CFD-based reduced order modeling (ROM) has been an active research area, as they can be used directly with common linear flutter analysis tools. Among them, linearized reduced-order modeling approaches rely on linearization of the nonlinear unsteady aerodynamic flow equations, assuming that the amplitude of the unsteady motion is limited to small perturbations about the nonlinear steady-state flow condition. Various approaches of linearized ROMs, such as Auto-Regressive-Moving-Average (ARMA), first order Volterra Kernel, Impulse Response method, etc., can be broadly found in literature. However, few of them are geared towards the controller design oriented plant modeling, i.e., to obtain a plant model with control surface actuator modeling and gust excitations, and various types of sensor definitions including sectional/component load monitoring capability. In light of this, ZONA proposes to develop a discrete time state-space aeroservoelastic modeling technique with component load monitoring using NASA developed high fidelity Navier-Stokes flow solver, FUN3D. The subspace realization algorithm will be utilized to identify the individual aerodynamic systems, i.e., due to the structural deformations (modal coordinates), control surface deflections and discrete gust, respectively. The dataset needed for the aerodynamic system identifications are obtained by a wrapper program, called OVERFUN, driving the underlying FUN3D solver. OVERFUN’s trim or static aeroelastic analysis solution will provide an initial background solution accounting for static aeroelastic effects. This unique initial flow solution sets the proposed efforts apart from other research work where an initial flow around rigid configurations is normally assumed. Once all three sub aerodynamic system are identified, they are coupled with the structural equation of motion represented in modal space and actuator models to yield the conventional state-space forms of aeroelastic model and plant model.
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 ASE plant model generation can be applied to many categories of flight vehicles including blended wing-bodies, joined wings, sub/supersonic transports, morphing aircraft, space planes, reusable launch vehicles, and similar revolutionary concepts pursued. Hence, the proposed research and its outcomes will be highly needed for designing the next generation of civil as well as 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. Leveraging on significant advancements by the proposing team in prior research, this Phase I effort will initiate a new frontier of ‘engineering intelligence’ to further ASE ROM development, including several emerging techniques: genetic algorithm optimization-guided ROMs, data-driven ROM for nonlinear aeroelasticity and gust response analysis, online determination of critical flight conditions and in-situ PROM database development while modeling, CFD computation, and ROM are in progress. A modular software framework will be established for automated PROM generation and optimization, consistent state enforcement, adaptive parameter space sampling, and database population. The feasibility of the proposed technology will be demonstrated for ASE problems of NASA interest (e.g., High-speed ASE, X-56A MUTT, etc.). The Phase II effort will focus on: (1) PROM engine optimization in terms of execution efficiency, robustness, and autonomy; and (2) direct integration of the ‘intelligent’ environment into NASA workflow; and process automation of modeling, simulation, and control synthesis for technology insertion and transition; and (3) extensive software validation and demonstration for ASE and flight control analysis of realistic aircrafts of current 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 are vast, and will focus on aerospace, aircraft, and watercraft engineering for fluid-structural interaction and fatigue analysis, real-time flow control and optimization, hardware-in-loop simulation, and others. The proposed development would provide a powerful tool to generate fast ROMs, which can be used for (1) fault diagnostics and optimized design; (2) design and planning of simulations and experiments, and (2) development of advanced control strategies.
In response to NASA SBIR topic A1.02 Quiet Performance – Propulsion Noise Reduction Technology, the team of Techsburg, AVEC, and Ampaire proposes implementation and design application of a low-order noise modeling tool for installed ducted fan-rotor aerodynamic and acoustic analysis. Named the “Installed Ducted-Fan Noise Model” (IDFNM), and following after Techsburg/AVEC’s work in noise modeling for pusher propellers, this tool will offer early-stage design analysis support for installed ducted fan-rotor propulsion systems by capturing the aerodynamic unsteady loading and noise sources resulting from inflow distortion or non-uniform inflow. This tool is well suited for highly integrated and innovative propulsion airframe integration concepts, such as boundary layer ingesting fan configurations. Application of this tool will focus on a highly-efficient design for Ampaire’s TailWind electric aircraft. In collaboration with Ampaire, Techsburg and AVEC will work to design an optimized first-generation BLI ducted fan for the TailWind passenger aircraft. During Phase I, Techsburg and AVEC will work on design tool maturation, and also conduct a propulsor design trade study, complete with aerodynamic and acoustic predictions, for the TailWind aft-mounted, boundary layer ingesting ducted fan. Phase II work will include an anechoic wind tunnel test program for validation of prediction tools over a range of operating conditions and the delivery of an integrated low-order noise prediction software package for the "Installed Ducted-Fan Noise Model”.
The ultimate deliverable of the proposed work is the "Installed Ducted-Fan Noise Model” (IDFNM) which will contribute to NASA's Advanced Air Transport Technology Program and related work as it seeks to improve on conventional aircraft performance and noise emissions. Furthermore, this proposal features focused design work on the Ampaire Tailwind, an aircraft with a BLI ducted fan propulsor in the 500-kW class that is aligned well with NASA’s development goals and X-57 roadmap.
Noise from non-uniform flow ingestion into rotating fans is a fundamental engineering problem. The application of inflow distortion noise modeling has many uses apart from ducted fan design and development. These applications include HVAC fan systems, cooling fans, turbomachinery, marine propulsion, impeller/blower cage designs, and commercial products that utilize blowers and fans to move air. These will be investigated as potential markets for the technology and design approach.
Our long-term vision is to seamlessly integrate resolvent operator-based spectral analysis into Cascade’s high-fidelity large eddy simulation (LES) environment, for accurate prediction and efficient modeling of supersonic jet noise from complex nozzles. Resolvent analysis is a frequency-domain technique that can identify resonance phenomena such as jet screech and other tonal acoustic effects, predict the large-scale coherent structures that are the main source of aft angle jet noise, and that provides, at the same time, sensitivity maps that can be used for optimal sensor or actuator placement for noise control. Cascade’s LES framework features a novel mesh generation paradigm based on the computation of Voronoi diagrams, which allows for the generation of high-quality, body-fitted, conformal meshes and the use of low-dissipation numerical methods required for high fidelity large eddy simulations of multi-scale turbulent flows in complex geometries. We project that the combination of the Voronoi-based LES and resolvent analysis can be successfully commercialized by assuming a role similar to that of modal analysis in solid mechanics. In Phase I, we propose the case of a heated supersonic over-expanded turbulent jet issuing from a circular convergent-divergent nozzle as a testbed for both Cascade’s Voronoi-based LES framework and a resolvent analysis tool provided by Caltech as a subcontractor. The first task is to implement and validate shock-capturing capabilities into both the resolvent tool and LES compressible flow solver “Charles”. Armed with the large-eddy simulation data, The second task is to conducte a detailed resolvent analysis of the over-expanded turbulent jet, with special emphasis on broadband aft angle and tonal shock-induced noise. In parallel, the final task is to perform a proof-of-concept simulation for an airframe-integrated nozzle, as a demonstration of the meshing and prediction capabilities for complex geometries.
The supersonic over-expanded turbulent jet test case proposed as a testbed for our numerical method mimics the take-off operation conditions of supersonic commercial aircraft such as NASA’s Quiet Supersonic Transport design. Other technologies that potentially benefit from resonance mechanism identification include the chemical thrusters and rocket boosters used by NASA's Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System.
Jet noise and flow-induced vibrations affect the surrounding structures and flight deck crew on aircraft carriers. Our envisioned simulation and analysis tools are therefore ideally suited to guide the aeroacoustical design and optimization of Naval aviation programs. Similarly, passive noise mitigation measures used in the commercial aviation sector such as chevrons can benefit from our developments.
Exhaust emissions from civil subsonic aircraft are the most significant source of pollution in the higher troposphere and lower stratosphere. However, reducing NOx emissions is at odds with turbine engine efficiency and performance: increasing thermal efficiency by boosting the pressure ratio in an engine by 30% leads to a 5% decrease in fuel consumption, but a 100% increase in NOx emissions. Accordingly, the aerospace industry is seeking methods to reduce NOx and CO2 emissions while maintaining or improving current turbine engine efficiency and power.
This proposal furthers the development of Thermatin, a novel germanate-based thermal barrier coating (TBC) top-coat material with phase stability to 1800C+. Thermatin’s high temperature phase stability enables a potential 200C+ increase in allowable TBC surface temperatures in aircraft and industrial turbine engines over today’s standard. This increase would directly support lower energy requirements for active cooling in lean-burn engines, reduced NOx and CO2 emissions, and improved overall engine efficiency.
Germanate-based TBCs have previously been demonstrated to meet target parameters established by the turbine engine industry for use in next-generation high efficiency/low-emission turbine engines, including high temperature phase stability, low intrinsic thermal conductivity, low density and high coefficient of linear thermal expansion. The proposed effort aims to demonstrate high temperature phase stability in thin coating form and optimization for resistance to CMAS attack. Our research efforts will be directed toward meeting performance requirements in the following areas: 1. establishing deposition parameters that produce phase stable Thermatin coatings with standard morphology using electron beam physical vapor deposition (EB-PVD), 2. demonstrating high temperature phase stability in thin-coating form, and 3) demonstrating high temperature structural stability when exposed to CMAS contaminants.
This proposal directly addresses the NASA directorate goals and the Durability and Protective Coatings Branch goals for decreasing NOx and CO2 emissions in advanced combustion engines while preserving or increasing engine efficiency. Thermatin also aligns with several non-emission focused projects within NASA's sub-divisions, including the Entry System and Technology Division's contributions to the design and material properties for the SpaceX Dragon capsule re-entry system.
Thermal barrier coatings will play a key role in enabling future emissions reductions and efficiency gains as a result of improved combustion techniques. Germanate-based TBCs with high temperature phase stability and low thermal conductivity are an ideal candidate to meet the market need for coatings that support the stringent requirements of tomorrow’s gas turbine engines for commercial aviation and industrial use.
This proposal will develop a plasma-assisted modification to a lean direct injected (LDI) combustor to control combustion instabilities and enable clean, compact combustion. Controlling combustion dynamics in jet engine combustors continues to be a major challenge especially in advanced engine designs where, due to leaner flames, less cooling air and more turbulent injectors, there is a higher potential for damaging combustion dynamics.turbine. Various active combustion control methods have been demonstrated for improving combustion stability in jet engines but they have not found wide-spread commercial use.
Moreover, plasma has been shown to be a promising tool for improving flame stabilization. The rapid actuation time and authority of plasma discharges also make plasma an attractive actuator for active combustion control. Plasma can both improve both static stability via kinetic enhancement of reaction pathways and dynamic stability, especially if configured in a closed-loop configuration. Plasmas have already been demonstrated in literature to have positive effects on combustion dynamics. However, further work is necessary to understand the dynamics of flame response to plasma’s, particularly at realistic conditions. To this end, this proposal will use explore a novel method of using plasma as an active control actuator in an LDI combustor to enable reduced emissions and operation at conditions which would have otherwise been unstable. This combustor and its control system will be characterized both at atmospheric pressure as well as at high pressure and high temperature conditions representative of idle and sub idle in a modern jet engine. Various optical and acoustic diagnostics will be used to quantify the effectiveness of the plasma-assisted control system. If this work is successful, it will significantly de-risk the technology and enable partnerships with major engine manufacturers to bring this technology to market.
The proposed technology can be applied to rocket engines to improve ignition on green propellants and control over combustion dynamics in these systems. This technology also has applications in enabling low emission supersonic transports as well as low NOx, compact, fuel flexible combustors for civil aviation.
In other embodiments, this technology can also be used to improve ignition and combustion stability for scramjet-powered vehicles which may be used for responsive space access.
This technology has significant non-NASA applications as well. The technology is readily applicable to reducing emissions, fuel consumption and engine size for both civil and military jet engines.
The technology can also be applied to gas turbine engines for power generation to improve fuel flexibility, reduce emisisons and reduce maintinance costs associated with combustion dynamics.
The overall objective of this SBIR project is the development of a novel concept for low emissions: a lean fully premixed (LFP) combustor for high overall pressure ratio small core engines. In order to achieve this major objective, a three-unit fully premixed injector has been conceptualized and proposed. Phase I scope includes design and demonstration of this injector, which will be composed of three units. The first component will execute complete fuel vaporization by heating from the hot compressed air while the second component ensures rapid and efficient premixing and the third component generates robust stability associated with a fully premixed flame. The issues of auto-ignition, flashback, static and dynamic combustion instabilities will be addressed during the design of the LFP injector. Theoretical, computational, and reduced-order modeling analyses will be utilized to design the LFP injector during Phase I. Phase II will focus on the rigorous testing of this technology as well as design refinement and optimization to be integrated with a relevant gas-turbine engine.
NASA is leading effort in Aeronautics to minimize the impact of aircraft transportation on pollutants emissions and to satisfy future FAA regulations on emissions. In this context, this technology will have significant NASA potential applications. Implementation within any engine is anticipated to reduce emissions and enhance combustion stability without compromising cold ignition, durability or cost of ownership.
Non-NASA commercial applications of a LFP injector/combustor are significant as it can be retrofit within commercial/military aircraft/rotorcraft gas turbine engines to lower emissions. Other applications include electricity generation land-based gas turbines manufacturers.
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 nozzle to meet the noise goals for NASA’s N+2/N+3 aircraft. We propose to extend the Reynold Averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) based models developed at University of California, Irvine, that have been shown to accurately predict noise for nozzles 3D, multi-stream nozzles. Our proposed method will allow for accurate and rapid prediction of acoustic emission on engineering workstation-class computers, enabling design engineers to perform acoustic optimization while preserving aerodynamic performance. Our competent team has over 60 years of combined experience in jet noise and has the expertise to ensure that an accurate RANS-based noise model is developed by the end of Phase II along with a working acoustic optimization tool that is usable by engineers and compatible with NASA’s design framework.
The proposed 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. This technology is directly relevant to NASA’s Advanced Air Vehicle Program. Incorporating our 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 could certainly be of use to develop quieter DoD relevant nozzles that meet their desired mission criteria. In addition, the aerospace companies that will actually design and build future aircraft and engines will have a use for our proposed tool.
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 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. In this Phase 1 proposal, we seek to demonstrate the feasibility of using the exact discrete adjoint of a coupled RANS-JeNo turbulent noise prediction methodology for optimizing far-field acoustic objectives of jet noise. Based on our previous experience developing an unsteady RANS-FWH (Ffowcs Williams-Hawkings) far-field acoustic optimization capability, the Phase 1 proposal targets the formulation of the turbulence noise source terms used by the JeNo code, along with the discrete adjoint of these terms within an existing adjoint-enabled RANS solver. The immediate goal will be to demonstrate the possibility of reducing these noise sources through nozzle shape optimization. In Phase 2, this capability will be linked with the NASA JeNo code, and the remaining terms for the formulation of the discrete adjoint of the coupled RANS-JeNo simulation capability will be implemented and used to perform optimization of far-field noise signatures for realistic nozzle configurations. By targeting the specific terms that drive the noise propagation in the JeNo formulation, our Phase 1 approach will demonstrate the feasibility of using a fully coupled RANS-JeNo code for cost-effective gradient-based jet noise optimization.
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 LLC and will be marketed to existing and potential new customers. The proposed 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, which may be introduced in combination with these other disciplines.
In this work we propose to further develop and demonstrate a mesh generation approach based on clipped Voronoi diagrams. This approach to mesh generation has the potential to significantly improve performance and robustness, while retaining important elements of high quality meshes including boundary alignment, stretching, and element regularity. Clipped Voronoi diagrams also automatically de-feature the underlying geometry at the local resolution of the generating points, and can thus significantly impact the problem of CAD clean-up and defeaturing.
The mathematical properties of Voronoi diagrams enable highly scalable mesh generation, since the global mesh is uniquely defined yet each individual cell can be constructed with only local information. Importantly the Voronoi paradigm reduces the problem of mesh generation to the much simpler problem of specifying the locations (point cloud) where the solution will be sampled. The actual mesh (volumes, faces, topology, neighbor connectivity) is simply a unique mathematical consequence of this choice. This dramatically simplifies control over local mesh resolution - an important consideration for automation and high-fidelity simulations. Additionally, the discretization of the boundary surface is independent from the near-boundary mesh resolution, allowing arbitrary coarsening or refinement relative to the local surface length scales. The impact of leveraging these benefits in mesh generation will be a dramatic reduction in the time and human interaction required to generate quality meshes for high-fidelity applications.
Understanding solution sensitivity to the point cloud parameters is the technical objective of the current proposal. We will asses solution sensitivity with respect to three different aspects related to the spatial arrangement of the point cloud. The cases investigated are relevant building blocks for aerodynamic problems of interest, i.e., the NASA Juncture Flow experiments.
Stitch's high-quality Voronoi meshes would benefit any solver utilizing polyhedral elements. Phase II will produce tools, specifically tetrahedral meshing and quadratures on regular polyhedra, that could benefit NASA's FEM solver, FUN3D, as well as it's DG and spectral-element solver, eddy. Charles, Cascade's massively parallel, low-dissipation multi-physics LES solver, leverages the properties of Voronoi meshes for accurate multi-physics, multiscale LES simulations could serve NASA engineers.
Consumers utilizing Charles (e.g., gas-turbine sector of General Electric, aerothermodyanmics research at Honda, and fuel-injection research at Bosch) would benefit from the mesh efficiencies gained through our Phase I. Through demonstrations of mesh/solution quality, speed, scalability and workflow ease, we aim to increase the pool of consumers by making the push from a research and analysis framework to a true design tool.
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 proposes to develop 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
Other government agencies, interested in unconventional aircraft, such as the Air Force, may use this tool for programs such as N-MAS and AAW or to reduce costs of T&E (AF T&E program). 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
The goal of the project is to develop a mathematically rigorous, multi-fidelity surrogate modeling (MFSM) methodology to consolidate experimental and computational aerodynamic data into integrated databases with quantifiable uncertainty. The salient aspects of the proposed solution are: (1) a hierarchical MFSM formulation to encapsulate local response surface modeling, model adaptation/fusion, interpolation/blending, and uncertainty quantification onto a holistic platform; (2) a suite of surrogate modeling techniques to capture the local aerodynamic behavior around the operating points; (3) formal adaptation/fusion techniques to bridge the gap of fidelity and merge data from multiple sources; (4) a global data interpolation strategy to stitch the local models for accurate prediction in a broad flight parameter space; and (5) a modular software framework to automate the process and facilitate integration with NASA’s data analysis workflow. In Phase I, all key components will be designed and developed. Feasibility will be demonstrated via case studies of NASA interest, in which computational, wind tunnel, and flight test data will be analyzed and merged using the developed software and its performance (e.g., accuracy, reliability, data compatibility, and integrability) will be assessed. The Phase II effort will focus on capability extension, algorithm optimization, technology integration/insertion, and extensive validation and demonstration.
The proposed tool will (1) determine in-situ interactions between flight loads and states; (2) identify primary contributions to load generation; (3) reconcile differences in flight tests; and (4) combine data from various sources for consistent representation. The tool will enhance computational modeling, data analytics, and decision-making capabilities, benefiting NASA projects like High Speed Aeroservoelasticity, and Multi-Use Technology Testbed.
Other markets include aerospace, aircraft, and watercraft engineering utilizing data analysis and test, i.e., USAF, MDA, Navy, aircraft, and automotive industry. The project would contribute by enabling accurate, rapid, data analysis, modeling, and prediction, for (1) simulations for concept evaluation, and optimized design; (2) on-site system diagnostics, (3) parameter sensitivity and correlation analysis; and (4) optimizing test procedures.
The topic defines the problem as the development and demonstration of computationally efficient tools capable of modeling sound propagation in an urban environment for creating auralizations of UAM vehicles. The tools would be suitable for eventual integration with the NASA Auralization Framework (NAF).
The topic requires a set of modules to be delivered which will integrate with existing NAF infrastructure to efficiently find acoustic propagation paths in a complicated modeled urban environment and deliver them to the path traverser module. Delivered modules will include a pathfinder module, a source module, and a terrain module.
The pathfinder module will need to be capable of finding paths which represent all relevant physical acoustic wave propagation phenomena in the environment. The primary acoustic phenomena to be addressed within the pathfinder module are specular reflection and diffusion, with the ability to add atmospheric refraction in the future.
In addition to a pathfinder module, a method of integrating directional source radiation will be provided. The source model will be fed through a bank of FIR filters arranged spatially, allowing for frequency dependent directional radiation. Otherwise, the source model could be computed in the frequency domain, by computing the spectrum of each direction, applying to the spectrum of the source, and then generating the source audio via an inverse Fourier transform. Relevant benefits and detriments of each material will be reported on during the phase I effort.
An improved terrain model will be implemented as well, which allows for the storage of urban-scale complex environments. Work will be done to find high quality sources of data to populate the environments, including sources like the cityGML project.
*Improved assessment community impact of urban aircraft related noise
*Improved assessment of community impact of sonic boom
*Improved assessment of large building internal noise
*Improved acoustic evaluation method for airframe designers
*Improved acoustic evaluation method for airframe customer
*Improve shot detection system performance
*Incorporation of aerial vehicles in the Army's Urban Multi-Modal Simulator
*Improved assessment of community impact of military range operations
*Improved acoustic evaluation method for product designers
*Improved acoustic evaluation method for customers
*Improved acoustic evaluation for civil and city layout engineers
A major innovative thrust in urban air mobility (UAM) is underway that will potentially transform how we travel by providing on-demand, affordable, quiet, and fast passenger-carrying operations in metropolitan areas. As cited in the NASA SBIR A1.06 topic solicitation, “Growth of UAM is dependent on affordable, low-noise VTOL configurations, which may be enabled by electric aircraft propulsion technologies.” To support this, NASA implemented the DELIVER (Design Environment for Novel Vertical Lift Vehicles) program to help “… bring 100 years of aeronautics knowledge to the new entrepreneur’s desktop with a design environment for emerging vertical lift vehicles.” DELIVER identified a key gap in technology required by UAM vehicle developers – “no current ability to account for noise in conceptual design”. The proposed effort is directed toward filling this technology gap by enhancing state-of-the-art rotary-wing aeroacoustics analysis with the key additional modeling capabilities needed for comprehensive acoustic prediction of Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP) aircraft noise. The new tool will provide fast, accurate prediction of all the acoustic characteristics associated with DEP aircraft, including (1) noise generated by the simultaneous operation of multiple, variable RPM lifting and propelling rotors and props, (including stacked and counter-rotating blades), (2) interacting propeller/duct/airframe noise, (including strut noise and prop/wing interaction noise), (3) full-spectrum broadband noise modeling pertinent to this new class of aircraft, and (4) electric motor noise. The new software will also include auralization capabilities to enhance evaluation of community annoyance due to various acoustics characteristics beyond A-weighted sound pressure level.
The proposed effort directly supports NASA’s ARMD’s SIP strategic thrusts 3 (ultra-efficient sub/transonic aircraft) and 3B (NASA Vertical Lift Strategic Direction) by enabling accurate prediction and optimization of DEP aircraft noise characteristics and sources during the conceptual design phase. As identified by NASA, the lack of this capability is a critical gap impeding the progress of current UAM vehicle development.
CDI collaborates with many UAM vehicle developers who have an immediate need for the proposed analysis capability to predict DEP aircraft noise in the conceptual design phase. Commercialization to these customers would be concurrent with the SBIR effort. The analysis will also be of great value to the DoD and major rotorcraft manufacturers in analyzing acoustic characteristics of future compound aircraft, like the SB>1 Defiant, V-280 Valor, AVX CCH, and Aurora Lightning Strike.
This SBIR Phase I develops hardware and software for energy management in electric VTOL aircraft. It focuses on techniques to ensure short-time-scale stability in power micro-grids, and optimization-based control at somewhat longer (~10-100 ms) time-scales for propulsion system and vehicle control, which is managed by a vehicle Energy Management System (vEMS). Fast optimization and model-based decision making are key to the approach. Experiments will be conducted with a hybrid power plant consisting of an internal combustion engine, an iron-less dual-halbach-array starter motor/generator, and a new 6-phase regenerative motor drive. The project is organized into three Technical Objectives:
TO #1: Reconfigurable Component, Subsystem, and System Topology Models
Reconfigurability is enabled at three levels in the vEMS-controlled system. At the component level, parametric models are used so that components in a new vehicle system or a faulted system can be configured with a parameter list. Subsystems are similarly configured. At the system level, the topology is reconfigurable because of technical conditions (incremental passivity) placed on each component to ensure that the assembled micro-grid is stable regardless of the interconnection. With stable short-time-scale dynamics, the vEMS uses component models to optimally manage interactions on the micro-grid.
TO #2: Incremental Passivity with Application to a 1.5kW Regenerative Drive
LaunchPoint proposes to design a 1.5kW regenerative drive for the 6-phase starter motor/generator such that it is incrementally passive as seen from the bus.
TO #3: Real-Time Optimal Control for Energy Management
The project will make use of a recently developed tool, named TensCalc, that generates specialized C-code for real-time decision and control with up to a few thousand optimization variables/constraints. This fast optimization tool will be at the heart of the vEMS system and enable millisecond time-scale decision making.
This project relates to NASAs efforts in electric and hybrid-electric flight, urban air mobility (UAM) and research in power electronics. NASA vehicles and concepts related to this work are the X-57, GL-10, and SUGAR Volt.
The US Department of Defense and number of companies are developing or have interest in electric and hybrid-electric flight. Commercial entities include Uber, Amazon, Vayu, Elroy Air, Martin Aerospace, Boeing, and numerous others.
Complex and often violent urban wind environments pose a significant challenge to the safety and ride quality for vehicles intended for the Urban Air Mobility (UAM) market. UAM aircraft concepts must have control authority, turbulence rejection, and ride comfort as figures of merit at the forefront of the configuration selection process. However, the evaluation of handling qualities has traditionally been late in the design process when most of a vehicle's characteristics are established. Advanced design methods in early conceptual design are just recently adopting the use of physics-based aircraft dynamics models to identify handling quality metrics and educate the configuration down selection process. Attempts to extend those tools into unique VTOL configurations designed for the UAM market are not ubiquitous due to the increased complexity and diversity of VTOL concepts.
Empirical Systems Aerospace, Inc., (ESAero) will develop a quantitative ride quality assessment methodology and accompanying tool suite to enable the analysis and down-selection of eVTOL configurations during the conceptual design process. ESAero will leverage previous development of 6DoF dynamics simulations of vehicles with distributed electric propulsion (DEP) control authority to integrate handling qualities into the design and configuration process where system level changes are least expensive. Physics-based models in ESAero’s Propulsion Airframe iNTegration for Hybrid Electric Research (PANTHER) tool suite will be extended to scalable dynamics models for the latest eVTOL propulsion technologies such as electric ducted fans (EDF) and small, distributed propellers. ESAero’s recent expansion of OpenVSP/VSPAERO to characterize handling qualities will be utilized in the creation of the dynamics simulations. By leveraging OpenVSP, PANTHER, and physics based 6DoF simulation, this effort will enable rapid evaluation of handling qualities at the forefront of the conceptual design process.
The results of this effort will provide NASA with information on the UAM configuration and propulsion system integration challenges. Information from this study will be directly applicable to the NASA eVTOL reference models. Information from the use of this tool will also become invaluable as airspace traffic management strategies and technologies are developed such as UTM.
The results of this effort can be directly applied to many major commercial efforts such as those being actively pursued by UBER, Joby Aviation, and many others. External to NASA many public agencies can benefit from this analysis including the FAA, local, state, and public agencies. Urban planning agencies can also utilize these results to help reduce extreme wind conditions within city centers.
Future Turboelectric or Hybrid Electric aircraft requires high power density and efficiency power generation components for which superconductors are likely key enablers. Therefore, there is a need for light-weight, high-performance superconducting wire with sufficiently high operating temperature. There has been stated interest in using high temperature superconductors (HTS) such rare earth barium copper oxide (ReBCO) for motors and generators because of many desirable characteristics, including high critical currents, low transient losses, low sensitivity to strain degradation effects and its high critical temperature, which enables the superconducting application to be cooled with a relatively inexpensive and abundant cryogen such as liquid nitrogen.
NASA currently has active projects for designing superconducting rotors using commercially available ReBCO coated conductor. Researchers have recently made significant improvements in the superconductivity of ReBCO coated conductor through advanced metal organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) processes with reported engineering current densities an order of magnitude greater than commercial wire. This demonstrated 10x enhancement in performance will enable higher current carrying capability for the same coated conductor cross section, or equivalently reduce the required amount of tape by approximately 80-90%, thereby significantly reducing the cost of superconducting motor projects at NASA, and likewise, components in a TeDP system.
This proposed Phase I proposal focuses on: 1) verifying and demonstrating the improved superconductivity properties of the ReBCO made from the advanced MOCVD process in tape and coil form, including bend tests, and 2) explore potential coil designs with various insulation options that will improve temperature uniformity and quench detection for full size rotor coils demonstrated in a Phase II effort and for rotor coils developed for future turbo-electric aircraft motor/generators.
Aircraft power components (motors, generators, cables), transformers, inductors, power conditioning equipment, land-based generators and motors, actuators, MHD magnets, propulsion engines and other applications where light weight power components are required.
Superconducting transformers, motors, generators, fault current limiters, DC transmission cables, 4 to 20 MW wind and wave turbine generators, aircraft turbo-generators, offshore oil platform motors, marine propulsion and generation systems, portable emergency power systems, fusion magnets, high energy physics and nuclear physics field-shaping coils for accelerators, and superconducting magnetic energy storage (SMES).
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
We propose the development of a very high specific power integrated electric turbofan directly driven with a high frequency, air-core synchronous motor. If the target specific power is achieved, this technology could increase the viability of turbo-electric airplanes for commercial air transport, leading to significantly lower carbon emissions and energy use in aviation. The key innovation is the use of high fundamental operating frequencies, and a mostly air-core electromagnetic architecture, to obtain high specific power in electrical machines and drives. The aerospace industry employs 400 Hz ‘ac’ to keep component weights low. Hinetics is planning to introduce products that push these frequencies up by an order of magnitude to 3-10 kHz fundamental. The machine is transformed from the traditional metal-intense design to a composite and silicon-intense design. The new architecture is projected to improve machine power density by a factor of two over current best-in-class machines, with simple self-pumped air cooling, while achieving 98% efficiency. Additionally, the radially thin geometry, with simple self-pumped air cooling, lends itself nicely to integration within a ducted turbofan. A proof of concept high frequency MW scale motor has been developed by the University of Illinois under a NASA funded project. The design leverages recent advances in Wide Band-Gap (WBG) power electronic devices to obtain the high fundamental frequency while keeping current and voltage harmonics low. Hinetics LLC will build on this technology to develop an integrated electric tail-cone propulsor for commercial transport aircraft. The key question the team would like to answer within this SBIR Phase I project is whether the high frequency motor can be tightly integrated with a propulsion fan at the scale of NASA's STARC-ABL airplane concept and retain the promised power-to-weight advantages.
The initial target of the proposed technology is in the Tail Cone Thruster of NASA's STARC-ABL airplane concept. More broadly, the high frequency motor being developed could be an attractive choice for use in series hybrid electric propulsors and for integration into parallel hybrid jet engines, and become a viable option for all electric/hyrbid-electric propulsion applications at NASA and the aerospace industry in general.
The tightly integrated electric propulsor concept described in this proposal offers weight and efficiency advantages over a range of power and speeds, the technology could be applied to a number of emerging air vehicle concepts ranging from commercial transport airplanes to on-demand mobility vehicles.
Future hybrid aircraft, such as NASA’s N3-X plan, will require all-superconducting electric motors and generators in order to achieve power density in excess of 10 kW/kg. Unlike the DC rotor, the stator must operate in AC mode, for example, from 0-0.5 T at 120 Hz, making it impossible to use high temperature superconducting (HTS) tapes due to their high losses in transient fields, requiring instead HTS in narrow wire, fine-filament form and cabled into a low-loss 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 is in turn comprised of our novel, strong, low loss, small diameter 2212 wires – not wide tapes, where the wires are sufficiently narrow, have sufficiently fine filaments with enhanced matrix resistances between them, and axial twist for the required low losses in transient field conditions while providing the operating current density and field distributions at 20 K for achieving > 10 kW/kg specific power that has been specified in NASA Subtopic A1.07. As the first step, an optimized, practical design will be developed for an all-superconducting, strong Bi-2212 wire-based machine using a state of the art design approach. As the second step, 2212-based wire and cabled conductor samples for characterization of critical properties will be fabricated in part by building on the results from step one, and also from prior work completed by Solid Material Solutions on reducing ramped field losses in 2212 wires and cables. As the third step, properties of the cables and constituent wires will be tested , including critical current at 20 K and in fields from 0 T to 5 T. As the final step, the results will be utilized to develop a 2212-based conductor, stator and motor design that incorporates features for attaining the target ac loss levels, while also meeting all the other requirements, like strength, Je and manufacturability.
As loss low ac loss cable, stator windings and stator coils for high specific power, high efficiency motors (to 13 kW/kg) such as those specified for the electric airplane propulsion operating at 20K. Additionally:
*Superconducting bus bar
*Magnetic energy storage (SMES)
Significant potential non-NASA commercial applications for this product include:
*High-Field Magnets (> 20 T)
*Ship Propulsion Motors
*Ramped field fusion reactor development magnets like the CS coil
*Magnetic energy storage
*Wind power generator
Current methods for obtaining pressure profiles on airfoils require complex pressure-scanner setups, which are expensive, very time-consuming, have multiple points of potential failure, and physically change the structure/loading on a test airfoil, especially in the case of smaller airfoils. This severely reduces the frequency at which such testing can be done, and the number of airfoils on which such testing can be practically performed.
To address these issues, IEM proposes the Low Profile Aerodynamic Testing Tape (LPATT) derived from and building upon millions of dollars in miniature wireless sensor research and patented and patent-pending technology and innovations. LPATT will be an ultra-thin, easily applied pressure and temperature wireless sensor node (other sensing parameters possible) that can be applied in any location with minimal time and effort and NO modifications to the airframe of any kind, with minimal impact on airstream passage. LPATT will match or exceed current-technology measurement accuracy, be self-powered, will store all information onboard and be capable of either real-time transmission of data or of transmitting the data later on demand, and may be designed with 50 or more pressure sensors with high sampling rates. Data interface between LPATT will be accomplished using a Data Collection Interface System (DCIS) to collect, process, and transmit data to outside systems.
The use of LPATT will drastically reduce the cost and time involved in wind-tunnel and flight test pressure sensing trials and may offer direct benefits in other areas such as providing the data for operation of performance adaptive aeroelastic wing shape controls in future aircraft designs. IEM will work with Dr. Michael Amitay of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, who will provide access to and expertise with a functional laboratory wind tunnel for tests and demonstrations of LPATT prototypes.
It is expected that with the head-start from related projects such as ISStrips IEM will be able to take LPATT to a TRL of 4-5 in Phase I and a TRL of 7 in Phase II. NASA customers for the completed LPATT include Ames, Langley, Glenn, and other installations with aerodynamic research and development that include significant wind tunnel operations and possibly flight testing, where a great deal of time and effort can be saved in the installation and operation of pressure profiling equipment.
Commercial and military aircraft developers and manufacturers represent a larger market, and one that stands to save a huge amount of time and money from such a system. According to Mark Goldhammer, a former Chief Engineer at Boeing’s commercial aircraft division, preparations for large-scale wind tunnel tests using standard pressure scanners cost in the range of one million dollars per test, due to the time and effort of installing the pressure measurement system.
