for a collimator application.
The curved MCP or collimator may be used in any spaceflight particle detection instrument, to improve volume utilization and measurement quality. These are instrument-enabling benefits for instruments in the CubeSat environment, as well as instruments in mass-constrained deep space missions.
The curved MCP may be used for terrestrial mass spectrometers, cylindrical beam monitors, or MCP-photomultipliers for compact cylindrical geometries, in which flight path uniformity from source to detector is critical for photon timing.
Collimators are used in all X-ray and particle detectors as well as in multiple commercial applications that use X-ray imaging to maximize the sensitivity, resolution and contrast of images. State-of-the-art collimators can offer either high off-axis blocking or high on-axis transmission, and are heavy and bulky. MicroXact Inc.is proposing to continue the development of a particle collimator for NASA and commercial applications that will combine superior mechanical stability, light weight, improved Ly-a line suppression, with efficient off-axis blocking and high on-axis transmission efficiency. The proposed collimator is based on macroporous silicon with proprietary conformal pore wall coating. In Phase I of the project the MicroXact finalized the performance specifications, modeled and designed the collimator structure, demonstrated and optimized most critical fabricated steps, and demonstrated a-particle on-axis transmission meeting specifications to fully validate the proposed approach. In Phase II MicroXact will optimize the material fabrication, and design and fabricate a packaged particle collimator that will fully comply to NASA specifications and will perform testing in relevant environment. The collimators and antiscatter grids developed on this SBIR project will be commercialized in Phase III.
Due to the unique advantages over competing technologies, the proposed MPSi particle collimators are expected to find a number of applications in NASA missions (, Explorer missions, Decadal survey missions IMAP, MEDICI, GDC, DYNAMICS, DRIVE Initiative, DISCOVERY, New Frontiers, and CubeSat, SmallSat missions, Sub-orbitals, and many more). Similar concept will work equally well with X-ray collimators for other NASA missions (such as ATHENA X-IFU and X-ray Surveyor, etc.).
Similar design of the particle and X-ray collimators is expected to find considerable DoE applications spanning from plasma parameter monitoring in tokamaks, X-ray and particle detection in accelerators, lightning and aurora studies, etc. The biggest market for the proposed component is X-ray antiscatter grid for medical X-ray imaging.
NASA has need for technologies that can enable sampling from asteroids and from depth in a comet nucleus, improved in-situ analysis of comets. It has been identified that there is also a requirement for improved dust environment measurements & particle analysis, small body resource identification, and/or quantification of potential small body resources (e.g., oxygen, water and other volatiles, hydrated minerals, carbon compounds, fuels, etc.). We propose to leverage past observations of the ability of electrospray ionization to capture and concentrate polar or polarizable trace species without damage, and combine that knowledge with recent discoveries in developing a hyper velocity ice-gun for NASA studies aimed at ice grain capture simulations. The phase I effort will focus on using the ice gun we created under prior NASA support, and add a novel electrospray cross-current element that creates a soft charging plume across a series of discrete deceleration mylar plates that we believe will enable in-situ organic analysis capability previously unattainable on board a spacecraft using existing NASA mass spectrometer hardware.
This technology offers the means to employ mass spectrometry with comet tail sampling. The ability to non-destructively analyze organic trace species in ice grains traveling at hyper velocities of 5km/s and above, would simplify orbital mechanics for sample interception.The creation of multiply charged ions offers using existing MS instruments to look for organic macromolecules without increasing analyzer upmass, size, or power requirements. This allows in-situ analysis of incident ice grains in near real-time, with samples retained for return.
For Non-NASA applications, the technology being offered in this proposal include the potential for new methods of ambient pathogen capture and soft ionization for mass spectrometric analysis. In addition, other applications may include non-organic polar molecule charging suitable for thin layer deposition, chip fabrication, and other semiconductor uses.
NASA has need for laboratory simulations of high velocity impacts with ice particles in order to test in-situ instruments intended for sampling material from planetary bodies such as comets and the water ice plumes of Enceladus. Specifically, beams of micrometer-size water ice grains moving in vacuum at speeds of 5 km/s or higher would be very useful. Light gas guns produce showers of high velocity ice grains that are not well controlled or well characterized, and are not easily combined with the sensitive instrumentation to be tested. Free jet molecular beam sources cannot reach velocities much greater than 2 km/s. The goal of the phase II effort is to develop and characterize an in-vacuo electrospray generator of highly charged ice grains suitable for controlled electrostatic acceleration to hyper-velocities. We will characterize the mass, charge, and speed of the ice grains using RadMet’s charge detection mass spectrometer hardware. The 2-year effort will deliver a ice grain accelerator system to NASA which aims to accelerate 1 micron particles to speeds greater than 3 km/s using just 10 kV of acceleration potential.
The ICE grain accelerator apparatus is envisioned to be adaptable to a variety of existing vacuum systems and could find use in a number of test chambers at various NASA centers. Further development of the core charge detection mass spectrometry technology could benefit the development of NASA in-situ instruments such as cosmic dust analyzers, and detectors for characterizing Lunar and Martian surface electrostatics.
Charge Detection Mass Spectrometry (CDMS) is currently being used to characterize large macromolecules such as viruses. The novel cryogenic ion source could be useful for mass spectroscopy of biological molecules.CDMS is also valuable for measuring the electric charge on particles in the pharmaceutical and agricultural industries and in the xerographic printing field.
Makel Engineering, Inc. (MEI) proposes to develop high temperature, solid state sensors to monitor carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen (N2) in the Venus atmosphere. A harsh environment chemical sensor array suitable for measuring key trace species in the Venus atmosphere has been developed by MEI under a recent SBIR program. Currently there are no demonstrated chemical microsensors suitable to measure the two most abundant species (CO2 ~ 97% and N2~ 3%) in the Venus atmosphere at high pressure and high temperature conditions (CO2 and N2 exist as supercritical fluids near Venus surface). The proposed amperometric and potentiometric sensors are compatible with silicon carbide (SiC) electronics under development for Venus chemical sensing instruments, complementing recent and ongoing efforts to support Venus atmospheric analysis. Future missions which may descent through the atmosphere and operate on the surface of Venus measuring the composition of the atmosphere would benefit from this new capability to accurately measure small variations of N2 and CO2 concentration.
Phase I of the program focused on design and demonstration of the sensor material systems and sensing capability. Prototype sensors were fabricated and tested in relevant laboratory conditions, demonstrating the technology to TRL 4. In Phase II, the CO2 and N2 sensors will be coupled with electronics to meet the needs of key applications of interest. For planetary use, SiC based electronics being developed by MEI under the Hot Operating Temperature Technology (HOTTech) program will enable operation of chemical sensors for extended periods on the surface of Venus.
In addition to monitoring the CO2 and N2 concentration in the Venus atmosphere, the sensor can be used to monitor CO2 and N2 in the Mars atmosphere, as well as support of Mars in situ resource utilization (ISRU), such as capture and pressurization systems for capture, concentration and utilization of CO2 from the Mars atmosphere.
Monitoring CO2 generated in molten carbonate cell anode and consumed in cathode enables controlling CO2 addition to make up deficiencies. N2 is used to protect cell components. The carbon sequestration and CO2 recovery markets have an unmet need for CO2 sensing and trace nitrogen detection. Harsh environment instrumentation market share is projected at 100% as there is currently an unmet need.
We propose to develop an in-situ high-resolution X-ray computer tomography (microCT) instrument to analyze rock core samples on the surface of a planet or planetesimal. The instrument will also double as an X-ray spectrometer to map the chemical composition of the surface of the rock core when its surface is not shielded by an opaque container. The instrument will rely on a coring drill to collect and deliver the core sample. Small rock samples can also be analyzed. Several planetary deployment scenarios are envisioned: microCT/XRF analysis of rock cores in future robotic exploration mission, microCT/XRF analysis of rock and soil samples sealed in low Z containers for future sample cashing missions, radiographic analysis of Mars2020 canisters in future fetch rover. The feasibility has been demonstrated during Phase 1 using a miniature breadboard instrument and computer simulations. Quality 3D reconstruction of core samples were obtained and compared well with data from a commercial benchtop instrument. Space deployment of the concept require the development of a 50kV microfocused X-ray source. The Phase II research will focus on further developing the instrument and demonstrating a 50kV X-ray tube with a flight compatible bipolar architecture.
Analysis of rock cores for robotic in-situ science missions for astrobiology or geoscience.
On-board analysis of rock cores sealed in canisters for sample-return, including on a Mars fetch-rover to analyze cores collected by the Mars 2020 rover and help assess best candidates for return to Earth.
On-board Space Station research instrument for the study of multiphase materials in microgravity.
Miniature X-ray tomography instrument for field applications.
Portable applications for cultural heritage materials that cannot leave their country, excavation site or museum.
Portable or robotic application for analysis of small objects for forensics, homeland security, border control.
In-situ instrumentation is needed that can withstand the harsh environments imposed by planetary atmospheres in order to make advancements in solar system exploration. Technologies that can withstand the corrosive/caustic gases, radiation levels, stresses, and high temperatures and pressures, while still producing reliable, real-time data are a major facilitator for planetary missions. To address this need, Sporian is developing a harsh environment pressure sensor targeted toward the Glenn Extreme Environment Rig (GEER) and future Venus probe spacecraft. The proposed technology will be beneficial to NASA’s planetary science mission by facilitating, environmental chamber testing/validation, and pressure measurements in the Venus atmosphere and on the surface. The Phase I effort focused on heavily leveraging prior harsh environment, in-situ instrumentation development and, with input from current/prior NASA partners, successfully constructing and characterizing prototype sensor suites. Phase II efforts will include: continuing to work with stakeholders to guide technology development; developing processes and design required to realize next generation sensors; multiple generations of prototyping; and application environment relevant testing.
A harsh environment sensor that can provide real-time pressure information has the potential to provide major advancements in planetary science. The technology will target the Glenn Extreme Environment Rig and its capability to mimic planetary conditions such as those on Venus, but be directly applicable to both current and future NASA programs/directorates, and facilitate innovations in vehicle performance monitoring, environmental testing, and atmospheric characterization of planetary bodies.
Aero propulsion turbine engines would benefit significantly by having an on engine pressure sensor for monitoring turbine engine conditions. Additional potential market areas include: marine propulsion, rail locomotives, land based power generation turbines, automotive, oil and gas refining, nuclear power generation, concentrating solar power systems, and government and academic laboratories.
To answer the questions such as how have the myriad chemical and physical processes that shaped the solar system operated, interacted, and evolved over time? from “Vision and Voyages for Planetary Science in the Decade 2013-2022” by National Research Council, we propose to develop a compact, low-power, in-situ X-ray imaging and X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) instrument called Tomo-XRF probe to investigate the ice/rock internal element distribution and structure critical properties, such as density, porosity, crack, liquid distribution and flowing path, etc.
In this Phase II project, a prototype Tomo-XRF probe will be built with cutting edge X-ray components, innovative system configuration, and a novel method for data processing. This whole prototype system would be expected to be less than 10 pounds with a total size as a shoe box. The sample could be either ice or rock. The Tomo-XRF probe has a significant potential for NASA’s New Frontiers and Discovery missions cross most planetary bodies to provide high quality internal structure and element distribution information.
To in-situ investigate the rock/ice sample prior to sample return could significantly improve the NASA spacecraft mission efficiency and expand our knowledge of the origin, formation, structure, etc. of the substances of the planetary bodies.
This proposed Tomo-XRF probe also has a great potential for geological survey, petroleum, subsurface thermal resource, and mining exploration. It can also be used at the production field of advanced manufacturing to provide critical 3D structure and element distribution information of the parts for quality assurance. The in-situ results can be used as feedback to optimize/adjust the production process for significantly improving the production throughput and quality control.
It would be useful for the science research objectives defined in the “Mars Science Goals, Objectives, Investigations, and Priorities: 2018 Version” MEPAG:
1. Objective B1.3: Establish general geological context (e.g., rock-hosted aquifer or sub-ice reservoir; host rock type).
2. Objective B1.1: Determine the types, nature, abundance, and interaction of volatiles in the mantle and crust.
3. Objective A4.3: Determine the present state, 3-dimensional distribution, and cycling of water on Mars, including the cryosphere and possible deep aquifers.
There is an excellent potential for the Tomo-XRF probe for the geology survey, petroleum and mining industries, which are close to the geophysics and geochemistry application in the NASA mission.
This Tomo-XRF probe has an even big potential for advanced manufacturing quality control of critical components because it can be easily extended to accommodate a variety of large samples.
In this Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase II effort, LMT proposes to build from the successful Phase I to design and build the IN-situ Solid Phase Extraction of Chemical Targets (INSPECT) instrument, a versatile and automated sample processing module that will work in conjunction with a number of analytical instruments. INSPECT incorporates two extraction columns integrated into a microfluidic platform for the separation of a broad range of Class I (non-polar organics), Class II (polar organics) chemicals, thus reducing interference and lowering detection limits by providing more refined (or pre-separated) and concentrated samples to on-board analytical instruments. As stated in a recent paper, ``…with any analytical system, the accuracy of sample analysis is only as good as the sample that is delivered to the analytical instrument." This is especially holds true for samples in complex chemical environments that either contain high levels of molecules that interfere with the analytical instrument or contain chemicals that can react with target analytes. To mitigate these problems LMT proposes to carry out separations with small extraction columns that borrow technology from solid phase extraction, reversed phase chromatography and traditional column chromatography technology. Our system not only will increase the resolution and sensitivity for life-detection techniques but will use low power, low volume and low mass, which are inherent traits of a microfluidic system. The method outlined above is an improvement over other extraction-type systems that require large volumes of volatile organic solvents for sample concentration, separation and delivery. Moreover, the modular nature of INSPECT will allow it to be compatible with several analytical instruments currently being used and developed at NASA including CE, MCE, GC, Gc-MS, HPLC, IC, LDMS,UV spectroscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy.
The INSPECT technology provides innovative sample processing technologies for the purpose of improving the resolution and sensitivity of life-detection measurements. Specifically, we have targeted environmental samples from Ocean World bodies with water, but this module may also be adapted to process soil samples for environments such as Mars with the incorporation of a preliminary extraction step. The INSPECT technology provides innovative collection and concentration of samples for delivery to a variety of analytical instruments.
The INSPECT technology can also be adapted to monitoring specific chemical concentrations on Earth. This will be important for environmental monitoring near crude oil deposits to detect small leaks before they become large ones. Moreover this technology could be modified to monitor the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, as they have been show to migrate through sediment to groundwater.
Satellites provide valuable data for cloud, precipitation, and radiative transfer research. Supporting in-situ atmospheric measurements of cloud properties are essential. While research aircraft carry the best in-situ instruments, the aircraft and instruments are too expensive to provide sufficient coverage. Anasphere is developing a suite of low-cost, balloon-borne instruments that can quantify all three condensed phases of water in clouds: supercooled liquid, liquid, and ice. The first two instruments have been developed and are used around the world.
In Phase I, an ice water content (IWC) sensor was developed and demonstrated in Anasphere’s icing wind tunnel. The new sensor actually proved to be a total condensed-phase water content sensor, and a universal sonde including this sensor and an existing supercooled liquid water sensor is envisioned which can be used to quantify all phases of condensed water in clouds, and most importantly can separately determine both supercooled liquid water content and IWC in mixed-phase clouds. It can also measure IWC in glaciated clouds and liquid water in above-freezing clouds.
