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Journal Article

Autonomy and Intelligent Technologies for Advanced Inspection Systems

This paper features a set of advanced technologies for autonomy and intelligence in advanced inspection systems of facility operations. These technologies offer a significant contribution to set a path to establish a system and an operating environment with autonomy and intelligence for inspection, monitoring and safety via gas and ambient sensors, video mining and speech recognition commands on unmanned ground vehicles and other platforms to support operational activities in the Cryogenics Test bed and other facilities and vehicles. These advanced technologies are in current development and progress and their functions and operations require guidance and formulation in conjunction with the development team(s) toward the system architecture.
Technical Paper

Carbon Production in Space from Pyrolysis of Solid Waste

Pyrolysis processing of solid waste in space will inevitably lead to carbon formation as a primary pyrolysis product. The amount of carbon depends on the composition of the starting materials and the pyrolysis conditions (temperature, heating rate, residence time, pressure). Many paper and plastic materials produce almost no carbon residue upon pyrolysis, while most plant biomass materials or human wastes will yield up to 20-40 weight percent on a dry, as-received basis. In cases where carbon production is significant, it can be stored for later use to produce CO2 for plant growth. Alternatively it can be partly gasified by an oxidizing gas (e.g., CO2, H2O, O2) in order to produce activated carbon. Activated carbons have a unique capability of strongly absorbing a great variety of species, ranging from SO2 and NOx, trace organics, mercury, and other heavy metals.
Technical Paper

Performance Characterization of a Temperature-Swing Adsorption Compressor for Closed-Loop Air Revitalization Based on Integrated Tests with Carbon Dioxide Removal and Reduction Assemblies

CO2 removal, recovery and reduction are essential processes for a closed loop air revitalization system in a crewed spacecraft. Typically, a compressor is required to recover the low pressure CO2 that is being removed from the spacecraft in a swing bed adsorption system. This paper describes integrated tests of a Temperature-Swing Adsorption Compressor (TSAC) with high-fidelity systems for carbon dioxide removal and reduction assemblies (CDRA and Sabatier reactor). It also provides details of the TSAC operation at various CO2 loadings. The TSAC is a solid-state compressor that has the capability to remove CO2 from a low-pressure source, and subsequently store, compress, and deliver it at a higher pressure. TSAC utilizes the principle of temperature-swing adsorption compression and has no rapidly moving parts.
Technical Paper

Aerodynamic Drag Reduction of the Underbody of a Class-8 Tractor-Trailer

Experimental measurements of a 1:20-scale tractor-trailer configuration were obtained in the 48- by 32-Inch Subsonic Wind Tunnel at NASA Ames Research Center. The model included significant details of the underbody geometries of both the tractor and trailer. In addition, the tractor included a flow-through grill and a simplified engine block to provide an approximation of the flow through the engine compartment. The experiment was conducted at a Reynolds Number of 430,000 for yaw angles between ±14 deg. The measurements included forces and moments and static surface pressures for various underbody configurations. Simple fairings on the underbodies of the tractor and trailer both yielded a reduction in the wind-averaged drag coefficient of 0.018 (2.7%) when tested separately. A horizontal plate designed to block vertical flow in the tractor-trailer gap provided marginally higher drag reduction (0.021, or 3.2%).
Technical Paper

Lyophilization for Water Recovery III, System Design

Mixed liquid/solid wastes, including feces, water processor effluents, and food waste, can be lyophilized (freeze-dried) to recover the water they contain and stabilize the solids that remain. Our previous research has demonstrated the potential benefits of using thermoelectric heat pumps to build a lyophilizer for processing waste in microgravity. These results were used to build a working prototype suitable for ground-based human testing. This paper describes the prototype design and presents results of functional and performance tests.
Technical Paper

Detailed Experimental Results of Drag-Reduction Concepts on a Generic Tractor-Trailer

The 1/8-scale Generic Conventional Model was studied experimentally in two wind tunnels at NASA Ames Research Center. The investigation was conducted at a Mach number of 0.15 over a Reynolds number range from 1 to 6 million. The experimental measurements included total and component forces and moments, surface pressures, and 3-D particle image velocimetry. Two configurations (trailer base flaps and skirts) were compared to a baseline representative of a modern tractor aero package. Details of each configuration provide insight into the complex flow field and the resulting drag reduction was found to be sensitive to Reynolds number.
Technical Paper

Micro-Flying Robotics in Space Missions

The Columbia Accident Investigation Board issued a major recommendation to NASA. Prior to return to flight, NASA should develop and implement a comprehensive inspection plan to determine the structural integrity of all Reinforced Carbon-Carbon (RCC) system components. This inspection plan should take advantage of advanced non-destructive inspection technology. This paper describes a non-intrusive technology with a micro-flying robot to continuously monitor inside a space vehicle for any stress related fissures, cracks and foreign material embedded in walls, tubes etc.
Journal Article

Testing of a Plastic Melt Waste Compactor Designed for Human Space Exploration Missions