The Interdisciplinary Consulting Corporation (IC2) proposes to develop 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: Aeronautics Ground Test and Measurements Technologies. 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 (a rapidly growing area of research and development) requires compact, accurate measurements of key fluid dynamic 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 workplan includes a test demonstration of the technology on a representative lift/propulsion subsystem using simulated icing shapes on the lifting surfaces.
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. 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. 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. Ceramic springs, principally made of silicon nitride, are capable of functioning throughout that temperature range, but lack the strength required for most applications. They also undergo very limited deformation before failure. TDA will improve the feedstocks and modify the existing process for manufacturing ceramic compression springs. Through improvements to the grain structure, the resulting springs will overcome their previous limitations.
Ceramic compression springs are primarily being developed so that high temperatures seals in the (sc)ramjet engines 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 fo the National Aerospace Plane.
There will be many uses for these high temperatures outside of NASA. Most obviously, certain (single-use) air-breathing hypersonic weapon systems have the same needs as NASA. However, the chemical resistance and high temperature stability of ceramic springs will allownew sealing options in a wide variety of industrial processes. Ceramic springs that allow seals to be made between smaller, simpler pieces of tooling can cut manufacturing costs by obviating the need for larger more complex tooling.
ESAero will develop an Integrated Autonomous Controller (IAC) with Health State Awareness (HSA) which will be capable of detecting, characterizing, and adapting to pre-critical faulty behavior in a distributed electric propulsion system. The proposed system includes a Pixhawk autopilot with Ardupilot software that will be customized with propulsor health state variables and relevant autonomous directives such as limiting the throttle of an at-risk propulsor, a Jetson TX2 module embedded with ESAero’s proprietary fault detection algorithm, and data acquisition system with a suite of low-cost sensors that are to be installed throughout the aircraft. The IAC will be installed on an existing custom hexacopter test platform owned by ESAero and demonstrated in flight with simulated fault events at ESAero’s flight test facility in Oceano, CA. With generality as a key objective of the design, the IAC should be suitable for integration on a wide variety of aircraft requiring only minor modification. The IAC is expected to be a key enabling technology to safer operation of aircraft during flight testing and in-service use. Secondary benefits include Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM) and more efficient operation of hybrid electric propulsion systems.
An Integrated Autonomous Controller (IAC) with health state awareness (HSA) will be useful for flight testing at NASA by increasing system level health awareness. The algorithm itself is agnostic to the data type being analyzed and thus its applicability is not limited to specific system architectures. Consideration for data bus agnosticism will allow the device to interface with a wide variety of command and control system data architectures including ethernet, etherCAT, CAN bus, and more.
HE/AE/DEP systems are becoming more popular in flight research (X-57) and Urban Air Mobility (UAM) and sUAS. This increase in interest, design, and integration has raised serious questions of safety and reliability for complex vehicle architectures that are expected to operate in dense urban environments. The ability to implement the proposed IAC with HSA will increase safety of the vehicle operating in environments where catastrophic failure results in high order damage and loss of life.
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 systems, such as solar, wind, and hybrid/electric vehicles. 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.
Redondo Optics Inc. (ROI), proposes to design, build, bench and fly test, and deliver to NASA an innovative light weight, small-form-factor, ultra-low power, readily reconfigure intelligent wireless fiber optic sensor (iWiSe™) network system suitable for the remote monitoring of multi-dimensional sensing events – strain, temperature, heat-flow, pressure, vibration, acoustics, ultrasound, etc. – measured by a global network of wireless and self-powered iWiSe™ sensing nodes used to interrogate embedded or surface mounted FBG sensors suitable for operation within the extreme environmental conditions and hard to reach inaccessible locations of large space vehicle rocket propulsion systems. In the Phase I program, ROI will develop a laboratory bench top prototype of the Self-Power Intelligent Wireless iWiSe™ sensor network system to demonstrate its capability to measure static and dynamic sensor data using an iWiSe sensing node interrogating a distributed array of multi-dimensional FBG sensing elements positioned within hard to reach and poorly accessible areas of a space vehicle, and to wirelessly transmit the sensor status data to a remote iWiSe™ data logger receiver/gateway connected via wireless/Ethernet network for global access to NASA’s system condition users (operators, customers, management, etc.). In Phase II of ROI will complete the engineering development, produce, extensively laboratory test, environmentally qualify on a relevant rocket space vehicle-like platform, and deliver to NASA a light weight, space-ready, self-power, intelligent wireless WiSe™ sensor network SHM system.
All of NASA's current and future space vehicle programs will benefit significantly from this project, wherein the key technological challenge is to develop methodologies for high fidelity monitoring and characterization of load, stress, strain, flaws, fatigue, and degradation in complex built-up structures.
ROI’s compact, non-intrusive, and cost efficient WiSe™ system is poised to revolutionize the field of wireless fiber optic sensor structural health monitors for aerospace and aircraft applications and to gain a rapid acceptance into the wireless sensor network market, a rapidly emerging, fast-growing, worldwide market valued at over $90 billion by 2023.
Procedures play a large role in successfully operating complex test equipment. They provide step-by-step instructions for system check-out, experimental set-up, test plans, and responding to off-nominal situations. 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, and publishing process.The proposed workflow management system would automatically route new or changed procedures via web servers to reviewers, collect comments and revisions for display back to the procedure author, perform automated procedure verification, and keep an audit trail from procedure development through procedure publication. By tying into the NASA identity management system, electronic sign-off would be more efficient than physical signatures. A simple interface that allows “one click” 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 has an existing electronic procedure platform, PRIDE, that is currently used by many NASA projects, including the X-57 program, and commercial companies. TRACLabs proposes to extend its PRIDE platform by developing an innovative procedure workflow management system that can be customized for each organization.
Aeronautical test procedures for projects such as the X-57 Maxwell
Standard operating procedures for human spaceflight such as Orion or Deep Space Gateway (DSG)
Ground operating procedures for robotics missions such as Resource Prospector or Mars 2020
Ground operating procedures for satellites such as TDRSS
Operating procedures for oil field equipment
Assembly and maintenance procedures for sophisticated equipment such as drill bits or satellites
Commercial space launch and cargo vehicles ground procedures
Petrochemical refining and operations standard operating procedures
Through this SBIR effort, NASA is looking for innovative technology to bolster its flight research capabilities. Particularly, NASA seeks the development of innovative measurement and data acquisition approaches. Mide through a past RIF BAA for Navair, developed a stand-alone high performance data logger for vibration/acceleration, pressure, and temperature. The device, dubbed the Slamstick X, was designed to support F/A-18 flight-testing, and in particular to measure structural vibrations in the aircraft in order to diagnose potential problem areas in the vehicle to guide repair and maintenance needs without the time and cost of traditional wired data acquisition approaches. Mide proposes to develop a wirelessly connected nodal Slamstick array (via wifi). Data from the wifi-enabled Slamstick loggers will be fed to a centralized sbc, base station computer, or flight computer for a more holistic real time estimation of aircraft and sub-component health during aircraft tests.
NASA is very active in aircraft flight-testing, aero-structural testing, simulation, and supporting scientific research with its active test bed aircraft. The proposed effort will be useful for flight testing, lab testing, and possibly for simulation. The Slamstick devices will provide structural information throughout the aircraft, but also provide other data on demand such as pressure and temperature, and inertial measurements via onboard IMU.
Any aircraft or spacecraft test facility could benefit from the development of a wireless Slamstick network architecture. Unmanned aircraft may especially benefit, if health management approaches can be fully hard wired. The effort will be very beneficial to the Air Force and Navy. Automotive testing, and shock testing could also benefit. Industrial applications/plant wide monitoring and process monitoring could also be of interest.
The project consist of the development of a new intelligent flight control system with learning capabilities and a high degree of assurance, that can be certified by the FAA
Machine learning and artificial intelligent research has led to many tangible results and recent developments in cognitive control and decision making. Although automatic flight controllers are widely used and they have become common in recent years, they often lack intelligence, adaptability, and high performance. Reliability of UASs in unforeseen conditions is a direct function of their intelligence and adaptability.
The proposed project aims to take advantage of high-performance computing platforms and the 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 each flight experience and develop intuition to adapt to a high level of uncertainties. To provide a high degree of assurance and to make the learning autopilot system safe and certifiable, a secondary and conventional autopilot system will be integrated based on the run-time assurance architecture. A monitor will be developed to continuously check aircraft states and envelope protection limits, and handover aircraft control to the conventional autopilot system if needed. Provable guarantees of the monitor and the controllers will be provided using formal analysis. The propose a hybrid flight control system which has adaptability and intelligence of skilled pilots and at the same is cable of performing complex analysis and decision making algorithms in real-time. We aim to build and train an artificial neural network model that can mimic the performance of the classical robust optimal controllers, extend the robustness, adaptability, and curiosity of the artificial neural network controller and integrate a Real-Time Assurance (RTA) system.
The autopilots could be used on many of NASA's currently flying UAS's and newly developed systems.
The autopilot can be used on any commercially and military available UAS system.
Airborne software processes are required to comply with existing aviation design assurance level procedures to ensure safety. However, the use of the existing procedures for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) is expensive, slow and not scalable. Cost estimates for certification are around $100-150 per line of code, which drives up cost significantly in any program.
A new tool called Tracer is proposed to manage requirements, from the system-level objectives all the way down to software requirements and the corresponding code and test cases, enabling stakeholders and engineers to identify bidirectional impacts of changes to requirements or system code and test cases. Tracer accomplishes this by:
a) leveraging modern software development best practices such as version control and review process for all artifacts in the process (requirements, test cases, etc., in addition to code)
b) allowing for the entire process to exist within a single tool and platform that builds off of the the git-based systems that engineers already use for development.
Taking the form of a lightweight addin for git, the tool facilitates generation of reports, generation of requirements traceability matrices, visualization of dependency trees, and various enforcements of dependencies and links. The enforcements are especially powerful in easing entry into the world of certified aerospace systems for new entrants to the industry. There are also extensive capabilities to enable rich and transparent cloud-based collaboration, enabling strong links between customers, regulators, performers, and other stakeholders.
Current practices use separate often expensive tools for each part of the chain, with significant costly and error-prone manual overhead required in creating and maintaining links. Tracer is expected to make the certification process more efficient, faster, and less expensive, especially for re-certification efforts integrating updated code by enabling agile verification and validation of changes.
Tracer is a distributed tool accessible and transparent to any number of stakeholders in a project, and has the potential to be used for any large NASA project. Examples of this include developing requirements for UTM or managing requirements for an X-plane program. It also addresses the goals of the Convergent Aeronautics Solutions (CAS) project by introducing software development best practices to aeronautics systems engineering and reducing the cost of certification - a significant barrier.
Tracer is intended for sale to manufacturers of certified systems, which may range from small UAS up to manned Part 25 aircraft. Licensed users will also include other stakeholders (e.g., FAA representatives in a certification effort, program managers owning requirements). An additional opportunity is to provide pre-certified, packaged sets of requirements and test cases. These could be sold to manufacturers to reduce the cost and complexity of in-house requirement building and certification.
We propose to enhance our existing compact optical communications terminal, initially developed under a NASA Select SBIR program, by adding the capability for Quantum Key Distribution (QKD). The addition of QKD ensures secure transmission of encryption keys for encrypted communication with unmanned arial systems. This UAS QKD system could also be used to share keys between two ground locations, allowing point-to-point communication with the security of quantum distributed keys without the necessity of a dedicated fiber-optic connection for QKD. Similarly, the system could be adapted for a satellite, allowing key distribution for secure communication over very long distances. Without the need for a physical link this could provide the security of QKD for remote field applications where a physical link is not possible. There have been limited demonstrations of free-space optical QKD demonstrations and Fibertek’s approach implements several novel techniques to increase the key transfer rate and simplify the hardware implementation on the transmitter and receiver compared to previous demonstrations.
NASA identified QKD as a revolutionary concept in the 2015 NASA Technology Roadmap Technology Area 5.6 Revolutionary Concepts. Revolutionary concepts are those technology ideas that are on the cutting edge that are both high risk, but high payoff if they materialize. NASA identified QKD as key enabling technology providing a stepping stone for quantum communications. Quantum communications technology can potentially be integrated with optical communications systems like Fibertek's FSO terminmal.
Secure communication is a fundamental need in nearly all aspects of today’s society, e.g., finances, industry, defense, and social media. QKD provides a fundamentally secure key transfer protocol that when implemented correctly provides absolutely secure key transfers based on the laws of quantum mechanics. As such, all the major Department of Defense services have active quantum communications programs.
As robotics and autonomous systems continue to rapidly evolve into highly advanced, multi-mission systems capable of manned-unmanned teaming efforts, opportunities to leverage practical real-world autonomous intervehicle coordination becomes feasible. Disaster relief efforts such as search and rescue are poised to take advantage of collaborating unmanned assets to provide risk reduction and necessary stand-off for first responders. Fully custom solutions are not necessary, as collaborative capabilities can be achieved by leveraging existing or emerging UAVs to perform the physical and cognitive tasks required. To achieve feasibility, Heron Systems proposes GLUE, a novel decentralized virtual auctioneer framework enabling autonomous resource and task allocation of coordinated, heterogeneous unmanned assets. Phase 1 work focuses on software algorithm research and development through conceptually demonstrating GLUE against key tasks that make up a search and rescue operation. Heron Systems will leverage its existing plug and play robotic architecture, the Multi-Agent Cooperative Engagement (MACE) framework, as a foundation for providing the necessary infrastructure to achieve a realistic SITL simulation environment. The proposed solution provides the necessary modularity ensuring robustness to future SoA advances in autonomy. This further provides an ability to remain vehicle agnostic enabling successful integration with a wide variety of COTS vehicles.
Heron Systems identifies the UAS National Air Space (NAS) integration project as the principle NASA mission to benefit from GLUE. Determining priorities among competing operational interests in a heterogeneous environment would substantially enhance the maturity and robustness of the UTM approach. GLUE would provide UTM with a framework for enabling safe terminal area operations via automated task management used to negotiate competing requirements in a manner that is safe for all parties.
Collaborative UAS capabilities enable game changing opportunities. DoD would benefit from small UAS packages where swarming enhances capability at low cost per agent. This could enable front-line ISR missions or even kinetic events in support of squad level operations. Surveying, mapping, inspection and tracking capabilities via multiple, specialized platforms generally benefit industry (energy, construction, mining, ag, etc.) as well as gov't (EPA, DHS, etc.).
The use of small unmanned aerial vehicles (SUAVs) for civilian as well has military tasks, has been expanding steadily over the years. In this regard, cooperation and interoperability amongst multiple SUAVs has been seen as a key direction of future research by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). A central challenge in the cooperative navigation using multiple SUAVs is that they often have to operate in GPS-denied environment due to GPS jamming and spoofing or due to the unavailability of any external sources such as georeferencing, for navigation updates for long periods of time. An approach to address this problem is to employ cooperative navigation algorithms by which multiple SUAVs derive better estimates of their location using ownship navigation sensors, in conjunction with navigation data derived from other SUAVs in the vicinity. This proposal advances the development of decentralized cooperative navigation (DCN) algorithms that can improve the navigation performance of multiple SUAVs in GPS-denied environments. The proposed algorithm will tackle the challenges such as communication range and bandwidth limits, relative measurement sensor range and field of view limit, heterogeneous sensor systems and scalability with respect to the number of SUAVs. The Phase I work will provide proof-of-concept for the proposed DCN methodology using simulations. In Phase II, a working prototype will be developed and will be tested using hardware-in-the-loop simulations. The outcome of the research would be a technology for multivehicle cooperative navigation in GPS-denied and GPS-weakened environments.
The proposed technology has direct relevance to the strategic thrust 6: Assured Autonomy for Aviation Transformation. It will support the ADS-B for Traffic Situational Awareness program. The developed method will help in controlling several UAVs simultaneously in GPS denied regions. The Automated Cooperative Trajectories (ACT) program will benefit from the proposed technology as the intent of each vehicle can be predicted and thus wake vortex behavior can be forecast.
There are several civilian applications such as cargo delivery and Urban Air Mobility (UAM) which requires navigating through tall buildings where GPS signal is weakened. The proposed method can be used for forest fire monitoring pose where the SUAVs has to navigate through large trees to find traces of forest fire hazards. Military applications include use in autonomous guidance of weapons and missile sin GPS-denied regions. Other applications include disaster response and agricultural support.
There is a large unserved and well-defined need in several heavy industrial markets such as steel, petroleum, energy, and mining for aerial inspection, particularly by small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) conducting close proximity imaging and contact sensing. We propose to increase the utility of aerial inspection beyond the current state of the art where imagery typically is manually collected from structures at a distance of many meters with technology to enable high quality image coverage at distances near 2 centimeters plus contact sensing along with the creation of comprehensive, fused data products. These close-proximity imaging and contact sensing technologies will enable safer, more cost-effective sUAS inspection of large, complex industrial facilities than is possible by existing human-controlled imaging technology. Near Earth Autonomy is working with key customers in these industries with specific interest in high-value applications. We expect this newly created market to surpass $1 billion by 2020.
Direct potential NASA applications include close-proximity and contact sensing inspection of large structures used throughout NASA's operations and facilities. Another is the processing of sensor data into actionable information, a capability that cuts across most or all of NASA's R&D operations. Indirect applications include an unmanned aircraft's ability to gather data about its own state and that of the environment to recognize patterns and make decisions based on the data and patterns.
The technology proposed is directly applicable to inspection of power plants, tanks, towers, bridges, aircraft, ships, and any other large structure that requires periodic assessment and whose stoppage to enable human inspectors to do their work can cause significant loss of revenue or great inconvenience for users (as in the case of bridges).
UAS have proven to be quite useful for low-altitude observations of atmospheric and terrestrial properties, however, the difficulties associated with areas containing obstacles or rugged terrain has greatly restricted the operational area to relatively level locations with limited trees, towers or other obstacles that could intersect the intended flight path. Although tedious manual piloting of multi-rotor aircraft can still allow for flights in these areas as modern multi-rotor platforms generally contain proximity sensors, very little work has been done to accommodate fixed-wing aircraft. Many application areas of UAS demand the use of a vehicle able to cover a larger sampling area, such as trace gas emission observation over volcanoes, forest biofuel calculation, invasive plant specie identification, rock and mudslide mitigation, snowpack analysis and missions requiring high-resolution photogrammetry.
This work proposes to employ state-of-the art sensors, control algorithms, and on-board processing to enable an entirely new regime of automated in situ sensing for UAS. Specifically, although extensible to multi-rotor UAS, a subsystem will be created that allows for active navigation around obstacles and rugged terrain by fixed-wing UAS. It will be designed in a modular manner to allow for inclusion on a number of different platforms, but will be specifically targeted to be deployed on the mission-proven S2 UAS. The S2 is a product of previous NASA SBIR successes, and will be flown during Phase II to demonstrate the technology, with the resulting product serving as the first step toward commercialization.
BST plans on incorporating this technology directly into our commercial offerings, starting first with the S2 UAS. This platform has already been tested in a number of NASA campaigns, and it was during such a campaign performing sampling above volcanic vents in Costa Rica that the need for a terrain-contouring system was identified. Other applications include higher resolution soil moisture measurements using BST's own sensor, to surface flux calculations above the arctic tundra.
The proposed system can be utilized to provide reliable low-altitude flights for infrastructure inspection and would be particularly useful for leak detection. Additionally, in BST's primary application area of survey and geographic information systems (GIS) space, it would allow for reliable flights above rugged terrain, which is required for many areas of mountain mapping, including rock slide mitigation and avalanche prediction.
Trajectory-based operations (TBO) offer a major change in air traffic management with the potential for substantial performance and safety benefits. Considering the scope of the changes, TBO concepts must pass stringent hurdles for demonstrating technical feasibility, operational benefits, and safety. A successful TBO concept should provide benefits in the near term by using existing airline and FAA systems, while offering the pathway to greatly enhanced TBO capabilities in the mid-to-far terms.
The analytical and data exchange framework proposed by Robust Analytics to develop and evaluate TBO alternatives builds from the understanding that different participants will possess superior information in selected areas. The FAA ground domain has the most complete understanding of total system traffic, weather, and constraints. Individual aircraft have superior, real-time information on flight performance capabilities, the airline operations center (AOC) acts as the information nerve center for the airline and possesses the most comprehensive understanding of the airline network and each flight’s role in that network, and is responsible for achieving the airline’s business objectives. One of the challenges for implementing TBO is facilitating the timely negotiations to determine trajectories that simultaneously meet airline business objectives and tight required time of arrival (RTA) for traffic management purposes. With multiple sources of uncertainty in flight operations, TBO concepts must be able to negotiate trajectory changes to satisfy multiple objectives while responding to uncertainties and constraints in the NAS.
For Phase I, Robust Analytics will describe a detailed TBO negotiation process and use case; develop an architecture for exchanging the required data among the AOC, aircraft, and traffic flow management to facilitate TBO negotiations; and conduct a proof of concept demonstration.
Our Negotiator prototype provides useful capabilities to include in the ATD-2 and ATD-3 demos. We propose a solution to the trajectory negotiation process common to many dynamic flight operations. The architecture provides a platform for NASA AOSP research, able to test trajectory algorithms and negotiation protocols with a AOC-aircraft communications and application testing infrastructure. Negotiator applies to new concepts such as urban air mobility that will require trajectory negotiation.
Our concept would be a mechanism for generating near term airline cost savings; over time, it supports larger benefits from enabling more comprehensive TBO capabilities into the NAS. Our architecture would support more extensive trajectory negotiation in-flight, complementing current pre-departure trajectory negotiations such as CTOP. More generally, our design supports greater sharing of airspace constraints with operators, which has long been an objective of the airlines.
Integrated Arrival Departure Surface (IADS) traffic management solutions require accurate information about aircraft on the airport surface, from the gate to the runway. Only a small fraction of airports have surface surveillance and in almost every case coverage is limited to the airport’s movement area. A solution is needed that can compensate for the shortage of surveillance and is economically feasible to deploy and maintain at any airport. The Airport Surface State Event Tracker (ASSET) provides improved awareness of surface traffic in the absence of surveillance, improving the efficiency of surface and airspace traffic management. ASSET uses sensor data (e.g., location, velocity) from existing mobile devices (e.g., Electronic Flight Bags (EFB), cell phones) to determine aircraft surface state events (e.g., push back from gate, taxiing, takeoff, etc.) and improve departure planning, surface management, and arrival sequencing.
ASSET improves surface situational awareness for airports not covered by FAA surveillance. ASSET can be extended and enhanced to support NASA research and additional IADS applications. NASA’s SMART-NAS Testbed can be used to conduct shadow mode and simulation-based testing of ASSET. ASSET enhancements could allow it to support near-term NASA demonstrations, such as the ATD-2 IADS effort at CLT and the ATD-3 Traffic Flow Management.
Air Traffic Service Providers, Airlines, and Airports – many potential airport surface operations applications. ASSET provides an economic technology solution for tracking aircraft surface movement for traffic flow management support and other critical airport operations in locations where typical surveillance systems are not cost effective solutions.
Runway metering is more complicated than controlling the length of the queue of aircraft at the runway, since not all departures are equivalent. Runway metering must also consider the composition of the queue. Just as an empty queue wastes runway capacity, a queue with no flights to a constrained fix wastes capacity at that fix. The FAA’s Terminal Flight Data Manager (TFDM) has requirements to support controllers in managing the runway queue to maintain pressure on the runway and mile-in-trail departure restrictions. Assume a 50 miles-in-trail (MIT) restriction on departures to a fix, surface metering assigns Target Movement Area entry Times separated by 10 minutes, and one of those departures has an issue and is late; an entire slot at the constrained fix could be wasted. To avoid this situation, controllers currently manually front-load at the runway demand for each restriction. Automation that supports surface metering must preserve this ability. To manage both the queue length for a runway and the number of aircraft in the queue subject to a MIT restriction, the TFDM requirements allow multiple simultaneous metering programs, and handle the situation in which a flight may be assigned multiple, different TMATs, by exempting a flight from runway metering if it is subject to MIT metering. However, the currently proposed TFDM implementation, built on existing software, does not support multiple metering programs. Thus, there is an immediate need to develop algorithmic approaches for metering the taxi of departures subject to enroute flow programs, in addition to but with separate control from metering departures to the runway. In Phase 1, this project will validate and deliver alternative methods for accomplishing the multi-objective runway queue management. Phase 2 will focus on runway queue management in a TBO environment, where time-based restrictions replace MIT restrictions, but demand uncertainty persists.
-Directly relevant to current and future NASA Integrated Arrival Departure Surface (IADS) research
-Expands capability of near-term runway queue management methods
-Identifies how runway queue management requirements differ in a TBO environment. Provides advanced queue management to accompany NASA’s departure scheduling technologies.
-Directly applicable to FAA’s Terminal Flight Data Manager system. Phase 1 solves technical problem to satisfy existing requirements. Phase 2 part of NASA technology suite for future enhancements.
-Airspace users require automation support to fully participate in departure management – realize benefits and flexibility, provide required quality of data, and aircraft compliance. Commercial cloud-based service that supports users’ needs with respect to participating in departure management.
We seek to reduce potential next-day weather impacts on the National Airspace System (NAS) through better delay prediction and better efficacy of Traffic Management Initiatives (TMIs) mitigating airspace congestion. Our innovative approach is to combine the retrospective method (use historical TMIs and delays on similar days for next-day prediction) with the predictive method (use fast-time simulation of next-day’s weather, TMIs and resulting delays, based on the translated weather forecast) into a seamless ensemble.
Until now, only the first part – historical analysis – was used for such predictions, and even then mostly short-range. However, AvMet has developed and validated a powerful weather-aware, superfast-time NAS simulator, DART, which can reproduce historically observed outcomes of a wide range of weather-impacted days with a good degree of accuracy and process a complex day of NAS operations in just over a minute. Our technology also has the potential to automate and accelerate similar-weather searches. This opens the door to an ensemble approach where both historical and simulation-driven forecasting methods are combined for next-day delay prediction and TMI recommendations.
The methodology will be designed as a fully automated toolchain to work year-round, processing convective as well as non-convective (ceilings, winter weather, wind, etc.) weather impacts. It will use a number of innovative weather forecast translation, TMI simulation, and ensembling techniques. It will also use new and creative randomization methods to generate a range of potential scenarios based on next-day weather forecast.
We believe that, by tuning the blend of retrospective and predictive ensemble methods, we should be able to utilize their strengths and mitigate their shortcomings, and demonstrate noticeably better predictive accuracy of this amalgamated ensemble vs. historical-only or simulated-only methods.
This SBIR will provide NASA with a new retrospective-predictive methodology for quantifying weather impacts on the NAS and for developing traffic management applications, as well as for understanding the role of each component in the overall ensemble. NASA’s own fast-time air traffic simulation models can be utilized as part of this ensemble approach. The innovative weather translation techniques, similar weather impact analysis metrics & computation methods may be of additional value.
For major airlines, airports or travel service providers, combining retrospective analysis with a predictive component driven by a NAS simulator will improve delay forecasting. This ensemble methodology may be useful to TFM decision support tool developers. Weather translation techniques for long-lead forecasts, as well as similar weather scenario search techniques, may find other applications.
The proposed SBIR develops a near real-time aircraft noise monitoring tool called UAM Noise Integration Tool (UNIT) for e-VTOL aircraft that is capable of being integrated within the real-time NASA ATM-X Testbed environment. It is highly relevant to the NASA 2018 SBIR Focus Area 20, Subtopic A3.01 Advanced Air Traffic Management Systems Concepts, since it addresses the area of “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” because noise can be a greatly limiting factor in determining efficiencies, due to the expected high frequency of ODM operations and the potential noise impacts on communities. Specifically, it is relevant to the RFP area of “concepts of emergent risks” because increased noise impacts are a risk to the system, and public backlash to ODM and e-VTOL noise impacts can thwart the concept and technology before it launches. There are three parts to the innovation: (1) the ability to calculate in near real-time the noise impacts at any location using both real-time and predicted flight operations and trajectories, (2) the ability to model the noise of conceptual e-VTOL aircraft, and (3) the development of people-focused noise metrics that consider the movement of people throughout the day. NASA’s Parimal Kopardekar, has stated on more than one occasion that noise is one of the top three challenges for UAM. UNIT provides noise results within a real-time environment to be used as input parameters into flight path optimization algorithms to minimize population noise impacts, thereby increasing public acceptance of UAM. This capability is important because communities are highly sensitive to noise and have blocked change when they believe their rights have been inadequately addressed
The ATM-X Testbed sub-project can leverage our integrated UNIT software with the real-time Testbed simulations to analyze the environmental impacts of future UAM e-VTOL scenarios, as well as non-UAM scenarios and conventional fixed-wing and rotary-wing air traffic operations. Our UNIT software can support planned UAM flight demonstrations and tests for the ATM-X Initial UAM Ops Integration sub-project, and can support future noise-sensitive route optimization algorithm development.
UNIT can (1) replace physical noise monitors with modeled receptors using near real-time radar flight trajectories to provide noise values at virtual receptors on the ground, (2) provide near instant feedback on potential environmental impact changes to improve designs for ANSP airspace redesign processes, (3) support low noise e-VTOL aircraft design processes, and (4) enable noise-sensitive flight path planning for UAM service providers.
This proposal supports F20 A3.01 - Advanced Air Traffic Management Systems Concepts; Technology Area TA15 : Aeronautics - specifically, independent verification and validation of Aircraft ADS-B transmissions.
Safely achieving full autonomy and higher density in the NAS requires that the position of every aircraft in a given airspace be known to all participants in that airspace with a very high level of integrity. GNSS (including GPS) and ADS-B can provide sufficient aircraft-to-aircraft accuracy, but the inherent vulnerabilities of GNSS and ADS-B to interference, jamming and spoofing require that GNSS and ADS-B systems be independently validated for accuracy. The ATCRBS (Air Traffic Control Radar Beacon System), based on ground-based radar interrogation of transponders, provides redundant position information in many situations. Where position information from both ADS-B and ATCRBS exists, it can be compared for purposes of verification and validation.) Valid position information needs to be available real time for an autonomous system to provide safe navigation, particularly for collision avoidance. . This proposal will develop a flexible, multi-lateration system that easily integrates the ATCRBS capability of position information into modern avionics designed for ADS-B as well as transponders. This allows redundant independent verification of the location all equipped aircraft in all airspace. The proposed approach can effectively provide high integrity aircraft location information that can be used for navigation and T-CAS safety functions based on aircraft-to-aircraft ADS-B data, significantly reducing usage of the transponder spectrum.
Independent Validation of GPS and ADS-B will enable trusted use of ADS-B and allow much higher density use of all airspace for UAS and air transport vehicles. The same techniques can be applied to ground based and space based vehicles for other applications.
Virtually all air vehicles worldwide can make use of this approach to validation of an aircraft position. It is a needed capability for the military and DHS for validation that vehicles in the airspace are where they say they are. Important for police and all emergency vehicles in the airspace as well.
We build a software system that executes a virtual marketplace for urban air mobility (UAM). The virtual marketplace will serve the traveling public with an on-demand system that connects multi-modal modes of transportation in a competitive marketplace environment utilizing forward auctions and reverse auctions to provide cost effective transportation of people and goods. The virtual marketplace will shape the UAM demand datasets (location of all takeoff points in the urban environment), and in the long term, will force competitive market forces to make UAM a viable cost competitive system of transportation.
The research software and algorithms produced in this effort can be applied to cost benefits studies to show the viability of the UAM concept of operations. The software can be adapted by NASA to investigate UAM at different urban environments for different cities in the United States. The software can also be used in Human in the Loop (HITL) experiments at NASA.
Uber Elevate, Google, and other corporations interested at setting up Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) vehicles that fly UAM missions in urban environments will potentially use our software to assist in the management of those VTOL flights. These companies will first be interested in our software tied to simulations to determine cost effective strategies for UAM.
We develop Flight Deck (FD) and Airline Operational Control (AOC) Decision Support Tools (DSTs) for strategic guidance to pilots for mitigating encounters with en route weather hazards. Implemented on either Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) Electronic Flight Bags (EFBs) or Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs), the system is designed to increase the likelihood of Air Traffic Control (ATC) approval of a pilots’ trajectory change request by strategically presenting multiple viable, pro-active trajectory change options to the pilot based on timely traffic and weather information. The information provided to the FD DST is coordinated with information provided to dispatchers working at AOC workstations for a shared situational awareness of the aviation weather hazard and a coordinated hazard mitigation strategy. Route options are formulated in the format of Trajectory Options Sets (TOSs), which facilitates quick approval by air traffic control automation.
We are working towards a solution that exploits the emerging EFBs and PEDs that are allowing for tactical weather avoidance maneuvering to be analyzed by the FD in 5 min to 20 min ahead of an en route flight. To this end, we make specific mention of the NASA Langley Class 2 EFB solution in their Traffic Aware Strategic Aircrew Requests (TASAR) Traffic Aware Planner (TAP) system, since it is an ideal platform to demonstrate these concepts.
The non-NASA applications include any airline that utilizes EFBs and PEDs to coordinate FD and AOC activities. Most major airlines are progressing in this direction. Our software will utilize current TOS data formats to allow the FD and AOCs to work in collaboration on route options.
Aircraft routinely encounter turbulence, and appropriate responses to this turbulence are critical to maintain safe aircraft operation within prescribed operating limits and to effectively accomplish missions. Current airspace operations rely primarily on onboard human pilots to assess the severity of turbulence and respond appropriately. The future air transportation system will have increasing levels of autonomy, and many operations will be conducted without a skilled human operator onboard. Automated systems are thus needed to assess how turbulence is impacting an air vehicle and to respond appropriately. Future airspace operations will also occur in different environments. In particular, dramatically expanded low-altitude operations, including operations in urban environments, will occur as concepts such as those for Urban Air Mobility (UAM) become a reality. Much of the effort that has been devoted to turbulence monitoring and forecasting in the past has targeted commercial transport operations, especially high-altitude cruise conditions. Turbulence in the urban canyon is driven by different physical processes, and it has different characteristics than high-altitude turbulence. New models of turbulence need to be developed to support prediction of turbulence in low-altitude environments, including the urban canyon, and to perform onboard turbulence identification. The proposed work will develop the Turbulence Modeling and Decision Support System for UAS, with a focus on very low altitude operations by future air vehicles. It will include development of new model structures that capture the characteristics of turbulence in the urban boundary layer, the roughness sub layer, and the urban canopy layer. It will include development of onboard approaches to identify turbulence levels, methods to predict turbulence, and decision making tools for both short term responses to turbulence and mission planning based on turbulence predictions.
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 in vehicles such as air taxis.
The proposed technology will be an important enabler of increasingly autonomous SUAS operations, such as BVLOS inspection and package delivery by commercial operators, reconnaissance operations by the military and border patrol, and disaster response by government and commercial entities. 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.