In Phase II, the dual-sensor universal sonde will be developed, tested under a wide range of conditions in the icing wind tunnel including mixed-phase conditions, and flown on an extensive test flight program.
The sensor will provide in-situ measurement support for one of the five foundational observations designated in the most recent Decadal Survey, namely Clouds, Convection, and Precipitation. With regard to radiative transfer, NASA applications may be found in the Earth Observing System and the Radiation Sciences Program. The instruments, by virtue of being inexpensive balloon-borne payloads, will enable greater spatial and temporal coverage in support of validation and verification efforts related to these programs.
Other agencies engaged in cloud and radiative transfer research will be key beneficiaries of this technology, including the Department of Energy, NOAA, and NCAR.
Quantifying atmospheric aerosol, clouds and precipitation processes are critical needs for understanding climate and environmental change, a NASA objective. The formation of ice in the atmosphere depends on the nature and abundance of ice nucleating particles (INP), and has major implications for precipitation and cloud properties. Observational capabilities are required to advance understanding of INP, and there is a substantial gap between current needs within NASA and existing instruments and capabilities. This project seeks to develop a new commercial instrument for airborne INP measurements based on the continuous flow diffusion chamber (CFDC) concept. The CFDC approach involves exposing sampled aerosol to a region between two ice-covered walls and measuring ice crystals that form from sampled INP. Phase I work assessed a measurement chamber made from anodized aluminum and found it was suitable for INP measurements. Phase II will build on this work by completing a prototype instrument featuring an aluminum-walled chamber. Research and development efforts will include testing and design of a new inlet system to reduce sampling artifacts, incorporation of a new refrigeration system for use on aircraft, and implementation of several automation features into the overall instrument design. The prototype instrument will be thoroughly tested using aerosol standards, including previously characterized INP, and compared with state-of-the-art measurement methods available from our project partner, Colorado State University. At the end of the project we will provide NASA with a characterized, prototype instrument capable of INP measurements aboard the NASA aircraft fleet. The project directly addresses the NASA need for measurement capabilities to support current satellite and model validation by providing an instrument capable of measuring INP concentration in an airborne deployment, as identified in subtopic S1.08, In Situ Sensors and Sensor Systems for Earth Science.
By supporting this project, NASA would obtain airborne INP measurement capabilities that would support model validation and airborne science program field campaigns, similar to those discussed in the ROSES-2018 solicitation. Suitable platforms include the DC-8, P-3, C-20A and G-V. Relevant campaigns include any that include a focus on aerosol-cloud interactions, similar to FIREChem, NAAMES, ORACLES, ARISE II, and CAMP2Ex, and future EVS studies examining aerosol-cloud interactions.
Domestically, agencies with an interest in measuring INP from aircraft include the Department of Energy ASR/ARM, NOAA CSD, and NSF/NCAR atmospheric chemistry programs. Foreign government organizations include the UK MetOffice (BAe-146) and German DLR (G-V). We also see potential for significant interest from the atmospheric research and weather modification community in Asia.
This SBIR Phase II effort will advance a new ARCSTONE instrument for calibrating lunar reflectance from TRL 2 to TRL 4. The new instrument, conceived in the Phase I effort, will be much smaller than first-generation units and fit within a 6U satellite payload with substantial margin. This system will utilize a single focal plane array and span the spectral range of 350-2,300 nm. Optical modeling indicates the new design will meet the ARCSTONE science needs, and preliminary mechanical designs indicate the system will be robust. The goal of the effort is to reduce risk for the smaller instrument and set the stage for development of a flight system. During the Phase II effort, the existing design will be iteratively improved as optical, mechanical, and assembly/alignment considerations are addressed and refined. This work will benefit from lessons learned from the first generation ARCSTONE instrument and will readily integrate into the NASA ARCSTONE program.
The prototype instrument will pave the path towards development of an ARCSTONE flight system that meets the size and weight constraints of a 6U cubesat.
There are currently no envisioned non-NASA applications.
The proposed Phase II prototype will deliver high spatial resolution, wide field of view, high signal to noise performance, and three spectral bands. The system includes onboard processing to extract the information of greatest value, orthorectify the imagery, and reduce the size of the data for transmission. This sensor system is designed to fit within the size, weight, and power (SWaP) envelopes of typical remote sensing aircraft and six unit CubeSats.
The design allows for expansion in a number of areas, most significantly, the optical system supports the option of choosing (during fabrication) specific spectral bands within the spectral range from 3um to 12um.
TBIRD incorporates a step stare optical design which provides fundamental advantages over current imaging systems including:
The system will be useful for a wide variety of environmental research, disaster response, wildfire science, wildfire detection and mapping, oil spill mapping and detection, and thermal anomaly mapping in general.
Wildfire mapping, ground water mapping, heat loss studies
Military and Intelligence applications
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 Origins 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 multi-stage 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 primary limitation in implementing Brayton cryocoolers at temperatures below 10 K has been the development of high efficiency turbines. On the proposed program, Creare plans to leverage recent developments in gas bearing technology and low-temperature alternators to realize a high-efficiency, low-temperature turbine. On the Phase I project, we successfully performed a proof-of-concept demonstration of the turbine technology. On the Phase II project, we will build and demonstrate an advanced low-temperature turbine at temperatures of 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 the Lynx, Origins Space Telescope, and the Superconducting Gravity Gradiometer.
The military market is for cooling hyperspectral imaging systems on space‑based observation, surveillance, and missile defense systems. Commercial applications include cooling for communication satellites; superconducting instruments, digital filters, and magnets; low‑temperature gas‑separation systems; hypercomputers; and Superconducting Quantum Interference Devices.
AOSense proposes to develop compact laser amplifier modules for cold-atom optical systems. The device would deliver > 1 W of power in optical fiber at 852 nm when paired with an appropriate narrow-linewidth master laser oscillator. A key feature is the integration of a tapered amplifier with AOSense-proprietary compact, high transmission optical isolators, yielding a fiber-in, fiber-out package with dimensions of 50 mm x 65 mm x 35 mm or smaller. This amplifier module has broad applicability to atom interferometers and atomic clocks, but it would be particularly useful for high-performance orbital sensors like Atom Interferometer Gravity Gradiometers (AIGG). Such systems will likely utilize advanced atom-optic laser pulse sequences, which require more laser power to mitigate atom losses and achieve high sensitivity.
Solid-state nanopores have been identified as ideal candidates for robust and ultrafast single molecule detection and present a highly suitable candidate platform technology for this NASA SBIR Phase II solicitation under Focus Area 9: Sensors, Detectors and Instruments and subtopic S1.11 In Situ Instruments/Technologies and Sample Processing for Ocean Worlds Life Detection focused on concepts for “Ocean Worlds Life Detection Technology”.
We propose to develop a flight ready SiN nanopore-based sensor for detecting life in ocean worlds. Detecting life in ocean worlds was previously attempted by NASA funded research with biological nanopore sensors, however these sensors are fragile and will not survive flight conditions. Before nanopore technology is ready for integration into an actual NASA mission and sensing of new forms of molecules, several key technical questions have yet to be addressed, and an optimized nanopore sensor has to be built and fully tested against those requirements. Here, we propose to develop such a nanopore sensing device based on solid-state materials.
The main deliverable of the Phase II proposal is a solid-state nanopore sensor that best satisfies NASA mission requirements. Sensor’s specifications will be outlined and developed to satisfy the stringent NASA mission requirements, in consultation with NASA scientists. The sensor will be comprised of:
This project directly aligns with the SeqLOW COLDTech goals for the Development of Nanopore Sequencing for Automated Ocean World Life Detection led by Program Officer Christopher McKay at NASA Ames Research.
The technology also has potential insertions as an agnostic life detection instrument and small molecule sensor within the scientific payload for both Europa Lander and Enceladus Orbiter mission concepts and for possible follow on submersible missions. The technology would also be well suited for searching for extant life on Mars.
The proposed nanopore sensor architecture, with its miniaturized and robust design, has potential in a wide variety of terrestrial applications ranging from DNA sequencing, point-of-care diagnostics, human pathogen surveillance to agricultural. Additionally, the small molecule analysis capability can be applied to the EPA and USDA needs for measuring water quality.
This proposal addresses the issue of sample preparation technologies which can be utilized in ocean world missions to concentrate and desalt collected samples to increase the sensitivity and selectivity of the analyses. On Earth, solid phase matrices are utilized extensively for capture, separation, and selective retention of components in the sample analysis process. The Phase I effort investigated a number of different solid phase extraction matrices, and selected those which showed little loss of efficacy from stresses to which they were subjected. This Phase II effort seeks to further investigate these commercially available solid phase substrates, with the goal to develop a general method which would be suitable for use with a variety of potential analytes which might be found in liquid samples on remote ocean worlds. In addition to selected reverse phase media testing, additional work will be performed on ion exchange media, as well as other media which would be more appropriate for capture of larger polymeric molecules such as peptides or oligonucleotides. The goal of this work is to make available for future sample analysis missions, the kinds of sample preparation techniques that are routinely utilized on Earth.
Solid phase methods have a number of important roles to play in NASA missions. Solid phase extractions can enhance the sensitivity of compounds found only in very dilute quantities. Desalting methods remove the salt that can interfere with the ionization processes utilized in mass spectroscopy. The methodology developed in this Phase II effort for chromatographic solid phases that should be flight ready, will greatly benefit NASA’s efforts in the search for organic compounds and compounds associated with life on other worlds.
These solid phase matrices and methods are already utilized extensively for earth based sample preparation procedures before analysis. The materials being tested are already commercially available, thus no new non-NASA applications are anticipated.
The requirement of detecting nearly ten orders of magnitude smaller signal of a planet compared to the nearby star puts forward extreme challenges for coronagraphs designed for exoplanet imaging. Vector vortex waveplates (VWs) appear to be capable of providing best performance compared to other mask technologies due to their structure as thin film coatings of continuous texture that minimizes light scattering noises and wavefront distortions even for high topological charge values. The nature of VWs as half-wave phase retarders provides opportunities of having high diffraction efficiency in a broad band of wavelengths in different parts of spectrum, from UV to IR.
The pathways of reaching the ultimate performance features of VWs have proven elusive so far due to the great multitude of fundamental and technological factors influencing them. The Phase 1 study allowed us to identify architectures overcoming tradeoffs of contrast vs bandwidth, and relating those to manufacturability and tolerances. The unique knowledge gained in the Phase 1 on fundamental and technological issues of developing high contrast VWs will be used to setup fabrication and optical characterization systems adequate for meeting tolerances and specifications required for coronagraphs. The development will address technologies of multilayer liquid crystal polymers with precisely tuned intrinsic alignment and retardation. The fabrication systems would be enhanced with high precision coating, alignment, and curing systems in fully controlled environmental conditions, and with automated key processes for quality and yield. Direct contrast characterization systems in large dynamic range would complement high precision special test equipment with custom built opto-electronic systems.
Coronagraphs, Ultralight high efficiency optics and electro-optics for space instrumentation, Deep space optical communication, Solar sails
Optical communication, Optical tweezers, Quantum computing, Image processing systems, Microscopy, Laser beam control systems, Photoactuated polymers, Displays, Anti-counterfeiting taggants
An objective for future decadal study missions is to detect exo-Earths using space-based telescopes with segmented primary mirrors (PMs). Wavefront control for such telescopes will require small-stroke, high-precision deformable mirrors (DMs). The proposed innovation is a segmented microelectromechanical DM that can be used in NASA test beds as a surrogate for segmented PMs, or to compensate wavefront errors of PM segments in future NASA programs. The project directly addresses NASA’s SBIR General Solicitation, Focus Area 10: Advanced Telescope Technologies, under the Science Mission Directorate Subtopic S2.01, which calls for a deformable source to simulate the telescope front end of a coronagraph undergoing deformations. In the proposed work, an objective is to develop a DM having an array of hexagonal mirror segments, each supported by an array of underlying electrostatic actuators. Such a device could be used to actively compensate topographical errors in a PM. The proposed device has no hysteresis and uses an all-silicon design that is intrinsically stable and insensitive to environmental distortions. The plan of work builds on a successful Phase I project that demonstrated concept feasibility. It includes fabrication of DM segment arrays, use of an ion beam figuring process to planarize DM mirror surfaces, and demonstration of active control of segment topography. The outcome of this project will be a device that can reduce telescope shape errors to <10nm RMS in NASA test beds used for development of future space-based observatories.
Segmented deformable mirrors that are suitable for correcting surface figure error and stability in primary telescope segments and serving as a primary mirror array surrogates in telescope testbeds have a few NASA applications. The following application applies to DMs designed for this program.
Space-based astronomical telescopes: A number of missions require the control provided by the proposed DMs such as LUVOIR and HabEx. These devices will fill a critical technology gap in NASA’s vision for high-contrast imaging and spectroscopy instruments.
Deformable mirrors suitable for correcting surface figure error and stability in primary telescope segments and as primary mirror surrogates in telescope testbeds have non-NASA applications. They can improve the performance of terrestrial telescopes such as TMT and E-ELT. Surrogate devices can be used in testbeds to develop instruments for telescopes with segmented primary mirrors.
Made In Space, Inc. continues the development of an in-space manufacturing architecture for precision long-baseline structures that support space interferometry missions in the infrared. In-space manufacturing and assembly of interferometer structures optimized for the target environment dramatically reduce the system cost, mass, and areal density without sacrificing the structural control of the optical subsystems’ absolute positions. In this Phase II effort, full-scale Optimast beam prototypes are produced and mirror alignment is demonstrated to nanometer precision. This work is essential to the successful incorporation of Optimast technology in future space science and commercial interferometry missions.
Future missions for detecting and characterizing new worlds and faint distant objects require much larger effective apertures than the current generation of space telescopes. Terrestrial telescopes also have large amounts of distortion that blur the viewing of these objects rendering them unusable for in-depth analysis. In-space manufacturing using space-rated polymers provides mission-optimized structural baselines for infrared interferometry missions that are lower in mass and complexity than traditional hinged trusses or deployable booms.
An Optimast-SCI satellite optimized for space situational awareness (SSA) and wide-field Earth surface observation is possible with a 50-meter optical baseline. This system has a limiting resolution of only 25 centimeters from a 36,000-kilometer Geosynchronous Orbit (GEO). Such a satellite is capable of both rapid response inspection of satellites and at-will observation of the facing hemisphere.
This NASA SBIR Phase II proposal is in response to the need for Ultra-Stable Telescope Structures and is designed to evaluate ALLVAR Alloys for their potential as metering and support structures for optics that are critical to NASA’s future missions. Telescopes used for astrophysics, exoplanet, and planetary studies require picometer stability over several minutes to hours. Building large support structures with picometer level stability is a challenge with currently available materials due to their brittle nature in the case of Zerodur and ULE or their requirement to have tight thermal control in the case of SiC or carbon fiber composites. ALLVAR Alloys offer a new material solution for thermally stable structures. They exhibit negative thermal expansion and can compensate for the positive thermal expansion of other materials to stabilize a telescope. Bars with thermal stability approaching Zerodur’s have previously been made by joining ALLVAR Alloys to commercially available Titanium alloys, and the Phase I effort developed stabilization processes for improved dimensional stability. This Phase II project is designed to leverage the Phase I development to create an ultra-stable ALLVAR Alloy hexapod structure and compare its performance to Invar, a commonly used low CTE material. The Phase II project would run full scale pm level stability tests of both assemblies in an effort to quantify the ALLVAR Alloy’s performance as an ultra-stable strut.