Significant progress has been made at NASA Ames Research Center in the development of a heat melt compaction device called the Plastic Melt Waste Compactor (PMWC). The PMWC was designed to process wet and dry wastes generated on human space exploration missions. The wastes have a plastic content typically greater than twenty percent. The PMWC removes the water from the waste, reduces the volume, and encapsulates it by melting the plastic constituent of the waste. The PMWC is capable of large volume reductions. The final product is compacted waste disk that is easy to manage and requires minimal crew handling. This paper describes the results of tests conducted using the PMWC with a wet and dry waste composite that was representative of the waste types expected to be encountered on long duration human space exploration missions.
Technical Paper

Fecal Simulant Delivery Systems for Parabolic Flight Testing of the Flexible Membrane Commode

The Flexible Membrane Commode (FMC) is an alternative waste management system designed to address the severe mass restrictions on the Orion vehicle. The concept includes a deployable seat and single use, three layer bags that employ air flow to draw solids away from the body and safely contain them in disposable bags.1 Simulated microgravity testing of the system was performed during two separate parabolic flight campaigns in July and August of 2008. Experimental objectives included verifying the waste fill procedures in reduced gravity, characterizing waste behavior during the filling process, and comparison of the results with model predictions. In addition the operational procedure for bag installation, removal, and sealing were assessed. 2 A difficult operational requirement concerns the delivery of the fecal waste simulant into the upper area of the bag in a manner that faithfully simulates human defecation.
Technical Paper

Development of a Reduced Gravity Test Rig for Waste Management

The space environment presents many challenges to the operation and functioning of life support systems. These challenges include reduced gravity, near vacuum ambient, extreme temperatures, and radiation. Proper testing and modeling of system components to account for these factors will be important for their verification. This paper describes the modeling and design of a reduced gravity test rig for waste management studies. The first investigation planned relate to the functioning of components of the Flexible Membrane Commode (FMC) currently under development at NASA Ames Research Center. The planned reduced gravity tests will be carried out in NASA's C'9 aircraft which provides approximately 25 seconds of reduced gravity per parabolic trajectory. The filling of the commode bag under the influence of a directed air flow will be studied. Simulated waste will be injected and cabin air will be used for directing the waste into the bag.
Journal Article

Lightweight Contingency Water Recovery System Concept Development

The Lightweight Contingency Water Recovery System (LWC-WRS) harvests water from various sources in or around the Orion spacecraft in order to provide contingency water at a substantial mass savings when compared to stored emergency water supplies. The system uses activated carbon treatment (for urine) followed by forward osmosis (FO). The LWC-WRS recovers water from a variety of contaminated sources by directly processing it into a fortified (electrolyte and caloric) drink. Primary target water sources are urine, seawater, and other on board vehicle waters (often referred to as technical waters). The product drink provides hydration, electrolytes, and caloric requirements for crew consumption. The system hardware consists of a urine collection device containing an activated carbon matrix (Stage 1) and an FO membrane treatment element (or bag) which contains an internally mounted cellulose triacetate membrane (Stage 2).
Technical Paper

Assessment of the Vapor Phase Catalytic Ammonia Removal (VPCAR) Technology at the MSFC ECLS Test Facility

The Vapor Phase Catalytic Ammonia Removal (VPCAR) technology has been previously discussed as a viable option for the Exploration Water Recovery System. This technology integrates a phase change process with catalytic oxidation in the vapor phase to produce potable water from exploration mission wastewaters. A developmental prototype VPCAR was designed, built and tested under funding provided by a National Research Announcement (NRA) project. The core technology, a Wiped Film Rotating Device (WFRD) was provided by Water Reuse Technologies under the NRA, whereas Hamilton Sundstrand Space Systems International performed the hardware integration and acceptance test of the system. Personnel at the Ames Research Center performed initial systems test of the VPCAR using ersatz solutions. To assess the viability of this hardware for Exploration Life Support (ELS) applications, the hardware has been modified and tested at the MSFC ECLS Test Facility.
Technical Paper

Development of a Pilot Scale Apparatus for Control of Solid Waste Using Low Temperature Oxidation

In February 2004 NASA released “The Vision for Space Exploration.” The important goals outlined in this document include extending human presence in the solar system culminating in the exploration of Mars. Unprocessed waste poses a biological hazard to crew health and morale. The waste processing methods currently under consideration include incineration, microbial oxidation, pyrolysis and compaction. Although each has advantages, no single method has yet been developed that is safe, recovers valuable resources including oxygen and water, and has low energy and space requirements. Thus, the objective of this project is to develop a low temperature oxidation process to convert waste cleanly and rapidly to carbon dioxide and water. In the Phase I project, TDA Research, Inc. demonstrated the potential of a low temperature oxidation process using ozone. In the current Phase II project, TDA and NASA Ames Research Center are developing a pilot scale low temperature ozone oxidation system.
Technical Paper

Development of the Standard Interface Glovebox (SIGB) for use on Shuttle, MIR, and International Space Station