Under the UAS Traffic Management (UTM) program NASA plans to investigate procedures that can make sUAS operations for all stakeholders. Safety and operations studies under UTM will require accurate trajectories for sUAS. Currently, only a few sUAS flights are being operated under permission from the FAA. Consequently, there is a lack of large datasets of sUAS flights and trajectories available to conduct high fidelity simulations and analyses, which provide import insights into various aspects of UAS operations: regulations, safety and security enabling technologies, business models, risk analyses, and so on. To this end, we propose to develop technology that will generate credible future demand for small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) missions. The technology will consist of three parts: 1) a socioeconomic demand modeling system that translates inchoate mission profile information into overall demand for sUAS, 2) translation of the overall demand into specific flight data sets, specifying the origin, destination, scheduled departure and arrival times, as well as the type of aircraft flown along the route, and 3) a data warehouse system that will store the flight data sets and allow analysts to retrieve them to support custom sUAS studies
The proposed demand datasets have a wide variety of application for NASA
We envision our data to be used by private research organizations; by UAS manufacturers as a basis of their own business cases for building sUAS. We also expect the insurance industry to be a customer for this product. Insurance companies are expected to pay close attention to the risk to life and property that goes along with sUAS flights and tailor their prices
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. Its importance will continue as traffic volumes grow and new vehicle classes are introduced. In particular, as new Urban Air Mobility (UAM) operations become more prevalent, methodologies to quantify performance of both human-centered and autonomous operations will be required. The objective of this work is to discover opportunities for improvement in operations of the National Airspace System (NAS), using methods that advance the state of the art and that can be applied to both current and future operations. To that end, Mosaic ATM proposes to develop a tool that will characterize and classify the efficiency of airspace operations, with a focus on airport metroplex operations. We propose to leverage the latest in machine learning techniques to create supervised and unsupervised machine learning models, which will be trained and validated using large sets of archived flight and weather data. These models will be able to identify the most critical causal factors for degraded performance conditions, in a way that is comprehensible to an analyst. We will provide a user interface to explore the model results and causal factors. This work will support planning for UAM operations as well as informing NASA and other stakeholders where further investments in NAS automation are most warranted.
The proposed capability will enable NASA to find opportunities for improvement in airspace operations. The capability will integrate with NASA’s Sherlock Data Warehouse, so it will be immediately available for NASA use. Possible applications include: guiding future research and development efforts toward areas of the NAS that have the most opportunity for improvement; evaluating the potential impact of new operations and aircraft types; and examining NAS performance trends over time.
The proposed capability has applicability to both airline operators and air navigation service providers like the FAA. Both sets of stakeholders have a vested interest in identifying root causes of sub-optimal airspace performance, so that they can take steps to address them. Mosaic ATM envisions a dashboard that will enable airline and FAA decision makers to gain actionable information about areas in need of improvement, at the facility level and produced within one day of operations.
This SBIR provides advanced, automated mechanisms for ANSPs and the flight operators to enrich and interact with IFR Preferred Routes in the U.S. National Airspace System (NAS). The FAA’s Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) Preferred Route Program was developed to allow air traffic facilities to identify select routes for use into and out of busy airports and airspace. We apply automation to maintain and improve the database in real time. The resulting product, the Integrated Adaptive Route Capability (IARC), has four key innovations.
(1) Leveraging machine-learning capabilities to adapt preferred routes to current needs and historical patterns of use. These processes would run in real-time and provide automated intelligent updates of the database. Benefits include proactive and adaptive identification of preferred routes.
(2) Integration of constraint identification models to alert users to which preferred routes may be infeasible. This allows flight operators and ANSPs to choose routes among the most viable ones.
(3) Inclusion of routes or areas of operation for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). The current database caters to legacy manned aircraft. The future NAS will require that new aircraft types be integrated. Part of that will be allowing them to interact with processes originally designed for legacy aircraft.
(4) Rapid access and automated information exchange with flight operators. Today, gaining preferred route information is a very manual process and requires FAA coordination to gain route approval. Customers are not provided an automated way to share and update route-information and as a result, the database suffers from antiquated and unnecessary routes in the system. Our proposed innovation allows flight operators to share with the preferred route database their versions of frequently used or preferred routes.
IARC benefits NASA’s Traffic Aware Strategic Aircrew Request (TASAR) by delivering optimized flight trajectories as part of the flight plan and preferred routes that are pre-cleared of potential conflicts with known weather hazards.
IARC also benefits NASA through the integration with NASA’s Sherlock Air Traffic Management Data Warehouse. Preferred routes can be integrated in real time into Sherlock Data Warehouse and support SMART NAS analyses and simulations.
FAA Airspace Traffic Management and Metroplex teams can keep preferred routes up to date, and support Metroplex redesign efforts. Airlines, pilots, and other companies that create flight plans can access current preferred routes to support more optimal flight filing, also have insight to weather constraints for any routes provided. UAS pilots would be able to get preferred routes with the additional insight to weather constraints.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms, which are the heart of emerging aviation autonomous systems and autonomy technologies, are generally perceived as black boxes whose decisions are a result of complex rules learned on-the-fly. Unless the decisions are explained in a human understandable form, the human end-users are less likely to accept them, and in the case of aviation applications, certification personnel are less likely to clear systems with increasing levels of autonomy for field operation. Explainable AI (XAI) are AI algorithms whose actions can be easily understood by humans. This SBIR develops EXplained Process and Logic of Artificial INtelligence Decisions (EXPLAIND), which is a prototype tool for verification and validation of AI-based aviation systems. The SBIR develops an innovative technique called Local Interpretable Model-Agnostic Explanation (LIME) for making the learning in AI algorithms more explainable to human users. LIME generates an explanation of an AI algorithm’s decisions by approximating the underlying model in the vicinity of a prediction by an interpretable one. We apply LIME to a NASA-developed aircraft trajectory anomaly detection AI algorithm (MKAD) to provide a proof-of-concept. EXPLAIND represents an important step towards user acceptance and certification of multiple AI based decision support tools (DSTs) and flight-deck capabilities planned to be developed under NASA’s System Wide Safety and ATM-eXploration projects. EXPLAIND also benefits NASA’s planned human-in-the-loop (HITL) simulations of machine learning (ML) algorithms using the SMARTNAS Testbed by providing techniques for making the algorithm’s decisions more understandable to HITL participants. Moreover, with new European Union regulations soon requiring that any decision made by a machine be readily explainable, the EXPLAIND approach is also relevant to multiple non-aviation fields such as medical diagnosis, financial systems, computer law, and autonomous cars.
Applications include enhanced explainability AI/ML algorithms for (1) aviation anomaly detection and safety precursor identification for Real-time System-wide Safety Assurance, (2) ATD-3’s Traffic Aware Strategic Aircrew Requests (TASAR), (3) IDO traffic management, (4) UAM and UTM path planning, de-confliction, scheduling and sequencing, (5) AI explanation interfaces to support UAM and IDO HITLs using the SMARTNAS Testbed, (6) Science Mission Directorate’s distant planet discovery algorithms.
Primary application is for the FAA with goal for NASA to transfer a validated enhanced explainability AI concept (e.g., MKAD anomaly detection tool) to the FAA. Airline AI travel assistant tools are another application. With new European General Data Protection Regulation requiring that any decision made by a machine be readily explainable, EXPLAIND can be applied to non-aviation fields like financial credit models, medical diagnosis, and self-driving car guidance systems.
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 urban air mobility, we define the ground-based capabilities they require and offer NASA a technology solution to air-ground integration to support monitoring and control. Our prototype would be available to support UAM demonstrations during a Phase II period of performance. For system wide safety, we offer a design and prototype that could support a safe transition to autonomous operations.
In the near term, our research will benefit the developers and future operators of new urban air mobility and package delivery services as all of them need to implement a ground-based, dispatch operational control system such as we propose. Our Phase I 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.
Radio frequency (RF) communications provide navigation and communication capabilities that are essential to safe operation of the current and future airspace systems. Loss of C2 and navigation links is a significant hazard even for current generation systems, and future systems that will operate with a high level of automation and autonomy, often without a highly-skilled operator onboard, will be even more susceptible to lost links. NASA has identified “Critical system failure…including loss of C2 link, loss or degraded GPS” as a key safety-critical risk relevant to future aviation systems. The proposed research effort will develop tools to analyze RF link coverage and support decision making that enhances system safety by minimizing the likelihood of lost links. The proposed tools will also enable intelligent responses to lost links that maximize the likelihood links are quickly and safely restored. The approach builds on an existing commercial software tool for RF propagation analysis, adding features to address challenges unique to the operation of future aviation systems, specifically features to enhance the accuracy of RF propagation analysis at low altitudes and to compute time-varying satellite-based-navigation coverage maps. Very low altitude operations play a significant role in future aviation system concepts, including UAS operations such as those envisioned to occur within the UAS Traffic Management framework, and emerging Urban Air Mobility concepts. The proposed research would enhance RF propagation modeling capabilities near and below the tops of obstructions including buildings and vegetation. The work will also build on risk-based path planning tools for UAS currently being developed by the team, integrating RF coverage analysis as an additional consideration in generating minimum-risk paths.
The proposed technology will directly support 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 support NASA's emerging interest in Urban Air Mobility to provide a “safe and efficient system for air passenger and cargo transportation within an urban area”. The technology will also benefit a variety of other NASA earth science and air vehicle programs that operate UAS.
The initial non-NASA commercial applications of the proposed technology are expected to be to SUAS. The proposed technology will be a key enabler for safely moving to beyond visual line of sight operations (BVLOS) that will provide significant value to a variety of commercial missions including infrastructure inspection missions, precision agriculture, and small package delivery. It will also benefit the military, improving reliability and safety of BVLOS SUAS operations.
As Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) increase in prevalence within the National Airspace System (NAS), and as their missions grow in scope beyond visual line of sight operations and over populated areas, there is a growing need for automated safety assessment and verification tools to certify that proposed UAS trajectories meet all risk and path constraints imposed quickly and accurately. Verus Research has teamed with Georgia Tech and Penn State on this effort to propose VEREUS, the VErification and RE-planning for Unmanned aerial system Safety tool, which leverages a unified formal methods foundation to verify that multiple forms of risk do not exceed prespecified levels for given UAS trajectories, and to mitigate risks as necessary. The purpose of VEREUS is to automate as much of the trajectory safety verification and necessary re-planning as possible, in as rigorous a manner as possible despite the myriad uncertainties present in UAS Traffic Management (UTM), to decrease the burden on the UAS operator and future UAS Service Suppliers while improving safety, thus significantly increasing the number of UAS that can be managed by a single entity. To achieve this goal, we propose the following tool features: a) offline trajectory assessment to ensure compliance with risk and other Air Navigation Service Provider directed constraints, b) re-planning as required to meet any constraints initially violated, and c) real-time support to ensure continued safety as requirements and trajectories change online. At the end of Phase I, the applicability of formal methods for use in assessing risk to people on the ground, verification of trajectory constraint satisfaction, and re-planning subject to risk constraints will be established, and the building blocks for full development of VEREUS will be in place. VEREUS will ultimately be an integral tool for advancing NASA’s UTM efforts, ensuring safe, requirement-satisfying trajectories in an automated fashion.
VEREUS will provide direct benefits to NASA’s UAS Traffic Management (UTM) effort, as a tool used to approve and monitor UAS trajectories. The formal methods components of VEREUS will be available for immediate integration with current NASA UTM risk assessment frameworks. VEREUS can also serve as an interface between operators and the ANSP for all airspace systems that utilize 4D Trajectory Based Operations (TBO), thus aiding NASA’s NextGen TBO development and integration efforts.
VEREUS will ultimately transition to the private service suppliers that manage regional UAS operations. Further, both the FAA and the Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research program are aiming for a future TBO system, and VEREUS will be applicable to their efforts. The military also relies on UAS operations, and must account for safety concerns. VEREUS can thus aid in verifying and enforcing risk constraints for DoD customers as well.
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.
We will demonstrate how our tool can integrate with airline operations decision support systems to provide a monitoring and alerting system for use by dispatchers in real-time. 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.
Our FAAM prototype would provide a key component for meeting Real-time System-wide Safety Assurance 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 airline operations centers as the initial users, supporting dispatchers as they plan and monitor flights as part of their business and regulatory responsibilities to maintain flight safety. The FAA will also benefit from using FAAM as a prognostic situation awareness tool for shift managers and possibly controllers. 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.
Modern aircraft systems have slowly evolved towards integrated modular computing architectures that are linked to multiple external networks. These developments have introduced cyber-attack vulnerabilities which did not exist in older-generation avionics systems. To counter the emerging threats and increased vulnerabilities, an ability to comprehensively and systematically assess aviation cybersecurity risks is needed. Tools are needed to support the design of new aircraft systems as well as tools that can support routine inspections on an airframe-by-airframe basis. ATC-NY proposes SilverlineAN, an assessment management platform for aviation system-level cybersecurity. SilverlineAN provides a principled, machine-readable record of both manual and automated cybersecurity risk assessment procedures and results for individual components/subsystems, computes system-level metrics, and facilitates re-evaluation throughout the system’s lifecycle. SilverlineAN aggregates individual component/subsystem results into a larger attack model, which can be used to assess system-level risk. The SilverlineAN tool can serve both as development tool and in a maintenance capacity. For example, during the development of a new avionics component under a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC), the developing organization could test the the component for cyber-vulnerabilities using the SilverlineAN tool. In a maintenance capacity, an AMT (Aviation Maintenance Technician) might use SilverlineAN to verify that an avionics installation or update on a particular airframe has not introduced any cyber-vulnerabilities.
SilverlineAN provides NASA with a capability to support ongoing aviation safety research. SilverlineAN can assess the cybersecurity and safety of integrated/advanced avionic systems; air-ground automation systems; and communications, navigation and surveillance (CNS) links. SilverlineAN can also help NASA assess the cybersecurity and safety risk of future concepts that depend on interconnected systems, including Single Pilot Operations (SPO), UAS Traffic Management (UTM), and on-demand mobility.
SilverlineAN is an integrated platform to protect current and future aviation systems from safety impacting cyber threats. The trend in aviation is greater sharing of data between aircraft and ground facilities as well as between aircraft. SilverlineAN supports the increasing need for security assessments for airworthiness certification (e.g. DO-326A). SilverlineAN lets providers better manage interconnected system-level security during design, certification and throughout the system lifecycle.
In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) involves collecting and converting local resources into products that can be used to reduce mission mass, cost, and/or risk of human exploration. ISRU products that provide significant mission benefits with minimal infrastructure required are propellants, fuel cell reactants, and life support consumables. Production of mission consumables from in-situ Mars resources is enabling and critical for human exploration of the Mars surface and for minimizing the number and size of landers and the crew ascent vehicle.To understand both the dust concentration before filtration as well as the effectiveness of dust filtration techniques used in ISRU operations, NASA is interested in a dust sensor to measure 0.1 to 5 micron sized dust particles in the Mars atmosphere acquired for processing.
Southwest Sciences proposes to design, build, and demonstrate a novel non-intrusive optical particle measurement technology for measuring these particles under the NASA defined operating conditions. This in-line particle concentration/size monitor is based on a variant of laser intensity attenuation. The method is compact, low power, can be multiplexed to increase throughput and/or dynamic range, uses no consumable, and is independent of carrier gas, gas temperature and gas pressure.
The initial application of this proposed sensor, is for dust particle size and concentration measurements at the gas inlet of an ISRU system. The technology developed can be adapted to other planetary, small body, and terrestrial applications where non-invasive, sensitive, compact particle size and concentration measurements need to be made.
Potential applications in other government agencies include atmospheric aerosol/dust monitoring on both ground and airborne (manned/UAV/balloon) platforms within DOE, NOAA and EPA. Possible commercial markets include particle measurement systems for commercial and research use. In particular, this instrument would find commercial use in measuring atmospheric and environmental aerosols, as an industrial particulate pollution monitor, and in power plant feedback controls.
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, propanol 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 propanol 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 propanol is then sent back to the absorption vessel, exchanging heat with the cold absorption column effluent as it goes. After the clean propanol 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 1, an operating LSP 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. The LSP could also be used by NASA to reduce its own CO2 emissions.
The LSP could be used to separate CO2 from flue gas. The US coal-fired electric power industry is in trouble because its CO2 emissions exceed government guidelines. The LSP can solve this by providing an economical method of collecting pure CO2 from flue gas. Once separated the CO2 could be used to enable enhanced oil recovery, expanding US oil production while combatting climate change.
The objective of this proposal is to adapt the CO2 electrolyzers currently being developed under ARPA-E support to NASA missions. The devices are similar to a solid oxide electrolyzer, in that they can operate on dry CO2, but the devices use a proprietary polymer rather than a solid oxide to allow them to operate at room temperature (~25 ºC). In ARPA-E supported work, we have already demonstrated CO2 electrolysis for 3000 hours and 95% selectivity under wet conditions and 100 hours with a dry cathode. 5000 hour tests are scheduled shortly. In the proposed work, we will adapt the devices to NASA missions. In particular, we will modify our membranes so they can be run with minimal water, improve strength to allow higher differential pressure operation, and complete the various tests requested in the BAA.
We think these devices will have three potential NASA applications:
Dioxide Materials and our partners at 3M are interested in pursuing two different opportunities: small electrolyzers as CO2 sensors in HVAC systems and fire detection modules, and large electrolyzers as a way of recycling CO2 back to fuels and chemicals, as a way of lowering chemicals cost and as a way of reducing global warming.
As human exploration moves deeper into space, it becomes critical to acquire supplies from the environment in-situ. NASA has identified oxygen, water, and methane as the most critical assets that could be acquired by means of in-situ resource utilization (ISRU). Given that the Martian atmosphere is 95.9% CO2, atmospheric processing is the most feasible ISRU method of producing O2, H2O, and CH4. The MOXIE experiment is underway to demonstrate in-situ production of O2 for propellant and for breathing on Mars (Mars 2020 Rover). The gas produced by ISRU CO2 processing needs to be "completely dry" for cryogenic liquefaction, as traces of residual water can impede the efficiency of cryogenic storage and combustion, but commercial technologies for monitoring traces of water in "dry" gases are too bulky and complex for use in space or on Mars. Intelligent Optical Systems (IOS) will develop a compact humidity monitor to detect low ppmv of water in oxygen and methane, designed to meet the requirements for space exploration and operation in combustible environments. The proposed monitor will incorporate a novel luminescent sensor element, which consists of a luminescent indicator dye highly sensitive to water vapor, immobilized in a polymer support. The optical technique is time-based, which gives it excellent reliability and accuracy, and avoids the drawbacks of intensity-based measurements. IOS has developed and delivered humidity sensors for NASA space suit development programs, demonstrating operation in oxygen, nitrogen, and other gases, and has demonstrated that it can monitor low ppm of water. In Phase I, we will demonstrate a novel sensitive element for detecting low ppm of water, focusing on sensitivity, measurement range, and minimal or no maintenance on long term missions. In Phase II, IOS will develop the complete monitoring system, which could also accommodate sensors for other gases of interest in ISRU units (O2, CO2…).
The most direct application for the proposed sensor would be humidity monitoring in ISRU systems for the Mars atmosphere. We anticipate initial infusion of this technology in ground demonstrators, and later in small scale ISRU systems such as the MOXIE experiment. The technology's suitability for miniaturization and multiplexing, and its capability of incorporating additional sensors will open opportunities for application in any Mars Atmosphere-Based or Regolith-Based ISRU program.
The humidity monitoring market can be divided into low ppm moisture monitoring applications (in the gas and petrochemical industries) and ambient relative humidity monitoring. We are already developing a low cost device for ambient humidity monitoring, adapting sensor elements initially developed for monitoring humidity in spacesuits. Transition of our technology to the low ppm moisture monitoring market will follow, and the proposed project represents an excellent opportunity in that direction.
Human exploration of Mars, as well as unmanned sample return missions from Mars can benefit greatly from the use of propellants and life-support consumables produced from the resources available on Mars
Mars’ CO2 rich atmosphere offers an abundant staring material on which to synthesize needed resources such as oxygen, carbon monoxide, and methane. The preferred method of oxygen generation uses a solid oxide electrolyzer (SOE) to produce oxygen in one stream and a mixture of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide as the waste gases.
TDA Research proposes to develop a highly efficient system for separation and re-circulation of the unreacted CO2 from the SOE processes. TDA’s system uses a novel adsorbent that removes the unreacted CO2 at temperatures > 650°C, without any need for cooling it down. The specific objective of the Phase I work is to develop a regenerable high temperature CO2 sorbent that regenerates via thermal swing or pressure (vacuum) swing and demonstrate the ejector concept and thermal swing concept for gas recirculation in a breadboard system.
In the ISRU system not all CO2 that is processed is getting utilized in the reverse water gas shift or the Solid oxide electrolysis step. Therefore, NASA is interested in technologies that allow the unreacted CO2 from the RWGS (reverse water gas shift) and/or SOE (solid oxide electrolysis) reactors operating at high temperatures (>650°C), to be separated and recirculated back to the process inlet and the proposed sorbents must be able to take up CO2 at these gas temperatures.
Potential non-NASA application includes pre-combustion CO2 capture from Integrated gasification combined cycle power plants and from gasification systems. TDA’s CO2 removal system would find application in reducing greenhouse gases from power plants and in hydrogen manufacture.
OxEon Energy proposes a combination of materials and engineering solutions to demonstrate the reduction-oxidation (redox) stability of a solid oxide electrolysis cathode during start up and operation. The redox tolerant cathode material will reduce system complexity, tolerate flow upset conditions, and provide flexibility in space based systems without a man-in-the-loop.
Solid oxide electrolysis stacks use nickel – zirconia composite cathode to reduce incoming oxidized species such as those available on Mars (e.g. carbon dioxide) to produce high purity oxygen. The device can also operate on co-electrolysis mode where the atmosphere CO2 and water and other volatiles from extra-terrestrial soils can be processed together to produce oxygen and fuels such as methane for propulsion, regenerative power, and life support system applications. Present state of the art electrolysis stacks use a nickel-zirconia composite cathode. Nickel based electrodes are susceptible to oxidation by the feed gas (CO2 or steam) at the inlet conditions unless reduced species (carbon monoxide or hydrogen) are also present. This necessitates a complex, recycle loop that introduces a fraction of the product gases to the inlet.
Prior attempts at developing an oxidation resistant cathode evaluated precious metal or ceramic oxides. They exhibited excellent stability in CO2 and steam, but the performance of cells was significantly lower relative to nickel based electrode.
The proposed cathode material is expected to be stable in an oxidizing environment with little or no deleterious oxidation. This will allow a significant simplicity in electrolysis system design, facilitate the utilization of in situ resources to produce oxygen and fuels, resulting in the development of an enabling technology for future manned mission to Mars.
The proposed technology when successfully demonstrated will enable production of oxygen by electrolyzing Mars atmosphere CO2 and will co-produce carbon monoxide with a simpler system design. The device can also operate on co-electrolysis mode where the atmosphere CO2 and water and other volatiles from extra-terrestrial soils can be processed together to produce oxygen and fuels such as methane for propulsion, regenerative power, and life support system applications.
A concept that directly aligns with the proposed project is combining non-carbon based electric generation with the co-electrolysis of steam and CO2 and using the resultant synthesis gas (CO + H2) to produce synthetic fuels using the fuels synthesis reactor. This allows highly efficient conversion and storage of vast quantities of renewable energy in chemical and fuel form. The technology can also produce hydrogen from steam electrolysis at very high efficiencies.
In several technologies within NASA’s In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) systems, such as fuel cell, water electrolysis and gas/water separations etc., polymeric membranes, especially proton exchange membranes (PEM), play an important role. These membranes are generally hygroscopic, subject to swelling in the presence of humidity or water. When restrained membranes undergo a hydration/dehydration changes, stresses are then generated which can lead to membrane failure. Given the harsh surface environmental conditions on the moon and Mars, more dehydration resistant and dimensionally stable PEM materials are highly desirable for better performance and durability and to allow for long term dry storage and delivery of ISRU systems.
Giner herein proposes to create a reinforced proton exchange membrane using a low equivalent weight (EW) short-side-chain (SSC) ionomer and Giner’s Dimensionally Stable Membranes®™ (DSM) matrix support. In this design, the DSM support is filled with low EW SSC PFSA ionomers. With the added strength inherent in the DSM support, these PEMs can be made thinner and be impregnated with a high-acid-content low EW ionomer to improve the water retention and maintain excellent dimensional stability. Our proposed design has multiple advantages to address the dehydration issues for NASA applications and is expected to achieve improved performance and reduced cost. The water retention property will be greatly enhanced by using a low EW SSC ionomer compared to Nafion. The other associated properties, e.g. protonic conductivity, dimensional stability, wet-dry cycling durability, and freeze/thaw thermal cycling durability are expected to improve significantly as well. In addition, our design has a more cost effective fabrication and ease of scaling up than Gore-Select membrane using e-PTFE support and other nanofiber electrospinning methods.
The developed high performance reinforced proton exchange membranes can be used in the vapor feed electrolyzers, PEM fuel cells and regenerative fuel cells etc., which found broad applications in NASA, including but not limited to Lunar and space stations, satellites, high altitude aircraft.
This membrane material can be readily applied to fuel cells employed in vehicles, portable devices and remote installations. The unique properties of the supported membrane will also facilitate the commercialization of these technologies. The advanced membranes can also be used in applications including hydrogen filling stations, and chlor-alkali process etc.
This proposal describes a mobile solid-state Neutron Energy Spectrometer (NES) for lunar soil moisture determination. Cosmic-ray interactions within the lunar soil will yield secondary neutrons and protons, among other particles. The produced neutrons will travel within the soil, scattering off of materials such as hydrogen. Interactions with hydrogen will greatly reduce the energy of the neutrons, causing a measurable depression of epithermal neutrons. A measurement of the ratio between thermal and epithermal neutrons can therefore yield an understanding of the hydrogen content of the soil. A previous collaboration between Radiation Detection Technologies, Inc. (RDT), Kansas State University (KSU), and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has developed and produced an instrument which is capable of accurately measuring the hydrogen content of soil based on neutron emissions from the surface. The TRL 3 instrument utilizes alternating layers of neutron moderator (HDPE) and solid-state neutron detectors, with each incremental detector layer more sensitive to higher-energy neutrons than the previous. The NES can effectively scan for water at the lunar surface from zero altitude, which allows for unmatched spatial resolution. Proposed in Phase I, existing computational models will be refined and validated using the existing NES in real-world measurements. The updated computational models will be used to design a space-worthy instrument that will serve the purpose of determining the moisture content of the lunar soil. An early feasibility study will be conducted to determine what weaknesses exist in the present design in terms of survivability of the instrument under the worst of lunar conditions. In Phase II, the proposed assembly will be developed to TRL 6, wherein a roving prototype will be built and tested.
A compact, low-power neutron energy spectrometer (NES) would accurately measure the radiation dose to astronauts. The proposed NES can measure neutron dose to higher accuracy than existing technologies, which are bulky (7-12 kg) and can suffer poor inaccuracy (>50%) because these instruments cannot differentiate thermal, epithermal, or fast neutrons from each other. A multi-channel NES would achieve improved accuracy by including neutron energy information and reducing weight.
The original NES was developed to replace aging neutron dosimeters used aboard nuclear naval vessels for the Dept. of Defense. Surveys of ships are conducted to ensure that radiation levels do not pose a danger to the crew. A handheld NES would provide more accurate feedback and be less burdensome to the operator. Similarly, an improved dosimeter is desired at the Dept. of Energy nuclear reactor locations, such as Transient Reactor Test (TREAT) facility, where operation of the reactor varies.
In this Phase 1 SBIR proposal, Vuronyx Technologies will design an energy efficient, low footprint water recovery system for space applications. The proposed system will integrate two emerging water purification approaches - a capacitive deionization (CDI) system to remove ions, and an Electrochemical Advanced Oxidation Process (EAOP) to remove organic contaminants and microbes. The proposed work builds on our work with EPA where we are designing cost and energy efficient CDI systems for small communities, and with Oxfam, where we are designing desalination systems for refugee camps in third world countries. Vuronyx Technologies has demonstrated optimized CDI systems that ~45% lighter than conventional CDI systems, and can be operated at lower voltages to minimize energy consumption as well as to optimize the outlet salt concentration. In this proposal, Vuronyx will investigate a combined CDI-EAOP system to generate potable water from spacecraft wastewater.
The proposed technology will enable long term space travel, such as to Mars and beyond, without the need for carrying huge amounts of water in the spacecraft. Water recovered from waste streams can be used for multiple applications, including for drinking purposes.
Such systems will find use in civilian applications, such as for potable water in remote or disaster regions, purification of water from industrial sources, such as commercial laundry, automotive paint lines, agriculture and horticulture, and wastewater reuse for industries, such as cooling towers, boiler-feed, and irrigation for golf courses. And finally, the system can be used for point of entry water treatment in small communities, apartment complexes, hotels, and sport fields.
Several biological systems have been investigated for treatment of space wastewater, with considerable success. Texas Tech University (TTU) has experimented with variations on a membrane-aerated bioreactor since 2002. Its most recent iteration, the rCOMANDR unit, is an aerobic process which treats space wastewater at a rate equivalent to that produced by 2 crew/day, achieving >50% conversion of organic nitrogen to NO2 and NO3 (NOx) and >85% removal of dissolved organic carbon (DOC), with ~90% of NOx in the form of nitrite. Effluent NH3-N:NO2-N is typically near 1:1. Pancopia has developed an alternative approach using a consortium of aerobic Nitrifiers with anaerobic Denitrifiers and anammoX (NDX), which was successful in removing 85% of ammonia and carbon. A key element in this system, the anammox bacteria, oxidizes ammonia with nitrite at a 1:1.3 ratio to produce N2 gas, allowing the removal of nitrogen without oxygen or organic carbon requirement. This enables a greater overall removal of nitrogen in typically carbon-limited space wastewaters.
As the focus of this Phase 1 SBIR, Pancopia proposes investigating the feasibility of a second-stage anammox reactor to remove most of remaining ammonia and nitrite from rCOMANDR effluent.
Phase 1 criterion for assessing the feasibility of the proposed second-stage anammox process for removal of ammonia and nitrite is an average removal of more than 50% of ammonia and nitrite from rCOMANDR effluent in two of the three test reactors during the 4-week test period.
Human habitation of space hinges on the creation of a safe and healthy environment to support life. Water, along with oxygen and food, is a critical life sustaining factor. Shipping of water from earth for extended space missions is impossible because of the unwieldy nature of transport, both in terms of costs and logistics involved. Thus recycling and reclamation is the only way to ensure that every drop of water counts. MMI will develop a photocatalytic capillary membrane distillation system for the reclamation of water from urine and other forms of impure water that are produced by human life in space. When installed in a spacecraft/space station, this will reduce or eliminate the need to transport water from earth. The incorporation of the photocatalytic unit to decompose the organic impurities in water will prevent fouling of the capillary membrane, thus enabling long term use of the reclamation unit during space travel.
Wastewater recycling/reclamation is crucial for successful long-duration space travel. Water available for recycling comes from three primary sources: humidity condensate, wash-water, and urine. The photocatalytic capillary membrane distillation system will be integrated into Life Support and Habitation Systems of NASA that support Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS), Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Systems, Advanced Food Technology and Biological Life Support.
The water treatment unit can be used to purify drinking water supplied by public water suppliers as well as private bodies. It can also be used as a portable unit to convert brackish water into drinkable water at remote locations. The technology may also be extended to treat wastewater from industrial operations especially in fracking or from rest stops, commercial buildings and apartments
Silver and its compounds are of significant appeal for long-duration space missions, as they are capable of destroying or inhibiting the growth 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 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. The long-term results and benefits to the manned space program are high antimicrobial effectiveness, low toxicity, simple integration and operation into advanced life support systems, maximum operational life, and superior mass/volume efficiency compared to any other possible approach.
This technology is expected to be baselined for all future advanced space missions including Lunar and Mars bases, and vehicles required for transport to those destinations. The option to retro-fit International Space Station with silver-based biocide delivery units is possible.
The proposed technology has extensive commercial potential in the $3.2B global water treatment market for biocides and includes applications in aquaculture, ultrapure water, industrial process water, emergency and outdoor markets The low manufacturing cost of the proposed device will result in significant market potential for this NASA-sponsored technology.
The current generation of spacecraft and terrestrial water recovery technologies are often prone to failures caused by biofouling and mineral scaling, which can clog mechanical systems and degrade the performance of capillary-based technologies. These failures require expensive and time-consuming maintenance and resupply, and the technologies are therefore limited to environments where these resources are available. Long duration spaceflight applications, such as extended stays at a Lunar Outpost or during a Mars transit mission, will increasingly benefit from water recovery hardware that is generally more robust and operationally sustainable over time, and that minimizes the impact of fouling and hardware failures.
Our proposed water recovery concept takes advantage of the partial gravity on Mars or the lunar surface, while also being microgravity compatible. This will allow for a single water recovery system for both transit and planetary mission phases. This next-generation solid-state water recovery system for spacecraft will exploit a combination of advances in three areas of research, in order to manage wastewater recovery without rotating phase separators or chemical pretreatment. These research areas are:
The Nanophotonic Capillary Distiller concept can be applied to a wide spectrum of spacecraft fluid management systems, for both short-term use and long-duration missions. The design will be adaptable to both microgravity and partial gravity environments, will target a 6-12 month transit period, operational periods in excess of 500 days, and a dormancy of two years or more.
Potential applications for uses other than with NASA missions include terrestrial wastewater management, water treatment and desalination in particular in remote, resource constrained environments.
The Advanced Organic Waste Gasifier (AOWG) is a novel technology to convert organic wastes from space exploration outposts into clean water and gases suitable for venting with the overall goal of minimizing vehicle mass for Mars transit and return missions. The AOWG integrates steam reformation, and electrolysis to convert organic waste into water and a small amount of inorganic matter and oxygen products, thereby reducing transit fuel 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 gasifier provides nearly complete conversion of feeds to valuable water and jettisoned gas with minimal losses and consumables requirements. The AOWG incorporates significant novel enhancements to previous state-of-the-art Trash to Gas (TtG) steam reforming technology including a feed preparation system, continuous feeder, and tar destruction reactor to produce clean water. The AOWG crew operation requirements consist of packaging wastes in a manner similar to the ‘football’ preparation methods currently used in state-of-the art TtG systems but are not limited to this preparation method. The actual operation of the AOWG is largely automated and requires minimal crew intervention. The proposed Phase I AOWG will be developed with a focus on achieving the maximum waste mass reduction simultaneous with water production using feeding, materials handling, and ancillary systems geared to microgravity operations. These concepts will be integrated into a flight ready Phase II design, which will simulate a 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 synthesis, and chemicals synthesis from renewable resources, agricultural wastes, municipal wastes, and other organic-containing wastes including paper and plastics. These organic-containing resources can be processed by AOWG methods to produce syngas, which can be further converted into methanol or other fuels and chemicals using Fischer-Tropsch or other catalytic synthesis processes.
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. More power is required than today’s suit can provide. 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. NOHMs Technologies is proposing to develop ionic liquid based hybrid electrolytes for safe, high energy density, high voltage, and high power batteries for space suit applications.
NOHMs will develop a safe electrolyte for LiCoO2 that prevents thermal runaway and allows LiCoO2 to be charged at a higher voltage resulting in higher capacity. Rechargeable lithium ion batteries (Li-ion) are promising energy storage options for space applications. When charged to 4.2V LiCoO2 delivers 140 mAh/g specific capacity, which is only 51% of the theoretically possible (272 mAh/g) based on the crystal structure and allowable Li-ions it can host. To extract the unutilized capacity from the LiCoO2, one has to electrochemically activate the cathode by charging to a potential > 4.5 V vs Li/Li+. It has been shown that the high voltage charging of LiCoO2 results in 28% increase in delivered capacity and 4% increase in the nominal voltage. However, conventional Li-ion battery electrolytes are not stable at such high voltages and complementary development of electrolytes that are stable at these voltages are needed. In this Phase I, we will design electrolytes with functional ionic liquids and co-solvents to enable a high voltage, thermally stable and electrolyte formulation for traditional LiCoO2 cathode materials.
Initial NASA space-based applications include space suit power and EVA applications which will be supported by a space suit manufacturer. Additional NASA applications are satellites, Unmanned Aerial Systems, and other electric flight programs.
Non-NASA commercial applications will include UAS platforms, satellites, and submarines. As battery lifetimes are increased to exceed current Li-ion technology, then larger commercial applications such as electric vehicles and renewable energy storage systems will be addressable with this technology. In particular, the increased safety of the electrolyte technology will be attractive to the commercial aviation industry.