A new material with picometer stability can potentially improve support structures for optic systems critical to NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, like LUVIOR, LISA, or HabEX. There are other potential opportunities in the manufacture of ultra-stable coronograph hardware, support structures for deformable mirrors, telescope steering, and star tracker markets. ALLVAR metals can also be used to make balloon telescopes for exoplanet discovery and cryogenic far infrared telescopes.
ALLVAR Alloy’s unique negative thermal expansion properties can compensate for thermal focus shift in refractive infrared optics allowing infrared optics manufacturers to reduce the size and weight of their optics. ALLVAR Alloy’s unique properties are also getting attention for making washers to create constant force fasteners.
Low reflectivity surfaces are required for numerous space-borne instruments, such as telescope housings and baffles, for reducing stray light from optical payloads in order to improve image resolution and clarity for a number of future NASA missions. Low reflective black coatings thus need to be developed for suppressing scattered light across visible-near infrared wavebands. Furthermore, the coatings should withstand launch conditions, resist radiation effects, and resist atomic oxygen erosion. Therefore, in this Phase II SBIR program Faraday, with the help from Aerospace Corporation and Physical Sciences Inc., will develop an approach to scalably apply carbon nanotube based black coatings to large area surface and demonstrate the coating’s potential to suppress scattered light, withstand launch conditions, and resist radiation effects and atomic oxygen erosion. This will be accomplished by: 1) Optimizing the electrophoretic deposition process to prepare and apply CNT coatings, 2) Evaluating the surface reflectivity, 3) Evaluating the effect of launch conditions on the CNT coatings adhesion, 4) Evaluating the effect of LEO space environments, including radiation and atomic oxygen on bleaching, 5) Designing and building tools to coat exemplar parts of interest to NASA and commercial partners, and 6) Preparing an economic analysis. The materials and technology enabled by the proposed work are anticipated to provide significant benefit to future NASA missions requiring suppression of scattered light, as well as to earthbound entities seeking low reflective surfaces for advanced optical instruments or systems.
The key first customer for the proposed technology is NASA and their prime contractors for space missions. The applications include optical components where broadband absorption of electromagnetic radiation is critical, including for detectors and high-sensitivity optical systems. Solar coronagraphs and space-borne instruments, for example telescope housings and baffles, require stray light reduction.
Availability of black optical coating technology may open up new markets such as military applications including missile seeker, surveillance, night vision cameras, thermal imaging and shielded windows. This technology also applies to: electronics and telecommunications, semiconductors, solar panels, automobile industry or any other technology that suffers from scattered light reflection.
The central goal of this Phase II effort is to create the world’s first milliwatt scale betavoltaic. This project will utilize an ultra-thin, light weight, betavoltaic p/n junction, developed in Phase I, that increases the efficiency of betavoltaic devices from 8% to greater than 10% based on the incident tritium beta flux. Betavoltaic power sources offer advantages under conditions that render battery replacement difficult, impossible, or life-threatening, and in applications where long-lasting (20+ years), continuous, low-power sources are crucial to device operation. These applications include defense electronics, homeland security, intelligence sensors, aerospace, structural-health monitoring sensors, sub-sea sensors, satellites / deep space probes, and medical devices / implants. City Labs is the only licensed manufacturer of betavoltaic power sources which carries a General License allowing distribution to anyone in the United States without requiring the recipient to possess a radiation license. The specific power of tritium is 340 W/kg with a half-life of 12.3 years and is readily available for commercial applications such as luminous watch dials, exit signs, medical tracers, and betavoltaic batteries. Traditionally, tritium metal hydride films have had a power density of approximately 38 W/kg (e.g. titanium tritide) but City Labs’ new metal tritide film has a power density approaching 70 W/Kg and can be expanded to 100 W/kg. The milliwatt scale betavoltaic will consist of a wide bandgap III-V p/n junction, developed in Phase I, and a high beta-flux metal tritide, stacked into layers of ultra-thin junctions. City Labs will perform this work in partnership with Microlink Devices, a leader in metalorganic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) and epitaxial lift-off (ELO) junctions.
City Labs anticipates that the proposed work will result in the creation of a betavoltaic battery with a volumetric energy density >100 times that of lithium batteries (integrated over 20 years of continuous power). This ultra-high, energy density will allow tritium betavoltaics to be introduced to a mainstream market in a number of potential NASA applications, including high value deep space missions, CubeSats, independent power sources for spacecraft electronics and backup communications systems.
Applications include: defense/security applications, anti-tamper, nuclear storage/ device monitoring applications, satellite power supplies, including CubeSats, autonomous wireless sensors, and medical implants. City Labs currently has letters-of-support from Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems and a purchase order from Lockheed Martin Space Systems for the proposed betavoltaic power source.
A high cycle life and high energy density rechargeable battery would address an important need for a reliable power source that offers significant weight reductions in several NASA mission and program applications including energy storage devices for extravehicular activities (EVA), satellites, robots, and spacecraft vehicles. Lithium-sulfur (Li-S) batteries are promising next-generation energy storage devices for NASA missions 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 battery cells. However, their use has been limited by poor cycle life caused by dissolution of polysulfide species from the cathode into the electrolyte during cell operation. In Phase II, Giner will build on a successful Phase I feasibility demonstration to scale up its novel, polysulfide-blocking coating technology in prototype Li-S pouch cells that will be validated under test conditions important for NASA planetary mission applications.
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: EVA applications (including life support, communications, power tools, glove heaters, lights and other devices); orbital satellites; and other spacecraft and robotic surface lander/rover vehicles such as JUNO and the planned new Mars rover.
Additional markets include power for: electric vehicles; persistent unmanned aerial vehicles; unmanned undersea vehicles; aerospace vehicles; satellites for military communication applications; large-scale grid energy storage; and consumer portable electronics and communication devices.
Phase I demonstrated key technologies and development work for the Rad Hard ½ U Compact Precision Inertial Measurement Unit (CIMU). Optimized gyro bias compensation including switched drive achieving navigation grade performance using a commercially available TRL9 piezo-transduced Coriolis Vibratory Gyroscope (CVG) sensor integrated with IW’s digital IWAG control algorithm demonstrated rate noise necessary to attain Attitude Determination with <0.1 arc second pointing and arc second level control. IW further demonstrated navigation grade north-finding capabilities with a representative IMU block mounted CVG. Temperature testing and optimization of thermal bias compensation was also demonstrated.
IW successfully replaced the bulky discrete analog CVG controller electronics with IW’s digital-based low noise ASIC using IW’s patent pending embedded IWAG control algorithm. Full digital closed loop Rate Gyro operation with excellent bias stability was demonstrated. Efficacy of IW’s Radiation Hard by Design (RHBD) method in the ASIC’s CMOS process was demonstrated with successful Mega-Rad level Co60 chamber testing of IW’s sensor analog front-end (AFE). Significant analysis and simulation of Single Event Effects and efficacy of planned SEE hardening for the full RHBD ASIC in planetary orbit and interplanetary radiation environments was completed.
A full mechanical design and FEA analysis and system design of the IMU was completed with integrated 3-axis ASIC-based CVG’s, COTS MEMS accelerometers, interface electronics, and mechanical assembly. Mechanical modes and thermal characteristics were verified, with more work planned for vibration isolation in Phase II.
Phase II will design and fabricate a complete RHBD version of the CVG ASIC control. We shall then integrate it to resonators and build and test the complete CIMU, achieving significantly smaller size, lighter weight, and much lower power than state-of-the-art space IMUs (e.g. MIMU, SIRU).
This revolutionary navigation-grade RadHard IMU technology provides low cost, flexible, and resilient capabilities for NASA's strategic goal of autonomy with assured navigation. It enables navigation & north finding functions for robotic missions, in-situ resource prospecting & surveying; multi-mode operation for spacecraft interplanetary navigation, ascent, entry, descent, & landing; and newly realized pointing stability for next generation low cost satellites carrying out complex coordinated missions (distributed SAR & optical imaging).
This robust navigation-grade IMU significantly lowers cost for assured navigation enabling wide adoption in the emerging autonomous vehicle market, missile applications, commercial space communications, and down-hole navigation capabilities in the energy/mining sector. The re-configurable ASIC controller enables new inertial sensors and ever-improving C-SWaP, ensuring a long product life cycle.
Although a large majority of the proposed systems for upper atmospheric observation of Venus have consisted of either dirigibles or solar-powered heavier than air vehicles, both suffer from their own particular drawbacks and neither deal effectively with the high wind speeds. This work proposes a solution based on dynamic soaring, a proven method to extract energy from atmospheric wind shear that has propelled the fastest small-scale aircraft in the world, and provided the energy necessary for long-endurance low-level flights of birds across oceans. A deployable unmanned aircraft system (UAS) is proposed to not only survive in the harsh wind environment of Venus, but also simultaneously perform targeted sampling of the atmosphere while continuously extracting energy, even during the night. The design will be based on proven dynamic soaring platforms, but will be constructed in such a manner that allows for deployment from a standard aeroshell. Additionally, materials selection and construction methods will be finalized that ensure long-term survival in the corrosive cloud-top environment. The proposed system is small enough to allow up to eight aircraft to be deployed, or a smaller number can be used as secondary payloads for other primary vehicles such as a balloon or dirigible vehicles.
Beyond the obvious NASA application of a mission to Venus there are some other uses of the technologies developed here that will garner interest in other NASA missions. The three main pieces that will have wider interest is the autonomous dynamic soaring, the compact deployable aircraft, and survivability in toxic air. These capabilities will be applicable on Earth for hurricane sampling UAS missions, severe storm sampling, and measurement of volcanic plumes.
Agencies beyond NASA would greatly benefit from a system that harvests energy through dynamic soaring and provides lengthy observations above ridge lines and severe convective storms. NOAA would benefit from such a platform for hurricane observations and fire weather observations. The USGS would receive valuable data from a platform able to provide lengthy observations of volcanic emissions.
VORAGO Technologies has produced an IC definition and architecture for a rad-hard I/O Expansion chip that is capable of interfacing to next generation spaceflight processor devices including the High-Performance Spaceflight Computing (HPSC) chiplet.
We have gathered the best available knowledge of HPSC use-cases to conceptualize and articulate the requirements for an I/O Expansion Chip, creating an architecture for an optimized and robust IC that can be implemented to meet the requirements of next generation NASA space electronics systems.
In addition to providing a perfect companion IC to the HPSC in next generation systems architectures, the I/O Expansion Chip can facilitate the use of the HPSC with legacy systems (such as those that include MIL-STD-1553 communications). Support of legacy systems is a practical requirement for the next decade. The I/O Expansion Chip will allow the HPSC to interface with legacy systems as well as next generation systems. We most recently added USB 3.0 to the definition to support camera interfaces that are being considered / selected for Orion and SPLICE programs at NASA Johnson Space Center.
VORAGO Technologies would like to commercialize the I/O Expansion Chip product and target sales to NASA and non-NASA commercial aerospace customers. Making the product commercially successful outside of NASA applications will increase sales volume and establish a more robust supply chain for the product.
In phase II, we propose to create a detailed IC specification, acquire the main IP blocks and create a hardware prototype system of the I/O Chip using the Synopsys HAPS80 prototyping system. This approach is consistent with that taken for the HPSC chiplet development process.
The I/O Expansion Chip will be suitable for use in spacecraft, and cyber-physical/robotics or autonomous systems in space radiation environments. Everywhere that an HPSC device can be used, it is likely that one or more I/O Expansion Chips can be used. Such applications include: Vision-based algorithms with real-time requirements (e.g. landing with hazard avoidance), Model-based reasoning techniques for autonomy (e.g. Mars rover mission planning), High rate instrument data processing (e.g. high-resolution satellite image processing)
I/O Expansion for processors & FPGAs, Multi-comms interface & hub for processors & FPGAs, Network bridge for processors/FPGAs, Standalone A5 class processor with multiple comms interfaces, Redundant processor system for implementing system-level low power modes, Redundant processor system for implementing failsafe, Interface to cameras on Orion and SPLICE programs that use USB 3.0 camera interface
We propose to implement two new sensing modalities comprising the Multimodal Agile Ranging and Velocimetry INstrument (MARVIN) using a novel acousto-optic Structured Light Imaging Module (SLIM) previously developed under the NASA PIDDP program for planetary rover navigation and geomorphology.
Based on an acousto-optic illumination engine, SLIM consumes only 10-20W of power, weighs less than a kilogram, could fit in a shirt pocket, and uses space-proven components without moving parts to rapidly generate and precisely control laser illumination patterns.
Through modifications of SLIM hardware and algorithms, MARVIN enables triangulation-based wide-field active 3D imaging of nearby scenes with mm-scale resolution at distances up to 10m even in the presence of full sunlight, as well as multi-beam time-of-flight (ToF) cm-resolution ranging and Doppler velocimetry at distances of hundreds of meters, or potentially even further. MARVIN can switch between the two modes simply by moving a lens.
MARVIN computes each range point in parallel and independently, is robust across a wide range of ambient lighting, textures, and albedos, and is computationally simple, increasing rover autonomy, even in low light, and reducing traverse and science operation down-times. MARVIN’s low-SWaP and agility also benefit EDL, station keeping, terrain mapping, and proximity operations. MARVIN could be used as a faster, more robust, high-precision primary range sensor for exploration of the Solar System, including Mars, the Moon, Ocean Worlds, and asteroids.
The Phase I effort included feasibility and benefit studies, simulations and algorithm development, noise and performance analysis, a proof-of-concept lab demonstration of many-beam MARVIN ranging, and an optomechanical design, bringing MARVIN to TRL3. The Phase II effort aims to advance this design, develop requisite electronics, implement a MARVIN prototype, and test it on the mast of a JPL rover, advancing MARVIN from TRL3 to TRL4.
MARVIN aims to make planetary surface traverses faster and more autonomous. In addition to enhancing rover mobility, MARVIN could enhance instrument arm placement and serve as an agile and versatile range sensor for spacecraft landing and proximity operations, including on future human missions to Mars and the Moon. An asteroid orbiter like OSIRIS-Rex could use MARVIN for station keeping,TAG, and to map topography. As a science tool, MARVIN could be used to characterize geological surfaces and with SWIR wavelengths even detect water on Mars.
Due in part to agile illumination control, tolerance to diverse lighting, high throughput, no moving parts, and low SWaP, MARVIN technologies could also prove transformative for a number of applications in space and on Earth, including robotic simultaneous location and mapping, aerial surveying, aircraft and spacecraft landing and docking systems, as well as autonomous vehicle navigation.
With the advancement of ever more capable robotic exploration of extraterrestrial bodies comes the need for low-power, low mass, and robust in-situ tools and manipulators. The current state-of-the-art used on robotic landers relies on large, bulky, and monolithic instrumentation turrets, consuming a significant proportion of mass budget which is tightly constrained for extraterrestrial missions such as Mars.
Altius Space Machines has developed a novel electropermanent magnet (EPM) gripping technology that can be integrated into a modular, dust-tolerant end-effector or tool-changer assembly. These switchable magnets unlock a significant new design envelope and offer numerous advantages over mechanical connectors, including:
Phase I efforts have produced a TRL 4 tool-changer demonstrator, and the technology is ready for more advanced development.
