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Technical Paper

Potato Tuber Formation and Metabolism in the Spaceflight Environment

Five potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) leaf cuttings were flown on STS-73 in late October, 1995 as part of the 16-day USML-2 mission. Pre-flight studies were conducted to study tuber growth, determine carbohydrate concentrations and examine the developing starch grains within the tuber. In these tests, tubers attained a fresh weight of 1.4 g tuber-1 after 13 days. Tuber fresh mass was significantly correlated to tuber diameter. Greater than 60% of the tuber dry mass was starch and the starch grains varied in size from 2 to 40 mm in the long axis. For the flight experiment, cuttings were obtained from seven-week-old Norland potato plants, kept at 5°C for 12 hours then planted into arcillite in the ASTROCULTURE™ flight hardware. The flight package was loaded on-board the orbiter 22 hours prior to launch.
Technical Paper

Performance Evaluation of the Commercial Plant Biotechnology Facility

The demand for highly flexible manipulation of plant growth generations, modification of specific plant processes, and genetically engineered crop varieties in a controlled environment has led to the development of a Commercial Plant Biotechnology Facility (CPBF). The CPBF is a quad-middeck locker playload to be mounted in the EXPRESS Rack that will be installed in the International Space Station (ISS). The CPBF integrates proven ASTROCULTURE” technologies, state-of-the-art control software, and fault tolerance and recovery technologies together to increase overall system efficiency, reliability, robustness, flexibility, and user friendliness. The CPBF provides a large plant growing volume for the support of commercial plant biotechnology studies and/or applications for long time plant research in a reduced gravity environment.
Technical Paper

Control of Grasping Force in Teleoperation Using Model Reference Adaptive Approach

The adaptation to changes in human operator dynamics and changes in working environment dynamics can be an important issue in designing high performance telerobotic systems. This paper describes an approach to force control in telerobotic hand systems in which model reference adaptive control techniques are used to adapt to changes in human operator and working environment dynamics. The techniques have been applied to force-reflective control of a single degree-of-freedom telerobotic gripper system at Wisconsin Center for Space Automation and Robotics (WCSAR). This adaptive gripping system is described in the paper along with results of experiments with human subjects in which the performance of the adaptive system was analysed and compared to the performance of a conventional non-adaptive system. These experiments emphasized adaptation to changes in compliance of gripped objects and adaptation to the on-set of human operator fatigue.
Technical Paper

A Matrix-Based Porous Tube Water and Nutrient Delivery System

A system was developed which provides nutrients and water to plants while maintaining good aeration at the roots and preventing water from escaping in reduced gravity. The nutrient solution is circulated through porous tubes under negative pressure and moves through the tube wall via capillary forces into the rooting matrix, establishing a non-saturated condition in the root zone. Tests using prototypes of the porous tube water and nutrient delivery system indicate that plant productivity in this system is equivalent to standard soil and solution culture growing procedures. The system has functioned successfully in short-term microgravity during parabolic flight tests and will be flown on the space shuttle. Plants are one of the components of a bioregenerative life support system required for long duration space missions.
Technical Paper

High Resolution In-Cylinder Scalar Field Measurements during the Compression and Expansion Strokes

High-resolution planar laser-induced fluorescence (PLIF) measurements were performed on the scalar field in an optical engine. The measurements were of sufficient resolution to fully resolve all of the length scales of the flow field through the full cycle. The scalar dissipation spectrum was calculated, and by fitting the results to a model turbulent spectrum the Batchelor scale of the turbulent flow was estimated. The scalar inhomogeneity was introduced by a low-momentum gas jet injection. A consistent trend was observed in all data; the Batchelor scale showed a minimum value at top dead center (TDC) and was nearly symmetric about TDC. Increasing the engine speed resulted in a decrease of the Batchelor scale, and the presence of a shroud on the intake valve, which increased the turbulence intensity, also reduced the Batchelor scale. The effect of the shrouded valve was less significant compared to the effect of engine speed.
Technical Paper

Design of a Hydraulic Wheel Pump/Motor for a Hydrostatic Automobile

Using a low-speed high-torque (LSHT) pump/motor to provide the speed range and torque for a hydrostatic automobile offers a number of advantages over using a high-speed low-torque pump/motor, combined with a gear reducer. However, there appear to be no LSHT units commercially available that have true variable displacement capability. Because of this void, a variable displacement pump/motor has been designed and built that could provide a direct drive for each wheel of a hydrostatic automobile. The unit uses some components such as the cylinder block, piston and modified rotating case from a commercially available radial piston pump/motor. Initial preliminary testing of the pump/motor indicates that it has good efficiency and performance characteristics, and, with further development should be very attractive for automotive use. This paper focuses on the design and kinematics of the device.
Technical Paper

Adapting Farm Equipment for Workers with Disabilities

Farm workers experience a very high incidence of injuries leading to physical and cognitive (strokes, TBI) disabilities. Since 1991, the AgrAbility Project 2 and its staff have provided direct assistance and education to many U.S. farmers and farm workers. If farmers, ranchers or farm workers who become disabled continue to be employed in agriculture, often their agricultural operation must be modified and/or agricultural machinery must be modified or adaptive equipment purchased to meet their new needs. Some common tractor modifications include operator lifts, hand controls, added/modified steps and handrails, automated hitches, and custom seating. Some modifications are commercially available but others are done on an individual need basis. AgrAbility staff would welcome the opportunity to work closer with farm equipment manufacturers to create modifications that would make farming and ranching easier and safer for all.