NASA is currently pursuing an advanced space suit portable life support system (PLSS) for future missions that could reach the moon or Mars. The Liquid Cooling and Ventilation Garment (LCVG) is a critical component of the PLSS and improvements are needed to reduce weight and improve comfort and mobility. NASA research has shown that the LCVG tubing is a significant heat transfer bottleneck because of the low tubing thermal conductivity and high thermal resistance between the tubing/garment and the body. Previous research at Mainstream developed innovative techniques for improving tubing thermal resistance. Leveraging this work, Mainstream proposes to develop next-generation tubing that improves LCVG performance. In Phase I, Mainstream will establish a baseline thermal model and experimentally demonstrate performance improvements from different tubing configurations. In Phase II, Mainstream will use the new tubing design to create a full scale LCVG and test its performance in a representative environment.
The proposed research is targeted at next generation Liquid Cooling and Ventilation Garments. Future missions will require demanding extra vehicular activities on the international space station, moon, and mars. Our technology will enable smaller cooling garments and/or smaller heat rejection systems for these missions.
Innovative liquid cooling garment are useful in any working environment where the worker is enclosed in a protective suit. One example use is with firefighting PPE. With this technology, firefighters will be able to face extreme conditions for longer periods of time. Other potential commercial markets include hazmat cleanup crews, paint booth workers, automotive racing, and soldiers.
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 objectives are: (1) to demonstrate the feasibility of using 3D printing to create plastic monoliths with complex geometry, subsequently converted into effective TC sorbents upon carbonization and activation, while preserving much of their original shape and strength; (2) to demonstrate effective ammonia and formaldehyde removal in the presence of CO2 and humidity; also, sorbent regeneration; and (3) to deliver a sorbent prototype to NASA for further sub-scale testing. This will be accomplished in three tasks: (1) Sorbent Fabrication and Characterization; (2) Sorbent Testing; and (3) Product Assessment.
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.
NASA requires the need for simultaneous monitoring of multiple gases such as methanethiol, ammonia, water, oxygen, in the design of advanced space suit portable life support systems. Due to current technology gaps, existing commercial products cannot meet NASA`s requirements, especially when considering selectivity, form-factor, weight, cost and power consumption. To bridge this gap and meet NASA`s critical needs, Serinus Labs will use standard CMOS technology to demonstrate a highly miniturized, low-cost multi-gas sensor chip that can sensitively and selectively detect methanethiol, ammonia, water and oxygen in gas streams, with power consumption in the low micro-Watts. The multi-gas sensor chip will be based on silicon chemical sensitive field effect transistor (CS-FET) arrays. CS-FETs are similar to conventional bulk silicon MOSFETs with the exception of the electrical gate that is replaced by a nanoscale chemical sensing layer. These layers are electrically floating and can be comprised of single or multi-element metallic nanoparticles, thin film metal oxides and polymers. Gas interaction with a specific layer can induce electrical and/or morphological changes which are then capacitively amplified as large modulations in transistor current.
This technology will greatly benefit next generation portable life support systems for astronauts. It will also open new opportunities in the design of low cost, low payload micro-probe gas sensor networks that can be deployed over a large area to analyze and understand a planet`s atmospheric conditions.
The multi-gas sensor chip will have a multitude of potential use cases such as in industrial heath and safety, home automation, personal indoor and outdoor air quality monitors, cabin climate control in the automotive sector, breath analysis for early warning disease diagnosis in the medical sector. Of particular impact, would be the adoption of these highly miniaturized low power multi-gas sensor chips into consumer electronics such as smart watches and wearables by major manufacturers.
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. This proposal provides an analog method to measure the continuous air flow. This new method meets the low pressure drop requirement and allows operation beyond low earth orbit (LEO) with radiation tolerant electronics. Per the solicitation, a prototype will be developed during phase I to verify this new technology.
The team of AlphaMicron Inc and ILC Dover propose using AMI's proprietary light control technology to provide electronic tint-on-demand for the next generation NASA Z-2 space suit. The technology is based on a guest - host liquid crystal system providing 1) electronic controlled dimming with millisecond switching speeds, 2) military grade optics, 3) customizable single color or multi-color solutions, 4) fails to clear state in less than one second, and 5) transmission window change of approximately 50%.
For the Phase I program, the team is proposing a multi-pronged research and development approach to provide dimmable light control. The first approach is to thermoform dimmable liquid crystal films that match the curvature and shape of the bubble shaped inner visor of the EVVA. The second approach will be to prepare a custom eyewear with the same dimming functionality. The third path is a hybrid approach, combining the eyewear with thermoformed panels.
While each utilizes the same core LC technology, the different approaches carry different levels of development risk and performance benefits. The eyewear path is more technological advanced, while the full sized thermoformed film and the panel sized thermoformed films are currently at the early prototype stage of development. Given the current state of the technology. the propsed research can be completed within the six months.
With the goal of developing a technology that can be integrated into the Z-2 spacesuit preparing variations of the technology provides multiple options for NASA to evaluate and determine which best meets the needs of the astronaut.
In addition providing tint-on-demand for the EVVA, the light control technology featured in this proposal can be applied virtually anywhere tinting is desirable. The high optical quality of the light control films allows the technology to be used for applications including large area flat or curved windows or panels, the front shield of pilot's flight helmet, or sensor protection.
The core LC technology is already used for commercial and military products where a single curve lens can be used. However, for double curve surfaces, additional research is required to bring a device to the same performance levels. Knowledge gained during the Phase I program will provide a path to manufacturing thigh quality, thermoformed light control films for other applications, such as the front lens for the HGU 55 flight helmets, ski goggles, or other double curve surfaces.
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 visor that would provide high optical contrast between its light (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 switching, and low power requirements. Taking advantage of flexible transparent electrodes and a new generation of solution processable electrochromic polymers, 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 self-powered prototype visor integrated with a curved polycarbonate window will be delivered.
The main application for our electrochromic polymer laminate is the EVVA Spacesuit Visor. Our device would allow the visor to instantly darken 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 on windows used in space stations and vehicles, or on deep space shelters.
The ability to tune the color of helmet visors would be useful for military personnel such as aircraft pilots. There is also a broad range of civilian applications for our electrochromic polymer laminate including building windows, automotive glass, commercial aerospace, eye wear and helmet visors.
Final Frontier Design (FFD) proposes a Low Cost Personal Life Support System (PLSS) for a space suit, utilizing commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) items wherever possible. The closed loop, Low Cost PLSS system proposed includes all the required systems for a generic EVA setup, and can be packaged effectively for outer space based applications. The use of COTS items with a minimum amount of original parts greatly reduces unit and development costs while maintaining a safe and effective means of life support. The Low Cost PLSS can be designed for “minimal use”, such that it is utilized in space and discarded on re-entry, rather than returned for maintenance and servicing, which represents a major design and operational cost barrier for current systems. The Low Cost PLSS is designed and intended to be able to be used with current space suit enclosure systems.
The Low Cost PLSS is broken into three major systems as described above: the Ventilation System, the Thermal Control System, and the Electronics and Controls System. FFD has identified multiple COTS, ISO certified suppliers for most components required for the system; the components have been chosen for prior space applications or space-like environment use. The Low Cost PLSS can greatly reduce unit price for the PLSS, with parts alone costing less than $120,000, likely an order of magnitude less expensive than the current next generation PLSS system.
NASA’s future exploration missions can benefit from an economic solution to the PLSS that is focused on single use capabilities appropriate for individual missions. A Low Cost PLSS could reduce mission costs while increasing units of replaceable backpacks for the space suit enclosure. “Low-cost customization” is, as mentioned in the SBIR calls, “is vital to NASA’s future exploration capabilities in many ways.” An interchangeable PLSS system can potentially adapt to new technologies.
There are now more than a handful of commercial space companies with billions of dollars dedicated to human spaceflight, both to orbital, microgravity destinations, as well as to planetary surface operations. At least 8 American companies intend to send humans to operate in the space environment. Each of these companies will require EVA operations to maintain, upgrade, and save their space based assets. However, there currently does not exist a commercial, cost-driven EVA system solution.
Proposed is a new PV array architecture (featuring up to or beyond 1000-1500~m2 surface area) which can autonomously and repeatedly self-deploy into a disk-like configuration from a vertical Mars lander or other equipment, fully independent of terrain, while naturally achieving highly prioritized operational Mars mission objectives. The innovation offers an attractive alternative to other designs for which integration with launch vehicle and lander/habitat structures is less than seamless, cleaning, deployment, and environmental effects can be an operational bottleneck, and structural support may depend on the terrain.
The webbed array is a fundamentally new hierarchical tension-compression paradigm with a compression ring suspended from an elevated central platform with lanyards, and a network of catenaries and webbings connecting it to the hub. The webbings support the actual array surface which constructed of flexible PV surface strips. For stowage, the webbings, catenaries, and surface together wrap onto a rotating drum in the central hub, with the compression ring gradually collapsing and the suspension lanyards reeled in. Stowage is compact and holds the sensitive PV surface in the tight embrace of mechanical parts from all directions.
The surface structure is slack when deployed with cross-slopes and gaps for self-cleaning, which is further assisted by dynamical excitation by winds. Elevation above the terrain is natural. Integration with the piece of heavy base equipment anchors the array down to resist winds. Sun tracking is possible. Adaptive operation permits partial or full retraction when needed for protection or to control risks in special events (e.g., tornado / dust devil updraft).
Offered is a systematic mapping of the several new fronts opened by this technology, to identify technological needs and paving the way for further development and commercialization.
Autonomously deployable/retractable elevated surfaces in gravity
- Mars power infrastructure: self-cleaning PV arrays
- Shading protection
- Other planetary missions
- Lunar missions
Autonomously deployable/retractable elevated surfaces in gravity
- Private sector planetary / Lunar missions
- Earth-based PV arrays in scenarios without human presence
- Rapidly deployable/retractable elevated shades and covers for protection or concealment in architectural and military applications
This Phase I SBIR will build on MotionPort’s previous simulation successes in the area of solar array deployment, addressing the specific challenge of simulating dust accumulation on solar arrays for long-term energy needs on the surface of Mars. MotionPort will use the Compact Telescoping Surface Array (CTSA) concept, developed by NASA Langley, for the example model. Simulations will be run to demonstrate the capability of simulating dust accumulation on the deployed solar array. Two active dust removal concepts will be simulated: 1) High velocity winds will be applied to determine required wind velocities and orientation to successfully remove dust, and 2) A tilt and shake mechanism will be added to the solar array model to mechanically tilt and add vibration to the structure to ‘shake’ off the dust.
The CTSA will be modeled in the RecurDyn multibody dynamics software, considering the deployed configuration and a sampling of operating configurations. Simulations of dust particles will demonstrate the rate of dust accumulation on the surface of a solar array. An example of this type of simulation is shown in the image. Dust particles were simulated blowing past a rectangular plate with a reduced gravity. Simulations will be used to determine the effect of tilt angle of the solar array on dust abatement.
These simulations will be built upon to demonstrate the ability to simulate removal of dust using a high velocity wind. The results will be compared to available data. Co-simulation with RecurDyn and the Particleworks SPH CFD software will simulate the use of a tilt and shake mechanism to remove dust. Simulations will test the efficiency of dust removal as a function of magnitude and frequency of the shaking mechanism.
A custom application will be developed to automate repetitive steps such as: simplification of the mechanical model, parameter management, and file management. The simulations results, lessons learned, and user information will be documented.
The processes and best practices developed in this project will result in a proven platform simulation methodology that can be expanded to many projects. NASA engineers will be able to plan and conduct simulations of dust deposition and removal for solar array, antennae, and imaging devices. Mission applications include Martian and lunar bases. Tasks to automate tedious steps in the simulation allow NASA and NASA contractor engineers to efficiently apply these methods.
This platform methodology will be commercialized for use by manufacturers and integrators of terrestrial solar arrays. While is it not difficult to test and measure dust accumulation on terrestrial solar arrays, it is difficult to replicate the test conditions precisely such that the effect of making a change to the solar array design on dust accumulation is determined. This activity results in more support for the maintenance and enhancement of dust accumulation/removal simulation capabilities.
In response to NASA’s need for a compact, low-cost and autonomous deployable solar array system to support Martian surface exploration, Roccor proposes to enhance the Mars Compact Telescoping Surface Array (CTSA) baseline design by incorporating an Articulating Solar Panel Energy System (ASPEN). The Mars CTSA was established in 2017 as the culmination of an extensive trade performed at NASA’s Langley Research Center with the goal to support human Mars exploration. The ASPEN system includes PV cells bonded to a thin membrane that is z-folded while stowed, and pulled out / tensioned when deployed. The ASPEN system replaces traditional membrane PV blankets with lightweight panels that can be articulated in unison much like “Venetian blinds”. This presence of articulation and resulting gaps between substrates offer unique advantages for operation on the Martian surface: 1) reduced cell density leading to increased performance in cost, W/kg and kW/m3, 2) implementation of array porosity and articulation control to reduce interaction with Martian wind and mitigate dust collection, and 3) modular design that enables mass production and ease of replacement.
The ASPEN technology is directly related to the ongoing development effort at the NASA Langley Research Center on the Mars Compact Telescoping Surface Array (CTSA) in support of human exploration of Mars. This effort will offer potential enhancements that will improve the baseline mission architecture.
The ASPEN technology enables rapid solar array pointing offering protection to harsh environments such as weather, debris or undesired electromagnetic radiation / directed energy. As such, this work is applicable to solar arrays deployed in harsh environments by both commercial and government defense agencies.
There is an urgent need to develop low-cost, damage tolerant, reusable and lightweight hot structure technology applicable to atmospheric entry vehicles, exposed to extreme temperatures between 1000° C to 2200° C.
Advanced carbon-carbons (C-C) and carbon fiber reinforced ceramic matrix composites (CMC) are the most promising and possibly the most affordable light-weight material candidates for these identified applications.
Since mid-1980s, many advancements, including but not limited to (1) internal inhibition using glass forming particulates (2) oxidation resistant ceramic matrices and (3) advanced coating systems, have demonstrated and have significantly improved the performances of carbon fiber reinforced composites under oxidative environment at high temperature. Unfortunately, none of these SOTA CMCs even with the advanced and expensive coating system are inherently oxidative resistant with proven reliability and therefore are not capable to meet the challenges required by multiple usage applications.
In Phase I, Allcomp proposes to demonstrate the feasibility of inherently oxidation resistant C-C and C-SiC composites capable to operate between 1000° C to 2200° C by fine-tuning our innovative nano-scaled glass forming and internal inhibition technologies using scalable and production-ready processes. Once proven, coupled with advanced adherent and crack free external coating systems currently being developed at Allcomp, this new class of CMCs will enable hot structures meeting the challenges of multiple uses applications up to 2000 °C (4000 °F) with significantly improved reliability at reduced risks.
Expendable and Re-usable Hypersonic Vehicles and the Scramjet - Hot structures for Aeroshell and Scramjet for both man-rated and unmanned vehicles
Launch System – Exit Cone and Hot Components in Engine Hot Gas Flow Path
Advanced Exploration System - Hot structures to replace parasitic thermal protection systems, includes future planetary missions including Mars and Venus, primary benefit significant weight reduction
Potential applications of hot structures for DoD and Commercial Space applications including: primary load-carrying aeroshell structure, control surfaces/ leading edges & fins, hot gas flow duct of the scramjet, and various components in engine hot gas flow path of the propulsion system such as hot gas valves, throat, and nozzle extensions.
Through the proposed SBIR program, NanoSonic will provide NASA with next-generation, polymer derived yttrium silicate ceramic matrix composites (CMC) helically wound and reactively bonded to high temperature titanium alloy and carbon / carbon (C/C) substrates. NanoSonic’s CMC’s will consist of filament wound silicon carbide fibers embedded within a polymer derived yttrium silicate host matrix that has demonstrated thermo-oxidative durability in excess of 2,000 oC. NanoSonic’s filament winding CMC manufacturing process will have immediate, cost-effective scalability enabling integration within reusable, multifunctional hot structure technologies for atmospheric entry vehicles including leading edge, fuselage, and tank structures. NanoSonic is currently developing lightweight, high temperature composite wrapped gun tubes and will leverage this expertise to produce game-changing filament wound CMC’s with broad applicability in future NASA hot structure systems that are low-cost, lightweight, damage tolerant, and reusable. In support of a rapid Phase III transition, NanoSonic has generated significant defense prime interest in the proposed filament wound, polymer derived CMC technology and has an established pilot scale HybridSil manufacturing infrastructure that may transition down-selected resins to 55-gallon batch production quantities.
NanoSonic’s filament wound, polymer derived CMC’s will provide a game-changing reusable, lightweight, and damage tolerant hot structure technology to NASA and aerospace engineers for next generation atmospheric entry vehicles. The proposed CMC materials will serve as an enabling technology for reusability between atmospheric entry missions and have near-term integration pathways within primary load-carrying aeroshell structures, control surfaces, and propulsion system components.
Secondary non-NASA applications will include use within a broad spectrum of commercial and defense aerospace propulsion systems. By providing unprecedented combinations of manufacturing ease, high temperature durability, damage tolerance and multi-mission reusability, NanoSonic envisions considerable post applications for its polymer derived yttrium silicate CMC technology during Phase II and III efforts with its aerospace development partners.
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, durable/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 prior preceramic precursor based insulating materials development, and revise processes that can be used to realize hot structure systems. The PhI effort will focus on assessing candidate processes and SiCN precursor formulation to create relevant load-bearing, insulating structures, then demonstrating technical feasibility by producing and testing hot structure samples. If successful, Sporian will be well prepared for Phase II efforts focused on producing demo units for NASA testing and addressing vehicle integration.
Thermally/mechanically high temp stable hot structures have many NASA applications due to their ability to improve weight/size, performance of atmospheric entry vehicles, or any vehicle exposed to harsh environments/hypersonic loads. Impacting programs such as HyperX, X-37, Mars Astrobiology Explorer Cacher, Jupiter Europa Orbiter, Uranus Orbiter, and Mars Trace Gas Orbiter, facilitating NASA objectives such as ERA, Advanced Air Vehicles Program, Vehicle Systems Safety Technology, and many more.
Similar to NASA applications, this insulation materials 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. Outside of DoD, applications include oil refineries, power generation structures, incinerators, glass fabrication, degassers, and tundishes to name a few.
The development of new hypersonic capabilities is important for the United States. In the near-term, application of hypersonic research and technologies is likely to be on enhanced defense systems, but this could eventually expand to include improved access to space capabilities that would directly benefit NASA. Hypersonic vehicle nose tips and leading edges require high thermal shock resistance combined with bending strength at a high angle of attack. Due to their high specific modulus, high fracture toughness and thermal conductivity, good thermal shock resistance, and excellent high temperature strength, advanced carbon/carbon (C/C) composites are considered as structural materials for atmospheric entry vehicles. C/C composites have densities in the range 1.6–2.0 gm/cm3, much lower than those of metals and ceramics, and can significantly reduce hypersonic vehicle component weight. During reentry into the atmosphere, a vehicle nose tip and leading edges can encounter extreme convective and radiative heating loads with the very high temperatures. Unfortunately, C/C composites start to rapidly oxidize above 700° which restricts their engineering applications in air. Multiple concepts of oxidation resistant coatings are currently in development for carbon/carbon composite protection. Most of the coatings are based on silicon carbide in combination with different refractory compounds. Thermal analyses indicate that portions of the C/C horizontal control surface and nose leading edge of the Mach 10 vehicle will experience temperatures apprmissiles, missile defense interceptors.oaching 2200°C, exceeding even the single use temperature limit of the SiC coated carbon/carbon. An oxidation protection system is proposed for C/C hot structures that is SiC free and able to meet these high temperature requirements by using oxygen barrier and refractory oxide coatings.
Hypersonic vehicles, access to space, heat shields, crew capsules, boost engine exit cones, altitude control engine nozzles, roll control engine nozzles, re-entry aeroshells.
Hypersonic vehicles, access to space, heat shields, commercial crew capsules, rocket exit cones, altitude control engine nozzles, roll control engine nozzles, re-entry bodies, missiles, missile defense interceptors.
Cornerstone Research Group Inc. (CRG) proposes to advance the state-of-the-art in carbon/carbon (C/C) composites for hot structures on atmospheric entry vehicles with an objective to deliver high quality components quicker and at lower cost. This is enabled by a new, proprietary resin technology called MG Resin. The material is being explored through funding with DARPA, MDA, NASA, and the Army for a range of applications including hot structures, thermal protection systems (TPS), and rocket motor insulation among others. The proposed embodiment uses MG Resin to replace phenolic or pitch as the primary char former in C/C and as a reimpregnation resin. MG forms graphitic carbon at relatively low temperatures with very high yield and it can be processed with liquid infusion techniques, resin film infusion, or in prepreg formats. Densification is still required, but CRG is targeting one or two reimpregnation steps as opposed to the six or more that serve as the current state of the art. The time and cost savings afforded by the reduced number of impregnation steps is significant with applicability for many different types of C/C and their related applications spanning aeroshells, control surfaces, and propulsion.
High Temperature Composites
*Aircraft Engine Components, *Control Surfaces, *Nozzles, *Fins
Thermal Protection (TPS)
*Leading Edges, *Control Surfaces, *Nose Cones, *Hypersonics, *Aeroshells
Fire Smoke and Toxicity Compliant Materials
*Aircraft interiors, *Marine interiors
*Engine, *Exhaust, *Brake pads
* Turbines, *Diesel Generators, *Fuel Cells, *Transformers, *Batteries
We propose a machine-learning 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 (AD-TEAM), will leverage a Self-Organizing Map (SOM)-based architecture to produce high-resolution clusters of nominal system behavior. What distinguishes AD-TEAM from more common clustering techniques (e.g., k-means) in the ISHM-space is that it maps high-dimensional input vectors to a 2D grid while preserving the topology of the original dataset. The result is a ‘semantic map’ that serves as a powerful visualization tool for uncovering latent relationships between features of the incoming points. Thus, beyond detecting known and unknown anomalies, AD-TEAM will also enable space crew to semantically characterize the clusters discovered. In doing so, personnel will better understand how faults propagate throughout a system, the transitional states of subsystem degradation over time, and the dominant features (and their relationships) of subsystem behavior. In addition to analyzing single subsystem datasets, we also propose 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 and overhauling activities of NASA’s deep-space missions.
One transition target is Orbital ATK, which has expressed interest in AD-TEAM as a potential integration into their ISHM systems. Orbital ATK has been chosen for innovation under NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP-2) program, so a partnership presents opportunity for integration into a real NASA space technology. Another target is the Sustainability Base at ARC for us to test AD-TEAM on their datasets, and for them to adapt our research to their ISHM tools.
We have begun conversations with Derek R. DeVries, an Orbital ATK Sr. Fellow Discipline Owner for Propulsion System’s Avionics and Control Disciplines. In an official letter of endorsement (attached to this proposal), he believes AD-TEAM has good potential for the PHM systems of Orbital ATK’s Avionics and Control Division. We plan to grow this relationship with Orbital ATK’s Avionics and Control Division through Phase I and Phase II.
We believe a robust approach to integrated system health management (ISHM) design is the application of redundancy. Redundancy is often thought of in terms of hardware; however, functional, analytic, and information redundancy strategies should also be considered.
Modeling sensor information is invaluable for diagnostics and critical path analysis. A total system approach is an efficient means of prognostics as well as identifying the time of failure. However, fidelity and resolution must be considered in both approaches. There are compounding errors as the subsystems are aggregated in a component model. Sensors themselves introduce a point of error and require due consideration of size, weight, and power (SWaP).
Signal processing, machine learning, and data mining techniques are common approaches in ISHM to improve the accuracy of alerts for known issues and an ability to identify latent and unknown failure conditions. Such techniques are not limited to ISHM. They are also used in fraud detection, image processing, medical diagnostics, and other domains.
Our innovation draws from the domain of electrical power systems with the application of non-invasive load management (NILM) models for load disaggregation. NILM is a means of extracting and analyzing discrete end-use system components from an aggregate energy signal. NILM evolution has run parallel with the developments in signal processing, machine learning, and data mining for feature extraction, classification, and action. A NILM approach for managing habitat subsystems allows for optimization of the number of sensors, mitigating points of information failure and the constraints of size, weight, and power while providing analytical redundancy to hardware systems. We submit that the application of disaggregation analytics is an innovative ISHM technology that supports NASA missions.
When NILM algorithms reside on a SSE device, the device becomes a component “smart sensor”. The reduction in the number of sensors mitigates sensory overload and aids in alarm management without compromising the crew’s ability to respond to emergencies. The use of NILM analytics and smart sensors is not limited to spaceflight or extra-terrestrial operations. The methodology can be applied in building management systems for facilities to reduce cost of operations.
There are a limited number of NILM disaggregation applications and none that integrate ISHM as a feature. NILM tools, in conjunction with smart meters, could provide information to improve equipment design, building simulation, and construction, utility operations, and policy decisions. These would benefit residential and commercial consumers with greater efficiencies and lower costs. A reduction of only 0.01% would have yielded $3.2BM in savings in 2016 (Energy Information Administration data).
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. Current approaches are mostly tailored to evaluating independent systems but do not necessarily scale well to problems requiring a system-of-systems approach. Furthermore, current approaches are not well suited to evaluating metrics such as system resiliency. Due to extended mission duration and distance, a new paradigm is entering the space mission design area which involves systems that change over time (either by changing the system capabilities, repairing the system, or resupplying the system). This adds complexity to the mission, and uncertainty regarding the system performance.
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 tools like those developed here to optimize the level of modularity and resilience in the design of next-generation commercial satellite systems to minimize overall lifecycle cost for the commercial satellite owner.
While automation technologies advance faster than ever, gaps of resilience capabilities between autonomous and human-operated systems have not yet been filled in proportion. Accordingly, ATanalytics, in collaboration with The Center for Reliability and Resilience Engineering (CRRE) of The B. John Garrick Institute for the Risk Sciences at UCLA proposes to develop a methodology and toolkit for assured resilience of autonomous systems (ARAS). The central part of the ARAS methodology consists of two gap fillers: (1) an ontology-driven database supporting resilience engineering activities and resilience modeling, and (2) a resilience assessment and optimization employing a Hybrid Causal Logic (HCL) based software platform for resilience engineering support. The database includes resilience engineering principles, archetype mission scenarios, and metric meta models. With the HCL-based resilience assessor, a high-level model at the top layer enables resilience metrics to be defined at the mission-scenario level (or CONOPS level) and be subsequently mapped to the lower-level models to capture system specifics. Our innovation will be a significant step forward to resilience engineering standardization since (i) the database (a knowledge hub) and resilience models will be onboard resources enabling both design-for-resilience and onboard decision making for resilience assurance, and (ii) the HCL metrics-in-the-loop methodology is inherently generalizable for different levels of system abstraction, life-cycle, and mission phases.
Excellent NASA application opportunities exist for the ARAS methodology and engineering tools. In particular, the results from this effort are most applicable to two types of space missions. One type is robotics missions such as NASA Europa Clipper mission to Jupiter’s frozen moon. The other type is crewed missions to which ground support for fault management is not practicable due to the unacceptable transmission delay of commands from the earth, such as the future Moon-To-Mars missions.
The ARAS methodology and its tool implementation will have a wide application domain. One example type of application is military vehicles, such as fighters, long-range missiles, UAVs, and UGVs. In addition, our ARAS methodology and tools are highly applicable to self-driving automobiles and civil aviation industries of which safety ratings are the key. Other application areas include patient vital-sign monitoring and natural disaster alert systems for which failures mean loss of life.
Singularity - Intelligence Amplified, LLC proposes to develop a resilience toolkit enabling the planning, assessment, implementation, and utilization of resilience for future manned spaceflight and autonomous systems. The Strategic Technologies for Autonomy & Resilience Tools (START) project will demonstrate the associated technologies the company envisions integrating as a toolkit within a modular framework for designing and enabling resilience for autonomous systems. The team proposes to use an incremental and modular development approach, permitting capture, modeling, and assessment of uncertainty throughout the process. A spiral development approach, beginning with architecture design and proposed approach feasibility will permit maximal reuse of incremental toolkit development artifacts. Accompanying the toolkit will be a set of defined metrics for resilience which enable the quantification of success, including improvement over baseline and enabling the computational optimization of contingency configurations. The end product, accompanied with a Bayesian inspired overlay for uncertainty management offers a novel concept enabling design for resilience and risk assessment in the face of possibly unforeseen and previously not encountered situatioy. Resilience leverages thoughtful design, intimate knowledge of inherent component properties, and system capabilities. Operational resilience incorporates understanding of mission goals and condition awareness, along with anticipation enabled through possibility modeling and simulation within an aware, intelligent framework to yield a best fit solution in dynamic situations. While maximizing on a central goal, the system will track and prioritize the optimal solution across multiple facets of sustainability, future outcomes, and mission success. Prior relevant work in autonomy, robustness assessment, systems reliability, health management, and agent-based systems will inform the research and development effort.
Automated contingency management for space exploration and advanced systems health management for electrical power represent the key areas to be demonstrated during the proposed Phase I & Phase II projects. Other applicable areas include manned and unmanned flight systems, air traffic control systems, and propulsion health management systems.
Autonomous Vehicles; Self driving cars; Mass transportation systems; Electrical Power Grid; Alternative Energy Systems.
MAESTRO (Management of manned spacecraft operations through intelligent, AdaptivE, autonomouS, faulT identification and diagnosis, Reconfiguration/replanning/rescheduling Optimization) substantially leverages previous NASA investments to assemble the correct set of technologies to implement all aspects of the intelligent, semi-autonomous spacecraft operations manager. We have significant experience in all of the required technologies and have already integrated them into a general MAESTRO architecture designed to be easily applied to all spacecraft subsystems.
The eventual, ultimate goal is the ability of astronauts and a semi-autonomous, intelligent onboard system to easily manage all spacecraft operations through the development of MAESTRO, which can easily interface to the various systems of a variety of spacecraft. MAESTRO must be sufficiently powerful, general, and computationally efficient and be easily adapted by developers. This will be accomplished using open standards, clearly defined open interfaces, use of Open Source software, and leveraging several previous NASA investments.
The Phase I research goals are to explore the various spacecraft subsystem domains, elaborate the AI techniques useful for subsystem characterization, diagnosis, and replanning/rescheduling/adaptive execution/safing, prove the feasibility of these techniques through prototype development, and develop a complete system specification for the Phase II MAESTRO system.
Because it will be an open system that other developers could use to create intelligent spacecraft operations management systems, many MAESTRO applications can be quickly developed. Since MAESTRO is specifically designed to easily interface with Diagnosis, Adaptive Execution, Planning, and Scheduling engines, developers will have their choice. There is a potential to move most spacecraft operations decision-making to onboard autonomous agents and/or the crew.
We already sell Aurora to private companies, with total sales over $13 million. MAESTRO improvements can be readily incorporated into Aurora and sold through existing sales channels, especially to the power generation industry, which we are already pursuing. There exist a large number of other applications that MAESTRO could be readily adapted to, such as oil refineries, factories, etc.
Because close collaboration between the crew and mission control will not be practical for inter-planetary exploration, NASA envisions the need for an intelligent autonomous agent that can continually integrate data from the spacecraft or lunar/planetary base to advise the crew during their mission. TRACLabs has designed and prototyped such an agent called a cognitive architecture for space exploration (CASE) that incorporates a procedure development system known as PRIDE that allows for variably autonomous execution of both crew and robotic procedures, an automated planner that plans and re-plans the execution of procedures to achieve overall mission goals, an ontology data management system that makes system states available to all the components, a process manager to manage the use of distributed computing resources that support the CASE components, and a natural language dialog system to allow the crew access to any part of the architecture.
However, past and current work in NASA space analogs, such as NEEMO and HERA has shown that the usefulness of any automation supporting human activity is only as good as its user interfaces and interaction. The agent must have a suite displays and interaction modes that can update the users’ situation awareness and recommend courses of action without undue cognitive load on the users, particularly the intra-vehicular activity user, or IVA. Therefore, this proposal seeks to investigate, design and test a canonical interaction protocol for CASE, called a flexible agent-based communication for exploration (FACE) that will include natural language dialog and active graphics, provide a consistent presentation of the current situation to the IVA, rapidly assess anomalous situations so as to focus the users’ attention on the key facts of the situation, recommend courses of action for correcting anomalous situations and provide for variable autonomy and user override of any autonomous operation.
After Phase II, the FACE protocols and software components will be available for exploration systems development and testing. Any program using intelligent agency can use FACE, e.g.,
– Lunar base management
– Mars base management
– Deep Space Gateway (and DST)
– NASA Analogs: HERA, iPAS ground test facility
TRACLabs sells PRIDE to oil field services company, Baker Hughes, which has already expressed interest in licensing some of the new capabilities being developed in this project, e.g., the Top Level Display (TLD). Other non-NASA applications with a PRIDE base include:
– Commercial space: Sierra Nevada Corporation (Dream Chaser program uses PRIDE), as well as ABL Space and Stratolaunch
– DoD: Brigade and Division military command groups, Naval aircraft carriers
There is a significant gap between the properties of materials that are produced using the current 3D printing processes and the properties that are needed to support critical space systems. The polyetherimide/polycarbonate (PEI/PC) composite recently demonstrated on the ISS is a significant step forward in development, however, FDM with PEI/PC represents the current practical limits of AM in space due to the temperature requirements to produce other materials
In this Phase I SBIR, AMI, an ISO 13485-Certified (FDA GMP Compliant) Medical Device Developer and Manufacturer, will partner with PSU professors Dr. Michael Hickner of the Center for Innovative Materials Processing through Direct Digital Deposition (CIMP-3D) and Dr. Benjamin Lear, Associate Professor of Chemistry to develop, test, and commercialize a carbon fiber reinforced (CFR) PEEK composite feedstock with improved deposition and strength through focused photothermal polymerization. Polymics Inc, a local company with expertise in compounding PEEK, will produce feedstock ready for 3D print. The project proposed combines three complimentary approaches to achieve additive manufacturing of precision parts with CFR PEEK:
The goal is a feedstock that allows printing of PEEK and CFR PEEK on the ISS, with minimal or no changes to hardware. Additive manufacturing of high performance thermoplastics provides a unique opportunity to enable in situ production of: a) large aerospace structures that would be incapable of terrestrial manufacture and delivery b)devices, components 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) parts with NASA specifications 2) custom external and internal bracing and support components for the medical community and 3) implantable PEEK devices (orthopedics) due to biocompatibility history of PEEK and better match of PEEK to mechanical properties of bone compared to metals. An integral part of the medical effort is being able to conduct critical quality activities like Verification and Validation on parts being printed individually.
The ability to manufacture new functional parts and critical components in the extraterrestrial environment has tremendous value for NASA. Fused deposition modeling (FDM) is a method of additive manufacturing (3D printing) compatible with the microgravity environment, and has been demonstrated on the ISS. To reach the full potential of in-space manufacturing, objects printed with FDM must have strength approaching that of metals used in critical space systems. Development of higher strength feedstocks for FDM and post process strengthening treatments have the potential to bridge the gap between printed thermoplastics and metals.
IOS will develop a novel 3D printable feedstock material and post printing process that will enable NASA to 3D print plastic parts with metal-like mechanical properties in space. The target program for this material is the NASA In-Space Manufacturing Program. This material and process will be compatible with the printing technology in the additive manufacturing facility (AMF) on the ISS, and will be compatible with FDM printing tools selected for the multi-material fabrication laboratory, FabLab, currently being developed through NASA's NextSTEP program.