Altius' EPM Tool-changer is best suited for use on robotic extraterrestrial missions, where a complex and heavy instrumentation turret can be replaced with a modular tool end-effector. This includes:
Several terrestrial applications exist for Altius' EPM tool changer, including:
NASA has invested significant time and money in developing high-temperature technologies for Venus surface exploration. Due to the harsh environment outside an insulated lander body (~462°C, 92 bar pressure, CO2 atmosphere), conventional, high-TRL components and materials will not survive, even for a short duration mission lasting only a few hours.
To meet this need, Ozark IC has worked with NASA’s JFET-R integrated circuit technology (under license since 2016) to provide sensing and actuation solutions that can survive in this harsh environment. Honeybee Robotics (HBR) has built and tested several motor, sensor and gearbox prototypes for a Venus rock sampling drill. The drill includes two BLDC motors to drive the auger and percussion mechanisms and a stepper motor to drive the drill feed stage.
In Phase I of this effort, Ozark IC showed, through a laboratory demonstration, that NASA’s JFET-R technology can continuously run a stepper motor for over 1,000 hours of operation at 470oC. In parallel, Honeybee Robotics demonstrated that its TRL-6 level Venus motors are capable of being used in a stepper configuration to achieve the required auger needs for a Venus drill.
What remains for Phase 2 is to fabricate a combined motor control chipset, assemble modules, and demonstrate the combined motor and electronics operating together at the Venus surface temperature. The motor and drive electronics will then be tested at Venus temperature and characteristic measurements including power and torque will be monitored using HBR’s high temperature motor characterization system. 500 hours of operation is targeted for this effort.
NASA applications include Venus landers and atmospheric probes, health monitoring of jet, rocket and ion engines. For Venus a drill has been proposed for New Frontiers missions for a Venus lander. The proposed chipset and stepper motor can meet the needs of the auger for such a drill as well as provide support for actuation and mobility in future missions.
Energy Exploration – Enhanced geothermal and deep-well ocean drilling and monitoring
Military/Aerospace – health monitoring and control of jet engines and turbines
Automotive – health monitoring and control of internal combustion engines, exhaust systems, and emission controls
Industrial- combustion and emission controls
Science - (Terrestrial) High temperature manufacturing processes
CoolCAD Electronics proposes the development of a silicon carbide (SiC) based motor controller suitable for most stepper motors. The silicon carbide motor controller will be designed and fabricated to operate at extremely high temperature and high radiation environments, beyond the reach of a typical silicon-based motor controller.
To demonstrate a successful SiC motor controller, we will fabricate SiC power devices as well as SiC gate drivers. At the component level, we will characterize their electrical and physical properties. Simultaneously, we will design and fabricate SiC CMOS integrated circuits such as control logic and timing circuitry. At the board level, will minimize gate driver parasitics, EMI and noise issues, as well as detect and mitigate faults. At the module level, we will design a proof-of-concept SiC motor controller, operable at high temperatures, and will test the controller’s electrical and thermal performances under a wide variety of loading conditions.
At high temperatures, silicon has an abundance of intrinsic carriers, resulting in a loss of junction control and preventing proper device operation. For bulk silicon electronics, the threshold beyond which device control is lost is approximately 175C. Our SiC CMOS technology has been shown to operate at high temperatures as high as 500C.
Ultimately, our proposal addresses a niche application that cannot be addressed by silicon. This is achieved by combining our high temperature and radiation tolerant silicon carbide low voltage integrated circuit technology, with a silicon carbide based power device. Specifically, our proposal focuses on high temperature capable designs in order to meet the power requirements for robotic science probes and instrumentation.
The proposed technology has the potential to extend the exploration capabilities and survivability of robotic systems in harsh environments such as those present on the surface of Venus and in the atmospheres of gas giants. Venus lander missions call for systems that operate above 400C, beyond the reach of silicon. The high temperature tolerant ICs and power devices that we design and fabricate offer a solution for extending operational capabilities and mission lifetimes.
Our SiC IC and power solution for space applications offers the same weight reduction and efficiency gains for other spacecraft, and therefore we expect the outcomes of this proposal to benefit the larger community including private satellite and space companies such as SpaceX. Additionally, terrestrial high temperature applications such as drill monitoring would benefit from this as well.
NASA mission planners continue to develop plans for investigating celestial bodies including Europa, Enceladus, and Mars for potential life detection. Contamination Control and Planetary Protection requirements focus on both forward and backward contamination from such bodies where a number of acceptable processes have been developed for sterilizing spacecraft hardware and sample return materials. In particular, for backward contamination control, NASA has shown that vaporized hydrogen peroxide is an effective method for sterilizing samples and surfaces. However, for long duration exploration missions, stored hydrogen peroxide solutions lose their efficacy. To ensure an effective vaporized hydrogen peroxide sterilization process for return trips, Skyhaven Systems, LLC proposed to develop a miniaturized vapor hydrogen peroxide generator that produces this sterilant in situ using only water and DC electrical energy. With this approach, surfaces and sample return materials can be effectively sterilized during sample collection using a NASA approved sterilant.
This vaporized hydrogen peroxide system is directed towards NASA’s needs for contamination control and planetary protection. Integrating this peroxide generator into sterilization system will enable an effective sterilant to be produced for long duration missions where stored hydrogen peroxide is not feasible. Further, the oxygen and water breakdown products from the sterilization process can be reclaimed minimizing expendable losses.
Commercial opportunities for the hydrogen peroxide generator may be directed toward medical equipment sterilization. Integrating this generator into sterilizers will enable fresh hydrogen peroxide to be generated overcoming storage concerns that can lead to a loss of efficacy over time.
NASA has need for technologies that can enable sampling from water jets, such as those observed emanating from the moon Enceladus and from the moon Europa. We propose to leverage past observations of the ability of electrospray ionization to capture and concentrate polar or polarizable trace species without damage, and combine that knowledge with recent discoveries in developing a hypervelocity ice-gun for NASA studies aimed at ice grain capture simulations. The phase I effort will focus on using the ice gun we created under prior NASA support, and add a cold plasma curtain to pre-charge an incident ice grain, and couple a novel electrospray element that we believe will enable in-situ organic analysis capability previously unattainable on board a spacecraft using existing NASA mass spectrometer hardware. Incident ice grain impacts into aerogel create a rearward plume of water vapor that may contain a high percentage of trace organic species. Using a cross-current electrospray source, these species may be charged to form multiply charged ions capable of being interrogated in-situ using a mass analyzer, while preserving aerogel impact samples for a return mission.
The proposed technology offers a new means to employ mass spectrometry in a life finder mission, because with the creation of multiply charged ions rather than singly charged species, existing mass analyzers can be employed to look for the presence of organic molecules, without increasing analyzer upmass, size, or power requirements. This proposal negates potential loss of valuable samples entrained in aerogel. NASA can now perform in-situ organic analysis of incident ice grains in near real-time, and have samples retained for a return mission.
For Non-NASA applications, the technology being offered in this proposal include the potential for new methods of ambient pathogen capture and soft ionization for mass spectrometric analysis. In addition, other applications may include non-organic polar molecule charging suitable for thin layer deposition, chip fabrication, and other semiconductor uses.
Lynntech and Southern Methodist University (SMU) Earth Sciences propose to leverage deep learning plus data resources to develop a tool useful for enhancing Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) interferograms. InSAR interferogram stacks with available ground truth of the phase due to ground deformation will be used to train a generative model that can be applied to other datasets. Automated spatial–temporal analysis of InSAR stacks to yield a high fidelity estimate of surface deformation remains as a challenging problem. Spatio-temporal analysis tools for InSAR stack processing already exist on various platform, however are mainly the purview of researchers. With the advent of both increased quantity and quality of InSAR sources there is a dual need to (1) handle the big data problem of very fast revisit InSAR that covers the entire globe, and (2) make products more accessible to decision makers and industry. Existing methods and tools used by earth scientists to detect and mitigate the atmospheric anomaly that effects the time of flight of backscattered radar generally yield results with compromised fidelity and often require further interpretation or, if possible, correction that involves heuristics or incompletely modeled dependencies. Instead we will minimize multiple loss functions, inferred from the statistical properties of the training set, to train a generative network to reconstruct the deformation map without the atmospheric effect with high fidelity. The input would consist at least of the stack of raw interferograms and an initial estimate of the deformation map (done with new or existing tools) and will be modular to be able incorporate other information, e.g. weather data. The proposed work includes the development of a Deep learning Enhanced Fidelity InSAR Toolkit (DEFIT) that will be trained and tested on relevant datasets. This can be used for the development of new tools or to augment capabilities of existing tools.
This technology would be useful for many Earth science and meteorological oriented NASA missions involving changes in terrain, biomass, weather and climate. Dynamic digital elevation models can be produced and updated daily allowing for near real-time surface level monitoring. This has applications in climate science. Also high fidelity spatio-temporal analysis of fast revisit InSAR data to track changes in the Earth’s surface and atmosphere would help in the zenith dry delay correction of GPS signals.
The DOD wants improved remote sensing capabilities for surveillance and monitoring missions. Private sector use of InSAR imagery for a wide range of decision-making applications, such as regularly monitoring changes in the ground useful for disaster prediction and recovery (e.g. landslides), evaluating the settling of infrastructure, preventing property damage, land management, and nowcasting.
Hyperspectral datasets are massive. This size makes them difficult to acquire, store, transmit, analyze and use. Hyperspectral imagers (HSI) are also costly and complex, taking significant time or portions of a focal plane to acquire each spectral band. In addition, orbital HSIs are susceptible to radiation damage and inaccessible for repairs, making any damage long-lasting.
In this effort, we will be using advanced algorithms for compressive sensing using inpainting and machine learning to develop a compressive sensing enhanced HSI system. Our Phase I results have shown that we can achieve a 1% subsampling rate with maintaining high quality imagery with minimal loss. This new system allows for over an order of magnitude improvement in the frame acquisition speed of existing detectors at a high compression ratio. The approach will automatically compress all images obtained by the level of sub-sampling used to form the image, reducing transmission and storage costs significantly, even without using additional lossless data compression before transmission.
In order to demonstrate the ability of these methods to provide these benefits, Sivananthan Laboratories will apply them by fabricating a new CS-enhanced HSI system. This leverages the wide range of IR detectors that the company, and its sister companies EPIR and Episensors, have pioneered over the last 20 years. We propose to develop new hyperspectral sensors that will intentionally subsampled data that will be recovered using computational imaging with learned representations. By multiplexing the input signals, and randomly selection spectral bands using an acousto -optical tunable filter we can leverage subsampling directly into higher signal-to-noise levels, and better resolution.
This technology can be applied to both existing hyperspectral imaging systems and those being developed. The approach can be applied to both division of time and division of space systems, maintaining resolution while reducing capture time and noise. Additional applications are available in robust data compression for storage and transmission over long distances. This approach also provides fault tolerance, system recovery and image enhancement for fielded imagers with lost pixels.
Commercialization will come in two forms: CS enhancement of existing technologies and through selling complete imaging systems as built in functionality. Hyperspectral imaging systems are used in many applications including chemical and biological detection, manufacturing, environmental surveys of CO2, pollution, and leakages.
Qualtech Systems, Inc. (QSI), in collaboration with Dr. Stephen B. Johnson, President of Dependable System Technologies, LLC (DST), plan to develop techniques and the concomitant software modules for enabling modeling and visualization in QSI’s TEAMS® Toolset to represent the entire FM design as part of a system design. The main objective of the proposed effort is to have TEAMS® complete the control loop in terms of incorporating the “Response” (the ‘R” in FDIR) loops as part of its design and analyses of FM Architecture. This will include improvements to address FM metrics for failure response/recovery, and will be linked to ongoing efforts to implement FM Metrics and to overall system autonomy, but targeting SMD science missions and their unique goals.
The proposed effort will result in a novel capability that incorporates the “Recovery” aspect of FDIR within TEAMS® and enables FM Visualization of design architectures, which then links to a clear and concise set of FM metrics to minimize mission risks to desired levels. TEAMS® can leverage built-in modeling features for performing FM Architecture Design Assessment, such as Fault Trees and FM Metrics related to Failure Detection and Isolation. Switches in TEAMS® models facilitate their use in multiple system modes. This feature will be leveraged to enable Recovery Loops across multiple scenarios.
The proposed effort seeks to aid the visualization and assessment of FM design for system(s) in multiple usage scenarios by utilizing existing capabilities and introducing new capabilities to TEAMS® for the computation and evolution of relevant FM analyses. The added capabilities include information integration; extending the system modeling capabilities; and assessing the effect of implementing diagnostic decisions on the overall functionality of the system.
The technology can readily operate as part of NASA’s next generation Mission Control Technology. ARCUS X-ray Observatory is also an appropriate candidate system for TEAMS® to build the FM Design Assessment capabilities. The solution can be applied for Response/Mitigation Planning for NASA's Parker Solar Probe. This solution is also directly applicable to both military and commercial aircraft applications. Among other applications are V&V and Flight Rule (FR) development for Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1), Early design on EM-2 and the Gateway.
DoD, US Air Force, US Navy, and commercial aviation, large scale military systems such as NORAD, Space Command ground segments, JSF, the Navy shipboard platforms, Submarine Commands, BMD systems, UAVs, UMGs and other unmanned submersible vehicle markets are potential targets as well. There has been early research at the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to model system interconnectivity and algorithms.
ASCA is developing an Integrated Model-based Fault-management System Design (IMFSD) workstation for current-generation and future high-autonomy space systems. The resulting product will integrate and document in one framework Fault Management (FM) design processes, models and products. The IMFSD covers FM requirements definition, design specification, analysis, validation-and-verification (V&V), and documentation. This provides the connection of the associated processes and models to the corresponding elements of the host space system model-based design.
The integration of FM development life-cycle processes is achieved by means of a “design development, documentation, and assurance case” (D3AC) logic structure hosted within the IMFSD software platform, which provides active connectivity among all elements of the FM design, and with the evidences produced to demonstrate compliance with FM design and operations goals, and with the derived requirements.
In view of expected spacecraft-autonomy evolutions for which expanded FM operational capability and analytics will be needed, the IMFSD, in addition to established FM models like Fault Tree Analysis and Failure Modes and Effects Analysis, includes, or links to, logic-dynamic models and AI decision / action selection models – e.g., Dynamic Flowgraph Methodology, Markov Cell-to-Cell Mapping Technique – that can extend FM analysis into the time-dependent-logic domain. Other potentially applicable state-of-the-art models from the field of machine-learning, like Bayesian Belief Networks, Neural Networks, Fuzzy Logic, and Influence Diagrams, are also evaluated and demonstrated for evolutionary inclusion in the IMFSD.
Once demonstrated for NASA applications, the IMFSD will be transferable to the design of FM for the high-autonomy commercial systems that are presently being developed in the aeronautical and road transportation fields. This provides a path for commercialization efforts that will be initiated during Phase II.
The IMFSD workstation, hosted on a commercial MBSE platform, integrates in one environment the Fault Management (FM) design of NASA space systems, and is also applicable to aeronautical systems, manned and unmanned. Its ability to support the convergence of FM and AI functionality makes the IMFSD especially well suited to support the design of autonomy in space systems.