An innovative design that meets both Shuttle and Space Station requirements for a user-friendly, volume-efficient, portable glovebox system has been developed at Ames Research Center (ARC). The Standard Interface Glovebox (SIGB) has been designed as a two Middeck locker-sized system that mounts in a Middeck Rack Structure (MRS) or in any rack using the Standard Interface Rack (SIR) rail spacing. The MRS provides structural support for the SIGB during all aspects of the mission and is an interface consistent with NASA's desire for commonality of mechanical interfaces, allowing the SIGB to be flown on essentially any manned space platform. The SIGB provides an enclosed work volume which operates at negative pressure relative to ambient, as well as excellent lighting and ample work volume for anticipated life sciences-related experiment operations inflight.
Technical Paper

Coaxial Rotor Flow Phenomena in Forward Flight

Coaxial rotors are finding use in advanced rotorcraft concepts. Combined with lift offset rotor technology, they offer a solution to the problems of dynamic stall and reverse flow that often limit single rotor forward flight speeds. In addition, coaxial rotorcraft systems do not need a tail rotor, a major boon during operation in confined areas. However, the operation of two counter-rotating rotors in close proximity generates many possible aerodynamic interactions between rotor blades, blades and vortices, and between vortices. With two rotors, the parameter design space is very large, and requires efficient computations as well as basic experiments to explore aerodynamics of a coaxial rotor and the effects on performance, loads, and acoustics.
Technical Paper

Development of Variable Camber Continuous Trailing Edge Flap for Performance Adaptive Aeroelastic Wing

This paper summarizes the recent development of an adaptive aeroelastic wing shaping control technology called variable camber continuous trailing edge flap (VCCTEF). As wing flexibility increases, aeroelastic interactions with aerodynamic forces and moments become an increasingly important consideration in aircraft design and aerodynamic performance. Furthermore, aeroelastic interactions with flight dynamics can result in issues with vehicle stability and control. The initial VCCTEF concept was developed in 2010 by NASA under a NASA Innovation Fund study entitled “Elastically Shaped Future Air Vehicle Concept,” which showed that highly flexible wing aerodynamic surfaces can be elastically shaped in-flight by active control of wing twist and bending deflection in order to optimize the spanwise lift distribution for drag reduction. A collaboration between NASA and Boeing Research & Technology was subsequently funded by NASA from 2012 to 2014 to further develop the VCCTEF concept.
Technical Paper

Microgravity Root Zone Hydration Systems

Accurate root zone moisture control in microgravity plant growth systems is problematic. With gravity, excess water drains along a vertical gradient, and water recovery is easily accomplished. In microgravity, the distribution of water is less predictable and can easily lead to flooding, as well as anoxia. Microgravity water delivery systems range from solidified agar, water-saturated foams, soils and hydroponics soil surrogates including matrix-free porous tube delivery systems. Surface tension and wetting along the root substrate provides the means for adequate and uniform water distribution. Reliable active soil moisture sensors for an automated microgravity water delivery system currently do not exist. Surrogate parameters such as water delivery pressure have been less successful.
Technical Paper

Reactive Carbon from Life Support Wastes for Incinerator Flue Gas Cleanup

This paper presents the results from a joint research initiative between NASA Ames Research Center and Lawrence Berkeley National lab. The objective of the research is to produce activated carbon from life support wastes and to use the activated carbon to adsorb and chemically reduce the NOx and SO2 contained in incinerator flue gas. Inedible biomass waste from food production is the primary waste considered for conversion to activated carbon. Results to date show adsorption of both NOx and SO2 in activated carbon made from biomass. Conversion of adsorbed NOx to nitrogen has also been observed.
Technical Paper

A Testbed for the Mars Returned Sample Handling Facility

Samples of Mars surface material will return to Earth in 2014. Prior to curation and distribution to the scientific community the returned samples will be isolated in a special facility until their biological safety has been assessed following protocols established by NASA’s Planetary Protection Office. The primary requirements for the pre-release handling of the Martian samples include protecting the samples from the Earth and protecting the Earth from the sample. A testbed will be established to support the design of such a facility and to test the planetary protection protocols. One design option that is being compared to the conventional Biological Safety Level 4 facility is a double walled differential pressure chamber with airlocks and automated equipment for analyzing samples and transferring them from one instrument to another.
Technical Paper

Pressure-Sensitive Paint Technology Applied to Low-Speed Automotive Testing

Pressure-sensitive paint (PSP) technology is a technique used to experimentally determine surface pressures on models during wind tunnel tests. The key to this technique is a specially formulated pressure-sensitive paint that responds to, and can be correlated with the local air pressure. Wind tunnel models coated with pressure-sensitive paint are able to yield quantitative pressure data on an entire model surface in the form of light intensity values in recorded images. Quantitative results in terms of pressure coefficients (Cp) are obtained by correlating PSP data with conventional pressure tap data. Only a small number of surface taps are needed to be able to obtain quantitative pressure data with the PSP method. This technique is gaining acceptance so that future automotive wind tunnel tests can be done at reduced cost by eliminating most of the expensive pressure taps from wind tunnel models.