The target program for this material is the NASA In-Space Manufacturing Program, but will be applicable to all future missions where in-space manufacturing is required. IOS's novel high strength thermoplastic feedstock and post print strengthening process will be compatible with the printing technology in the additive manufacturing facility on the ISS, and with the FDM printing tools selected for the multi-material fabrication laboratory, FabLab, being developed through NASA's NextSTEP program.
The proposed product will be sold as a thermoplastic material for fused deposition modeling (FDM) additive manufacturing (AM) with metal-like strength, greater than the strongest material now available, which will expand the FDM market space from rapid prototyping into production of functional parts. AM is used across all commercial sectors, and plastic is by far the most used material. Higher strength plastics will push this market space further towards the higher revenue production segment.
GeoComposites, LLC, aims to develop the next generation of high performance fiber reinforced composite feedstock for in-space manufacturing of high strength parts via fused deposition modeling (FDM). Since plastics are inherently low in strength, additive manufactured plastic currently cannot compete with metallic parts. Failed parts on the International Space Station (ISS) and the genuine need for structural spare parts onboard ISS and for deep space missions mandates that composite feedstock and associated FDM payloads should be developed for future in-space manufacturing. GeoComposites will develop composite feedstocks and associated deposition parameters to meet the requirement set by NASA for an ultimate tensile strength of 200 MPa.
For a high strength part, it is not just sufficient to have a high strength feedstock but also a FDM facility that allows for the part build as dictated by the feedstock. GeoComposites proposes to demonstrate a combination of feedstocks for high strength parts. The part build will be performed with a dual nozzle FDM machine. The first feedstock will be created by extruding the mixture of a thermoplastic matrix with an optimized distribution of compatible chopped fibers. Continuity between the interlayer fibers will provide high bond strength between layers. The layup will combine this feedstock with continuous High Strength High Temperature (HSHT) fibers. Mechanical and outgas testing will be performed to demonstrate compatibility with NASA requirements.
In addition, we propose to analyze ISS accommodation of FDM equipment capable of printing structural parts on the ISS using the developed feedstocks. The overall proposed approach will provide a comprehensive solution to include development of the customized high strength feedstocks, layup pattern and build parameters, and an analysis of ISS accommodation for consistent in-space production of high strength composite parts.
High strength feedstocks and an ISS-compatible FDM machine will provide the path for:
· In-space manufacturing of structures, electronics, and tools;
· Printed satellites, including CubeSats;
· Mass savings on Space Launch Systems by replacing metallic parts with composites;
· Printing of multifunctional radiation shielding material for crew health;
· In-space part design using digital twins validated by real time diagnostics;
· On-demand printing of food using cellulose based feedstocks.
Non-NASA applications of FDM using high strength feedstock is expected to include:
· For the medical industry, products ranging from medical devices to cell culturing;
· For the aerospace industry, items like GE’s commercial jet engine nozzle;
· For construction, fiber reinforced building material feedstock and Contour Crafting;
· For the automotive industry, lightweight printed composites to enhance fuel efficiency;
· For the Department of Defense, on demand printed parts in theater of operation.
Ensuring production quality is crucial for in-space manufacturing (ISM). The proposed small business innovative research is a feasibility study of an in-situ inspection unit that can be added to an existing additive manufacturing (AM) tool, such as an FDM (fused deposition modeling) machine, providing real-time information about the part quality, and detecting flaws as they occur. The information provided by this unit is used to a) qualify the part as it is being made, b) to providing feedback to AM tool for correction, or to stop the process if the part will not meet the quality, thus saving time, energy and reduce material loss. The approach is based on multi-parameter imaging technique that can detect flaws in real-time for each AM print layer, such as dimensional deviation, micro-structured defects, wide gap between print lines, and determine surface finish, to name a few. Using multi-parameter approach provides measurement redundancy, maximizing likelihood of detecting defects that may otherwise be missed using a single parameter sensing approach, and avoids false readings.
During this research study, AM parts will be tested with the proposed approach both on a bench-top as well as while being printed in an AM tool. The predicted results will be compared to actual flaws. Current and future unit size requirements, component specifications, speed, accuracy, output parameter and specifications will be determined, and adaptability to current and future ISM systems will be established.
Observed defect parameters will be correlated to known values, thus enabling prediction of part performance/material outcomes, and the approach will be demonstrated into a ground based AM systems.
Successful completion of the Phase I feasibility study will meet the subtopic requirements by demonstrating the in-situ quality control approach for in-ground AM systems, which has high extensibility to ISM, and results in correlating and predictive material outcomes.
For NASA applications, the proposed innovation will be used for quality control for in-space manufacturing (ISM). An example application is for using in platforms aboard international space station.
For non-NASA commercial applications, this technique can be an add-on quality control and feedback to additive manufacturing units. The economic benefits include reduction of cost of post process testing, and significant reduction of loss of labor and material due to faulty parts.
This solicitation calls for online quality control to be applied to In-Space Manufactured (ISM) additive manufactured parts. Our proposed approach is integrated precision scanning of the additive manufactured (AM) parts and feedback of that data back into AM layer by layer process control. The goal is to augment Space Manufacturing AM process controls with verifiable feedback enabling improved process stability and part quality to significantly reduce the risk associated with complex AM parts, especially those with critical hidden internal geometries or other features not readily measured with non-destructive tests/measurements.
The proposed approach proposes to leverage and productize technology disclosed by the Marshall Space Flight Center in reference number MFS-TOPS-70 case number MFS-33013-2, a method that determines geometric differences (flaws) between the designed model and the printed part/component by employing IR cameras to collect accurate temperature data that can be validated against valid thermal models. We will add to that approach by also employing mature but improved NIR optical measurement to implement an additional function on the moving AM extrusion head. We then will employ the 3D data acquired by this embedded scanning sensor to (a) provide dimensional verification of part geometry after each deposition pass, and (b) when employed real time to modify machine control – likely requiring modification of the AM machine’s X, Y, Z, and feed rate controlling mechanisms that have to be different depending on ambient conditions (temp, humidity, and gravity) and deposited materials (plastic and plastic emulsion material differences).
The goal is to develop a real-time system active feedback control and process characterization applied to multiple materials, specifically in Phase I to FDM parts, and in Phase II to support in-space manufacturing employing the ISS AMF. This will show how closed-loop AM manufacturing is feasible and changes the quality and consistency of AM manufactured parts for aerospace parts fabrication in support of rapid development and in-situ manufacturing for long-distance space missions.
Key potential customers will be the military for out-of-production spares, industry for low quantity high quality parts manufacturing, and more specialized makers of other products like prostheses of 3D art. We will also partner with interested AM machine OEMs.
Parts manufactured by additive manufacturing (AM) typically suffer from a combination of defect types that can inhibit the functional performance of a part. Most AM parts inspection methods are destructive, time-consuming, complex, expensive, do not perform in-situ, and are not easily applicable in space. This Phase I SBIR proposes to develop a non-destructive evaluation method based upon acoustical signatures that can perform in space, in-situ, and post production and is equally applicable to both metallic and non-metallic AM. Laser Doppler vibrometry is combined with vibrational resonance spectroscopy to extract acoustical information from exposed layers during the printing process to characterize the part. The Phase I work will demonstrate feasibility by experiment and computer simulation. Component samples ranging from acceptable to unacceptable will be produced and fully analyzed with complex inspection and diagnostic tools to verify the mechanical and structural properties, and the associated acoustical signatures will be correlated with various stages of contamination and defects. We will determine how well the acoustical signature of a reference part can be used to certify additional parts arising from subsequent production. We will show how such a system can be interfaced with a printing machine and operated in a space environment.
New NDE methods will find extensive application to inspect and distinguish substandard components in additive manufacturing on earth and in space and would be a tremendous benefit to NASA and other organizations. The use of acoustics in NDE also enhances safety when compared to other types of NDE. The proposed inspection system could become an important tool in all additive manufacturing operations including NDE/NDT, Certification, Process Monitoring, Damage Detection, and Meeting Specification.
Additive manufacturing is widespread in industry This system will expand industrial applications to where component mechanical properties and certification are extremely important. By providing a procedure with which printed parts can be quickly confirmed as meeting preset criteria, significant cost reduction is possible. Applications include all of the above and detection and prevention of counterfeiting and tampering detection and monitoring/Inspecting coatings..
Made In Space, Inc. (MIS) is a global leader in manufacturing technologies for harsh environments. MIS developed, owns and operates a commercial Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF) aboard the International Space Station (ISS), used for both government and commercial use. Over multiple years of operation, MIS developed quality processes that ensure the success of printing in the microgravity environment which is operated and monitored from the ground control station at MIS’ Moffett Field facility. These processes include ground testing, computer modeling, and simulations of the final product to optimize manufacturing on orbit. These quality processes are key to the successful operation of AMF.
MIS continues to break new ground: recent successes include an Optical Fiber EXPRESS Rack payload, the first operation of polymer additive manufacturing in a simulated Low Earth Orbit environment, and a Guinness Book of World Records award for longest 3D printed structure.
But why stop there? MIS has been researching metal additive manufacturing since its founding. The Vulcan Phase I SBIR Technology Development Program (TDP) combines metal additive manufacturing with traditional manufacturing methods, enabling components to be produced in gravity independent environments.
In developing these various manufacturing technologies, MIS has extensively researched new Verification and Validation (V&V) methods to confirm fabricated components meet the rigorous standards required for aerospace applications. Building on the successes of AMF and SAMEE, a DARPA funded SBIR Phase I TDP (Section 5), AMARU would enhance the state of the art V&V methods by combining and integrating advanced sensor technology and Siemen’s industry leading NX software tools.
NASA is currently undergoing the Phase A of the Fabrication Laboratory (FabLab) under the NextSTEP program which involves developing a universal manufacturing machine capable of using multiple materials but is also required to have an extensive validation and verification system for quality control. MIS would develop this hardware and software suite to be proposed on future Phases of FabLab and could offer AMARU as an add-on to other manufacturing systems being developed for this program.
There are many companies that can use AMARU in the additive manufacturing, subtractive manufacturing, and assembly line markets. Because AMARU is universal and requires little space near the build volume, the system can be integrated in a variety of ways with little to no interference. However, this system provides a robust set of data monitoring and feedback control to increase throughput, decrease waste and provide an overall increase in both accuracy and precision of each manufactured part.
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 systems already being developed to support NASA’s ISM on complimentary efforts. CRG’s proposed approach will initially be applied to FDM feedstock production and print quality, but is applicable to other AM processes using the same control hardware and software with different sensor inputs.
- Improvements to the Refabricator multi-material recycler printer system
- Volumetric consolidation of ISS waste plastics
- Recycling ISS waste plastics into 3D printable filament
- Reduce payload needs for AM fabrication in-space
- In-situ monitoring extensible to metal additive manufacturing
- Novel 3D printing feedstock materials
- Improved consumer-level FDM feedstock production
- In-situ filament fabrication monitoring and corrective feedback add-on
- In-situ print quality monitoring
- 3D printers with improved or tailorable layer-to-layer adhesion
Manufacturing technologies that can embed structural electronics into objects built at destination are being explored by NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP). Direct write printing technologies play a key role in the fabrication of next generation of printed electronics products. Compatibility of multi material printing technology with in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) and in space manufacturing (ISM) is challenging. 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.
Space Foundry is developing a plasma jet based direct write printing technology to enable printed electronics fabrication in space with reduced processing steps. Plasma jet provides the ability to deposit conductive patterns, insulators, dielectric materials, and semiconductors with precise thickness control and tunable material properties. The material to be printed is aerosolized and focussed using electromagnetic field and plasma that provides directional printing and this electric field controlled directionality makes it a highly suitable technology for operating in micro-gravity environment. The overall objective is to develop a robust plasma jet print head with precision machining of the nozzle for space use, integrated fluid delivery module and miniaturized power supply. The bench top prototype system at TRL level 6 will successfully demonstrate the feasibility of the technology for independent operation at earth and in space. Plasma jet technology has cross cutting applications in sterilization, organics decontamination, water treatment, bioprinting etc., The plasma jet technology offers a unique value proposition to NASA mission needs as it drastically reduces the process steps and eliminates the need for multiple equipment sets.
Technologies that will enable in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) and ISM are needed to reduce the crew dependency on Earth and resupply missions. The overall objective of the phase 1 work is to take the first steps towards printed electronics manufacturing on Mars, while immediate use is envisioned for Earth and ISS. Some of the ISM applications of the technology are on-demand fabrication of energy storage devices, gas sensors, bio sensors, interconnects, RF antenna and additive manufacturing.
Printed electronic devices including flexible electronics and flexible hybrid electronics are nextgeneration internet of things connected smart devices that have applications in both consumer and industrial segments. The printed electronics equipment market is $1.5B and consumables market is over $4B and growing at a CAGR of 22%. The plasma jet printing represents a paradigm shift in performance and capability and aims to disrupt the printed electronics equipment and consumables industry.
Nearly all fluid systems aboard spacecraft are, or become, multiphase fluid systems, whether by design or default. Unfortunately, we still do not possess ample understanding of low-g fluid phenomena to assure performance and avoid system failure. Though inadequate fluid system design can lead to disastrous consequences, for the most part, and for life support systems in general, precious crew time is consumed by the repair and maintenance of life support equipment. Long-duration space flight missions to the moon, Mars and other planetary bodies will require hardware that is less prone to failure and significantly more robust than the current state of the art. To prepare for the future during the ISS era, we propose to develop and deliver a simple, yet profound, two-phase flow testbed for use on ISS. The facility will be deployed for the exhaustive measurement, demonstration, and qualification of inertia-visco-capillary two-phase flows—flows critical to myriad low-g fluids conduits, devices, and systems (fuels, coolants, and water processing equipment for life support). Our approach is uniquely tailored to achieve high data rates of both engineering and scientific value in a safe, fast-to-flight, low-cost experiment constructed substantially of flight qualified COTS components. Our two-phase flow data objectives are expected to be highly complementary to the NASA GRC research and NASA JSC life support applications, focusing on the critical performance impacts of container/conduit geometry and poor wetting conditions common to many fluid systems aboard spacecraft. Additionally, our 'low-tech' approach to experiment design and data collection greatly increases the rate and breadth of microgravity two-phase flow research returns to NASA with concurrent reductions in overall program risk.
The primary data to be collected is of both short- and long-term interest to NASA as it supports the development of a wide variety of systems including air revitalization, water recovery, water management, habitation, waste water treatment, condensing heat exchangers, and other contaminating systems such as plant and animal habitats, laundering and hygiene, food rehydration and dispensing, and others. Highly wetting systems relevant to coolants, cryogens, and propellants may also be addressed.
Data is expected to have a direct impact on commercial aerospace system design for a wide range of critical systems including life support, thermal management, water management and others. The phase separating devices will be qualified in an operational environment generating discrete flow products and design guides that can be integrated into existing and future systems.
Manufacturing in space has been a long-term goal for the International Space Station (ISS). It is important both as a way to potentially produce high value materials such as some drugs that can be created more efficiently in the microgravity environment as well as a way to demonstrate that Lunar and Martian outposts can manufacture some of their own needed supplies on-site. Multiple prior experiments have been developed to demonstrate the manufacturing of specialized materials onboard ISS, including infrared ZBLAN optical fiber that avoids internal crystallization effects in microgravity, and parts produced through 3D printing. The objective of this program is to develop an ISS experimental package to demonstrate the onboard production of photovoltaic cells and arrays. NanoSonic would develop electrospray techniques compatible with the microgravity environment for the direct and complete printing of large-scale perovskite solar cells (PSCs) and arrays. Unlike ink jet printing that sprays liquid drops of ink that would spatially wander in microgravity, electrospray methods use high voltage to rapidly accelerate materials onto charged substrates so no release of liquids occurs. PSCs have been developed rapidly during the past five years to currently exhibit power conversion efficiencies (PCEs) greater than 20%. Electrospray printing of PSCs would allow the rapid, low cost manufacturing of large area and mechanically flexible and stowable solar array fabrics, and their fabrication onboard ISS would demonstrate the production of materials that are needed in space. Through the Phase I SBIR program, NanoSonic would work through a subcontract with Professor Shashank Priya, a leader in the development of perovskite solar cell technology at Penn State University, and informally with aerospace engineers at a major U.S. aerospace company to consider onboard ISS experimental system requirements.
NASA would use the developed automated module onboard ISS to demonstrate the manufacturing of electronics in space. This would support the development of commercial manufacturing in space and demonstrate the production of electronics away from earth. NASA could use high efficiency solar cells produced onboard ISS in future missions that require increased electrical power, including fixed space platforms such as the Deep Space Gateway or outposts on the surfaces of the moon or Mars.
Flexible, low cost, highly efficient PSCs would have application in PV fabric-based tents, backpacks and vehicles, as an alternative power source in remote locations along rural highways or recreation areas off the grid, and as a replacement for rigid rooftop and backyard PV structures that provide lower PCEs. Low-cost electrospray additive manufacturing units could be used by industry, researchers and individuals to make their own photovoltaic fabrics and arrays and other electronic devices.
MIS is pioneering the use of the microgravity environment on the International Space Station (ISS) for manufacturing 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, 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. However, MIS plans trade studies to find more complex glass experiments, such as processing the constituent powders into samples, containerless processing, varying gravity levels, and other experiments which can only be performed on the ISS platform.
Exotic optical fiber can be used in many different applications such as lasers, spectroscopy, high-grade sensors and other items that NASA and the Department of Defense could use. 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.
Telecommunications, Networking, and Information: Technological companies handling large amounts of data daily would all be interested in having better performance over a wider bandwidth.
Sensors and Imaging: Better coverage in the mid-IR regions for sensors provides new applications for many industries
Lasers: Mid-IR fiber lasers are enabled by the specialty optical fibers investigated here, and are attractive due to high efficiency, excellent beam quality, and broad gain bandwidth
There have been significant interests from NASA in integrated optical transceiver chips for space optical communications, in particular space-qualifiable 1550nm laser transmitter and receiver with optoelectronic laser, modulator, and detector, that are capable of data rates from 1Gb/sec to 200Gb/sec. The power efficiency shall be better than 10W per Gb/sec and weight less than 100g per Gb/sec. In addition, hybrid RF-optical technologies are sought, and technology based on integrated photonic circuit solution is strongly desired.To address the abovementioned interests, our proposed works will focus on realizing 100-200Gb/sec high-data-rate Wavelength-Division-Multiplexed (WDM) photonic transceiver module that will be able to meet the above NASA requirements, based on a few key technologies we have developed including: (a) WDM Laser Transmitter with Concurrent Wavelength Locking Capability; (b) Ultra-Compact Wavelength Mux/DeMux; (c) Integrated Narrow Linewidth Laser; (d) Integrated 20-40Gb/sec Modulator with low voltage of ~1.5V; (e) Ruggedized Wide-Temperature-Range Chip Packaging Module with large operating temperature range of -40oC to 100oC.
The main NASA application area is space qualifiable 1550 nm laser transmitter and receiver for data rates from 1 gigabits/s to >200 gigabits/s with power efficiencies better than 10W per gigabit/s and mass efficiencies better than 100 g per gigabit/s. Technologies for efficient waveform modulation, detection, and synchronization using Integrated photonic circuit solutions are strongly desired. Also of potential application interests are hybrid RF-optical transmissions.
For Non NASA Commercial Applications, the main market areas are computer Interconnect and Optical Network. Include Optical Transceiver Modules (OTMs) and “Active Optical Cables” (AOCs), used widely in data centers and networks. AOC market is $500Mil/year and the OTM is $4.4Bil/year currently. Other applications include coherent communications for network, and chip-to-chip optical interconnects with estimated market size of $300Mil/year.
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 Reports. Multiple Priority technology gaps can be found that require a solution in time for the next Decadal Survey. A common cited solution of interest is silicon carbide and 3D printing or additive manufacturing. RoboSiC technologies provide both. Team GT proposes purposefully engineered 2nd Generation optical-grade and structural-grade “RoboSiC to provide the degree of passive athermality required for the laser communications telescope wavefront error stability, concomitant with low areal density mirrors (7.75-10 kg/m2) and structures (4-5 kg/m2), and the ability to perform active precision adjustment (if required). The combination of 3D/AM allows the possibility to manufacture high structural efficiency classical truss structures such as the Pratt, Warren and Howe trusses and our gradient lattice cores for the mirrors. Clever design provides the additional stability benefit of damping during slew. We will use a combination of 3D/AM parts to produce inexpensive, bolt-together, athermal telescopes which achieve optical pathlength and wavefront error stability with low-scatter. A Paul-Baker three-mirror anastigmatic telescope may be an ideal laser communications telescope design. We plan to deliver mirror and structures coupons to NASA for testing.
NASA requires lasercom telescopes for 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. Other NASA missions that can benefit from our technology include eLISA and future Gravity Wave Observatories, future FIR (Origins Space Telescope), LUVOIR and HabEx missions.
Potential non-NASA applications include commercial free space communications, complex telescopes for Astronomy, Imaging and Remote Sensing applications, optical instruments/telescopes which enable imaging, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions for the military, police and paramilitary units, fire fighters, power and pipeline monitoring, search and rescue, atmospheric and ocean monitoring, and high-energy laser beam directors.
The GRAIL and LADEE missions demonstrated the inherent value of skimming low over the lunar surface, yet they only probed below 10 km very briefly during periapse passages. Advanced Space proposes developing the means for flying spacecraft in an orbit that remains below 10 km altitude for weeks or months, opening the door to breakthrough scientific investigations. The proposed work will study an innovative system that may be used to achieve Sustained Low-Altitude Lunar Orbital Missions (SLALOM), enabled through autonomous onboard GNC capabilities and the use of Flash LIDAR.
The proposed study explores the dynamics of SLALOM, performs navigation analyses, evaluates maneuver planning methodologies, and researches how unique innovations in spacecraft autonomy can transfer operations from the ground to the spacecraft. Skimming the lunar surface autonomously with a spacecraft that remains below an altitude of 10 km is a challenging proposition that requires an entirely new approach to spacecraft navigation, maneuver design and execution, and spacecraft autonomy. SLALOM, with the requisite breakthrough improvements in guidance, navigation, and control technology, allows new scientific investigations such as the direct sensing and/or capture of lunar particles naturally lofted by the complicated dynamics of the lunar exosphere.
The benefits of the proposed innovation in spacecraft autonomy extend naturally to other airless bodies where sustained low-altitude orbits are mission enabling. These include, among others, the scientific and commercial exploration of asteroids and the Martian satellites Phobos and Deimos. While these applications are compelling, Advanced Space identifies the Moon as an ideal proving ground for this technology for many reasons, not least of which is to take advantage of the wealth of geodetic reference data generated by previous missions and the desire for low-altitude, high value scientific investigations identified by the lunar science community.
SLALOM makes possible the direct sensing or sampling of lunar regolith that has been lofted from the surface via interaction with solar UV radiation. In this way, a large number of sites of interest may be directly sampled using the same spacecraft: a capability far exceeding the reach of a rover or lander. Further, such low-altitude orbits allow remote-sensing measurements of unparalleled resolution, both at the Moon and other airless bodies such as asteroids and other natural satellites.
Commercial interest in the exploration of airless bodies has grown significantly in the past decade, particularly as a means of identifying and extracting valuable space resources. The ability to operate autonomously at very low altitudes is enabling not only in the accuracy of measurements that can be collected, but also in the ability to operate a fleet of exploration space vehicles economically with a streamlined ground support footprint with minimal human interaction required.
CU Aerospace (CUA) proposes further development of the Dynamically Leveraged Automated (N) Multi- body Trajectory Optimization (DyLAN) tool, which solves impulsive and low-thrust global optimization problems in multi-body dynamical 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 trajectory optimization 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 LT multi-body problem do not currently exist, yet this regime is seen in numerous mission designs. During Phase I, CUA will combine recent ad- vances in global optimization, such as hybrid optimal control frameworks and intelligent heuristic global solvers, with robust and efficient local optimization and medium-high fidelity modeling of launch vehicles, spacecraft, and engine modeling to advance DyLAN to fill the aforementioned needs. Phase I efforts will include parallelism, both for personal computers and large compute clusters, to reduce run-time. Lastly, in Phase I, an automated export capability of solved solutions to NASA’s flight fidelity solver GMAT will be implemented; thereby providing an efficient global optimization capability to GMAT for multi-body, which does not currently exist. The aforementioned capabilities will be demonstrated with select test problems by CUA. DyLAN is the next logically tool for a mission design team that current uses NASA’s EMTG for interplanetary and GMAT for flight fidelity solutions.
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 with higher fidelity, efficient simulations. DyLAN goes beyond these goals by connecting NASA EMTG and GMAT into a highly productive and maintainable design toolchain.
DyLAN’s early demonstration proves that commercial entities (e.g. a.i. solutions, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK, the Aerospace Corporation, KinetX Aerospace etc.) using DyLAN for bids on science/defense missions, or as contractor to NASA for multi-body problems (libration point, resonance transfer, departure/arrival) will possess a strong advantage over competition. DyLAN provides the only avenue for entities (commercial/academia) without world experts to design and optimize such missions.
We propose to create a deep reinforcement Machine Learning (ML) system and development approach that supports certification for mission-critical applications through observable, verifiable architectures and functional safety methodologies, to handle the full scope of onboard, autonomous spacecraft guidance, navigation, and control (GNC). ML systems are currently being used for GNC in many autonomous systems, the biggest investments being for self-driving cars and robotics. We will investigate the feasibility of adopting certification standards based on the latest developments from the automotive industry combined with traditional aerospace certification processes. In Phase 1 we will implement a low fidelity ML-based GNC system in order to demonstrate the viability of the ML approach, whereby the trajectory plan is determined by a neural network and the control loop is executed with an Extended Kalman Filter. This demonstration will inform the drafting of requirements and specifications for a functional safety development framework.
The ability to reduce costs when exploring complex gravitational environments, (e.g. at uncharacterized asteroids), the communications bandwidth, ground system resources, and labor required to develop and verify the gravity model, trajectories, and failure modes for successively closer passes, orbits, and landings are a significant cost and schedule drivers. The ability to have satellites rendezvous in deep space, possibily for refueling.
Our ProxOps solution will allow for a significant advancement in satellite independence from Earth supervision while minimizing spacecraft burden. This AI will significantly reduce the risk and cost associated with operating spacecraft close to a small asteroid, other satellites, and other planetary bodies by utilizing Real-time mission sequencing and safe proximity operations with near-Earth objects and Satellites.
In the latter half of the 20th century, microprocessors faithfully adhered to Moore’s law, the well-known formulation of exponentially improving performance. As Gordon Moore originally predicted in 1965, the density of transistors, clock speed, and power efficiency in microprocessors doubled approximately every 18 months for most of the past 60 years. Yet this trend began to languish over the last decade. A law known as Dennard scaling, which states that microprocessors would proportionally increase in performance while keeping their power consumption constant, has broken down since about 2006; the result has been a trade-off between speed and power efficiency. Although transistor densities have so far continued to grow exponentially, even that scaling will stagnate once device sizes reach their fundamental quantum limits in the next ten years.
Due to this stagnation, processors, like those used for NASA’s navigation, communication, and telemetry systems, lack the scaling necessary to push space exploration further. A more energy efficient architecture/technology is required in order to increase the information bits per unit energy, and push processors architectures pass the thermal limits currently preventing increased speeds. Photonic integrated circuit (PIC) platforms provide a solution to this emerging challenge. PICs are becoming a key part of communication systems in data centers, where microelectronic compatibility and high-yield, low-cost manufacturing are crucial. Because of their integration, PICs can allow photonic processing at a scale impossible with discrete, bulky optical-fiber counterparts, and scalable, CMOS-compatible silicon-photonic systems are on the cusp of becoming a commercial reality. More specifically, Neuromorphic Photonics allow for the benefits of PICs to be merged with the benefits associated with non Von-Neumann processor architectures allowing for increases in both speed and energy efficiency.
Neuromorphic photonics provide significant speed and efficiency increases with numerous potential applications. For NASA missions, neuromorphic photonics opens up a lot of potential in general purpose processors used for navigation, long-range communications, RF signal processors, and other systems used for spacecraft control. Neuromorphic photonic processors would have far reaching effects on most digital and analog electronic processes involved in NASA missions.
In the commercial and defense market, neuromorphic photonic processors have the potential to revolutionize computing and help push microprocessors beyond constraining thermal limits. This would allow for increased speed and energy efficiency in high performance computing in research and other demanding environments and RF signal processors for telecommunications. Moving past the Von-Neumann efficiency wall while increasing processing speeds has the potential to revolutionize modern computing.
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, using active gettering to indefinitely preserve vacuum integrity, 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 ≤300 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 communications, free-space optical communications, and terrestrial fiber-based quantum communications to deliver secure command and control data and high rate science data return for: Mars optical communication receiver (e.g. Deep Space Optical Communications project), Lunar Laser Communications and Laser Communications Relay Demonstration, Agriculture/climate data receiver (e.g., ECOSTRESS), quantum secured optical communications ground station network.
We propose to advance the state-of-the-art in short wave infrared (SWIR) detectors to meet NASA’s needs for advancements in communications technology. Antimonide-based Type II Superlattice (T2SL) infrared (IR) detectors have made significant advances in the past decade. The interest in this technology stems from (1) the ability to tailor the T2SL bandgaps across the IR region and (2) the manufacturability of T2SL structures using III-V foundries and horizontal integration schemes. NASA researchers have been involved with efforts to develop T2SL IR detectors for a variety of space-related missions, both in communications and sensing. We propose to complete a fundamental feasibility study leading to a prototype of a single pixel, field programmable, SWIR photodetector. This detector will use antimonide-based T2SL materials as the absorber. This detector will operate at relative high temperature (above 250 K). Most uniquely, this detector’s voltage bias can be programmed to operate with either high dynamic range or high sensitivity. High dynamic range uses a low voltage bias (<1 V) and operates the detector in a standard PIN configuration. High sensitivity uses a high voltage bias (20 to 30 V) and operates in the linear amplification region of an avalanche photodiode (APD). The detector is engineered for high signal-to-noise operation in both modes. The user or the control software can adaptively trade off dynamic range versus sensitivity on the fly and in response to measured characteristics of the scene (for example, photon flux or noise conditions). This detector will work ideally with an emerging generation of readout integrated circuits that will control the voltage of pixels selectively, leading to a focal plane array (FPA) that can algorithmically decide the operational mode of each pixel. Because the band structure of T2SL materials is designed, we will be able to engineer a detector that meets all of these targets simultaneously.
The proposed detectors will address:
Free space, satellite-based optical communication with a high operating temperature, high speed photodetector.
An imaging array for beaconless pointing as part of the Integrated RF and Optical Communication (iROC) development effort at NASA.
High operating temperature, high sensitivity detector for quantum key distribution (QKD), as one example of quantum communications.
Dynamic imaging array for short-wave lidar and atmospheric gas monitoring.
The proposed detectors will address:
Enhanced lidar and imaging navigation.
Reconfigurable and combined systems for navigation and optical communication. We expect that reconfigurable detectors for satellite systems will follow the path set by reconfigurable computing over the past two decades.
High operating temperature, high sensitivity detector for quantum key distribution (QKD), as one example of quantum communications.
The future of secure ground-space and space-space communications relies on development of quantum secure communications (QSC) systems. ColdQuanta proposes to develop QSC devices based on compact, robust vacuum systems containing dense ensembles of cold, trapped rubidium atoms. In particular, we propose to develop a source of high-flux, high-coherence entangled photon pairs (biphotons). These biphotons can be used to transmit information in a provably secure manner that is consistent with existing QKD protocols and other real-time secure information transfer protocols. The proposed atomically sourced biphotons outperform photon pairs from existing solid-state sources by over a factor of 1000 in coherence time and spectral linewidth. The narrow spectral linewidth of the atomically sourced biphotons makes them compatible with direct interfacing with downstream atomic systems, opening vast new vistas in the potential for long-range QSC and quantum networking. A second direction that further pushes the state-of-the-art in highly-coherent quantum optical systems for QSC is our second proposed device that provides efficient storage and recall of single-photon states. The single photons are stored in a coherent collective excitation of a cold atomic ensemble and can later be retrieved when the downstream QSC system is ready. Together, these devices represent a dramatic step forward in the quality of commercially available QSC hardware components. Nevertheless, the parallel development of the devices will be highly efficient due to their shared reliance on identical underlying cold atom hardware. These devices (and potentially several other related quantum optical devices) will be different laser and optical packages wrapped around an identical vacuum system for production of atomic ensembles with extremely high optical density. Phase I will demonstrate the underlying atom ensemble hardware and will complete system-level designs of the proposed QSC hardware components.
Quantum communications provides provably secure transmission of information, something that can’t be ensured in any other way. Thus, the future of ground-space and space-space communication will be performed over quantum links. The Chinese MICIUS satellite has paved the initial path in the direction of employing quantum protocols for secure communications. The innovation proposed here would provide part of the necessary package for NASA to return to the fore-front of secure space communications.
Implementing and utilizing quantum communication technologies (QCT) is of great interest to companies and governmental entities that transfer highly sensitive information as part of their operations (such as government agencies, financial and research firms, medical companies, stock trading services, etc.). The benefits provided by the proposed technology position it well for rapid integration into existing quantum communications applications.
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, LCH4 or RP-1). 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 structure failure, and possibly extensive damages to these components. The proposed work seeks to deliver a robust computational modeling capability to accurately predict and model the transient fluid structure interaction between cryogenic fluids and immersed components to predict the dynamic loads, frequency response of NASA’s test facilities, and to substantially reduce the costs of NASA's test and launch operations. 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. Both these methodologies will be tightly coupled within the framework of the Loci-STREAM code which is a Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) solver already in use at NASA for a variety of applications. This project seeks to further improve the current cavitation models within Loci-STREAM to achieve production status at NASA for time-accurate simulations of cavitating flows and at the same time integrate a fluid-structure interaction (FSI) methodology into Loci-STREAM. This will involve upgrading the current cavitation models in Loci-STREAM, improving the numerics of the solution algorithm from an efficiency point of view, improving coupling of the cavitation models and the FSI module with Loci-STREAM, and assessing the predictive capability for cases relevant to NASA.
C-Suite Services, LLC (C-Suite) will produce at least one manufacture-ready, full-scale design for the licensed technology of the Balanced Floating Piston Valve. This design is intended as a “drop-in” replacement for an existing valve used in rocket engine component testing. The operating environment, pressures to 15,000 psi and flow rates of 1,000 lbm/sec of Gaseous Nitrogen, have proved problematic for the existing valve designs. High cost of repairs and limited life has resulted in an increase in cost for testing.
C-Suite is the NASA licensee of the valve, which was designed to resolve the issues created by the high pressure, flow, and acoustic vibration environment at NASA Stennis Space Center (SSC) rocket engine test stands.. This innovative design eliminates the valve stem and stem seals, as well as the need for conventional actuators, which are the frequent source of failures and fugitive, often toxic propellant emissions. The innovative valve is called "Floating Piston Valve" (FPV); it does not have any moving parts that are connected to the atmosphere and no adjustments are required. The flow path through the valve is all 100% axisymmetric, meaning that the forces generated by the flow through the valve create only radial forces that cancel, or create axial forces that either cancel or are controllable. The FPV's internal piston is balanced such that the seating force is immune to the pressure drop across the valve greatly improving seat wear and providing much longer, useful life without maintenance and refurbishment interruptions. The FPV is simpler to manufacture (5 parts vs. hundreds of parts for comparable ball valves) and is expected to have far greater utility (600+ duty cycles vs. 20-30 duty cycles for comparable ball valves). Finally, because there are no moving parts connected to the atmosphere, it will eliminate fugitive emissions, many of which are toxic and waste costly propellant chemicals.