The IMFSD can support risk-scenario management, fault management, and safety analysis of autonomous vehicles of many kinds, i.e.: driver-less automotive road vehicles; Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs); commercial space vehicles; commercial aircraft; marine vessels and probes. Its implementation on a commercial MBSE platform will facilitate access for these potential uses.
Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are huge explosions that propel plasma and magnetic field away from the Sun and are the primary cause of major geomagnetic storms. Predicting in advance whether observed CMEs will hit the Earth and carry geo-effective magnetic fields is a long-term priority for the CCMC, located at NASA GSFC, as well as other groups within and outside of NASA. Such predictions are extremely challenging, and magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) simulations are considered to be the most promising tool for achieving them.
Our interactive and highly automated MHD modeling framework, CORHEL-AMCG, will allow users to routinely model multiple observed CMEs in a realistic coronal and solar-wind environment and to propagate modeled CMEs to 1 AU. CORHEL-AMCG is designed to account for the complexity of pre-CME configurations, the slow initiation of CMEs, and their interaction in the corona and interplanetary space. By modeling the magnetic as well as the dynamical evolution of CMEs, CORHEL-AMCG can predict the negative Bz component of the interplanetary field arising from the CME, which is the primary driver of geo-effectiveness. These advances will make CORHEL-AMCG particularly useful scientifically and constitute a major step towards operational space-weather forecasting. CORHEL-AMCG will be delivered to the CCMC by the end of Phase II. Our vision beyond Phase II is to transition CORHEL-AMCG into an operational forecasting tool.
The proposed work is directly relevant to NASA's NSWAP activities, as it will "provide increased understanding of the fundamental physics of the Sun-Earth system through modeling", and it will contribute to NASA's Research-to-Operations/Operations-to-Research (R2O/O2R) responsibilities by aiding in the "preparation and validation of existing science models in preparation for transition to operations" and providing "ideas for future models tied to space weather forecasting needs", as stated in subtopic S5.06 of the FY 2018 SBIR/STTR Research topics.
The ultimate applications for CORHEL-AMCG are to provide forecasts of the geo-effectiveness of CMEs, and to aid in forecasts/characterizations of fluxes from solar particle events (SPEs). These applications are of interest to the CCMC at NASA GSFC, where they are testing various space-weather models to assess their applicability for eventual operations. The second application is also of interest to NASA SRAG, as it could enhance STAT (SPE Threat Assessment Tool), software that we have already delivered to the CCMC to support SRAG activities.
NOAA SWPC provides space-weather information to a range of aerospace and infrastructure customers, for many of whom the forecasting of CME impacts is a top priority. CORHEL-AMCG has the potential to revolutionize the forecasting of the geo-effectiveness of CMEs, and therefore would be of great interest to NOAA SWPC. This capability is likely to be of interest to the Air Force as well.
This Automated Radiation Measurements for Aerospace Safety – Dual Monitor (ARMAS DM) Phase II proposal addresses these engineering and science goals: i) be the first demonstration of a real-time COTS-based technology for regional ionizing-radiation monitoring at high altitudes using a long-duration balloon; ii) be a game-changing technology for global aviation safety; iii) aid human space exploration by helping specify the radiation environment consistently from the surface to high altitudes, i.e., a space tourism and avionics safety need; iv) provide observations for assimilation into the NASA NAIRAS radiation model now being applied to the International Space Station (ISS) radiation safety protocol; and v) enable a better understanding of the dynamic and variable radiation environment due to all sources by measuring both total ionizing dose and gamma-rays. Minimum success criteria have been defined for Phase II as continuous flight measurements of ARMAS dose for at least 2 weeks in the lower stratosphere below the Pfotzer-Regener maximum, in western North American longitudes, and with magnetic latitudes greater than 39 deg. ARMAS DM will use one World View Enterprises Stratollite balloon to host two radiation detection instruments. First, the ARMAS FM5 detector will be used to observe total ionizing dose from all sources and report it 24/7 real-time for the duration of the mission via Iridium satellite link. FM5 will fulfill the technology objective of this proposed work: show a pathway that demonstrates an ability to monitor the radiation environment for aerospace safety. Second, the GAMMA-RAD5 detector will be used for measuring gamma-rays and, with the FM5, will satisfy the basic science objective, i.e., identify variable gamma-rays above the GCR background as the potential source for shallow tissue cancers in crew and passengers. These two instruments will fulfill our mission success criteria for both a technology demonstration and enhanced science objectives.
This proposal supports NASA’s Grand Challenges for technological solutions that radically improve existing capabilities. A successful long duration radiation observation demonstration that identifies dynamic radiation will enable a system-level method for operational monitoring. It will provide data for assimilation into NASA’s NAIRAS model. Beneficiaries include air and space traffic management, which will require future predictive capabilities that are only possible with physics-based, data assimilative system such as NAIRAS plus ARMAS.
Astronauts, high-altitude pilots, frequent commercial flyers, and commercial space travelers will be able to obtain real-time radiation weather information for a small incremental cost. Using operational monitoring plus data assimilation, the information from our aviation radiation monitoring system can be integrated into global operational air and space traffic infrastructures for risk reduction.
Opterus Research and Development, Inc. proposes to develop solar array blanket technologies suitable for solar electric propulsion (SEP) missions. The technologies will address NASA’s needs for increased power, modularity to reduce cost, high voltage operation, and operation in a SEP environment. The work will further enable high reliability and compact stowage in a design that provides sufficient stiffness to minimize adverse spacecraft dynamics issues.
The proposed technologies are applicable to all blanket solar arrays. Blanket solar arrays have emerged as the leading contender for moderate to high-power missions and even low power missions due to their mass efficiency and small stowed volume. NASA has several missions under consideration that use electric propulsion and require high power solar arrays. It is a key technology for NASA’s long-term Mars objectives, both getting to Mars with SEP and providing power as a Mars surface solar array.
The proposed technology has a broad range of applications. GEO communications and radar platforms require power levels exceeding 20 kW and blanket solar arrays are often considered. Besides the specializations required for SEP, the requirements of the proposed technologies overlap the needs of high power communications system. Both need high reliability, compact storage, low cost, and light weight
This Phase II proposal for a Fission Stirling Convertor (FSC) that is ideally suited for use with fission-based Space Nuclear Power Systems (SNPS) and/or Nuclear Electric Propulsion (NEP) systems. All Phase I objectives were successfully achieved, laying the groundwork for a high-confidence and high-performance FSC prototype demonstration in Phase II. FSC is adapted from the prior ARPA-E GENSETS program development by AMSC of a 1-kW Free-Piston Stirling Engine (FPSE) (as used in this context “engine” and “convertor” are essentially equivalent) for terrestrial applications. Changes from the GENSETS design were primarily to meet specialized NASA needs for SNPS such as radiation tolerance, launch load robustness, higher ambient temperature environment, and interface with a condensing sodium heat source. This Phase II proposal is specifically addressed to SBIR Topic Z1.03 (Fission Surface Power Generation), and more specifically Technology Area TA3 (Space Power and Energy Storage) in the NASA SBIR/STTR 2018 Phase I Solicitation. The FSC Stirling convertor offers multifunctional versatility that can efficiently convert thermal energy from a wide variety of heat sources into useful distributed electric power. The focus here is on heat extraction from a fission power system using heat pipes, or potentially a pumped liquid metal loop. AMSC strategic partner Teledyne Energy Systems, Inc. (TESI) provided valuable future system integration perspective in Phase I and will specifically play a key role in the Phase II Technology Maturation task. Columbia Basin Consulting Group (CBCG) will provide support in Phase II for the Na pool boiler final design and will perform the Na vessel bake out and charging function.
Fission Stirling Convertor (FSC) that is ideally suited for use with fission-based Space Nuclear Power Systems (SNPS) and/or Nuclear Electric Propulsion (NEP) systems
Improvements made in the technology leveraged from the GENSETS program can be back fed into the GENSETS engine design and commercialized through that existing program. The GENSETS program targets combined heat and power generation units for natural gas fed residential applications.
After a very successful Phase I program, where QorTek has been investigating and developing the design of a ‘KILOPOWER’ relevant AC-DC converter that is highly compact (extremely power dense), lightweight, reliable, and designed to rapidly move onto an environmentally robust and HiRel version in Phase II. Our primary focus has been NASA Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generator (ASRG) R&D efforts led at NASA by Glenn (GRC) in support of Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) goals. Specifically, this project aims to provide a radiation hardened, scalable, modular AC-DC micro-grid power converter system scalable to 10-40kW for a space power dc bus applications. To ensure excellent high efficiency energy transfer, this advanced Kilopower AC-DC converter is a 2-stage design comprised of a (NASA-developed energy balancing) innovation in Power Factor Correction (PFC) front-end stage feeding a Very High Power Density (VHPD) converter based on QorTek recent patent awarded ultra-dense switchmode Phase Shift Resonant (PSR) and have been proven to meet the ASRG concept needs. The program focus is to mesh with advanced fission-based Stirling converter unit technology being developed by NASA/DOE
This new intelligent AC-DC converter technology would act as backbone to any Kilopower management scheme; as such, the technology here being pursued slots into meeting a wide range of existing, and expanding, key NASA missions, meeting the need for compactly stowed, high power capable, power supplies as to large surface or in-flight electrical demands. It would also directly support integrating Kilopower technology into power ion propulsion systems or be included on the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway.
These technology advances will directly benefit our underwater markets, offering a more integrated, smart DC-DC converter. Our advanced VHPD converter technology along with NASA PFC advances will open up new markets with our many 1st tier existing Navy customers. The advanced AC-DC being developed under this program would have very wide applications across both the underwater and surface ships.
Refueling spacecraft in space offers tremendous benefits for increased spacecraft payload capacity and reduced launch cost. However, in a microgravity environment, acquiring vapor-free cryogenic liquid propellants from supply tanks and then transferring them to receiving tanks is very challenging. To address this challenge, Creare developed a robust, lightweight hybrid Liquid Acquisition Device (LAD) with screened channels for cryogenic propellants. The hybrid LAD has a novel configuration enabled by Creare’s unique fabrication processes. Creare’s LAD employs a hybrid capillary structure to position the residual liquid in a tank to optimum locations to maintain liquid supply for the LAD screen surfaces, and thus enhance the expulsion efficiency. Creare’s innovative fabrication process reliably maintains the pore structure of the screen near bonding joints with its support frames. The lightweight support frames provide mechanical support for the screen to withstand launch vibrations. In Phase I, we successfully demonstrated the feasibility and performance benefits of our approach through designing, fabricating, and testing a proof-of-concept screened channel. In Phase II, we will build and demonstrate a laboratory-scale hybrid LAD and deliver it to NASA for further evaluation.
The technology developed in this project will enable reliable spacecraft refueling in a microgravity environment. Creare’s lightweight LAD will enable almost all the propellants in the supply tank to be transferred to a spacecraft engine, and thus significantly reduce the effective launch cost of spacecraft. The technology also has applications as phase separators in two-phase bio and chemical reactors, as well as in fluid management for two-phase flow thermal management and power systems.
The technology developed in this project has applications in propellant acquisition systems in commercial spacecraft, and gravity-insensitive aircraft fuel supply systems. The capillary structure fabrication technology developed in this program will also have many applications in terrestrial two-phase thermal management systems.
We offer a plasma cathode for micro Hall and ion thrusters of unprecedented power efficiency, low cost, compactness, and durability. It employs, among others, a very small planar scandate cathode as electron source. This is a revolutionary cathode technology only recently perfected by e beam inc. It is capable of delivering over 350 ma of discharge from an emitter area only 0.012 cm2. Efficiency in discharge is measured to be > 70 ma/watt of input power. This innovation avoids conventional hollow cathode keeper geometries, which are too expensive, use too much power, and are difficult to miniaturize. The Phase I scandate cathode ran about 1000 hours in CW discharge at 350 ma with no drop in emission or functionality.
We also offer a planar barium oxide cathode at very low cost for low budget CubeSat projects. Also, we offer a series of iridium-based cathodes for use with corrosive propellants such as iodine. We plan in Phase II to continue developing cathodes and keeper geometries. We plan to retrofit these into very small Hall and ion thrusters and test them. We will continue life testing Phase I cathodes and initiate new life tests.
There is a great need for thrusters on CubeSats for attitude control, positioning, orbit raising/lowering that are efficient and low cost. CubeSats have become the great enabling technology for low cost space science projects. Volumes are projected at more than 2000 launches in the next 5 years.
This innovation allows the introduction of electric propulsion to small satellites, with attitude control, N/S positioning, orbit raising/lowering, and formation flying. It is most applicable where power budgets are small, such as in CubeSats. The scandate cathode version of this device yields > 70 ma/watt, record efficiency. NASA Goddard's CubeSats for upper atmosphere molecular species studies could use this device for raising/lowering the orbit. NASA JPL's CubeSats for cloud/surface radar imaging could use it for position/attitude control.
The lost cost of this innovation makes it ideal for CubeSats deployed by universities and small businesses. CubeSats are the great enabling technology for low budget space science projects. This thruster works well with synthetic aperture radars employing numbers of CubeSats flying in precise formation. Companies such as Capella Space are pursuing this opportunity.
The experience of building the NEA Scout solar Sail resulted in the realization that new manufacturing technology would be required to build solar sails significantly larger than NEA Scout. During Phase I, NeXolve successfully developed and demonstrated fab and fold processes and scalable-modular pathfinder mechanisms that can be fully developed to support fabrication and packaging of larger solar sails, drag sails, power sails, or other deployable thin film structures. To meet the technical objective of developing
scalable processes and mechanisms, NeXolve intentionally limited the fabrication footprint and made it smaller than the deployed sail footprint.The processes and mechanisms were developed and verified through fabrication, packaging and deployment testing of a sub-scale pathfinder solar sail. NeXolve conducted extensive design trade studies for the “four-quadrant” sail architecture while collaborating with NASA and industry partners to define and assess proposed and planned large NASA Solar Sail missions that will be enabled by the new manufacturing technology.
In this Phase I activity our efforts were focused on developing technology to build larger solar sails faster with less cost and more reliability. NASA has many applications that will significantly benefit from the improved manufacturing technology developed in this program. Large Arrays are currently used for many applications in space including; Solar Sails, Deorbit Devices, Sunshields, Solar Arrays, Antennas, and many other applications that require light weight, large surface area and efficient folding and packaging.
NeXolve currently provides deployable thin film technologies to commercial companies. These commercial customers have expressed interest in our manufacturing technology to support their activities involving large array projects they are pursing including drag sails for commercial de-orbit systems, large aperture RF applications, and remote sensing.
This SBIR Phase II effort will continue to develop and then scale up a novel manufacturing process based on severe plastic deformation (SPD) to refine and enhance the microstructure-properties of bulk tungsten. Tungsten, with its many unique characteristics, plays an important role in nuclear reactors including for the nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) engine. The refractory metal, however, still has a number of shortcomings which still need to be addressed. These include a high ductile-to-brittle transition temperature (DBTT), low ductility and poor fracture toughness, low machinability and fabricability, low-temperature brittleness, radiation-induced brittleness, and a relatively low recrystallization (RX) temperature compared to its operation temperature. The use of W above its RX temperature interminably can be unsafe because its mechanical properties decrease in such an environment. Low-temperature brittleness also imposes restrictions on the application of W as a structural material. And, given its high hardness, high brittleness, and poor machinability, W parts can be very costly and time-consuming to manufacture. Past efforts to increase the ductility of W were primarily directed on alloying, grain refinement, extreme working, area reductions, impurity reductions, and heat treatments. While ductile W currently exists in wire form (e.g., filaments) through extensive working and area reduction, this approach is clearly not practical for applications where bulk size parts are needed. Thus, a compaction deformation method under both controlled pressure and temperature along with compressive and shear deformation in a hot die system will be demonstrated here to "ductilize" W.
