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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

SMURRF - A Robotic Facility for Space Based Science Operations

Automation of space-based scientific operations minimizes the crew time needs for experiments while increasing the efficiency and quality of science operations. ORBITEC has completed the development of a space qualifiable prototype of a Shared Multi-Use Remote Robotics Facility (SMURRF). SMURRF, sized for a Middeck Locker (MDL) application, provides a simple, flexible, and functional manipulator to assist space operations, in manned or unmanned modes, carried out in lockers or racks onboard the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station (ISS). It will be primarily operated in an automated mode with additional remote command/control capability from the ground or from space. Ground trials have demonstrated that many operations can be autonomously performed without the presence of a human operator.
Technical Paper

Control and Monitoring of Environmental Parameters in the ASTROCULTURE™ Flight Experiment

The ASTROCULTURE™ (ASC) middeck flight experiment series was developed to test and integrate subsystems required to grow plants in reduced gravity, with the goal of developing a plant growth unit suitable for conducting quality biological research in microgravity. Flights on the Space Shuttle have demonstrated control of water movement through a particulate rooting material, growth chamber temperature and humidity control, LED lighting systems and control, recycling of recovered condensate, ethylene scrubbing, and carbon dioxide control. A complete plant growth unit was tested on STS-63 in February 1995, the first ASC flight in which plant biology experiments were conducted in microgravity. The methods and objectives used for control of environmental conditions in the ASC unit are described in this paper.
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

Humidity and Temperature Control in the ASTROCULTURE™ Flight Experiment

The ASTROCULTURE™ (ASC) middeck flight experiment series was developed to test subsystems required to grow plants in reduced gravity, with the goal of developing a plant growth unit suitable for conducting quality biological research in microgravity. Previous Space Shuttle flights (STS-50 and STS-57) have successfully demonstrated the ability to control water movement through a particulate rooting matrix in microgravity and the ability of LED lighting systems to provide high levels of irradiance without excessive heat build-up in microgravity. The humidity and temperature control system used in the middeck flight unit is described in this paper. The system controls air flow and provides dehumidification, humidification, and condensate recovery for a plant growth chamber volume of 1450 cm3.
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

Results of Plasma-Generated Hydrophilic and Antimicrobial Surfaces for Fluid Management Applications

Humidity control within confined spaces is of great importance for existing NASA environmental control systems and Exploration applications. The Engineered Multifunction Surfaces (MFS) developed in this STTR Phase II form the foundation for a modular and scalable Distributed Humidity Control System (DHCS) while minimizing power, size and mass requirements. Key innovations of the MFS-based DHCS include passive humidity collection, control, and phase separation without moving parts, durable surface properties without particulate generation and accumulation, and the ability to scale up, or network in a distributed manner, a compact, modular device for Exploration applications including space suits, CEV, Rovers, Small and Transit Habitats and Large Habitats.
Technical Paper

Submerged Electrical Discharges for Water Decontamination and Disinfection

A modular and scalable Dense Medium Plasma Water Purification Reactor was developed, which uses atmospheric-pressure electrical discharges under water to generate highly reactive species to break down organic contaminants and microorganisms. Key benefits of this novel technology include: (i) extremely high efficiency in both decontamination and disinfection; (ii) operating continuously at ambient temperature and pressure; (iii) reducing demands on the containment vessel; and (iv) requiring no consumables. This plasma based technology was developed to replace the catalytic reactor being used in the planned International Space Station Water Processor Assembly.
Journal Article

Stator Side Voltage Regulation of Permanent Magnet Generators

Permanent magnet AC generators are robust, inexpensive, and efficient compared to wound-field synchronous generators with brushless exciters. Their application in variable-speed applications is made difficult by the variation of the stator voltage with shaft speed. This paper presents the use of stator-side reactive power injection as a means of regulating the stator voltage. Design-oriented analysis of machine performance for this mode of operation identifies an appropriate level of machine saliency that enables excellent terminal voltage regulation over a specified speed and load range, while minimizing stator current requirements. This paper demonstrates that the incorporation of saliency into the permanent magnet generator can significantly reduce the size of the reactive current source that is required to regulate the stator voltage during operation over a wide range of speeds and loads.