The Floating Piston Valve (FPV) will replace the large ball valves used to control ultra-high pressure and high-volume flows of propellants and gaseous nitrogen at rocket engine ground test stands. Benefits of the FPV include (a) much longer onstream time, (b) lower total capital costs, (c) less expensive, faster refurbishment turnarounds, and (d) longer life between repairs. The reduced downtime will drastically reduce expensive opportunity cost penalties associated with test delays.
The FPV has already proven successful as a superior pilot operated relief valve for a manufacturer of CNG and H2 tube trailers; additional high pressure uses for ultra-high pressure, high-volume propellant flow control for the private spacecraft industry, pressure relief devices for CNG-powered vehicles, remotely operated, reliable supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) pipelines, and certain high-pressure applications in chemical, petrochemical and oil refinery operations.
Parabilis Space Technologies is pleased to propose development of a novel additive manufacturing based design which enables creation of a 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 is expected to 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 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.
Parabilis expects that there would be numerous commercial customers for the technology in the proposed innovation such as NTS or AMPT.
In addition to propulsion testing, there is a wider band of non-space industrial applications that require both precision flow control and variable flow rate that could be users of or customers for this innovation. Any company that uses precision flow meters is a potential customer.
To meet the NASA need for measurement of pressure, temperature, strain and radiation in a high temperature and/or harsh environment to support rocket ground test, RC Integrated Systems LLC (RISL) proposes to develop a novel Additive Manufacturing of Integrated Sensor (AMIS) System, providing accurate simultaneous measurement of multiple parameters including pressure, temperature, and strain in high temperature and/or radiation environment. The AMIS is based on use of novel materials for high-temperature operation and uniquely designed fiber optic sensors. The AMIS sensors can tolerate operating temperatures up to 1800 degrees C and achieve measurement errors within 0.5% for temperature sensors and 0.2% for pressure and strain sensors. In mass production, each additive-manufactured microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) sensor will cost about $10. In Phase I RISL will demonstrate the feasibility of AMIS for in-situ measurement of temperature and strain by fabricating and testing a technology readiness level (TRL)-4 prototype, with the goal of achieving TRL-6 by the end of Phase II.
The AMIS will provide for NASA an in situ sensor suite capable of measuring temperature, pressure, and strain in high temperature (up to 1800°C) and/or high radiation environment to enhance proven, state-of-the-art propulsion test facilities. It can be incorporated into Stennis Space Center (SSC) rocket ground test facility to enhance Chemical and Advanced Propulsion technology development and certification. The AMIS system can also be incorporated into SSC’s Nuclear Thermal Propulsion Ground Test Exhaust Capture System for measurement of engine exhaust gas temperature and pressure. This development will support multiple NASA missions including human mission to Mars.
The AMIS can be used to replace thermocouples that are currently used for turbine engine exhaust gas temperature and pressure measurement. It can be incorporated into the nuclear power plant for temperature, pressure, and strain monitoring of nuclear reactors to ensure safe operation. It can also be used for monitoring temperature and pressure in coal-fired power plants, natural-gas-based power plants, geothermal plants, as well as other power-generation facilities throughout the nation.
The failure of metallic parts due to hydrogen embrittlement has been a constant challenge for many industries for decades, and for NASA in particular. The hydrogen embrittlement problems endemic to industries that require heavy use of hydrogen have been solved in various ways. Most of these solutions involve the careful development of alloys that are less susceptible to hydrogen embrittlement. Unfortunately, these alloys often require a sacrifice of some other highly desired material property, such as strength, hardness, ductility, etc. Coatings have also been attempted. However, these coatings and coating techniques have their own drawbacks, which include ceramic coatings that flake off after only a few use cycles and coating techniques that cannot deposit onto a finished part because they require line of sight during deposition. To better mitigate the very pressing hydrogen embrittlement challenge, Summit Information Solutions, Inc. proposes the use of a mature deposition technique that has not seen much use outside of the microelectronics industry. A thin film encapsulate will be deposited onto test samples of Inconel 718 and A-286 austenitic stainless steel. The coating material has a melting temperature in excess of 5500 °C, and is non-reactive with hydrogen. The coated samples’ properties will be tested, and the results will be compared to those of the untreated samples. Summit’s goal for Phase I is to show that the surface treatment is a robust layer at elevated temperatures. The extensive hydrogen embrittlement tests will be conducted in Phase II of the project.
The success of this feasibility study for a hydrogen embrittlement mitigation layer will have a wide breadth of NASA applications. Several NASA applications that will benefit from the development of this technology include test stand components for engine testing, long term storage of hydrogen in storage vessels, nuclear thermal propulsion applications on the newly developing NTP program, because our proposed surface layer also shows literature evidence of radiation protection, among others.
Hydrogen embrittlement is a challenge for all industries that require the use of hydrogen around metallic surfaces. The coating we are proposing has seen some initial use in the nuclear industry in reactor vessels. However, traditionally the individual parts must be coated and then joined. This produces seams that are left unprotected after joining. Our deposition technology will allow this already in-use coating technique to be utilized without the drawbacks of piecemeal coating of the parts.
NASA is developing a common launch infrastructure to support multiple types of rockets. In order to reduce cost and simplify service of infrastructure, automation of multiple processes is highly desirable. In this approach, Autonomous Control Technologies perform functions such as anomaly and fault detection, fault isolation, diagnostics and prognostics for critical components. There is a clear need for instrumented monitoring of critical seal components of the propellant delivery system, since a loss of propellant lines integrity can cause great damage, as learned from the Challenger accident, which was caused by a faulty O-ring. A team of physicists and engineers from AT-Tek will design, fabricate, and test an inexpensive elastomer seal with an embedded sensor that can be in-situ-interrogated by compact electronics built into the vacuum flange. The integrated “smart seal” package can self-monitor such parameters as compression and elasticity of the seal material, both of which are critical for preventing catastrophic seal failures. Compared to previous attempts, AT-Tek’s novel approach will dramatically increase the sensitivity of the detection of critical seal parameters and realize a practical smart seal for the first time. The ultimate goal of this innovation is to integrate a smart seal into an autonomous propellant management infrastructure, thus enabling condition-based maintenance (not time-based) of critical elastomer seals for the first time. Another advantage of seal monitoring is ability to detect degradation of the seal before actual failure, with an option to adjust process parameters (pressure, temperature, etc) or bypass the degrading connection without aborting the process. This will minimize the risk of failure even if maintenance of degrading seal is not readily possible. If successful, the AT-Tek smart seal will form another smart asset integrated into NASA’s Autonomous Control Technologies system.
Ground Launch Operations (Focus area 16, H10.02): This innovation introduces smart seals into the autonomous propellant management infrastructure under current NASA development to enhance safety and reduce costs of ground and payload operations.
Life Support and Habitation Systems (Focus Area 6, H6.01, H4.01): Smart seals for airtight barrier between the internal space of a habitat and an external environment, applications in airlocks, docking systems in habitat structures and space suits.
Department of Energy
Nuclear Power Plants: Reduce risks poised by faulty O-rings in nuclear plants.
Leak Prevention in Natural Gas Pipelines: The seals are a frequent cause of leaks in pipeline valves; and smart seals are needed to address this deficiency.
Smart Factories in Multiple Markets: Microelectronics, Pharmaceuticals, Renewable Energy; The current concept of “smart factories” requires novel sensors to monitor the condition of critical components including ubiquitous elastomer seals.
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.
During dynamic events such as launch, ascent abort, atmospheric reentry, descent, and landing, crewmembers will experience significant inertial and vibrational loading. To this date, data has not been collected in flight. There is particular interest in the chest, neck, and head region, which are exceptionally sensitive areas. Quantifying the loading on the crewmembers will allow refined simulations that can lead to improve safety, reduce injury, and more efficient designs.
Midé proposes leveraging the commercially available Slam Stick as the foundation for the effort. This device was originally developed for shock and vibration testing of the F-18 and achieves nearly all of the required capabilities in the current state. The Slam Stick is already equipped with gyros, accelerometers, temperature, pressure, selectable triggers, battery powered, and has required accuracy, sample rate, and processing power. Key improvements to the power system, increased gyro performance, and packaging will be the primary goals of the Phase I effort. The Phase II effort can then focus on system packaging and testing for flight.
The final system will increase the capabilities of Midé’s data logger line. With exceptional commercial and government sales, Midé continues to invest resources in the product line.
Pilot and Passenger Dynamics – tracking motion and loading of the individual with accelerometer and gyro data.
Cockpit and Station Monitoring – monitor the environmental by including additional sensors pressure (hypoxia), humidity, temperature, and brightness.
Hardware Testing and Evaluation – Affix the data logger to other hardware for quick and inexpensive testing and data acquisition such as shock, vibration, and pressure testing without interfering with the experiment.
Self-contained data logging system – Can be mounted in hard to access areas such as in the flow field, rotating frame, or compact spaces.
Hardware Testing and Eval – For testing and data acquisition such as shock, vibration, and pressure testing without interfering with the experiment.
Health Monitoring – With the selectable trigger, the system could wake at select intervals to gather data or watch for out of bound events such as excessive vibrations health data can be extracted over time.
Anticipate Ventures (doing business as "Far UV Technologies") and its partners are proposing a currently unused and only recently available portion of the UltraViolet light spectrum (200-230nm Far UV) will be much more effective and safer than existing water, wipe, hydrogen peroxide, plasma chamber or conventional UV sanitation alternatives to address the emerging food borne biological threats, while being easier to use, lighter weight and more cost effective to implement while not requiring water and improving efficiency in the food supply chain by extending food shelf life.
Far UV sanitation is deceptively simple, yet it is a profound advance in disinfection that is applicable to any bacteria and/or virus. Far UV does not utilize environmentally challenging chemicals, does not inadvertently create super-bugs as antibiotics have more recently been shown to do and does not require water. Far UV is superior to existing legacy UV sanitation because legacy UV sanitation systems are ineffective at sanitizing objects that are exposed to UV-A (sunlight, fluorescent lights and other light sources) after sanitation and are a safety risk for direct human exposure. This means the legacy UV systems cannot sanitize food that requires post harvest handling in lighted facilities. Far UV is the first UV sanitation and the first to be safe for direct human exposure.
This project will demonstrate and validate an innovative new portable pathogen detection and Far UV disinfection system; selected foods will be tested and compared against control specimens to determine product safety and sensory technicians will determine the visual, nutritional and other shelf life impacts of the treatments. Far UV technologies will develop and fabricate fully-functional prototypes that are mature enough to operate and demonstrate in field tests, demonstrating commercial capability and maturity.
A Far UV solution can be used for surface disinfection of any biological contaminant on earth or in space. In addition to addressing potential food borne illness, a portable pathogen detection and Far UV treatment system could also be used in closed loop environments for medical applications (surgical or wound sterilization to ensure infections do not develop), waterless hand, body hygiene or laundry and biological containment and sterilization (augmenting or replacing existing processes).
Far UV solutions are being evaluated for a multitude of commercial purposes including but not limited to kitchen and other household disinfection applications, HVAC air purification, water or juice purification, food treatment and shelf life extension, medical applications (minimizing exposure to hospital acquired infections, acne treatment, athlete's foot treatment), waterless hand hygiene, waterless laundry and mold remediation.
Initial space food crops will be “pick-and-eat”, requiring produce disinfection on board spacecraft. The state of the art disinfection method on the ISS is Pro-San® wipes developed by Microcide, Inc. This method is not regenerable, requiring resupply mass, creating solid waste, and requiring crew time to manually clean vegetables. Also, wipes cannot easily disinfect produce with a lot of crevices, such as leafy vegetables or radishes. Other disinfection methods investigated by researchers have included hydrogen peroxide and cold plasma, which both negatively impact food quality. Chemical methods that produce toxic by-products or residues on the produce are unacceptable solutions. UV for disinfection is also problematic, as light does not easily penetrate crevices in the produce surface. Space Lab Technologies, LLC proposes Produce Wash and Aeration for Space Habitats (Pro-WASH™), a hybrid ozonating and Pro-San® water wash system for on-board produce disinfection. Pro-Wash™ offers several innovative features relative to state-of-the-art. It is an autonomous and versatile. It not only disinfects, but also optionally rinses, steams, and dehydrates produce. A gently spinning, grated wash basket increases the contact of wash fluid with vegetable surfaces and crevices. An ozone generator diffuses safe levels of re-generable ozone into the wash-water stream for disinfection without noticeable reduction in food quality. Optionally, a Pro-San® wash water solution provides an alternate disinfection method. A self-cleaning mode reduces crew time needed for maintenance and increases long term reliability. Pro-WASH™ operates across gravity regimes (0-1 g). Finally, the design is extensible to disinfection of non-produce items, such as utensils, toothbrushes, laundry, etc. In Phase I, Space Lab will combine conceptual design and analysis with prototype development and testing to establish technical and economic feasibility for produce disinfection with Pro-WASH™.
ProWASH™ would be useful in several NASA human exploration programs including ISS operations, Deep Space Gateway missions, and future surface missions (to the moon or Mars). The resource use efficiency, reliable design, and versatility of the Pro-WASH™ system will make it an attractive addition to any spacecraft or surface habitat. The design might also be simplified to support science experiments needing to separate liquids from solids, and to make mass measurements in microgravity.
Welch Mechanical Designs (WMD) proposes to develop a highly efficient and innovative process for polishing the substrate of high performance optical quality metal mirrors directly, eliminating the need for nickel coating and reducing the number of steps involved, thereby significantly reducing cost, risk, and manufacturing time of telescopes and other optical structures that are suitable for a wide range of imaging applications.
This direct polishing process will have a significant impact on the cost, time, and risk, associated with the fabrication of optical assemblies such as compact and lightweight Cassegrain telescopes compatible with existing differential absorption lidar (DIAL) and HSRL lidar systems. The process also allows aluminum to be used to rapidly make larger aperture, stable, monolithic telescopes and optical structures that are suitable for a wide range of imaging applications in aircraft and space deployments.
This direct polishing process will have a significant impact on the cost, time, and risk, associated with the fabrication of optical assemblies such as compact and lightweight Cassegrain telescopes compatible with existing differential absorption lidar (DIAL) and HSRL lidar systems. The process also applies to fabrication of larger aperture, stable, monolithic telescopes and optical structures that are suitable for a wide range of imaging applications in aircraft and space deployments.
The direct polishing process is an enabling technology which has applications across a range of market segments including military and commercial applications. Optical assemblies using polished metal substrates are used in imaging systems by the military for surveillance and targeting, and in civilian applications including astronomy and earth observation. Basically anywhere a telescope is used this process can reduce cost and risk.
A solid state yet rapidly tunable filter based on liquid crystal (LC) etalon technology is designed by determination of 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). 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 or measuring the O2-A band emission to determine temperature profiles at high temporal cadence.
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 are looking to expand their observational capabilities and will experience high degree of growth over the next decade.
The goal of this program is to develop high performance, high speed, integrated optical switches for applications requiring the switching of four lasers into one PM fiber. These switches will be of small size and weight given that they will be fabricated as a Photonic Integrated Circuit (PIC) and will be designed to meet the following target specifications:
The optical switch will be based on Semiconductor Optical Amplifiers (SOAs) and a passive combiner. The SOA has in previous demonstrations been proven to meet the target speed, gain and contrast requirements of this effort.
NASA applications include instruments for accurate measurements of atmospheric water vapor using the differential absorption lidar (DIAL) technique which continue to be developed by NASA toward a sensor that would be suitable for autonomous, long-term measurements of water-vapor in a national scale network. Sensing of water vapor is a primary application target. Methane is a secondary target, while other atmospheric gases are of potential interest in the extension.
Switched LIDAR systems are being developed by other government agencies including the Air Force. Dual use applications exists in emerging atomic sensing systems, in particular the need for development of compact integrated switches to support emerging miniaturized Alkali cold-atom sensing systems in the 600-800nm range. Commercial applications include optical communications where fast dynamic switching increasingly become a key enabler for dynamic optical networks.
Fibertek proposes to develop a novel space-qualifiable, double pulse 1064 nm laser and related technologies for use as a pump laser in airborne and space-based trace gas lidar remote sensing systems. The goal is an injection seeded laser system with two closely spaced (~100-200 µs), 600 mJ pulses at 50 Hz that is an innovative synthesis of both new and recently developed Fibertek technologies. The primary application of this dual pulse system is for use as a pump laser in Differential Absorption Lidar systems that require one pulse that is in resonance with the molecular species being detected and one that is off resonance. For the pump laser we will develop, the two pulses need to be closely spaced in time so they sample essentially the same atmospheric aberrations. These performance goals exceed the requirements for pulsed lasers in the 20 Hz to 100 Hz repetition rate range with energies greater than 100 mJ that is identified in the 2018 SBIR subtopic S1.01, Lidar Remote Sensing Technologies. The combination of high pulse energy, dual-pulse injection seeded format, and pure conductive cooling makes these state of the art design goals. This technology could be the pump source for optical parametric oscillators (OPOs) and other wavelength converters needed for lidar based remote detection of key of atmospheric gases including methane, ozone, and water vapor. The design will advance the state of the art in laser performance by decreasing the size by 2x and increasing the efficiency by over 80% in a purely conductively cooled package needed for space-based applications compared to other recently developed systems.
Two major limiters of lidar remote sensing systems are the size and power consumption of the laser transmitter. The high-efficiency, compact MOPA we will develop can significantly reduce the size and weight of a space-qualifiable laser that can be the pump transmitter for airborne and space-based lidar measurements including:
1) Ozone DIAL systems
2) Water vapor and methane DIAL systems
3) Next-generation cloud, aerosol, and ocean lidar systems
4) Direct detection wind measurement systems.
There is a significant commercial interest in the high-efficiency, compact laser being proposed. The applications include 1) as an upgrade to Optical Autocovariance Wind Lidar (OAWL) system and 2) as the transmitter needed for wind lidar used by DoD for precision air drop missions. The higher energy, higher efficiency, and reduced size of the laser transmitter will improve the efficiency, reduce the size, and extend the range and applicability of both types of systems.
Fibertek, Inc. will develop a single-frequency, Er:YAG laser transmitter to advance the technological readiness level (TRL) of a key technology component of the 3D wind measurements identified in the recent Earth science decadal survey “Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space”. The Er:YAG development will advance the technology of a space-based wind lidar system by focusing on developing a compact, efficient diode pumped transmitter that is conductively cooled. Current efficient 2µm systems are pumped by fiber lasers to take advantage of the high brightness source, but this tends to increase the packaging foot print. To maintain long pulsewidths >100ns, the 2µm systems cavities are typically greater than 2 meters in length. By working at higher repetition rates (500Hz or above) than are typically targeted in 2µm systems, Fibertek will take advantage of the long storage time of Er:YAG to maintain efficient operation, while operating at longer pulse lengths in a shorter cavity (with respect to Ho:YLF systems of similar pulse lengths) due to the low gain of the Er:YAG. Fibertek’s approach will be based on an Er:YAG resonator operating at 1645nm and resonantly pumped by high brightness semiconductor laser diodes.
This program will build on successful Er:YAG work at Fibertek focused on methane and water vapor lidars. These systems are 7-10W systems optimized for operation at higher repetition rates. The Phase I work will demonstrate a high power (>12.5W) oscillator optimized for 500Hz operation with a Technology Readiness Level 4 (TRL-4) for a coherent wind lidar. In Phase II we will develop a hardened brassboard version of the laser that would be suitable for airborne systems. We will also perform a trade study on how to achieve the highest damage threshold coatings at 1.6455 µm.
The key NASA applications include the following, all of which have been identified as mission and technology development areas in the 2018 Earth Science Decadal Survey.
1. Coherent detection 3D wind measurement systems. The Er:YAG oscillator could provide a higher efficiency, more robust, and lighter weight approach to the required laser transmitter.
2. Water vapor and methane Differential Absorption Lidar systems.
There is a significant commercial interest in the high-efficiency, compact laser being proposed. The applications include the following:
1. As an upgrade to some of the commercial wind lidar systems used for wind farm and other types of commercial wind measurements. The higher average power of the system we will develop could be used to extend the range of the existing systems.
2. As the transmitter needed for wind lidar used by DoD for precision air drop missions.
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 100uJ, pulse width of 5~10ns, and beam quality less than 1.3. We will build a deliverable prototype UV laser for NASA.
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 (IPDA) lidar for OH measurement.
This tunable single frequency UV lasers can be used to build commercial lidar for gas monitoring applications, for optical sensing, and scientific research.
In this proposal, Dr. Dalir from Omega Optics Inc. (OO), in collaboration with University of Texas (UT) at Austin and the George Washington University propose a novel 2D TCC-VCSEL arrays monolithically integrated with a surface-normal slow-light photonic crystal (PC) waveguide array that are vertically built in one lithography layer. Unlike conventional thinking where the waveguides in a photonic integrated circuit (PIC) are always built parallel to the substrate, which will require 64 lithographically defined waveguide layers to provide a 64×64 phase array. Due to the slow light effect, this system provides the required phase shift larger than liquid crystal with 30 µm interaction length while maintaining the pixel (emitter) to pixel separation small enough to cover the total field of view (FOV) of 180˚× 180˚, and the instantaneous field of view of 0.05˚.This will significantly increase the yield rate to the final targeted 98% since we have only one primarily defined lithography layer rather than a 64-layer approach without sacrificing the performance metrics. The steering of the laser beam can be realized through two different means: (1) electro-optically controlled through carrier perturbation or refilling the hole with EO polymer and (2) through thermal tuning which provides the needed phase shift of each element with the sweeping speed of >100 KHz. The key claims are the following:
1. Engineering the PC waveguide slow light device where the group index perturbation Δng can be significantly increased to 170-200, which will provide a much shorter waveguide length needed to steer the beam.
2. The unequally spaced design is capable of providing the side-lobe suppression up to 35 and 50 dB, respectively as required in phase I and phase II. This achievement is due to the design of non-overlapping sidelobes and the unequally coupled optical intensity of each element created by each subarray while maintaining a single steerable peak with the required IFOV and TFOV.
Our proposed device is useful for one main NASA application:
- It also can be used for novel space LIDAR technologies that use small and high-efficiency diode lasers to measure range and surface reflectance of asteroids and comets from >100 km altitude during mapping to <1 m during landing and sample return with a size, weight, and power substantially less than 28×28×26 cm3, 0.1 kg, and 10 Watts out-put with one integrated device or 1 KWatts for arrays of 100 proposed devices.
Our proposed device is particularly useful in many Non-NASA applications requiring ultra-sensitive and standalone, including:
- Laser Marking,
- Cutting and Welding,
- Materials Processing,
- High Power Spectroscopy,
- Non-Linear Optics,
- Laser Surgery (including cosmetic surgery, eye surgery, tattoo removal, kidney stones),
The overall goal of the SBIR effort is to develop a frequency-agile, stand-alone, space-hardened diode-based seed laser with options for locking and frequency agility to compensate for doppler shift during orbit. This US-manufactured platform will be applicable for seeding next generation Nd:YAG lasers currently being developed for high-priority-designated aerosol missions (single- and multi-channel backscatter), for Explorer missions for trace gas and methane sensing, as well as for future-looking Incubation missions. Under this Phase I effort, AdvR proposes to demonstrate the feasibility of programmable doppler-shift compensation for a compact, diode-based seed laser, as well as to provide a baseline design for a stand-alone, frequency agile, space-qualified system to be built and tested to TRL 6 by the end of the Phase II effort. This technology directly addresses the need for state-of-the-art lidar technology with an emphasis on compactness, efficiency, reliability, lifetime, and high performance, and will advance the accuracy of atmospheric space-based measurements, as described in the NASA SBIR topic S.101 Lidar Remote Lidar Sensing Technologies.
1) Aerosols/Clouds/Ecosystems Mission (ACE); NASA LaRC (Hostetler, Cook, et al.)
2) High Spectral Resolution Lidar (HSRL); Nasa LaRC (Hostetler, Cook, et al.)
3) Monitoring the Evolving State of Clouds and Aerosols (MESCAL); lidar mission concept under development by NASA LaRC and CNES
4) NASA Langley High Altitude Lidar Observatory (HALO)
5) Wind Lidar, NASA/GSFC (Gentry, et al.)
6) DIAL Lidar, NASA/GSFC (Riris, et al.)
Laser source stabilization
Commercial lidar systems
Single frequency green lasers for underwater imaging
Environmental and pollution monitoring
Fiber and free-space communications
The subtopic requests advanced deployable parabolic antennas with an effective aperture of 4m2 that operate at frequencies up to 36GHz.
Tendeg will produce a flight antenna design to meet a NASA specific science mission. Various feed systems will be explored including a beam scanning phased array feed along with multi-array feeds.
The primary goal of this Phase I program will be to design and develop the primary reflector deployment mechanism and shape forming net. This will include construction of a proof of concept prototype which will contain a deployment mechanism, parabolic shaped slit tube back support, bulkhead rear supports, reflector netting, and mesh net back structure. This will demonstrate the ability for high packaging efficiencies for SmallSat and CubeSat buses.
The National Academies Decadal strategy for earth observation currently places high priority on earth observation capability across several areas of interest as part of the Surface Deformation and Change target. Each observation mission has different operational frequency requirements which need to be met. The missions span 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 measuring and predicting weather phenomena.
The proposed antenna can also be used for synthetic aperture radar applications that allow weather penetrating radar to detect and track assets including land and ocean surface vehicles, aircraft and missiles. This capability is enhanced by the ability to operate at dual frequencies providing high resolution tracking.
Novel technologies are desired to meet evolving demand for remote microwave sensors. Specifically, a large-aperture, active antenna which stows into a compact volume on each spacecraft of a satellite constellation can reduce the number of satellites required to adequately sample a given measurement. Indeed, with a lower satellite count, a significant economic benefit can be realized with the cost savings associated with the corresponding reduced launch burden.
MMA Design LLC proposes to advance the state-of-the-art in large-aperture, high-aspect ratio technologies by developing a deployable Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) antenna applicable to a MicroSat form factor using reflectarray rigid panels. The Large Aperture Rigid Antenna (LARA), stows efficiently in an 1800-cm3 volume (30 cm × 30 cm × 20 cm) and reliably deploys forming a 4.5-m2 aperture with a 5.6:1 aspect ratio.
The antenna is enabling to constellations of SmallSat SARs for rapid temporal repeat imaging and bistatic/multistatic SAR configurations operating as single pass and repeat pass interferometers. This science would further our understanding of climate variability and change as the basis of technology development identified in the 2016 Microwaves and Technologies Review and Strategy document by opening up daily cycles for study in addition to longer seasonal and yearly cycles.
A high aspect ratio antenna traversing the earth in a low altitude orbit supports a larger swath area coverage on the ground. This has applications in both military and commercial remote sensing applications. This approach to obtaining a high compaction ratio antenna will also scale to larger satellite platforms such as ESPA class and support a broad range of frequencies of interest from UHF through Ku band with additional enhancements
Composite Technology Development, Inc. (CTD) seeks to advance the state of art with a novel deployable low-frequency antenna technology for SmallSats comprised of elastic memory composite antenna booms and deployer mechanisms. These booms incorporate a shape memory polymer matrix into a fiber-reinforced composite substrate with an outer metallization layer for RF performance. The elastic memory composite technology enables these antenna elements to be heated, rolled, and cooled to lock them into a stowed shape. They can be deployed smoothly with heat without inducing shock and without the need of for actuators or deployment motors. The long-length, low-frequency antenna elements can be packaged into exceedingly small stowed volumes, with simplified mechanisms, lower parts count, and lower mass than current state of the art boom and deployer systems.
The primary technical objectives of the proposed effort are as follows:
The proposed technology advances state of the art deployable low-frequency antenna technologies for CubeSats or SmallSats. Applications include radar sounding booms such as those used on prior misisons including MARSIS and future missions such as Europa Clipper. Currently, NASA requires increased capability in CubeSats to meet demands for lower-cost, multi-point observations throughout space leveraging lower cost SmallSats and CubeSats.
The proposed technology is applicable to a wide-range of SmallSat deployable systems for the growing non-NASA market. For example, SmallSats are being utilized by the National Science Foundation, Air Force, and commercial entities such as One-Web. Additionally, the National Reconnaissance Office has purchased many CubeSats under its Colony One and Colony Two programs.
IAIs Universal Signals-Of-Opportunity (UNISOP) sensor prudently combines the advantages of using industry standard form-factor and interfaces with components and design techniques known to be suitable for space qualification. With just three building blocks, a complete multi-band, simultaneous SOP sensor can be developed, staying within nominal Cube/Small-Satellite SWaP requirement. UNISOP will employ passive RF sensors for simultaneous, multi-band SOP sensing and provide a very important tool for measurement of global Soil-Moisture Content (SMC) in near real-time for hydrology and climate studies.
Our proposed technique can be used for a wide range of remote sensing applications for NASA including:
The most promising commercial applications of the proposed UNISOP, besides NASA applications are:
QuinStar Technology proposes to develop an efficient, solid-state power amplifier (SSPA), operating at V-band frequencies, for remote sensor applications. Specifically, we propose to develop an 8-W power amplifier with an associated PAE of >40% operating over the 65 to 70 GHz band. This will be accomplished by employing two major innovations. First, we plan to utilize wide bandgap Gallium Nitride (GaN) on Silicon Carbide (SiC) device technology. Operating at a higher voltage (typically 28 V versus 4 V for GaAs), GaN permits power densities which are 5-10 times higher than GaAs. In addition to power density, high-voltage operation results in lower matching and cell combining losses, making these MMICs more efficient. Secondly, we are proposing to utilize a switching mode (Class F) to enhance the device efficiency. While this method has demonstrated PAE levels of >80% at 2 GHz, it has not yet been demonstrated at V-band frequencies. Computer simulations, contained in this proposal, indicate that by using this method, MMIC PAE levels of 50% are possible over the 65-70 GHz band. Finally, we will utilize our high-efficiency, H-tee combiner technology to combine 4 of these chips to achieve 8 W output power across the 65 to 70 GHz band.
NASA employs active sensors for measuring precipitation and clouds, for planetary landing, upper atmospheric monitoring, surface water monitoring, soil moisture and global snow coverage, topography measurement and other Earth and planetary science applications. Many of these are remote sensing applications where prime power is limited and hence sensor efficiency is important. This proposed approach has the potential to increase the sensor (amplifier) efficiency by 10 to 20 percentage points.
Applications for this high-efficiency amplifier technology abound for frequencies above and below this band. These include SATCOM and radar applications. High efficiency is particularly important for airborne applications, such as UAVs and fire control radars, where the prime power is limited. SSPAs used in E-band (71-76 GHz) satellite-based downlink transmitters would benefit from this technology. Other applications include satellite-to-satellite constellation communications links at 60 GHz.
This proposal is responsive to NASA SBIR Subtopic S1.03: Technologies for Passive Microwave Remote Sensing; specifically the last bullet item related to GaAs Schottky diode harmonic mixers for the 2-5 THz frequency band. Through this proposed SBIR project, VDI seeks to extend the performance of high-quality harmonic mixers to frequencies up to 5 THz; with the primary goal of meeting the requirements of planned and future NASA missions. This effort will focus primarily on second and fourth harmonic mixers which will use advanced circuit designs and fabrication technologies to maintain low conversion loss while also reducing the complexity of the local oscillator source.
The primary applications will be studies of planetary atmospheres, heliophysics and radio astronomy. Of particular importance is the study of water chemistry on planets and moons. Many of the molecules related to water chemistry have transitions in the frequency band that will be accessed by the new mixers. For radio astronomy, the harmonic mixers will be used to phase lock QCLs, which are becoming the technology of choice to supply the LO power for ultra-sensitive cryogenic receivers.
This research will open a new spectral band for more practical scientific exploitation. Scientific fields that require high quality THz mixers include nuclear fusion plasma diagnostics, molecular spectroscopy, environmental sensing, materials characterization and basic physics. More commercial applications will include the extension of the frequency range of test and measurement, such as vector network and signal analysis.
Passive Microwave Remote Sensing is currently utilized by NASA, NOAA, and others to conduct Earth Science missions, including weather forecasting, early warning systems, and climate studies. These sensors could also be used in upcoming missions such as Saturn’s moon to study atmospheric makeup. On earth, humidity and temperature sounding is conducted near several absorption lines to determine key parameters of the atmospheric state, including moisture content, temperature, and barometric pressure. Using neural networks, these parameters are retrieved from raw sensor data at a small number of discreet frequencies near the absorption lines. To improve retrieval accuracy as well as predictive ability of weather models, a large number of closely spaced frequencies, i.e. hyperspectral sensing should be implemented. Such approach is also helpful in RFI mitigation and sensor calibration. As such, under the current program PSI will develop a hyperspectral microwave photonic radiometer concept capable of acquiring a hundred or more detection frequencies simultaneously on a ~1GHz channel spacing. We leverage microwave photonics to convert the RF signals up to optical frequencies, where they are readily manipulated with low loss and wide bandwidth using optical components. We survey available elements, such as prism, diffraction grating, or arrayed waveguide grating, to implement the dispersive function. Under a previous NOAA Phase II SBIR, PSI delivered a frequency agile microwave radiometer that could be tuned across the entire V-band with ~ 1K NETD at 2GHz bandwidth and 100msec integration time. This sensor, however, performed measurements in serial fashion by sweeping a local oscillator. Under the proposed effort, we will adapt our existing V-band hardware to perform these spectrally resolved measurements simultaneously. We will demonstrate an 8-channel system with 3 GHz frequency spacing, which can be scaled to larger channel counts in a straightforward manner.
The hyperspectral radiometer can be employed in passive sensing of microwave radiation from earth and other celestial bodies for weather data, atmospheric composition and dynamics. Active operation is a straightforward extension for radar applications where range data is useful. Implemented in a phased array, spatially and spectrally resolved signals can be realized, with high gain beam forming readily achieved, an advantage for communications and telemetry applications.
Low attenuation of mmW radiation enables sensors to “see-through” many visual obscurants. Applications include: Marine navigation in dense fog, aircraft landings in adverse weather, emergency response vehicle operation in poor weather or smoke, monitoring highways for traffic safety, surveillance and target acquisition in inclement weather, non-intrusive portal security and stand-off frisking.
Ferrite based isolators are useful for controlling standing waves in a wide variety of millimeter-wave (MMW), and terahertz (THz) systems. A good example of their usefulness is found in high frequency local oscillator systems. These systems typically comprise a lower frequency oscillator driving a cascade of frequency multipliers. Standing waves arise due to impedance mismatches between the highly tuned components. This in turn gives rise to dips or even nulls in the output of the multiplier chain. The standing waves are often mitigated with complicated impedance matching techniques that are implemented on a case-by-case basis at a great cost in time and money. By using suitable isolators, the standing waves could be suppressed at a fraction of the time and cost.
The high insertion loss of these components renders them unsuitable for use in most MMW systems. The typical insertion loss of a WR-6.5 isolator (110-170 GHz) is more than 3 dB. The problem is worse at higher bands. Micro Harmonics Corporation has recently developed a revolutionary new line of isolators with significantly reduced insertion loss. Our WR-8 and WR-6.5 isolators have a measured insertion loss of less than 1 dB over most of the waveguide band. By April of this year, a full line of low-loss isolators covering bands from WR-12 (60-90 GHz) through WR-3.4 (220-325 GHz) will be available.
Many NASA instruments are designed for use at cryogenic temperatures. However, cryogenically rated isolators are currently unavailable at frequencies above 40 GHz. Isolators designed for room temperature operation have poor isolation at cryogenic temperatures due to changes in the ferrite properties. The isolators must be fundamentally redesigned for cryogenic use. We propose to develop high-frequency isolators optimized for cryogenic temperatures that exhibit significantly reduced loss and improved isolation and bandwidth making them useful for many of the instruments now being developed for NASA missions.