This program should result in higher performance, more affordable manufacture of very high temperature hot zone structures and components such reactor fuel elements, radiation shields, hot gas path nozzles, and thrusters for diverse spacecraft and rocket propulsion systems including the nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) engine made from more ductile bulk tungsten. Other NASA applications include hot structures and heat shields (i.e., thermal protection system) for reusable launch vehicles and/or aircraft engines.
Better, more affordable manufacture of: 1) very high temperature (hot zone) structure/parts for spacecraft/rocket propulsion, gas turbines, power generation (nuclear, fossil), and chemical process/industrial furnace equipment; 2) armaments and munitions (e.g., kinetic energy penetrators); and 3) tooling for semiconductors, sputtering targets (e.g., flat panel displays), and medical imaging.
This SBIR will develop a decay heat solution for Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) systems that will significantly reduce the amount of hydrogen required to cool down an NTP system after operation. In addition, novel decay heat solutions will enable functionality beyond current NTP system concepts by enabling dual-mode power co-generation and high-Isp-reactor-powered Reaction Control System (RCS)/Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS).
USNC’s solution to NTP decay heat removal and utilization is a high-temperature tie tube (TT) with a moderator capable of continuous operation at 1000 K. The high-temperature tie tube operates at a much higher temperature than the current baseline NTP tie tube and enables the core to remove decay heat more effectively. The high-temperature tie tube is made of high-temperature-capable structural materials and zirconium hydride (ZrH) clad with a hydrogen barrier that guarantees hydrogen integrity during cooldown conditions. This technology will be demonstrated with advanced modeling and hot hydrogen experiments.
Decay heat solutions are essential for maximizing the performance of NTP systems and guaranteeing system safety. This Phase 2 SBIR will be the most in-depth look into understanding and solving NTP decay heat ever undertaken. Furthermore, the additional co-power generation and RCS/OMS capabilities enabled by high-temperature tie tubes enhances the versatility of NTP for a human Mars mission and other missions beyond low earth orbit.
USNC’s novel decay heat removal and high temperature tie tubes technology utilization have many NASA applications:
Decay heat removal and high temperature operation are critically important for terrestrial nuclear systems being developed by USNC. High temperature tie tubes containing a hydride moderator enable small nuclear systems. Furthermore, NTP systems have application beyond NASA in the emerging space economy for defense and transport of commercial payloads beyond LEO.
The use of textile devices for spacecraft structures and deceleration provides significant stowed versus deployed volume and mass advantages. However, the long-standing problem with textile devices is the fact that measurement of physical and functional properties, especially during deployment and dynamic events, has been incredibly difficult if not impossible. Generally speaking, the sensors used to measure the textile behaviors have been of sufficient mass/stiffness/wiring/etc. as to alter the base behavior of the material being measured. Current evaluations of stress in textile structures such as parachutes, parafoils, inflatable shelters, etc. rely heavily on analytical estimation and empirical “go/no go” test results without adequate means of data collection to validate or improve simulations.
The current concept for this proposal, hereinafter referred to as the Textile Strain Measurement System or TSMS, includes design of a direct measurement data recorder, with size and mass goals that do not influence the textile structure's natural movement and dynamic characteristics. Additionally, the proposed effort includes investigation and characterization of various strain sensitive materials suitable for non-invasive application to previously constructed textile assemblies, with initial focus on Aerodynamic Decelerator Systems (ADS), to allow dynamic stress measurement of flexible structures. Phase I resulted in the planned technology at TRL 3 and delivered a lab prototype of the data recorder with test samples of sensor-infused parachute material. Phase II, when selected, would progress TSMS to at least TRL 5 including fully functional hardware examples for use on free-flying inspection platforms during parachute operation including deployment and inflation. It is our intention to add an accelerometer as an additional sensor during Phase II.
NASA JPL efforts associated with Mars 2020/ASPIRE and Fluid Structure Interaction (FSI) parachute modeling, NASA-wide efforts associated with balloon/inflatable development for Venus, starshade sunshields, deployable antennas, deployable solar arrays,deployable solar sails, NASA JSC efforts to characterize inflatable human habitats, Orion CPAS and commercial capsule recovery systems, NASA ARC/LaRC efforts to advance ADEPT and HIAD flexible heatshields.
US Army efforts to characterize and improve soldier parafoil and ballistic deceleration systems, government-wide efforts to develop and characterize inflatable shelters and emergency facilities, and government-wide efforts to develop small satellite and sample return decelerator systems.
The purpose of this Phase II proposal is development of a completely operational 4.3 GHz passive sensor system that will be compliant in the new Wireless Avionics Intra-Communications (WAIC) band. This band will be useful to both space and aerospace, and the center frequency significantly advances SAW sensor device capabilities to very high frequencies. The focus of the effort will be on the development of the key technology components: operation of SAW passive temperature and strain sensors (which are the enabling key sensor technology), new sensor antennas and die level sensor-antenna integration, the software defined radio (SDR) that provides the adaptive instrumentation transceiver, the SDR control software, and the post-processing software that extracts the key sensor information. The results of the Phase I effort demonstrated and verified that all the key technology components can be built and implemented at 4.3 GHz with a 200 MHz bandwidth, which would be a technology leap for SAW sensor technology and the current state-of-the-art in wireless passive system technologies. Wireless operation of a first-ever 4.3 GHz SAW sensor was achieved, the Phase I final report documents the detailed results, and a demonstration showing the first operational sensor was provided in a Phase I deliverable. The 4.3 GHz SAW sensors and sensor antenna are very small compared to 1 GHz devices. This small form factor offers new opportunities for insertion in various applications, and some new sensor devices system approaches will be developed. Success in a Phase II effort will yield a significant technology leap forward by providing reprogrammable SDR transceivers in the WAIC band capable of interrogating multiple sensors and mixed sensor technologies, and also providing advancements in new SAW temperature and strain sensor embodiments at 4.3 GHz. Deliverables will include two complete wireless sensor systems, including transceivers, temperature and strain sensors.
Wireless passive sensors in air- and space craft
WAIC compliant sensor system approach for NASA compatibility in systems
Wireless sensor network capability for SHM
Wireless massively deployable sensors for exploration
Applicable to inside/outside planetary habitats
Hydrogen gas sensing - ground or vehicle
Cryogenic gas and liquid monitoring
Wireless, passive sensing in military, commercial and personal aircraft
SHM inside and outside aircraft
SHM in inaccessible areas, such as wings
Gas sensing, such as hydrogen, methane and others
SHM in transportation, bridges, highways, etc.
Engine and turbine monitoring
A system is proposed that can track the AE and RF energy dispersion that is created when a vehicle is impacted by a projectile at hyper velocity. This same device can measure the time of arrival of the wave front at transducers placed throughout the vehicle. Using the known velocity of the energy in the skin of the vehicle, the system can calculate the exact point of impact. Furthermore, Phase I testing has shown that the energy measured by sensors on the structure can accurately provide a binary answer of whether the structure has been breached or not. The measurement of a second parameter can help to eliminate false positives and maximize system reliability. The sensors for this system can be mounted on either the inside or the outside of the structure. This significantly increases the flexibility of integrating the system with host vehicles.
The primary NASA applications for the HVI Assessment System for TPS include determining damage to commercial crew vehicles (CCV). It will be useful for other space vehicles such as Orion that contain a Thermal Protection System (TPS). It will also be useful for spacecraft that must be monitored to mitigate the effects of hypervelocity impact (HVI) damage. This includes the ISS and the Space Gateway. Finally, it can be adapted using different sensors for inflatable habitats in space and on the surface of celestial bodies.
Private space companies can benefit from this system for assessing damage during launch, orbit, parking at the ISS, deep space travel, and entry into planetary atmospheres (earth, mars, etc.). Satellites (communication, science, military) can also benefit from this capability in order to help assess damage, evaluate cause, and determine remaining useful life after impacts occur.
In response to NASA SBIR FY 2018 topic Z2.01, Thermal Management, ThermAvant Technologies, LLC proposes to develop an innovative, passive heat transfer device that can significantly improve the spacecraft's thermal control system, namely around heat acquisition and rejection capabilities. ThermAvant proposes to develop an advanced Oscillating Heat Pipe (OHP) based heat rejection system that will enable next generation communications and power electronics to be easily integrated into space vehicle systems. ThermAvant's research team will demonstrate the proposed concepts and innovations through design, manufacturing and laboratory testing.
This proposal aims to primarily address NASA's needs as described in Focus Area 17 (Thermal Management) by developing an innovative, "passive" technology to "reject heat", maintain temperatures within "design limits", and do so in a "lightweight" form factor. Two specific programs that could greatly benefit from the technology are the DRM 5 Asteroid Redirect and the New Frontiers Program 4. Less specifically, nearly all future NASA missions will likely require the highest efficiency radiators, as the backbone of their thermal control system.
Large-format, high capacity radiators will have applications in terrestrial vehicles with electrical loads, and in large industrial vehicles where the proposed passive solution may be able replace actively pumped single-phase radiators with air cooled systems. These panels may be a viable solution for acquiring heat and rejecting to the heat sink (air, space, water, etc.).
Triton Systems is developing an unpowered thermostatic film for application to spacecraft surfaces. We call our approach Phase Change Thermochromic Radiator (PCTR); it self-switches from low to high emittance above a designed temperature setpoint Tc, causing a surface in space to radiate heat only when it becomes too warm and conserving heat otherwise. Key to the operation of PCTR is a phase change material integrated into a multilayer thin film structure to produce a device which is reflective over the 3-35 µm IR band below a transition temperature Tc but strongly absorptive above Tc. PCTR has advantages over competing approaches to dynamic emissivity in that it requires no electrical drive power, is relatively simple to fabricate, and contains only stable and rugged materials. Phase I research showed a path to significantly reduce the operational transition temperature, with 5°C or below being the ultimate goal of the program. In Phase II, complete devices will be demonstrated with turndown ratio of at least 6:1 and potentially 10:1. Scalable fabrication methods will be developed. Key qualification tests will include thermal cycling, vibration, peel tests, surface charge and degradation over operational life.
PCTR is applicable to a variety of NASA missions from nanosatellites in LEO to large manned vehicles on interplanetary missions. The design can be customized for a Tc and emissivity to match the mission. Higher temperature versions may be used for propulsion systems.
PCTR thermostatic films may have applications to military and communications satellites, and otherwise in commercial applications in the architecture market for thermal management of buildings
The Paragon COndensate Separator for Microgravity Conditions (COSMIC) is a full flow device that separates liquid condensate from air using an inertial process with low power draw, negligible pressure drop, and efficient condensate collection. COSMIC, and associated systems in development by Paragon, form a drop-in solution to replace the ISS Common Cabin Air Assembly (CCAA) Compact Heat Exchanger Slurper and Water Separator. On ISS, the Slurper bar suffers continued siloxane chemical degradation that modifies surface hydrophobicity, resulting in inadequate performance. In Phase I Paragon used additive manufacturing and an adaptable test fixture to evaluate competing designs and demonstrate successful liquid/air separation far in excess of NASA performance requirements with the most favorable solution. In Phase II, Paragon will optimize the design for on-orbit use and produce an integrated, low-weight, solution including optimized product water collection and delivery to the Water Processing Assembly.
On ISS, the Common Cabin Air Assembly (CCAA) Compact Heat Exchanger slurper bar suffers continued siloxane chemical degradation that modifies surface hydrophobicity, resulting in inadequate performance. Paragon's COndensate Separator for Microgravity Conditions (COSMIC) is a drop-in solution to replace the Water Separator and Slurper using an inertial approach that is insensitive to chemical modification. COSMIC is applicable to ISS and all future NASA crewed systems including the Lunar Gateway.
In addition to NASA crewed applications, COSMIC is applicable to future commercial crewed systems under development. COSMIC may also have a multitude of terrestrial applications in the humidification, evaporative cooling, oil and gas deliquidification, and other environmental control markets. These applications provide access to $10s millions annual revenue for licensed COSMIC derivatives.
The proposed program will develop a novel Vapor-Pressure-Driven Variable-View-Factor Radiator that is deployable, operates with variable geometry (i.e., form factor) and offers high turndown ratio. The device utilizes two-phase heat transfer and novel geometric features that adaptively (and reversibly) adjust the view factor in response to internal pressure in the radiator. The radiator folds into a closed shape to minimize the view factor when cold, and opens up to maximize the view factor when heated. Prototypes demonstrated in Phase I prove the feasibility and highlight the advantages of a two-phase radiator over shape memory alloy technologies. Structural and thermal simulation studies confirmed the viability of the concept.
At low temperatures, the view factor of emissive surfaces of the radiator to the heat sink is near zero, so the only heat lost is that which is emitted from the insulated outer surfaces of the radiator. The flexible section of the radiator is an elastic envelope enclosing a saturated working fluid. When the temperature of the radiator increases, the corresponding increase in vapor pressure generates a net force on the interior walls of the envelope which causes the elastic walls to bend so that the structure opens and the view factor increases. The increase in view factor reduces thermal resistance of heat rejection which enables inherently passive thermal control. Additionally, the entire structure of the radiator consists of cavities filled with saturated fluid acting like heat pipes, so the radiating surface will be nearly isothermal, achieving a radiator panel efficiency near one. In Phase I, modeling and prototyping indicates that the baseline geometry proposed can achieve a thermal turndown ratio of 37:1.
The NASA roadmap is looking for radiators with turn-down capabilities greater than 10:1 The proposed vapor pressure driven variable view factor radiator shows great potential in advanced spacecraft thermal control by reducing the complexity and cost of variable view factor radiators. The program will demonstrate the feasibility of modeling, designing, optimizing and manufacturing of such adaptive radiator. Manned missions, satellites, and deep space missions can all benefit from this innovation.
This deployable radiator is useful for spacecraft thermal control, including military or commercial satellite applications that may work with large variations in power and/or external sink conditions. The device can be easily designed to be used as a thermal control component for other applications including: solar flaps, variable geometry chevrons and slat-cove fillers onboard transport aircraft.
In Phase I the research team demonstrated a superior in situ profilometry sensor, based on fringe pattern projection, which quickly measures the whole build plate. In this data, significant process phenomena are accurately measured and easily identified, such as spreading defects, rogue particles that have been sintered to the part’s surface, distortion, surface roughness variation, and virtually any geometric feature. Of particular importance is the measurement of powder layer condensation and uniformity. This data serves as input to a model that generates feedforward information to adjust process parameters, resulting in better prediction and control of key material properties such as residual stress and density.