Isolators are useful in a wide range of NASA systems including the heterodyne receivers used in Marvel, VESPER, MACO and SIRICE. They find potential application in the local oscillator (LO) chains for the high-resolution heterodyne array receivers at 1.9 THz used in the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) and the Stratospheric Terahertz Observatory (STO-2) and the 4.7 THz multiplied local oscillator source for the observation of neutral oxygen.
Isolators are broadly used in scientific instruments for plasma diagnostics (ITER), chemical spectroscopy, biomaterial analysis, and radio astronomy. There are applications in military systems such as compact range radar, imaging systems, covert communications systems, and chemical and bio-agent detection systems. There are applications in biomedical systems for the real time analysis of skin diseases, portal security scanners, high frequency data links and industrial process control systems.
Toyon is proposing to develop multiplier technology with record power handling in the 200 – 400 GHz output frequency range using Gallium Nitride (GaN) materials. This technology is needed to effectively utilize the high pump powers now available from mm-wave GaN power amplifiers. GaN has inherent material property advantages including high electric field strength, electron velocity, and thermal conductivity which will enable significant advances in multiplier power handling and performance, similar to how these material advantages led to advances in power amplifier technology. During this effort Toyon will analyze, optimize, and prototype novel GaN devices suited for this application. The prototypes will be characterized and modeled. Based on these models candidate multiplier designs will be investigated and analyzed. Toyon anticipates this technology will lead to mm-wave multipliers with input power handling over 1 watt and efficiency over 30%. It will be applicable to many CW signal source applications such as Terahertz local oscillators which are used in a wide range of mm-wave and THz systems including radio astronomy, spectroscopy, imaging, and communication systems.
Millimeter-wave multipliers will be of interest to NASA in a variety of commercial applications. The devices will provide robust, reliable, and efficient mm-wave power for next generation atmospheric monitoring satellites and radio astronomy telescopes. For example, the Global Precipitation Measurement System uses a 35.5 GHz radar paired with a Microwave Imager which can scan channels up to 183 GHz.
The Department of Defense is interested in THz imaging systems for the detection of concealed weapons. The medical industry is also interested in using THz imaging systems for burn wounds and cornea hydration. mm-Wave imaging is used for climate monitoring applications and measurements such as total precipitable water, snow cover, and sea ice extent. NOAA’s Special Sensor Microwave Imager Sounder is a good example.
This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project seeks to develop an innovative Nano-electromechanical systems (NEMS) Lead (PB) Lathanum Zirconium Titanate (PLZT) based uncooled broadband infrared (IR) detector (NEMS PLZT) with average QE>50% over the spectral range of 3µm – 50 µm and detectivity D* greater than 5x109Jones. This device will have a broadband spectral range to support MWIR, LWIR imaging at high performance. The design realized in Phase I through modeling, simulations and process development for fabrication of test-chips will be full developed and fabricated in Phase II during which the NEMS PLZT photon detector will be demonstrated as an uncooled broadband IR detector for NASA applications.
This device will help to reduce the cost for high performance broadband IR imaging and enable wider adoption for space and scientific applications. Applications include IR camera for MWIR, and LWIR imaging, which are used in IR sensors for earth science measurements and observations for NASA missions such AIRS, TES, ASTER, HyspIRI, Sustainable Land Imaging – Technology (SLI-T) Landsat instruments, sensors, components, and measurement. Other application include military target detection systems for acquisition, tracking, and pointing of high power directed energy systems on next generation airborne platforms, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, LIDAR, remote sensing, satellite imaging, and the detection and monitoring of chemical and biological agents. In addition there are broad commercial sector applications including next generation automobile where this image sensor will enhance the safety of driver, passenger, and also pedestrian, security, biometrics, medical imaging, machine vision, and geo-science instruments.
Key Words: LWIR, MWIR, Focal Plane Array, FPA, night vision, thermal imaging
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 systems for acquisition, tracking, and pointing of high power directed energy systems on next generation airborne platforms, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, LIDAR, and remote sensing. Various commercial applications to benefit include Communications, Automobile, Medical Device and Scientific Imaging, Machine Vision, and Security & Surveillance market segments, which also includes the Aerospace & Defense.
The objective of this work is to develop millimeter wave arrays with ultra-high accuracy alignment (<300nm) using hybrid aligned bonding. Currently, most submillimeter-wave array systems utilize a single pixel both for space as well as ground applications. While these approaches are workable for the near-term, they will become unsustainable as pixel count is increased. In addition, the shear mass associated with large count heterodyne arrays based on single waveguide block per chip approaches can be a challenging task. In this project, we present a 3D wafer level integration of this technology using low cost aligned direct wafer bonding at low temperature of 2000C. This wafer level integration may decrease 50-100x in both volume and mass, hence reduces thermal gradient. As of today, most of the gain fluctuations in this device are coming from thermal gradients. By reducing the size and mass of the radiometer, the thermal gradients, these devices will be able to be used in balloons, landers, overs, and any other place where a complete remote chemical laboratory might be required.
In order to realize this high-performance device, the alignment requirement for wafer level interconnect in millimeter arrays needs to be very tight, close to 300nm or better. It depends on feature size of the interconnect at the wafers. The wafer alignment needs to be optical before bonding two surfaces using alignment marks on both side of the wafers. The bonding needs to be performed in a hybrid nature (Cu interconnect with oxide in the same layer) i.e. Cu/Cu, SiO2/SiO2 Cu/GaAs oxides. at Phase I, We will conduct a feasibility study to develop an algorithm for advanced alignment <300nm. We will fine tune our proprietary method of wafer bonding for hybrid bond of Cu/SiO2 or Cu/SiO2/Ga2O3 & As2O3 . We will do feasibility of DRIE for TSV structures and Cu interconnect by damascene process. Finally, we will conduct feasibility of recess needed for good bond with high accuracy of alignment.
Submillimeter-wave spectrometry is a proven technique for atmospheric remote sensing, study of cosmic water profiles, comet characterization, investigation of cosmological phenomena with radio telescopes, imaging capability for both near field (i.e. sample tomography) and far field applications (i.e threat detection).
This compact semiconductor approach will enable large pixel count arrays with low mass and high functionality for both for ground-based applications as well as space exploration. With a size reduction, thermal stability, inter-component matching of this magnitude, these will be able to be used in balloons, landers, overs, and any other place where a complete remote chemical laboratory might be required.
Silicon photomultipliers (SiPMs) are on the verge of revolutionizing all low light sensing and photon counting applications. The combination of low cost, compact size, and miniscule power consumption offers an attractive replacement for expensive, bulky, and power-hungry photomultiplier tubes (PMTs). SiPM laboratory setups typically include a bench full of heavy test equipment. The associated cost, size, weight, and power (c-SWaP) of this additional equipment present many practical challenges to the deployment of SiPMs, particularly in airborne and space missions.
Many applications benefit from a large tiled array of SiPMs. However, a large SiPM array presents a challenge in proper signal conditioning and handling large volumes of data. The key to solving this challenge is a complete read-out integrated circuit (ROIC) that takes the quantized analog signal from the SiPM array and converts it into useful digital data for the user. This ROIC not only manages the SiPM array data but does so in a manner that significantly reduces the associated c-SWaP from a benchtop solution, a key requirement for practical SiPM deployment.
The ultimate goal of this proposal is a fully integrated ROIC that interfaces to a SiPM array and is readily adaptable to both airborne and space deployed systems. The objective of Phase I is to develop the requisite components of a ROIC for photon counting and to assemble these components into a single channel of the ROIC. A test chip will be developed in Phase I to mitigate the risk of subsequent phases. This test chip will contain the relevant ROIC components, as well as a single channel of the ROIC, and will be designed, laid out, fabricated, and characterized in the Phase I effort.
Potential NASA applications primarily center around LIDAR, which is expanding into a wide variety of uses. NASA has significant requirements for the use of LIDAR systems, an example of which is the CALIPSO mission for studying clouds and atmospheric aerosols. The Freedom Photonics SiPM ROIC will enable and enhance the miniaturization of LIDAR to the point that it can be easily mounted on a drone. The cost of airborne LIDAR surveys will be significantly reduced by moving to a drone platform.
There is great interest in using silicon photomultipliers (SiPM) in many low light sensing and photon counting applications, such as:
Airborne LIDAR surveys benefiting government agencies. For example, the USDA can use drone mounted LIDAR to optimize fertilizer and pesticide application to farmland.
There are also significant commercial applications for this product. By far the largest commercial market that has a need for the ROIC product developed by Freedom Photonics is medical imaging.
To address NASA’s need for next-generation spaceborne lidar systems for aerosol, cloud, and ocean profiling, Voxtel is developing a low-noise high-efficiency high-dynamic-range photon-counting (HiP) sensor. The HiP sensor is based on silicon single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) technology and is capable of both atmospheric and ocean profiling, essentially enabling the first-ever ocean-profiling lidar from space and advanced retrievals of dense cloud properties. The HiP sensor has a linear photon-counting dynamic range of 10 GHz, a low dark-count rate of 25 kHz, and a high photon-detection efficiency of 35% at 532 nm.
The HiP sensor will enable the first-ever ocean-profiling lidar from space and advanced retrievals of dense cloud properties, thus enabling missions such as the Decadal Survey for Earth Science and Applications from Space (ESAS) Aerosols-Clouds-Ecosystems (ACE), which requires a multi-wavelength high-spectral resolution lidar (HSRL) to provide vertically resolved profiling of clouds and aerosols in the atmosphere and optical properties in the ocean.
This technology is also broadly applicable to ground-, aircraft-, and space-based direct detection lidars operating in the 355 to 900-nm wavelength range, including differential-absorption lidars, for chemical and biologic threat detection, and direct-detection wind lidars. The sensor is also suited for the emerging lidar markets of automotive, drone and robotics.
An important NASA mission is to remotely analyze fires, such as wildfires and burning biomasses, for their chemical content. The chemical species of most interest have infrared spectral signatures at wavelengths ranging from 1.5 microns to 12 microns. A broadband infrared focal plane array (FPA) with that spectral coverage and high quantum efficiency is a key technology to enable this mission. QmagiQ has already developed high-performance FPAs with broadband response from 3-13 microns using strained layer superlattices (SLS). In Phase I, we will develop detector recipes to shorten the cuton wavelength from 3 microns to ~ 1 micron, and demonstrate it in actual FPAs. In Phase II, we will develop methods to integrate a set of spectral filters right on the FPA, covering the specific wavelengths of interest. The result will be a multi-spectral FPA with the smallest possible footprint, which will translate into a small light multi-spectral camera useful for a variety of NASA earth-observing and remote-sensing missions.
1. ASA's LANDSAT Data Continuity Mission - Thermal Infrared Sensor (LDCM-TIRS)
2. NASA's HyspIRI Mission - Multispectral thermal infrared (TIR) imager
3. Space- and ground-based astronomy and astrophysics
4. Chemical/spectral mapping of fires, forests, vegetation, crops, and landmasses
5. Temperature mapping of oceans and landmasses
6. Atmospheric mapping
1. Gas imaging (e.g. for the petrochemical and power utility industries)
2. Security and surveillance
4. Medical imaging
5. Missile defense
6. Space-based situational awareness
A receiver system for use in LIDAR consisting of an optical filter and optical spectrometer based upon two-photon absorption is proposed. The filter and spectrometer both use dispersion from excited state transitions of atomic rubidium to create a birefringent medium. The birefringent medium of the optical filter rotates the polarization of light so that it is transmitted through crossed polarizers. The birefringent medium of the spectrometer rotates the polarization of light an amount dependent upon frequency so that Doppler shift can be determined. The wavelength of operation is at 1.530 um which coincides with both the H atmospheric transmission band, and high power C-band transmitters. Since the spectrometer utilizes dispersion rather than absorption to determine frequency, there is no absorption line attenuation of the signal. With a high performance filter and spectrometer, the principle disadvantage of direct detection compared to coherent detection is mitigated. The strength of this method is that superior spatial resolution of wind, on the order of a decade, is attainable compared to coherent detection. Operating at an eye-safe wavelength, a LIDAR using the proposed receiver would bring increased detection capability of wind shear and turbulence.
1. High spatial resolution, eye-safe Doppler LIDAR
2. Aerosol LIDAR
1. Turbulence detection.
2. Optical filtering for line associated with excited state transitions in alkeli metals.
3. Aerosol LIDAR
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 and water temperature, ecosystem dynamics, weather science, land resource mapping; 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 and from shortwave to longwave) detectors to determine precise irradiances at two different wavelengths radiating from the same area at the same time.
Ground combat and air combat applications of all types using a wide variety of detector materials and cutoff wavelengths; Military surveillance compatible with sun-approach warnings; Missile seekers; Homeland security applications; Biometrics; Fire/disaster emergencies (observation and analysis); Security and surveillance in hostile scene situations; Industrial (robotics, weld verification, high temperature processing, heat gradient verification); 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 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 >5 mW average power at 77K at 4.74 THz band. 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 will be frequency locked to a stable microwave reference with <100 kHz line width in Phase II.
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 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. For industrial applications, the use of high-reliability, compact Stirling coolers would increase the usability of these QC-VECSEL devices, which have traditionally required liquid nitrogen cooling or larger cryocooling systems.
X-Ray detector technologies that possess improved number of readout pixels, lower power, faster readout rates, greater quantum efficiency, and enhanced energy resolution are critical to space exploration and scientific research missions. This proposal identifies a transformative new approach for X-ray detection using ion-sensitive nanomaterials. Recent work has shown that certain nanomaterials are extremely sensitive to ionized gas molecules, which enables them to detect even individual ions. These sensors can be utilized as a core element within an ionizable gas-filled volume that responds strongly to X-Rays. This project proposes to develop self-standing X-Ray detector elements with higher quantum gain with reduced power consumption compared to conventional X-Ray detectors, without sacrificing readout speed and miniaturizability. This development will be carried out by an optimization of the ion-sensing core nanomaterial, the sensing geometry, and the ionizable front-end gas volume architecture. These optimized materials and architectures will be combined with low-power fast readout electronics at the back-end to form self-standing X-Ray detector elements. This project will combine the state-of-the-art in materials science, physics, detector technology, and electrical engineering to address an issue of enormous scientific importance and technical value. The successful development of such a detector element will enable the project to move into phase II, where prototype solar X-ray detectors with small independent pixels (< 250 µm) and fast read-out (>10,000 count/s/pixel) over an energy range from < 5 keV to 300 keV will be developed. This technology will have the reach to influence a number of NASA missions beyond Solar observation, such as deep-space imaging and navigation. It will also have a huge potential for commercial applications in industrial testing and process control, medical diagnostics, and advanced scientific research in materials science and beyond.
The proposed work will eliminate high-voltage requirements and reduce power consumption, reduce payload, and enable nanometer size pixels. Combined, these advancements will enable:
Sensitive, small form-factor, low-power, and low-cost X-ray detectors have a tremendous amount of commercial applications:
PhotonFoils will develop single-crystal silicon carbide grid supports for large-area X-ray microcalorimeter entrance filters. Compared with existing silicon grids, the PhotonFoils silicon carbide grids will have >3X higher thermal conductance and higher strength. EMI shielding of 20dB per grid at 1GHz for 100mm apertures can be incorporated. Higher soft X-ray transmittance than achieved with Hitomi SXS filters appears feasible.
X-ray Surveyor, Micro-X, GOES satellite X-ray imagers, atmospheric test windows with low extraneous signal, X-ray windows for solar imaging, CCD optical blocking filters with low contaminant accumulation, neutral atom detector support grids, electron detection support grids
NIST microcalorimeters, large area X-ray windows for laboratory detectors, high harmonic generation (HHG)bandpass and order selection filters, free electron laser beam components, fourth generation synchrotron beamline components, beryllium replacement windows providing higher elemental detectivity, support grids for proton stripping foils
The next generation of detectors for high energy observatories needs a significant improvement in filter technology, as identified in the SBIR solicitation and as a PCOS technology gap. We propose a two-fold change in the state of the art of thin film EUV and x-ray filters, using Al-Sc alloy in place of Al and adding Au nanoparticles to polyimide. Al-Sc alloys show smaller grain sizes that should translate to increased strength and decreased optical/IR transmission, even for alloying fractions <1% that would not noticeably impact the x-ray spectrum. Surface plasmon resonances (SPR) in Au nanoparticles allow tunable absorption peaks for optical thermal control and baking. Since SPRs effectively enlarge the absorption cross section of nanoparticles, we expect to achieve a narrowband visible optical depth of ~0.2 with an x-ray transmittance of >95% (nanoparticles only). We lay out a fabrication and testing plan to push these technologies from TRL2 to TRL4 by the end of Phase I by demonstrating heating of doped films, optical and infrared density of alloyed films, and beamline measurements of x-ray transmittance and density of constituent species in integrated Al-Sc/doped polyimide filters.
This work targets the requirements of large-format thin film filters for high-energy observatories. Increased strength and optical density for metal layers and non-contact thermal control will improve the state of the art of optical and infrared blocking filters and contamination blocking filters. Increased strength of Al via alloying also improves its usefulness as a window in low-pressure differential laboratory gas cell experiments to characterize aerosols and model planetary atmospheres.
Increased optical/IR density and thermal stability afforded by alloying Al is directly applicable to IR-pumped high harmonic generation laser experiments, free electron lasers, synchrotrons, and x-ray instrumentation and metrology tools where pure Al is the current standard. Inertial confinement fusion experiments have a need for resonant absorption of doped polyimide, where pre-heating lasers can remove polyimide layers in the microseconds prior to a shot.
In this proposed project, we plan to further develop a novel platform image sensor, Quanta Image Sensor (QIS), for future NASA missions, and other scientific and consumer applications. The outcome of this project will be a large-format visible-blind CMOS UV/EUV photon-counting sensor with accurate photon-counting capability. The novel sensor will provide some capabilities that are not available with other high-sensitivity detectors, such as accurate photon-number-resolving, zero dead time, low voltage and power requirements, high spatial resolution, and room temperature operation. These features will benefit multiple future NASA missions such as the ESA-NASA Solar Orbiter, Large UV Optical Infrared Survey Telescope (LUVOIR), and the Habitable Exoplanet Mission (HabEx).
The core of QIS is the specialized CMOS photon-counting pixels, called “jots.” With our patented innovations, jots can accurately count photons without the use of avalanche gain or cooling. The technology was validated in a 1Mpixel prototype. The accurate photon-counting capability was demonstrated with ultra-low read noise and dark current at room temperature. When combined with the existing advanced back-surface passivation techniques and band-pass filters developed for CCDs and standard CMOS image sensors, a visible-blind QIS with high quantum efficiency in UV/EUV wavelengths can be produced.
The ultimate goal of the project is to produce a QIS for high-performance visible-blind photon-counting in the UV/EUV spectral region. The effort in Phase I can provide critical guidance for the prototype design in Phase II. The anticipated results are (1) a detailed manufacturing plan for combining the future QIS products with the advanced back-surface passivation techniques, (2) an optimized jot designed for higher quantum efficiency and less cross-talk especially with short photon absorption depth, and (3) a preliminary plan on modifications required for the radiation hardened detector and circuit design.
The applications include a wide range of astrophysics studies. For example, the studies of exoplanet atmospheres, surface reflectance, proto-planets, 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 also beneficial to other scientific applications. For example, the high-energy particle physics experiments with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), 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 scale, 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 develop a particle collimator for NASA and commercial applications that will combine superior mechanical stability, light weight, with efficient off-axis blocking and high on-axis transmission efficiency. The proposed collimator is based on macroporous silicon with conformal pore wall coating by high atomic number material. In Phase I of the project the MicroXact will finalize the performance specifications, will design the collimator structure, will fabricate the collimator prototype and will perform testing of on-axis transmission 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 features (high level of off-axis blocking, high geometrical transmission, mechanical robustness and cost effectiveness) 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, 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 aerogel plates that we believe will enable in-situ organic analysis capability previously unattainable on board a spacecraft using existing NASA mass spectrometer hardware.
The applications of the proposed technology for NASA include the means to employ MS to potentially non-destructively analyze organic trace species in ice grains traveling at hyper velocities of 5km/sec and above, simplifys the orbital mechanics required for sample interception.. The long flight time back to Earth results in significant discovery delays. With the proposed technology, NASA could perform in-situ organic analysis of incident ice grains in near real-time..
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 I 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 existing charge detection mass spectrometer hardware. The six-month effort will establish the feasibility of producing ice grains with suitable size and charge inside the vacuum chamber and develop strategies for combining the ice grain source with high voltage accelerating potentials in phase II.
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. It is valuable for measuring the electric charge on particles in the pharmaceutical and agricultural industries and in the xerographic printing field. RadMet is working towards commercialization of an inexpensive sensor for determining the size and electric charge of aerosol particles based on the CDMS techniques.
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 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.
In Phase I, the focus will be on selection of suitable materials and development of designs for solid state sensors that are stable at high temperature and provide a path to quantitative measurement of carbon dioxide and nitrogen under Venus atmospheric conditions. Sensors with designs and material systems will be fabricated and tested. The most promising sensors will be selected for further development and maturation in Phase II. In Phase II, the sensors will be coupled with silicon carbide (SiC) based electronics being developed by MEI under the Hot Operating Temperature Technology (HOTTech) program, which 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 systems for capture, concentration and utilization of CO2 from the Mars atmosphere.
CO2 is generated in the anode of molted carbonate cells and consumed in the cathode. CO2 monitoring enables controlling addition of CO2 to make up deficiencies. Inert N2 is used to protect cell components. A CO2 sensor capable of measuring high concentration levels can be used in CO2 sequestration process, including monitoring the CO2 concentration prior to injection into storage sites, and monitoring concentration when injected in mature oil fields for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR).
We propose to develop an in-situ X-ray imaging instrument to analyze core samples on the surface of a planet or planetesimal. The instrument will also serve as an X-ray computer tomography (XCT) instrument and 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. Several deployment scenarios are envisioned: analysis of ice cores that only require moderate acceleration voltage from the X-ray tube, analysis of rock cores bare or sealed in containers for sample-return, for which higher energy radiation is needed. The feasibility of a miniature ice-core XCT using technology readily qualified has been partly demonstrated in a preliminary study, the Phase I research will complete this task and demonstrate a proof-of-concept instrument. The engineering requirements of a rock core XCT will be investigated and compared to technology available for flight, especially with regard to high voltage components. The Phase II technical focus will depend on these findings.
Analysis of ice cores of the Mars Polar Layered Deposits to read Mars climatic records.
Analysis of rock cores for robotic in-situ science missions for astrobiology and 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, defense, 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 will focus on heavily leveraging prior harsh environment, in-situ instrumentation development and, with input from current/prior NASA partners, construct, test, and characterize prototype sensor suites. If successful, Sporian will be well prepared for Phase II efforts focused on producing full demonstration units for application-relevant testing and addressing integration strategies.
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, commonly used in commercial and military jets, would benefit significantly by having a non-invasive, small mass, on engine pressure sensor allowing for visibility of the conditions in the turbine engine. 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.
This project is to study the feasibility of developing an in-situ, compact, low-power, non-destructive X-ray imaging instrument to investigate the ice/rock critical properties, such as density, porosity, crack, and chemical non–uniformity, liquid distribution and flowing path, etc..
This proposed system will be built with compact low-power X-ray components and an innovative system configuration. This imaging 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 compact X-ray imaging system has a significant potential to be useful for NASA’s New Frontiers and Discovery missions cross most planetary bodies.
The significance of the proposed technical innovation is from three aspects
Furthermore, this proposed technology could be combined with other instruments, such as the Mars CheMin system, to form a synergy of the dual/triple modality. The process could be: first to perform the non-destructive multi-spectral 3D CT imaging with the samples, and then do the X-ray Diffraction (XRD) and X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) measurements after the samples to be grounded to powder. The synergy will yield a great amount of information, such as density, porosity, crack, phase composition, etc, as well as the chemical compounds, and trace elements etc. of the samples. To gain such information covering a broad range of the fields would significantly help us to expand our knowledge about the solar system and the universe.
This in-situ X-ray imaging system would investigate the planetary ice/rock critical internal structure properties, such as density, porosity, crack, and chemical non–uniformity, liquid distribution and flowing path, etc.. It would be a great addition to the current NASA in-situ instruments, such as Mars CheMin system, by first-time providing those critical internal structure information closely related to the formation history of these samples for NASA’s New Frontiers and Discovery missions.
This proposed technology also has a great potential for geological survey, petroleum, and subsurface thermal resource exploration because it can in-situ provide critical internal structure information about the rock/ice samples. For example, it can be utilized in pole areas to investigate the ice samples right on site to avoid the challenges to transfer and reserve the fragile ice samples. This in-situ measurement can improve the efficiency of the survey, exploration, and fundamental research.
In this Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase I effort, Leiden Measurement Technology (LMT) proposes to design the IN-situ Solid Phase Extraction of Chemical Targets (INSPECT) instrument, a versatile and automated sample processing module that can couple to several analytical instruments via a microfluidic platform. The proposed device INSPECT can separate a range of biologically relevant molecules such as cells, large proteins, polycyclicaromatic hydrocarbons and amino acids important for life detection. This technology will reduce interferents and concentrate samples thus lowering detection limits by providing more refined (or pre-separated) samples to on-board analytical instruments. Separation and concentration is achieved with micro-chromatography columns that borrow technology from solid phase extraction (SPE), solid phase micro-extraction (SPME), cell adhesion technology and traditional chromatography. The INSPECT system not only increases the resolution and sensitivity for life-detection but also uses low power, volume and mass, all of which are principal factors noted in subtopic S1.07 In Situ Instruments/Technologies for Planetary Science. This method is an improvement over other extraction systems that require volatile organic solvents or high volumes of solvent for sample processing. Moreover, it is our goal to make this moduleINSPECT will be compatible with analytical techniques currently being developed at NASA including electrophoresis, gas chromatography, HPLC, UV fluorescence spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy and mass spectroscopy.
The INPECT technology provides innovative sample processing 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 and ice (i.e., Europa, Enceladus and Titan), but this module may be adapted for other environments where there is a need to detect trace amounts of organics and biomolecules as NASA continues to search for extant and extinct life throughout the solar system.
The INSPECT technology, once completed, can be adapted for selective monitoring of terrestrial chemical levels. This will be important for environmental monitoring of groundwater near crude oil deposits and pipelines, or used to monitor the spread of pollutants associated with hydraulic fracturing. The INSPECT device could also be adapted to monitor pharmaceuticals in waste or drinking water which are becoming more abundant in densely populated areas.
Radiative transfer properties of clouds play an important role in the energy balance of the Earth. Numerous NASA programs and experiments are directed to measuring these effects. In-situ measurements are critical for supporting satellite-borne instruments. 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. This project is directed to developing the ice water content (IWC) sensor to complete the trio. Addition of an IWC sensor will yield a suite of instruments that can be used for measurements of all cloud types including mixed-phase clouds.
In Phase I, an IWC sensor which is a derivative of the preceding successful instruments will be developed. This will entail the development of a suitable ice collection medium and associated calibration equations. Supporting work to be completed will include optimizing Anasphere’s icing wind tunnel for pure ice particle conditions. Phase I will conclude with the new IWC sensor being operated in the icing wind tunnel.
The primary NASA applications are found in two programs: the Earth Observing System through CERES (Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System experiment), and the Radiation Sciences Program through FIRE (First International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project Regional Experiment). 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 experiments.
Other agencies (especially the Department of Energy) are engaged in radiative transfer research and will be key beneficiaries of this technology. Numerous other agencies and institutions are engaged in various forms of cloud research and could apply this sensor as well.
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. This project develops a new commercial instrument for airborne INP measurements based on the continuous flow diffusion chamber (CFDC) concept. The CFDC approach involves exposing sampled aerosol in a region between two ice-covered walls and measuring ice crystals that form. In Phase I, we seek to test new wall materials necessary for wider-spread use and commercialization of the CFDC technology. Wall materials used in current versions of the CFDC require frequent cleaning, chemical treatment, and re-assembly, which makes its use by NASA prohibitively costly. Tests proposed include characterizing the thermal and other properties of the proposed wall materials, assessing their performance in terms of INP measurement sensitivity when applied in a basic laboratory configuration, and evaluating their longevity and stability necessary for use in a sustainable measurement platform. An evaluation of the test results will identify a suitable wall material for future development efforts would be the of Phase II, which has the deliverable of producing a prototype INP measurement system suitable for autonomous operation onboard research aircraft. The project directly addresses the NASA need for measurement capabilities to support current satellite and model validation by providing an instrument capable of measuring ice nucleating particle 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, CAMP2Ex and potentially those funded by the currently open EVS-3 solicitation.
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). Handix Scientific also has a close connection with investigators internationally because its owner is an atmospheric research instrument distributor for several US-based companies, and we anticipate interest from this emerging community.
This SBIR Phase I effort will be devoted to exploring possible improvements for the NASA ARCSTONE instrument. One possible improvement will be to utilize total internal reflection optics for the fore-optics of the system. Possible benefits include reduced polarization and smaller size. A second possible improvement will be to use an optical design that requires only one focal plane array for the entire spectral range of 350-2,300 nm. The primary advantage of this approach would be reduced size and weight. During this effort optical ray-trace designs will be developed and optimized, followed by development of preliminary opto-mechanical designs. This will enable side-by-side comparisons with the existing ARCSTONE instrument. If warranted, plans will be developed for prototype fabrication and testing in Phase II.
The improvements developed during this effort will be integrated into the existing NASA ARCSTONE project devoted to calibrating the lunar reflectance.
There are currently no envisioned non-NASA applications.
The overall objective of the SBIR is to develop a high performance, inexpensive, three-band thermal infrared camera system, suitable for deployment in Unmanned Airborne Systems and CubeSats. This imaging system will be capable of mapping thermal features on the surface of the earth with a high revisit rate and high spatial resolution. Xiomas believes the Three Band Infrared Detector (TBIRD) System will see significant demand as a small multiband thermal sensor onboard small to medium sized unmanned airborne vehicles (UAV) and space-based cubesat applications, in both the commercial and military markets.
Xiomas has extensive experience in most of the fundamental technologies proposed. In Phase II we propose to develop a flight ready TRL 7 prototype, with the final six months of Phase II dedicated to instrument calibration and characterization, environmental tests (shock, vibration, temperature, etc.), and flight tests in manned or unmanned small aircraft.
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.
Xiomas believes the proposed sensor system will support NASA's Earth science program and the effort to develop a scientific understanding of Earth's system and its response to natural or human-induced changes, and to improve prediction of climate, weather, and natural hazards, and we take this opportunity to reiterate the importance we attach to developing technology which not only performs at a very high level but also reduces mission cost.
Also applies to recent ROSES solicitation for CubeSats
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, such as ground water mapping.
In this Phase I study, a unique aerosol phase function monitor will be developed. It will utilize an aerodynamic lens to collimate and separate poly-dispersed aerosols based on their differences in vacuum aerodynamic diameters. It will be capable of measuring aerosol scattering intensity at multiple angles simultaneously with respect to the incident laser beam after a period of particle time of flight, which is dependent on aerosol vacuum aerodynamic diameter. Thus the proposed technique is capable of determining size-resolved scattering phase function as well as asymmetry factor of atmospheric aerosols from 100nm to 1000nm in real-time.
The proposed instrument will allow real-time measurements of size-resolved scattering phase function and asymmetry factor of atmospheric aerosols from 100nm to 1000nm for NASA's Airborne Measurement Program. A field-deployable prototype will be a deliverable at the end of the Phase II study.
A new class of solid-state, high-performance cryogenic coolers is proposed for space-based applications. Traditionally, cryocoolers for such applications have been Stirling or pulse tube refrigerators. These cryocoolers, although effective, are heavy, bulky, inefficient, and may cause vibrations. A high-performance solid-state cryocooler based on thermomagnetic cooling via the Ettingshausen effect can be lighter, smaller, vibration free, and use less power than the alternatives. Historically, the practical development of the Ettingshausen coolers was discouraged as they required a magnetic field difficult to reach by traditional ferrite magnets. However, recent rare-earth permanent magnets can produce the required field reliably. We propose an Ettingshausen cooler consisting of advanced permanent magnets combined with a novel semiconductor heterostructure predicted to significantly enhance the efficiency of the solid-state cryogenic cooling in a compact size. The Phase I work will demonstrate the preliminary materials properties and the design required to achieve cooling power larger than 0.2‑0.3 W in 30-35 K temperatures ranges for the rejection temperature of 150 K, while consuming less than 5 W power. The grown heterostructure in phase I will be utilized for the manufacturing of a high-efficiency Ettingshausen thermomagnetic cryocooler in Phase II for specific applications in SmallSat or other micro platforms.
The III-V semiconductor-based thermomagnetic, solid state cryocooler will have wide ranging applications in both space and terrestrial systems. The cryocooler would immediately be applicable to many micro space platform systems, including SmallSat, where efficient, low power, and low vibration cryocooling is a necessity.
The Ettingshausen cryocooler can replace the less efficient or bulky coolers currently used in civil and defense systems including but not limited to the sensing of gamma and x-rays, medical imaging and procedures, superconducting systems, fluidics, and preservation. It will be smaller, lighter, more efficient, and consumes less power than current alternatives, and features no dangerous or expensive cryogenic liquids or moving parts which could cause detrimental vibrations.
Adiabatic Magnetic Refrigeration (ADR) can achieve much better efficiency, and with fewer moving parts than compressor-refrigerators, making it the choice for space-based instruments that require cooling to the sub-Kelvin range. The low operating currents required for space-based usage, the high operating current densities to keep weight and size down, as well as the benefits of higher operating temperature provided by our “2212” superconductor are unmatched by any other superconducting wire option for powering the ADR’s magnet. The innovation in this program consists of a compact, low current coil wound with a novel, very fine 2212 wire, that operates at about 6 A or lower, that generates in excess of 4 T and that operates at up to 25K (not 10K) with low hysteresis losses in ramped fields, very considerably exceeding the specifications in the guideline put forward by NASA, and exceeding even more so, present state-of-the-art ADR coil capabilities. As a first step, the prototype 2212-based fine wire will be designed and fabricated, with process development to achieve the above described properties. Based on these results, longer length prototype sections will be produced at best design and mode conditions, followed by testing to validate scalability. As a final step, a subscale test coil will be wound and tested with same bore size as the current, low temperature superconductor-based coils, in order to demonstrate the feasibility of fabricating an ADR- type of coil with this wire.
Adiabatic Demagnetization Refrigerators (ADR’s) for sub-Kelvin cooling of, for example , Xray calorimeters, and other similar instruments.
Magnetostrictive cryogenic actuators and valves
Small hand held magnets to replace permanent magnets, thereby enabling field level adjustment and turning off the magnet for medical applications.
Specialty, very low loss cables produced by cabling, for ac and ramped field magnets in motors, generators.
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 Origin 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 will perform a proof-of-concept demonstration of the turbine technology at temperatures down to 4 K. 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, Origin Space Telescope, and the Superconducting Gravity Gradiometer.
The military market for the technology is for cooling hyperspectral imaging systems on space‑based observation, surveillance, and missile defense systems. Commercial applications for this technology include cooling for communication satellites; superconducting instruments, digital filters, and magnets; low‑temperature gas‑separation systems; hypercomputers; and Superconducting Quantum Interference Devices (SQUIDs).
The goal of CLASS is to develop a compact, low power, long-lifetime cold atom source for inertial sensors and clocks. CLASS will be designed to produce high cold atom fluxes over a temperature range suitable for commercial- and space-grade atomic devices. Projected loading rates are sufficient to support state-of-the-art atomic sensor performance.