In Phase II the team will further improve the sensor and test the feedforward model. After fine-tuning the modelling capability for stress and distortion, mechanical testing will be conducted to validate model performance and determine the effect of defects (measured with the profilometry) on mechanical performance. The result will be real-time determination of part quality by a modelling tool that integrates profilometry-detected defects into the performance predictions. This novel data will then be used to feed and validate a fast-feedback look-up table (generated by inverting the feedforward model), for layer-to-layer laser parameter adjustment during builds. Next, a new design of the profilometry sensor will be completed to make it very compact (a few inches) so it can easily be added to OEM AM machines. Then the research team will implement a new sensing technique (with the same hardware) to record video-rate, measurements, at nanometer precision, of thermal expansion and shrinking during the melting process, thereby facilitating novel and powerful analysis of residual stress and/or delamination formation. Finally, the research team will demonstrate the whole sensor/modelling package on a NASA geometry of interest.
Applications include any system that wishes to use AM parts in critical areas, including:
Rocket Engines: The SLS program heavily utilizes AM. These components can be very large and require long build time, experiencing failed builds is painful.
Deep Space Exploration: Research on Stirling engines is heavily interested in AM and engine components must be reliable
Material development: High quality in situ data, like this profilometry, may be useful for investigating process phenomena during the development stages of new AM materials.
Applications include any system that wishes to use AM parts in critical areas, including:
Department of Defense supply chain: DoD suppliers aim to build an ever-growing list of critical parts that must have adequate process validation and documentation for the digital twin.
Medical Device: AM is experiencing strong pull in medical devices. Anything that goes in the human body must be qualified.
REM has, in Phase 1, proven concept and fully developed a combinatory surface finishing process optimizing Chemical Milling and Chemically Accelerated Vibratory Finishing capable of uniformly removing .020” in less than 24 hours from the surface of Additively Manufactured (AM) Inconel-625 components, fabricated by selective laser sintering and by powder blown direct energy deposition. The as-processed components shown improved mechanical performance over the as-built components. Building upon this 100% deliverable success in Phase 1, in Phase 2 we will: optimize processing parameters further for the Optimal Finishing Technique (OFT); conduct additional testing to validate resultant fatigue and mechanical improvements; conduct testing to validate non-reactive surface phenomenon discovered in Phase 1 during chemical milling, in which processing imparted near total IN-625 surface chemical resistance; begin processing AM IN-625 components in geometries useful to NASA and commercial parties; adapt and optimize OFT for other AM Nickel-based Superalloys (NBS) (IN-718 and AM Hastelloy-X) specimens and components; design, build, and implement in-house OFT processing system capable of safely, cleanly, and efficiently (scalable and with minimal operator interaction) processing commercial and NASA AM components. Design of said in-house system will include internal neutralization tanks for reactive/toxic chemistries and scrubbers/covers for remediation of hazardous fumes such that there is no operator or environmental contact during processing. Ultimately, beyond Phase II, this system will be further optimized for fully scalable installation capabilities at NASA and/or customer locations to allow for processing of 100s or 1000s of components safely in situ.
The OFT impacts NBS AM parts for improved surface finish/mechanical property: nozzle, missile body, rocket skin(X-15), nuclear reactor, turbomachine parts(blisks, stators), stud supports, thrust chamber(F-1), engine manifold(Merlin), rocket engine(SuperDraco). Non-AM NBS parts are also impacted. NBS value is wide for NASA, due to mechanical strength, resistance to thermal creep deformation, surface stability, and corrosion/oxidation resistance. A drawback of NBS is cost; AM reduces cost provided that parts meet quality/reliability standards.
The OFT will be useful for all AM NBS applications. Other government agencies will benefit, including the DOD. Also, the aerospace, energy, oil and gas, naval and chemical processing industries will have use for the OFT in applications such as combustion chambers, compressor vanes, fuel nozzles, impellors, and exhaust ducts. REM is already working with many these industries.
Thermal Protection Systems (TPS) are needed to protect spacecraft and crew from high temperature propellant gases, heating from solar radiation, and heating from friction with planetary atmospheres. For example, ceramic based Thermal Barrier Coatings (TBC) are being applied to rocket engine components such as combustion chambers, injector face plates, and nozzle extensions to allow higher temperature propellants to be used, which results in increased performance. In addition, TBC materials are desired for re-entry and hypersonic vehicles that will experience both space and atmospheric conditions. All of these systems rely on the low thermal conductivity and emissive properties of the ceramic topcoat to minimize heat transfer. However because of the thermal expansion mismatch between the ceramic topcoat and underlying metallic structure, special care must be taken during joining. The Phase I results showed advanced plasma spray additive manufacturing techniques can be used to produce ceramic based TPS/TBC materials on metallic substrates and the ability to successfully modify critical properties such as reflectance/emissivity and thermal conductivity through rare earth oxide additions were demonstrated. During Phase II, the most promising TPS materials will be optimized and extensive ground based testing will be performed. Samples will also be produced for testing on MISSE-13 and MISSE-14, and these samples will be compared to the ground test results to determine any detrimental effects from space exposure. At the conclusion of the Phase II effort, critical space exposure data will be available for a broad range of advanced TPS materials for different substrates and applications, which is needed for the safe development of future NASA missions such as long duration space travel, space stations, lunar habitats, re-entry and hypersonic vehicles.
NASA programs where the technology can be directly inserted to replace state-of-the-art TPS/TBC materials to improve performance and margin of safety include the Commercial Crew Program (CCP), Rapid Analysis and Manufacturing Propulsion Technology (RAMPT), and Hypersonic Technology Project (HTP). Other NASA programs such as Nuclear Thermal Propulsion: Game Changing Development and Gateway programs related to space vehicles, large space structures, such as space stations, orbiters, landing vehicles, rovers, and habitats would also benefit.
Potential non-NASA customers include SpaceX, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed, Aerojet/Rocketdyne, Bigelow Aerospace and other aerospace companies. In addition to aerospace markets, this technology can be leveraged across broader government and commercial applications for propulsion, power generation, medical, electronics, and corrosion/thermal protection coatings.
A new thin-film polymer material is proposed that would improve orbit lifetime and packaging efficiency for use in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and Micro-Meteoroid and Orbital Debris (MMOD) prone applications. Thin-film polymers are used in many spacecraft applications including multi-layer insulation, sunshields for thermal control, deployable structures, solar sails, as well as flexible solar arrays. Materials on exterior spacecraft surfaces are subjected to extremely harsh environments composed of photon and charged particle radiation, thermal cycling, impacts from MMOD, and Atomic Oxygen (AO). Many applications that could benefit from using a thin polymer film are restricted from their use since many currently available materials do not meet durability or packaging requirements. This proposal defines research that will develop a new material capability for NASA and deliver samples for MISSE-FF testing needed to qualify the material for NASA missions and commercial applications.
During Phase I, NeXolve incorporated a PTFE structure within the CORIN®XLS polyimide to provide an AO-resistant polymer film with flexibility, tear resistance, and durability far exceeding current state of the art materials. Phase I also resulted in development of a new lab scale manufacturing method to form the CORIN® XLS/PTFE composite with improved tear resistance. The composite materials exhibited substantial increases in elongation properties and tear strength compared to baseline materials. The elongation of the composite films increased by as much as 700% compared to baseline material. An increase in tear strength of the composite compared to the baseline CORIN® XLS film was as high 1000% depending on the composite construction. Phase II seeks to develop a continuous manufacturing process for the CORIN XLS/PTFE composite that will allow commercial scale production. The Phase II research also seeks to advance the TRL of the material from 5 to 7 by utilizing the MISSE-FF platform.
Specific NASA missions that would benefit include the proposed Kon-TikiTechnology Demo, Solar Polar Imager(SPI) and GeoStorm space weather monitoring. There are a number of proposed NASA missions that would be improved by incorporation of CORIN® XLS/PTFE into the sunshields. Examples include: WFIRST, HabEx / Starshade,Origins Space Telescope (OST), and LUVOIR. All of these space telescopes would benefit greatly from the enhanced properties of CORIN® XLS/PTFE for their sunshield designs.
Potential Non-NASA Applications include: MLI blankets (almost all spacecraft), deployable array substrates (including solar and antenna arrays), deorbit drag sails. NeXolve is currently developing a 1-U deployable Solar Power Module for the commercial cubesat market. CORIN® XLS/PTFE composite material will provide more durable substrate for the LEO environment extended missions.
To enable serviceable satellites and persistent orbital platforms, the need exists for simple, robust and lightweight modular interfaces. Such interfaces allow for a variety of functions to be upgraded at low-cost using affordable commercial satellite servicing vehicles. Given the large number of LEO constellations in development, such modular interfaces provide a low-cost way of restoring degraded functionality, enabling constellation operators to extend the productive lifetime of their satellites (e.g. plug-and-play modules for replacement batteries, reaction wheels, etc). This eliminates the need to de-orbit and replace satellites which otherwise may be completely functional.
Altius has developed an electropermanent-magnetically coupled electrical and/or fluid connection “MagTag™” interface that is robust and lightweight. The proposed MagTag interface provides the following benefits:
These interfaces will allow for enhanced serviceability and upgradability of future space assets for NASA, DoD, and commercial interests.
The MagTag offers a highly modular, lightweight, and capable interface that is suited for the following NASA applications:
ProtoInnovations, LLC is developing a rover-based non-prehensile manipulation (RBNPM) control architecture and associated algorithms, tools, and metrics to maximize the mobile manipulation capabilities of robotic rovers using existing actuated degrees-of-freedom (DoF) such as wheel rotation or steering. These new or improved capabilities allow rovers to change the environment around them to improve terrainability, perform new scientific investigations, or accomplish basic construction tasks without the need for complex, high-DoF manipulators.
In Phase I of this SBIR the RBNPM control architecture was thoroughly developed along with metrics for the evaluation of RBNPM actions. Functional validation of this architecture was performed via field testing on a rover and in simulation. Preliminary analysis of RBNPM actions was performed to verify the feasibility of the specific RBNPM actions trenching and digging. Results from Phase I show that trenching and digging behaviors are possible on a rover with no dedicated trenching or digging manipulators.
Phase II of this SBIR will take the development from open-loop RBNPM actions to closed-loop controllable RBNPM actions, and create new RBNPM actions with low-DoF passive or actuated implements. At the end of Phase II, a more complete prototype RBNPM architecture for mobile manipulation along with controllers and tools for specific RBNPM actions will be produced.
The proposed robotic innovations will aid NASA will enable new concepts for missions to the Moon and Mars. Actions such as pushing rocks or moving loose soil into precarious ditches to create new navigable terrain will aid extreme-terrain mobility. Additionally, robotic excavation objectives will be simplified from controlled rover-based non-prehensile actions. This project will also provide a new perspectives on mobility/manipulator components and mobile manipulation architectures.
Rover-Based Non-Prehensile Controls could transform mining, construction, farming, infrastructure, and utility applications that call for robust and innovative solutions to automation of work activities. Where the cost of additional complexity is prohibitive, this technology promises to be the next standard, integrated by Original Equipment Manufacturers into a variety of vehicles and machinery.
Robots will play an important role in NASA's upcoming missions to the Moon and beyond. They will need to manipulate their environment in complex and useful ways - carrying objects, using tools, and assisting crew. NASA’s humanoid robots have highly dexterous end-effectors, but developing software to fully utilize such hands remains a challenging task. Grasping strategies are highly dependent on object models and localization. Environmental obstacles or the object's intended use can strongly influence how best to grasp it.
Previously with NASA, TRACLabs developed CRAFTSMAN, which supports robot-independent task descriptions, although grasp strategies are robot-specific. Here, we extend CRAFTSMAN to handle grasping as a task-informed behavior. This new system, called ADAMANT, will connect to other CRAFTSMAN software nodes to help find the best option for acquiring an object. The result will be a robot grasping interface that produces more robust robot behaviors while reducing the cognitive load on remote robot operators.
The ADAMANT system uses sensor and/or model data in addition to a task description to develop a ranked list of potential grasps for an object, using user-selected grasp metrics. These different grasps are explored in the context of the complete task to arrive at the strategy most likely to succeed. In Phase I, we demonstrated that we could describe tasks in terms of the effect on the object, rather than just a sequence of waypoints for a manipulator and gripper. In Phase II, we will fully incorporate this object-centric idea into CRAFTSMAN, allowing the user to define tasks without a specific manipulator/gripper in mind. The ADAMANT system will automatically figure out at run-time the best way to grasp an object given models of the hand and models (or sensor data) of the object.
This work will make it easier for NASA to use robots in conjunction with pre-existing operational procedures, and has many applications to industrial robotics.
This work is immediately applicable to NASA robots such as Valkyrie, SPDM, SSRMS, and even Astrobee. Future NASA robots will perform repair tasks on satellites or the Deep Space Gateway, and caretaker robots will maintain dormant facilities. Robots will also assist humans on tasks such as habitat construction or surface exploration. The proposed system, integrated with CRAFTSMAN, will greatly improve the capabilities of these robots and facilitate the authoring and supervision of their tasks.
TRACLabs has an existing R\&D partnership with major automotive suppliers to integrate CRAFTSMAN into their plants. The first installation went live in September 2017 and operates continuously. The proposed research will be immediately applicable to their stated goals of deploying flexible workcells world-wide. With this industrial validation, we expect much interest in this technology.
Tethers Unlimited, Inc. (TUI) proposes to develop a software payload for the Astrobee free-flier to enable multi-agent collaborative robotics tasks for automation of human spacecraft, and robotic on-orbit servicing. AstroPorter is built on a mass property estimator capability and enables spacecraft to dynamically adjust its GNC parameters through the course of coupling to other robotic agents, picking up large payloads, and handing them off. AstroPorter has direct applications outside of the ISS in robotic on-orbit servicing scenarios which require a servicer to couple with a client. AstroPorter will enable interaction between Astrobee and other robotic systems on the ISS, such as TUI’s KRAKEN Robotic Arm in the MANTIS EXPRESS Rack locker, and it will enable multiple Astrobees to work in tandem for challenging tasks such as the transfer of large cargo - such as the ISS’s Cargo Transfer Bags (CTBs). The AstroPorter solution will include a set of interface guidelines for “last-mile” problems such as the retrieval of payloads and cargo from stowage and the logistics of delivery to autonomous systems. In the Phase I effort, the mass property estimator was developed and tested using TUI’s Zero-G Test Facility, maturing the TRL of AstroPorter from TRL 2 to TRL 4. In the Phase II, the mass property estimator will be deployed to Astrobee and tested on the Astrobee Facility. Additionally, control software will be developed to enable stable control through transient state transitions of the Astrobee during a payload transfer operation, maturing the TRL to 6.
AstroPorter is a crosscutting technology that directly addresses three of the NASA 2015 Technology Roadmap Areas: 4.2.7 Collaborative Mobility, 4.3.5 Collaborative Manipulation, and 4.5.4 Multi-Agent Coordination. AstroPorter is an essential technology for space station automation with free-flier service craft such as Astrobee. AstroPorter will be demonstrated on the ISS in Phase II to lay the foundation for applications in future human spacecraft, such as the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (LOP-G), or long-duration deep space craft.
The AstroPorter collaborative robotics technology is a key element of TUI's roadmap for developing in-space assembly and servicing capabilities. AstroPorter GNC methods will enable TUI's LEO Knight microsat servicer to interact with client satellites. AstroPorter is directly relevant to in-space assembly, such as the DARPA OrbWeaver program, where robots will construct a reflector on-orbit.
The proposed effort is to develop a versatile, high-definition (HD) 3D camera that provides in real time high-resolution image and distance data over a large angle for monitoring human activity from a free-flying robot platform. The objective is to build a compact sensor payload package that is compatible with the Astrobee free-flying robot, which includes meeting size, weight, power and communication requirements.
The 3D sensor will provide better than 1 cm by 1 cm spatial resolution with less than 1% range error over an operating distance of 10 meters. This 3D resolution is provided over a 50-degree by 41-degree field of regard using a unique electro-optic step and stare scanner. The sensing and operating capability provided will allow the system to track fast moving objects, operate from a moving platform without image blur, collect high contrast data, function without interference from other ToF sensors operating in same vicinity and conserve power and minimize processing when the situation or application needs less data throughput.
The proposed low-SWaP HD 3D imager will have application in many NASA missions needing real-time 3D information such as fixing and refueling spacecraft, autonomous vision-based navigation for robotic systems, internal/external spacecraft inspection, 3D environmental mapping and hazard avoidance for planetary rovers, free-flying robots and terrestrial drones.
The proposed HD 3D imager has various commercial applications. The platform can provide a low-SWaP package for hazard/collision avoidance for autonomous automobiles and unmanned vehicles. Other potential large markets are 3D imaging for autonomous robotics (factory automation), remote 3D scanning and gesture recognition for augmented reality systems.
The Phase I program identified a feasible 320x320, 75um pitch, 60 Hz frame rate Flash LIDAR focal plane array (FPA) and High Energy Laser design configurations which have the ability able a space global shutter flash LIDAR camera which satisfies NASA’s Common, Configurable, Flash LIDAR performance goals. The Phase II program plans to design, fabricate and FPA and laser test vehicles to demonstrate key functional and performance parameters associated with small 75um pitch FPA unit cells and 1064nm, 100mJ, 5ns pulse width Q-switched MOPA laser operating at a 60Hz frame rate. The reference FPA and laser designs are refined using the test vehicle measured data.
Dragon Fly: A mission to explore Saturn’s moon Titan. Mapping, and landing hazard avoidance.
Comet Astrobiology Exploration Sample Mission (CAESAR): A mission to return a comet sample. Landing Hazard Avoidance.
Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) Program: Commercial lunar landers. Landing Hazard Avoidance.
Modular Space Vehicle (MSV): Space Situational Awareness.
Autonomous Satellite Servicing-Proximal spacecraft operation.
Commercial Crew: Manned proximal spacecraft operation.
Army Autonomous Ground Vehicle Navigation
Wearable Flash LIDAR for enhance situational awareness
Autonomous aerial refueling
Nanosat Launch Tracking
Commercial and Military Satellite servicing.
Real Time 3D mapping
Manned Airborne navigation sensor
Fibertek, Inc. a critical components of a proposed Planetary Landing LIDAR System (PLLS). Compared to the PLLS used on OSIRIS-Rex, our architecture achieves higher speed and higher resolution while significantly reducing size, weight, and power (SWAP). This is achieved by using a much more sensitive sensor: an array of Silicon Geiger-mode avalanche photo diodes (Gm-APDs) which can count single photon returns. This permits lower power high rep-rate lasers and smaller apertures for savings in SWAP as well as increased acquisition rates for higher resolution and faster mapping. In addition there are the usual benefits of Silicon including warm operation, ease of manufacturing, and intrinsically better radiation tolerance.
Geiger-mode LIDAR requires oversampling and statistical analysis. The required processing capability and latency has proven a challenge. Fibertek has developed a novel architecture for Gm-LIDAR which solves this problem. We have demonstrated the ability to process Geiger mode data faster than the sensor can acquire it. In this effort we will develop space-flight traceable low-swap FPGA-based data acquisition hardware. We will then port our solution to FPGA and demonstrate real time processing using simulated data. Demonstrating the ability to map a 2000x2000 pixel scene in less than 2 seconds, our data acquisition hardware will prove the feasibility of this approach for a low SWAP high-speed, high-resolution PLLS.
To enable science in regions with interesting geology, planetary landers will need to be capable of landing amid hazardous terrain. Hazards large enough to disrupt landing are nevertheless too small to be identified from orbit. Future landing missions will require advanced hazard avoidance systems. A PLLS is a practical way to generate a high-resolution elevation maps during the landing sequence. A PLLS should also be flexible enough to serve other functions including LIDAR for docking and altimetry or low resolution LIDAR from orbit.
The DoD is actively pursuing real-time 3D lidar sensor technologies for intelligence, surveillance, and recognizance applications on airborne and space-borne platforms. The 3D lidar sensor and processing technology is directly applicable to the DoD applications. Planned BAAs include DARPA’s 3DNOW and the USAF ASI program. Both programs will benefit from technology developed on this SBIR.
The proposed effort will pursue development of a flexible, high-performance, size/weight/power-optimized fiber-optic sensing platform appropriate for deep spaceflight missions and amenable to harsh launch, entry, descent, and landing environments. Custom sensors and sensor arrangements appropriate for multi-parameter sensing in thermal protection systems of interplanetary landers will be developed. The proposed technology is applicable to both rigid and flexible thermal protection systems.
The proposed technology enables acquisition of real-time, in-flight strain, pressure, temperature, and recession data related to structural dynamics analysis and health monitoring of flight and spaceflight vehicles. The technology can be applied to components, structures, and aerodynamic surfaces, both rigid and flexible.
Non-NASA commercial applications of the technology include renewable wind energy, commercial aerospace & aviation, oil & gas, automotive, nuclear energy, and perimeter security.
Busek proposes to develop a new form of passive electrospray thruster control which will enable extremely fast thruster operations and thereby unprecedented minimum impulse bits. Busek’s BET-300-P thruster is under active development as a precision reaction control system (RCS) which will provide orders of magnitude improvements over state-of-the-art alternative attitude control systems (ACS) for CubeSats/small-spacecraft. The low inertia of CubeSats combined with vibrational disturbances and resolution limitations of state-of-the-art ACS presently limit precision body-pointing and position control. Busek’s electrospray thrusters aboard the ESA LISA Pathfinder (NASA ST-7) spacecraft, demonstrated control of a proof mass location to within ~2nm per root Hz over a wide band. The BET-300-P, enhanced by exploitation of its high-speed dynamic response in this program, seeks to extend that success to small spacecraft platforms.
Passively fed electrospray thrusters are highly compact, including fully integrated propellant supplies, and are capable of ~100nN thrust precision with 10’s of nN noise. Thrust can be accurately throttled over >150x, up to a scalable maximum of 10’s to 100’s of uN. While typically operated in largely continuous states they are unique in that emission can be electrically stopped/started at ms time scales. Thus, extremely low impulse bits may be achieved over very short durations. In Phase I pulses as short as 1ms permitted throttling from <0.1uNs up to 100’s of uNs. These traits, combined with >750s specific impulse, and thereby low propellant mass could enable these systems to replace traditional reaction wheel ACS and high-propellant mass cold gas systems; enabling milliarcsec control authority for CubeSats versus the present arcsec level SOA.
Phase II will regimentally advance the technology by first performing detailed investigations of critical phenomena and then applying those results towards a rigorously tested engineering model thruster.
Ongoing NASA mission studies include the BET-300-P for attitude control, formation flight and positioning of small spacecraft. Specific benefiting applications include deep-space missions, astronomy, solar-system observations, laser communications and space situational awareness. Mission durations are extended by increased wheel desaturation capacity. Improved body pointing would augment stability; permitting lower cost/complexity realization of existing needs and enabling new objectives.
High-precision small-sat propulsion systems are an enabling technology with numerous applications. The virtual elimination of vibrations while superseding reaction wheel precision is a competitive advantage. Precision pointing/positioning capabilities of the BET-300-P system are otherwise unavailable. Potential customers include international partners (eg ESA), the DoD and commercial EO missions.
The innovation in this SBIR project is the maturation of AASC’s TRL-4 Metal Plasma Thruster into a TRL-9 system that is fully flight qualified by a launch into space (June 2020), followed by commercial sales of multiple thruster systems to NASA and other satellite makers. This SBIR [Z8.01 Small Spacecraft Propulsion Systems] points out that although there are currently many technologies for propulsion systems, the miniaturization of these systems for small spacecraft is a particular challenge. While cold gas or pulsed plasma systems support small Δv applications, modules that can provide more demanding maneuvers still need development. NASA seeks complete propulsion system solutions (thrusters, valves, propellant, sensors, electronics, etc.) capable of full-scale flight demonstration on 27U, 12U, 6U, or 3U CubeSats in support of deep space and/or swarm topology missions. Of particular interest are propulsion system solutions offering long life, reliability, and minimalistic use of CubeSat resources (power, energy, volume, and mass), while delivering propulsion capabilities that meet requirements. AASC has met these goals with its innovative, electric propulsion thruster (MPT) that has no moving parts, uses solid propellant (non-toxic stable metals such as Mo, Nb, Pd and many others), is compact (fits into 3U CubeSats, and is modular, so scalable to 12U, 27U and even larger platforms. The simplicity of the system and relatively low manufacturing cost make the MPT highly attractive to the CubeSat market. The technology has matured from TRL-4 to TRL-6 during the Ph-I effort. During Ph-II, we intend to take it to TRL-9 by launching into space and gathering operational data during positioning and attitude adjustment maneuvers on a 100kg satellite.
The MPT architecture lends itself to use on all NASA satellites in the 5 kg -250 kg category. Pathfinder (INSPIRE) is one example. The MPT could suit that mission, if a window of opportunity presents itself. NASA also plans to launch Lunar IceCube, a public-private partnership that will send a tiny CubeSat (Dec 2019) to do water-ice prospecting from an elliptical orbit around the moon. Lunar IceCube, Lunar Flashlight, BioSentinel and NEA Scout are part of a movement to employ cost-effective CubeSats for deep-space exploration.
1000s of satellites (5 kg -80 kg) might soon be in LEO. Imaging satellites that today are launched into higher than 500km to avoid rapid burn-up, would offer higher resolution and faster refresh rates at lower altitudes but would need propulsion. The MPT (compact, no moving parts, solid fuel) is ideal for these satellites and in custom designed arrays, could be useful for larger satellites too.
While CubeSats have begun to disrupt the entire satellite industry, a lack of adequate propulsion options continues to limit their adoption beyond experimental missions. Rideshare restrictions to propulsion systems often limit CubeSats to the non-optimal orbits into which the primary mission delivers them, and leaves them unable to maintain their orbits. This curbs CubeSat adoption into commercial, persistent Earth science, or interplanetary missions. ExoTerra’s Modular Xenon Micro Electric Propulsion System is a high-impulse propulsion system that enables CubeSats to alter or maintain their orbits and to perform affordable, targeted science missions throughout the inner solar system. The proposed integrated system provides 4-33 mN of thrust and 36-53 kNs of impulse at an Isp from 700-1500 s using a micro-Hall Effect Thruster, and can package in 9U of volume to meet the tight constraints of CubeSats. Variations of the system can provide over 100 kN-s of impulse. The propulsion system consists of the Xenon propellant and distribution system, a high efficiency PPU that is radiation tolerant to 100 krad, the Halo thruster and a thrust vector controller.
Potential NASA applications include interplanetary CubeSat missions with a need for non-toxic, high impulse and thrust propulsion systems. With this capability, NASA can send CubeSat missions to the Moon, asteroids, comets, Venus, Lagrange points, or Mars. The scalability of the propellant system design makes it applicable for a wide range of spacecraft sizes and mission architectures.
Exoterra’s Xenon Micro EP System provides orbit raising, inclination change and maintenance for commercial microsats. Commercial satellites can reach their working orbits using a smaller, simpler, and lower-cost SEP main propulsion system. The system can also be used in an SEP-based upper stage for the burgeoning small launch vehicle market, delivering microsats from LEO to GEO orbit or beyond.
This proposed SBIR will build on Fibertek's NASA-funded Compact Laser Communications Terminal (CLCT) heritage to develop new ultra-low SWaP-c technology that can transform this unit into a Distributed Spacecraft Missions (DSM) capable laser communications terminal supporting small satellite intersatellite links (ISL) as well as deep space downlinks to Earth using relay satellites. This approach leverages previous NASA and commercial investments in the CLCT and can enable mission adoption within the next 5 years.
This SBIR proposes to update the CLCT design for baseline DSM operational use to enable mesh networks by independently pointing three or more optical terminals on a single satellite and to develop a low SWaP serially concatenated pulse-position modulated (SCPPM
Fibertek is aligned with the NASA SCaN vision and has been working to develop end-to-end space optical communications link capabilities, such as High-Speed Optical Ground Station technology and SmallSat and CubeSat space optical terminal capabilities. Optical transceiver technology applies to ground and space nodes for sending and receiving information. This Phase II SBIR effort will enhance our offerings at both nodes of SCaN space optical communications links, and for NASA, SmallSat Science missions:
All DoD services are interested in space optical communications because of data security, increased bandwidth, and robustness against jamming and interception. This Phase II modem development activity aligns with products for this market as well. Fibertek is currently pursuing, with partners, the opportunity to provide exactly this type of modem capability on an AFRL Program for 2019.
Blink Astro, LLC proposes a Phase II SBIR development effort that includes prototyping the ION-DTN protocol on our Phase I downselected microcontroller, integrated radio design, and a final demo of 3 ION-DTN nodes simulating a real-world scenario. Creation of a market strategy and supporting marketing collateral materials will also be developed for the end product as it is being advanced from TRL 3 to TRL 4 at the conclusion of effort.
This solution has immediate applicability in enabling deep space communication or swarm constellation science missions. As NASA begins to more broadly adopt small satellites, the need for a small form factor, lower power, delay and disruption tolerant radio becomes paramount, especially as more novel mission concepts outside of Low Earth Orbit emerge. Blink’s ION-DTN Radio offers a cost-effective, turnkey solution to meeting DTN demands for future NASA missions and enables small satellite missions of greater scale and scientific return.
Non-NASA commercial applications for the Blink® ION-DTN Radio range from real-time aircraft tracking to commercial LEO satellite constellations. Of particular interest to Blink®, is the near-term applicability of the ION-DTN Radio with its LEO satellite constellation for IoT connectivity.
This work answers the questions and needs of Focus Area 21 Subtopic Z9.01 for small launch vehicle technologies by providing affordable launch architecture, as propulsion systems are the highest cost subsystem for rocket development and PermiAM will enable a large savings for main propulsion system engine development. PermiAM will enable increased design simplicity for AM injectors and reduced development costs through improved face cooling and improved combustion stability. Phase I demonstrated successful use of PermiAM in multiple materials for rocket engine injectors. A full scale proof of concept ground test will be demonstrated by the end of Phase II.
PermiAM material is aligned with NASA Technology Roadmap needs TA1.2, TA2.1, and TA12. Masten is currently focusing on the propulsion elements of PermiAM with direct applicability to small satellite launch vehicles, upper stage engines, and planetary landers in support of the NASA CLPS program. For SLS, the RS-25 and RL10 use a coaxial injector with Rigimesh face. As AM build volumes increase it will be possible to replace the expensive and complex rigimesh injector with an AM version to lower the cost of heavy lift space access.
For aviation it may be used to improve the performance and reliability of commercial jet engines. Current jet engine combustion chamber designs use bypass air and baffles to keep components from overheating. PermiAM would allow the more even application of cooling air, better boundary layer performance, and damp instabilities. Masten is also selling PermiAM to other rocket engine manufacturers.