In Phase I, Vector Atomic will design the full CLASS vacuum package, which consists of an atomic source, MOT cooling optics, and electrical and optical feedthroughs. The CLASS design will be validated and de-risked by building and testing the prototype atomic source.
High spatial and temporal resolution mapping of Earth’s gravity to determine changes in polar ice sheets and sea level; Deep space navigation using on-board IMUs or one-way time transfer with precise onboard clocks; Direct measurement and correction of satellite ephemeris errors to eliminate costly ranging and updates from ground stations; space-based atomic gravitational wave detectors; and high resolution radar imaging using a coherent constellation of small-aperture CubeSats.
GPS is an essential asset that underpins much of our modern infrastructure. Transportation, telecommunications, and financial sectors are now fundamentally reliant on GPS for accurate location and timing services. Similarly, the US military is critically dependent on GPS for everything from dismounted soldier missions, to guided munitions, to navigating nuclear submarines.
AOSense proposes to develop laser amplifier modules for cold-atom optical systems. The device would deliver > 1 W of optical power at 852 nm by fiber 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 50 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 (AIGGs). Such systems will likely utilize advanced atom-optic laser pulse sequences, which require more laser power to mitigate atom losses and achieve high sensitivity.
• Earth and planetary static and time-variable gravity mapping
• Asteroid tomography for rendezvous or planetary defense
• Gravitational wave detection and tests of fundamental physics
• Gyroscopes and inertial guidance for deep-space navigation
• Atomic clocks for GPS and communication
• Magnetometers for space vehicles
• Gravity surveys, for example the National Geodetic Survey (NGS)
• Oil, gas, and mineral exploration
• Inertial navigation to aid GPS or in GPS denied environments
• Tomographic restricted material monitoring
The goals of this proposal to develop a robust solid-state nanopore platform are directly aligned with the SeqLOW COLDTech development goals for the Development of Nanopore Sequencing for Automated Ocean World Life Detection led by Program Officer Dr. Christopher McKay at the NASA Ames Research Center. The specific goals include the robust fabrication of solid-state nanopore membranes and nanopore arrays with different pore diameters tailored for detection of multiple types of biomarkers depending on their sizes and expected properties (i.e. DNA, charged proteins, amino acids, etc.). Further development of this platform needs to include the integration of nanopore chips with microfluidics and also, on chip electronics, suitable to produce a compact, integrated and self-contained platform that is small, portable and sufficiently robust to be suitable for long duration space missions. As described below, protein pore-based DNA sequencers, now in the process of beta-testing by Oxford Nanopores (the Minion), are not robust enough for space exploration applications, and there is a need to replicate successes of protein pores in solid-state membranes such as silicon, graphene, metal dichalcogenides or other promising materials that can be fabricated in the form of thin membranes. The need for accuracy for this NASA application to detect and prove the potential existence of extant life, although synergistic, may be somewhat different than the DNA sequencing requirements that has been the focus of the Minion. Specifically, here we seek to potentially detect and distinguish between a range of small biomolecules, including aminoacids, lipids, and other. This requires a range of robust nanopores of controlled diameters and properties, optimally sensitive to different analytes.
This project is directly aligned with the SeqLOW COLDTech development goals for the Development of Nanopore Sequencing for Automated Ocean World Life Detection led by Program Officer Dr. Christopher McKay at the NASA Ames Research Center.
The proposed nanopore technology developed as part of this NASA SBIR project can also be applied by the Environmental Protection Agency in their projects related to measuring the quality of water. For example, the 2017 SBIR solicitation by the EPA included two focus areas involving water testing. The US Department of Agriculture also regularly has a need for novel water analysis instruments. For example, the 2017 USDA SBIR solicitation had three focus areas related to water analysis.
This Phase I SBIR project will investigate the feasibility of a miniature atomic magnetometer, both as a stable scalar device for calibrating fluxgate magnetometers in flight and also as a vector device capable of complimenting fluxgate magnetometers. Missions to Europa will seek to confirm that moon’s underground sea by measuring Europa’s effect on Jupiter’s magnetic field. Meeting this science goal requires a very stable magnetometer. The helium vector-scalar magnetometer is a mature technology for this requirement, but recent work has shown that alkali vapor magnetometers can provide the needed stability with better SWAP. The proposed magnetometer is based on atomic alignment, which has high sensitivity and inherently less heading error. Also proposed is a way to operate the magnetometer that allows it to provide both vector and scalar information. Finally, the Phase I research will test the radiation hardness of the vapor cell and polarization optics. These are key components of the magnetometer that are not commonly used for other instruments, and therefore radiation data is not available for them.
Magnetometers are used on missions to planets and moons as well as studies of Earth's radiation system and space weather. Many of these missions would benefit from improved stability with a smaller SWAP.
Defense applications include anti-submarine applications and detecting hidden tanks, reinforced bunkers, etc. Civilian applications include oil and mineral exploration, mining, buried object detection, and the recovery of objects lost at sea. Medical applications include the measurement of the magnetic field produced by each heartbeat. Maps of this field can be used to diagnose certain common ailments.
This proposal addresses the issue of sample preparation technologies which can be utilized in ocean world missions to enhance the sensitivity and selectivity in the analyses of collected samples. On Earth, solid phase matrices are utilized extensively for capture, separation, and selective retention of components in the sample analysis process. Utilization of solid phases for similar processes is not yet possible on other world based missions due to a lack of investigations into the compatibility of these materials with space flight and deployment under other world conditions. This Phase I effort seeks to investigate commercially available solid phase substrates for three sample processing methods that would be directly integrated into existing NASA programs; these methods are solid phase extraction (SPE), desalting, and ion exchange. This effort will evaluate the performance of different substrates and surface coatings through stresses expected to be experienced on space deployment. The goal is to determine which substrates/surfaces might be able to play a role in future sample analysis missions that are planned for exploration of ocean worlds.
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 used for mass spectroscopy. Qualification of ion exchange media provides desalting and charged mineral removal from samples. The Phase II effort to qualify chromatographic solid phases will bring great benefits to NASA’s efforts.
These solid phase methods are already utilized extensively for earth based sample preparation before analysis. The materials to be qualified are already commercially available, thus no new non-NASA applications are anticipated.
Detection of organics on solar system bodies and their spatial distribution are fundamental capabilities required to meet NASA strategic goals. This proposal addresses the need for remote detection and classification of trace concentrations of organic compounds on the surfaces of Ocean and Icy Worlds including Europa, Enceladus, Titan, as well as other cold worlds. Mars 2020 SHERLOC conducts vibrational spectroscopy at standoff about 6 cm due to low cross-sections about 108 to 1010 times lower than fluorescence.
At temperatures below 160K, the ability to measure vibrational information of organic compounds with vastly increased cross-sections, equivalent to room temperature fluorescence or greater, was demonstrated in the publication in 2011 by P.V. Johnson of JPL and others. They showed that low temperature fluorescence exhibits resolvable vibrational bands that provide structural details such as the arrangement of methyl groups and the presence and variability of functional groups. This enables detection at far greater standoff distances and lower concentrations with anticipated limits of detection from below 1 ppb at standoff distances of 10’s of meters to about 1 ppm at 10’s of kilometers.
Using existing cryogenic facilities, deep UV lasers, and related optical and vacuum hardware at Photon Systems, we propose in Phase I to quantify the absolute cross-sections of relevant organic materials and understand cryoluminescence spectral features at low temperatures. We will generate a radiometric photon budget model to predict the limits of detection versus standoff distance for a small, light-weight, low-power, RITOC instrument. The Phase I effort is intended to provide the proof-of-concept for the proposed standoff RITOC instrument, increasing the TRL from about 1 to 2. The Phase II effort will be focused on developing and demonstrating the RITOC instrument in terrestrial settings at distances up to 100 m, bringing RITOC instrument TRL up to about 3.
The RITOC method and instrument has a broad range of potential applications for NASA for measuring the type and distribution of trace organic chemical and biological materials on surfaces from small to medium size fixed landers. rovers, and potentially on low altitude flyby instruments of Ocean and Icy Worlds. This technology is also applicable for terrestrial field applications including Antarctica and the Artic as well as other harsh environments.
Typical Non-NASA applications of RITOC include detection of unknown chemicals or biological materials on surfaces at remote or standoff distances. Non-NASA applications include situational awareness of surrounding chemical, biological, and explosives hazards for first responders in both military and civilian environments. In addition, the same instrument and technology is applicable to cleaning validation in pharmaceutical, food, and chemical manufacturing and environmental monitoring.
Vector vortex waveplates (VVWs) have been shown to be useful for coronagraphy and other applications requiring proximity glare suppression. BEAM Co. has been on the forefront of development of VVWs for such applications, and is well-positioned to apply past experience to extending this technology into new regions of the spectrum, including the ultraviolet, and to make it possible to achieve high contrast in coronagraphy over broader wavelength bands than has to date been possible. Materials already proven to enable proximity glare suppression in the visible are readily adaptable to the UV at least down to 300 nm wavelength, and further material development should allow glare suppression for even shorter wavelengths. Multilayer liquid crystal polymer structures are expected to allow broadening of the spectral bandwidth over which high contrast is provided from 10% of the center wavelength to at least 20% of bandwidth. The design techniques to be developed under the program for new wavelength bands, and for broader operational bandwidths, are applicable to a wide range of diffractive waveplate devices in addition to VVWs, and to additional applications, including design of diffraction gratings for spectrometry, and design of telescopes based on diffractive waveplate structures.
NASA applications for the results of our program include coronagraphy and other astronomical applications requiring proximity glare suppression. Other potential applications include the use of the developed structures for elements of ground-based and spaceborne telescopes for astronomical observations and for optical communications.
Non-NASA applications include coronagraphy, spectrometry, telescope design, and optical communications.
The proposed innovation is a segmented, micromachined deformable mirror (DM) that can compensate tip-tilt-piston (TTP) positioning and stability errors of a segmented space-based primary mirror. This effort responds directly to the NASA FY2018 SBIR/STTR General Solicitation, Focus Area 10: Advanced Telescope Technologies, Subtopic S2.01: Proximity Glare Suppression for Astronomical Direct Detection. This subtopic focuses on new technological developments that are needed for exoplanet direct imaging, and specifically identifies wavefront measurement and control technologies as a key need. The core subject of this proposal is to develop a technology that is identified as critical in this subtopic: small-stroke, high-precision deformable mirrors and associated driving electronics. The solicitation specifically calls for a “Deformable, calibrated, collimating source to simulate the telescope front end of a coronagraph undergoing thermal deformations.” The proposed DM would have complementary uses for both simulating the front end of a coronagraph (as a surrogate for its primary) and precisely compensating wavefront errors in the front end of an actual coronagraph. High-precision deformable mirrors have applications relative to multiple NASA needs. Commercialization opportunities in astronomy and space science include both space telescopes such as the Large UV/Optical/Infrared Surveyor (LUVOIR) and Habitable Exoplanet Imaging Mission (HabEx) telescopes. The DM architectures to be developed in this project also have commercial applications in non-government markets, including space surveillance and biological microscopy. In the microscopy market especially, the TTP DM has become a commercial product used in two photon nonlinear microscopes through the pioneering efforts of Na Ji at Howard Hughes Medical Insitute’s Janelia Research Campus.
High-actuator-count deformable mirrors (DMs) have a few NASA applications. The following applications apply to all BMC DMs that benefit from processes developed for this program.
Astronomy: For space telescopes, a number of missions require the control provided by the proposed DMs such as LUVOIR and HabEx. For ground-based telescopes, BMC has successfully developed arrays up to 4096 elements for GPI and other high contrast imaging testbeds and can achieve similar results for other new ELTs.
The deformable mirrors (DMs) developed in this project have a few commercial applications and apply to all BMC DMs benefitting from processes developed for this program.
Space surveillance and optical comms would benefit from this new architecture for long-range imaging and secure communication. Microscopy Users would benefit in modalities such as multi-photon, 4Pi and localization microscopy. Finally, DM arrays will enable new techniques for laser marking, material ablation and characterization.
Made In Space, Inc. (MIS) proposes the construction of large baseline structures, 15 meters or greater, for infrared space interferometry missions by autonomous in-space manufacturing and assembly. This enables the deployment of large primary trusses unconstrained by launch load or volume restrictions that meet science requirements for the high angular resolutions (less than 0.3 arcseconds) necessary to detect planets near bright stars and measure individual objects in star clusters. In this Phase I effort, MIS investigates the mass, performance, and mission planning benefits of in-space manufacturing for structurally-connected interferometers (SCI).
MIS is the leading developer of manufacturing technologies in the space environment. Utilizing technologies derived from Archinaut, a NASA Tipping Point 2015 award winner, large infrastructure can be manufactured on orbit and enable a multitude of missions. Optimast is a self-contained, scalable machine for producing microgravity-optimized linear structures on-orbit, developed as a product application of the Archinaut technologies. MIS has developed Optimast to a TRL-6 with successful thermal vacuum testing of extended structure manufacturing in 2017.
Adapting the MIS Optimast technology to produce long baseline structures with low thermal expansion materials enables simultaneous structural fabrication and positioning of the optical subsystems to the required absolute (static) and dynamic (thermal deflection and oscillation) tolerances. An Optimast-SCI baseline structure thus provides superior absolute position control over traditional deployable structures at much lower cost, mass, and integration complexity and eliminates the parasitic mass from hinge mechanisms and traverse rails.
Long baseline interferometry is necessary to provide the sub-arcsecond angular resolution and high spectral resolution for collecting spectral data on protostellar disks, finding protoplanets hidden in dust fields, and resolving questions about how galaxies merge. The Optimast-SCI technology is also applicable to the development of large deployable antennas, manufactured structures for large backplanes and other spacecraft systems, and structurally-connected interferometry in other wavelengths.
MIS has preliminarily identified opportunities for Earth remote sensing and space situational awareness for large optical interferometers in Earth orbit. Depending on the customer requirements for spatial resolution, target resolution, and imaging wavelength, MIS plans to consult with industry partners and further develop concepts for structurally-connected interferometers intended for commercial applications.
High-contrast (10-10) imaging and spectroscopy for exoplanet science is critically dependent on telescope optics and wavefront stability. A challenging requirement on the opto-mechanical system is that of wavefront error stability on the order of 10 pm RMS per wavefront control step (~10s of minutes). Goodman Technologies proposes a purposefully engineered 2nd Generation structural-grade “RoboSiC-S” to provide the degree of passive athermality required by the HaBEX, LUVOIR, eLISA, and LISA missions, concomitant with low areal density (4-5 kg/m2) and the ability to perform active precision adjustment. The combination of 3D/AM allows the manufacture of high structural efficiency pyramidal, tetrahedral or Kagome truss sandwich core configurations, honeycomb cores, or lattice cores. Clever core design provides the additional stability benefit of cryogenic damping. RoboSiC-S, at 298K, is predicted to have 12X and 2.5X better steady state stability, respectively, than Zerodur® and M55J/954-6 (using the composites cryo-CTE). The average value of the CTE for the JWST M55J/T300/954-6 composite over the 25-150K temperature range calculated from measured Backplane Stability Test Article strains is -0.3 ppm/K (V1 tubes) and -0.125 ppm/K (spanner tubes). For comparison, RoboSiC-S has predicted a CTE of <1 ppm/K from 20-180K, and near-0 CTE (0.027 ppm/K) from 20-60K. In addition to 3D/AM, electrical conductivity of RoboSiC-S allows precision threaded holes and bolts to employ a “bolt-together” approach such as was used for the composite mirror backplane of the JWST. Ultra-fine ¼-80 bolts with 0.25mm pitch threads can be used as positioning actuators for hinged components to provide stable, athermal, and precision alignment. We plan a well-designed project to demonstrate a deployable primary mirror with backing structure, hinges, latches with stability to picometers, areal density of 4-5 kg/m2, and packaging efficiency of 7 deployed/stowed diameter.
The New Worlds Technology Development Program teams, and the various COR and PCOS STDTs require affordable, low areal density and ultra-stable opto-mechanical structures. Potential NASA applications include: HabEx, LUVOIR, eLisa Program, LISA, NASA balloon-borne missions, and multiple other missions. The mirrors and the many instruments for these missions require optical benches and ultra-stable opto-mechanical structures (hinges, latches, trusses, tubes, pins, flexures, whiffles, struts, etc.)
Non-NASA applications of low cost, lightweight, dimensionally stable mirrors and structures include space telecommunications, optical instruments/telescopes which enable imaging, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions for Department of Defense, atmospheric, agricultural and ocean resource monitoring, imagery and mapping for resource management, and disaster relief and communications. The dual-use nature applies to national defense missions such as airborne, shipborne and land-based lasers.
Due to its high elastic modulus, low density, low thermal expansion, and high thermal conductivity, silicon carbide is an ideal material for many demanding space applications. Examples include: lightweight freeform mirrors and structural components for ground/space-based imaging systems. The ability to print near-net shapes in silicon carbide will increase design freedom and reduce production cost/time. This research will therefore have significant impact for space exploration.
This development effort will generate new knowledge about the additive manufacturing of silicon carbide and enable the production of silicon carbide mirrors. Unlike existing processes, such as hot pressing, slip casting, or polymer binding, the new approach to be studied does not rely on: 1) high temperatures/pressures within a mold; or 2) a polymer binder that serves as the preliminary support structure until it is removed by sintering. Rather, sodium hydroxide will be applied to silicon carbide powder in a powder bed, liquid binder-jetting process. The sodium hydroxide will oxidize the silicon carbide to form an amorphous silica layer. When heat is added, this amorphous layer will crystallize to form a network of connecting rods and plates between the adjacent silicon carbide grains through secondary crystal growth. This crystalline silica network will serve to reduce the porosity while increasing the density and strength. This represents a transformative step forward in additive manufacturing that is applicable not only to silicon carbide, but can also be extended to other material systems. The supporting oxidation and crystal growth modeling efforts will enable a deterministic approach to process parameter selection.
The work proposed in this effort can have a direct effect on NASA's potential LUVOIR and HabEx missions. It can also have applications in the Balloon Planetary Telescope and many CubeSat applications. Long term there is development potential to scale up to larger optical surfaces.
This technology has the potential to dramatically reduce the cost of light weighted SiC mirrors. There are many applications for space and aerospace applications that it could fill a need for. There is also a strong possibility that this technology could lead to additive manufacturing of other mateirals as well as new optical ceramics.
We propose the development of a programmable phase nulling interferometer that extends the capability of a computer generated hologram (CGH) to null test a range of meter class telescope mirrors, instead of a single one for which it was designed. The active element is a crystal on silicon (LCoS) spatial light modulator (SLM). The SLM corrects for the residual wavefront remaining when a CGH is used to test a mirror for which it was not designed. An aperture F-number trade space exists in which a range of mirrors can be null tested with one CGH. The prototype can be modularly added-on to a railed interferometric test setup with a CGH. In Phase I a system will be constructed with a 512x512 SLM in a brassboard Twyman-Green interferometer to null test a 10 inch F3.5 or F4 parabolic mirror. It will resemble the proposed prototype, but without a CGH, as in this case the SLM alone can null the phase error from the mirror. Tests of null quality and repeatability will be performed and measures to eliminate modulo 2p phase artifacts will be implemented. The Phase 1 brassboard will be controlled with a labVIEW executable and delivered to NASA.
Optical test metrology for giant telescope mirrors; beam steering for satellite communication links; holographic optical trapping.
Optical test metrology for giant telescope mirrors; optical test metrology for small scale commercial and custom optics; ground and satellite based beam steering; holographic optical trapping in biotechnology; multi-photon microscopy in biotechnology.
This NASA SBIR Phase I 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. The ultimate goal of this work is to create an ultra-stable ALLVAR Alloy metering structure manufacturing process. Bars with low thermal expansion have previously been made by welding ALLVAR Alloys to commercially available Titanium alloys, but their dimensional stability over thermal fluctuations is above the pm stability limit. This Phase I project is designed to better understand the individual stability of the titanium and ALLVAR Alloys and to evaluate hydroxide bonding for mounting mirrors to ALLVAR in preparation for pm level stability tests. The Phase II project would run full scale pm level stability tests in an effort to evaluate the relaxation manufacturing steps and understand how welding the ALLVAR Alloy to titanium may affect the material’s stability.
A new material with picometer stability can potentially improve support structures for optic systems critical to NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, like LUVIOR 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’s unique negative thermal expansion properties can compensate for thermal focus shift in refractive infrared optics used for nightvision, UVAs, missiles, and sub-sea applications. This allow infrared optics manufacturers to reduce the size and weight of their optics. ALLVAR Alloy’s unique properties are also starting to get the attention of composite and glass companies. We see potential collaboration with companies in these areas for support hardware and transition piece applications.
Space-borne instruments, such as telescope housings and baffles where stray light reduction is vital requires the reduction of the stray light from optical payloads. Low reflective coatings (with reflectivity of ~0.1% or less) in the broad spectral range (visible- near infrared) have to be developed. These black coatings should also withstand aggressive space environments and launch conditions with marginal impact on their adhesion and optical performance. A promising candidate with an outstanding diffuse absorptance is chemically vapor deposited layers of carbon nanotubes. However, these coatings are typically grown by expensive and thermally based techniques and can be difficult to apply to 3D structures. Phase I will demonstrate the feasibility of a low-cost, efficient and scalable manufacturing process for the deposition of durable, low reflectivity CNT black coatings based on the use of pulse and pulse reverse electrophoretic deposition. This technology will enable the conformal deposition of CNT black coatings on complex shapes and sharp edges on commonly used spacecraft materials such as aluminum and titanium substrates. In Phase I, Faraday will develop an electrophoretic bath formulation and manipulate the pulsed electric field parameters to deposit dense, vertically aligned multi-walled carbon nanotubes onto test substrates, and characterize the deposited coatings to show the potential of achieving the desired reflectivity of 0.1% or less, monitor the thickness uniformity and morphology and demonstrate the potential for durability in severe launch conditions. Finally, a preliminary techno-economic will be completed to show the potential to reduce the cost of existing processes while maintaining required optical properties. Phase II would optimize the deposition parameters, elucidate their effect on scattered light suppression and thermal-structural performance, process alpha-scale components, and, to the extent possible, perform a system-level validation.
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.
In addition to the NASA’s space missions, availability of black optical coating technology might open up new markets such as military applications including missile seeker, surveillance, night vision cameras, thermal imaging and shielded windows. We also envision this technology application in other areas including: electronics and telecommunications, semiconductors, solar panels, automobile industry or any other technology that suffers from scattered light reflection.
NASA has identified freeform optics as an integral part of their future optical systems. Reducing the cost of freeforms will be crucial in accelerating the integration of freeforms into cost-sensitive NASA optical systems. One method to reduce cost is to reduce the metrology time needed to characterize the freeforms. This is especially true when measuring the mid-spatial frequency errors induced during the manufacturing process. Current methods are tactile measurement devices such as a coordinate measurement machine and profilometers. These metrology methods slow the manufacturing process and therefore increase cost. The goal of this NASA Phase 1 SBIR is to develop and investigate a unique deflectometry enclosure to improve efficiency of the manufacturing of freeform optics. This proposed innovation is a multi-camera multi-monitor deflectometry system that can be integrated into manufacturing. It would increase efficiency of the freeform manufacturing process by greatly reducing the time to measure the mid-spatial frequency errors of the freeform part and therefore would reduce the time and cost of freeform manufacturing.
Freeform based optical systems provide better optical performance in smaller footprint. NASA applications include: Exo-planet imaging systems - Freeform optics would improve performance with fewer optics in a smaller footprint. LUVOIR Ultraviolet Multi Object Spectrograph - Operating in the UV would require fewer optics in as smaller package. Origins Space Telescope (OST) - This telescope operating in the infrared High performance freeform optics would solve the requirement of
Freeforms: Freeform optics are quickly becoming part of many commercial and military optical systems. Many optical designers are starting to use freeform optics to achieve optical performance (less aberrations), lighter weight optical systems through a reduced number of components, and an increased ability to go off axis with smaller and tighter packages. Examples of commercial uses of freeforms include:
*Heads-up displays, *Compact imaging systems, *Augmented and Virtual reality display systems
The proposed research is directed at the development of new optical interference coatings having low film stress and high reflectance in the X-ray band from 0.1 to 10 keV, which are critically needed for the construction of lightweight, nested X-ray telescopes having high collecting area and sub-arcsecond resolution for Lynx, the high-energy flagship mission under consideration for the 2020 Astrophysics Decadal Survey, as well as for other future NASA X-ray missions. Iridium-based coatings provide high reflectance over the Lynx energy band, however such films also have exceedingly high stress, and film stress deforms thin-shell mirror substrates, thereby degrading telescope angular resolution. The proposed effort aims to develop low-stress, high-X-ray-reflectance optical interference coatings for Lynx, using in place of iridium (Ir) either platinum or tungsten layers, in combination with layers of various light elements. These non-Ir interference coatings have the potential for lower stress and higher reflectance than Ir coatings, thus enabling the realization of lightweight X-ray telescopes having high collecting area and sub-arcsecond angular resolution.
The low-stress, high-reflectance X-ray coatings that we propose to develop are critically needed for the construction of light-weight X-ray telescopes having sub-arcsecond angular resolution, as required for NASA’s Lynx mission now under consideration for the 2020 Astrophysics Decadal Survey, and for other future missions as well.
The new X-ray coatings potentially can be used to develop high-resolution X-ray optics for a variety of other applications outside of space science, including instruments for next-generation light sources (FELs, etc), plasma physics, atto-second physics, and others.
As the world leader in the production of epitaxial lift-off (ELO) inverted metamorphic (IMM) solar cells, MicroLink Devices proposes to develop large-area ELO-IMM solar cell designed specifically for low intensity, low temperature (LILT) space applications. These solar cells will achieve 45% power conversion efficiency (at –125°C and 5.2 AU) with high production yields, enabling substantial solar array costs for future NASA outer planetary space missions.
The proposed LILT ELO-IMM solar cells will benefit future NASA missions to the outer solar system where solar cells will operate under LILT conditions. These solar cells will enable substantial solar array cost reductions making them especially suitable for large-scale SEP (solar electric propulsion) spacecrafts operating in LILT conditions.
Manufacturers of commercial satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are interested in MicroLink’s low mass and power dense ELO solar cell technology for the potential to reduce costs while improving the efficiency compared to commercially available Ge-based cells. Attractive military and civilian applications include the ability to recharge batteries in remote locations.
Identification and Significance of the Innovation
Under recent NASA SBIR, STTR, and other programs, our team has developed both line-focus and point-focus Fresnel lens PV concentrators with unprecedented performance and cost metrics. This new Phase I proposal addresses a remaining mass-production issue for the ultra-light lenses used in both line-focus and point-focus embodiments of the space PV concentrator technology. After casting the silicone lens, removing the lens tool is difficult, time-consuming, and often damaging to the lens. A vanishing lens tool would completely solve this problem, making high-quality, mass-producible, low-cost, ultra-light Fresnel lenses available for future space PV concentrators. These concentrators offer unrivaled benefits for outer planet and near-sun missions, especially in rad-hardness, LILT-tolerance, and HIHT-tolerance.
Technical Objectives, Work Plan, and Deliverables
Technical Objectives: To (1) Select Candidate Vanishing Lens Tool Materials, (2) Procure Electroform Replicas of 25X Point-Focus Lens Pattern, (3) Produce Vanishing Lens Prototype Tools, (4) Produce and Inspect Lenses (Glass Superstrate and Mesh), (5) Outdoor-Test Best Lenses for Optical Efficiency, (6) Select Best Vanishing Lens Tool Material, (7) Produce 10 Prototype Vanishing Lens Tools, (8) Produce and Outdoor-Test 10 Lenses, (9) Explore Mass Production of Vanishing Lens Tools from Selected Material with Vendors, (10) Prepare Technology Development Roadmap for Phase II and Beyond, (11) Provide All Required Reports, Reviews, and Deliverables.
Work Plan: Over a 6-month performance period, we will perform 11 tasks linked directly to the 11 objectives.
Deliverables: 3 Program Reviews, 2 Program Reports, 10 Lenses (5 Glass Superstrate + 5 Embedded Mesh), and Phase II Proposal
The Unique Line-Focus and Point-Focus Space PV Concentrators Using Fresnel Lenses Made from the New Process Will Be Applicable to Numerous Missions, Especially to the Moon, Mars, Deep Space, and Inner Planets. The Unprecedented Cost and Performance Metrics and the Tolerance of Radiation, LILT, and HIHT Effects May Be Mission-Enabling for Many Planned Missions. NASA Is Currently Funding Development of this Technology for Extreme Environment Solar Power (EESP) Applications to Outer Planets.
The Unique Line-Focus and Point-Focus Space PV Concentrators Using Fresnel Lenses Made from the New Process Will Be Applicable to Numerous DOD and Commercial Space Missions, Especially SEP Missions, Asteroid Missions, etc., and Rad-Hard, Laser-Hard, Resilient National Security Spacecraft. We Are Already Working with Aerospace Firms and DOD on PV Concentrators for Their Missions. DOD Has Long Funded Our PV Concentrators, from the SCARLET Array on Deep Space 1 to SLATE on TacSat 4.
The proposed innovation will significantly improve the performance of tritium-powered betavoltaic batteries through the development of a high bandgap InAlP diode coupled to a high beta-flux thin film metal tritide. Tritium has a power density of 300 W/kg and City Labs’ new metal hydride film has a power density approaching 70 W/Kg and can be expanded to 100 W/kg.This project will investigate the performance improvement from a wide bandgap semiconductor diode, specifically with the goal of achieving >10% beta-electron energy conversion efficiency. The device will be built by City Labs with its tritium beta emitter expertise and MicroLink's metalorganic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) capability.
The proposed Phase I research seeks to develop an InAlP p/n junction with a high beta-flux metal tritide for use in betavoltaic power sources. The betavoltaic p/n junction will increase the efficiency of betavoltaic devices from 8% up to 12% based on the incident tritium beta flux. The secondary goal is to investigate the release of the betavoltaic epitaxial layer through the removal of the substrate via lapidary and/or chemical etchants.
City Labs anticipate 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 bionics/ implants. City Labs has sold prototype and commercial batteries into select high value markets with customers such as Lockheed Martin and NASA's JPL and currently has letters-of-support from Orbital ATK and Lockheed Martin Space Systems for the proposed betavoltaic power source.
Deployable Space Systems, Inc. (DSS) has developed a high performance solar array system that has game-changing performance metrics in terms of ultra-compact stowage volume, affordability, high specific power and lowest cost available for a solar array of its size. The proposed solar array system is a foldable composite panel solar array designed specifically for scale-up / high-power SEP applications and is targeted as a direct replacement for existing rigid panel solar arrays. The foldable panel array eliminates the costly honeycomb panels and hinge mechanisms associated with rigid panel array systems, providing a significant system level cost reduction. The innovative solar array consists of a highly-manufacturable single-piece thin laminated panel with solar cells bonded directly to the panel using standard cell laydown processes. The solar array folds upon itself for stowage in a flat-package configuration and is protected for launch with a proprietary packaging technique. Deployment is reliably achieved through a proprietary deployment approach that sequences and coordinates the deployment of each panel. When fully deployed the solar array conforms to an integrated flat planar surface (onto which the PV is mounted) with deep-sectioned cylindrical-shaped out-of-plane longitudinal edges and stiffeners that provide high stiffness/strength.
NASA space applications are comprised of practically all Exploration, Space Science, Earth Science, Planetary Surface, and other missions that require affordable high-efficiency photovoltaic power production through of an ultra-lightweight, ultra-compact stowage, and highly-modular solar array. The technology is particularly suited for advanced spacecraft that require high power / high voltage solar array arrays that require game-changing ultra-affordability for SEP missions.
Non-NASA space applications are comprised of practically all missions that require affordable high-efficiency photovoltaic power production through deployment of an ultra-lightweight, ultra-compact stowage, and highly-modular solar array. Potential non-NASA commercial and DoD applications span a broad range of high voltage/power applications that demand ultra-affordability. The technology is suitable for non-NASA LEO, MEO & GEO missions.
NASA is challenged to find ways of effectively shielding sensitive electronic equipment from electromagnetic interference (EMI) without adding significant weight to space flight vehicles and satellites (the heavier they are the more fuel they need to achieve orbit). EMI shielding for wire and cables is an attractive opportunity for weight reduction. However, with the advent of highly reusable next generation space vehicles, wiring must be not only light weight, but also strong and robust, capable of withstanding extreme conditions, intense vibration and long lifecycles. It is important that wire weight reductions do not come at the expense of mechanical strength or EMI shielding effectiveness. DexMat is developing a novel and highly conductive Carbon nanotube (CNT) EMI shield product that will allow for significant weight reduction without compromising mechanical strength or shield effectiveness. CNTs are advancing as the most promising solution for reducing the weight of spacecraft wires. The shielding effectiveness of CNT materials is comparable to that of heavy metal braids, but at a fraction of the weight. Compared to a copper wire with the same diameter, a CNT fiber has 6 times higher strength, more than 6 times lower density, and at least 25 times higher flexure tolerance, essential qualities for conductors in aerospace applications. Under this Phase I project, DexMat will develop CNT shielding braid (made from CNT yarn from Dexmat) that can potentially increase the mechanical strength of CNT tape used as a primary EMI shield. These CNT braids will be of different thicknesses and area coverage, to augment the performance and product appeal of CNT tapes. Additionally, DexMat will begin to conduct the first accelerated aging tests to determine the impact on mechanical strength of shielding made with CNT tapes, CNT yard braids, and hybrid CNT tape/braid combinations.
The first planned product to contain DexMat technology is lightweight CNT cables. CNT cables combine high strength, electrical and thermal conductivity with low density, making them ideal for aerospace applications where weight reduction is a priority, including reusable next generation space vehicles and satellites. Given the tremendous costs associated with satellite launches, NASA and the aerospace industry will see substantial savings from our CNT-based wire.
DexMat CNT technology has applications in the military aircraft and commercial aviation markets, to effectively reduce weight of aircraft and satellite designs. For a single-aisle aircraft, a 1% reduction of in weight can lead to a net cost savings of $240K-$1.6M per year in use. For larger aircraft, the savings can reach $2.4-5M. Additional applications include wearable electronics, eTextiles and bioelectronics.
Busek proposes to develop a low-cost, lightweight Hall Effect Thruster (HET) Power Processing Unit (PPU) at targeted 1kW/kg power density with more than 97% efficiency. The proposed PPU solution adopts advanced GaN power MOSFETs and PCB based planar magnetics technology to enable high switching frequency operation. Reduced headcount of magnetics, semiconductors and associated driver integrated circuits will allow for significant size reduction of all passive components to support ultra-high power density designs. This innovation will further miniaturize HET PPUs from today’s state-of-art by an anticipated 30% in volume and mass, with cost reductions exceeding 50% versus SOA solutions.
The unique advantages of the proposed system can be summarized in three parts. First, the system utilizes a novel single-core multi-port circuit topology which integrates all the PPU subsystems through a single stage power conversion using a single multi-winding transformer. This significantly reduces system volume, weight, and cost. Second, the power flow control for each subsystem is fully independent regardless of power stage sharing. Each subsystem has its own phase shift control to regulate the desired output voltage and current. Third, the proposed PPU circuit topology is essentially a soft-switching DC-DC converter which can ensure zero-voltage-switching operation for all the switching devices. The proposal adopts the advanced GaN power MOSFETs and PCB based planar magnetics technology to enable high switching frequency operation, which supports a 30% size reduction of magnetics and other passive components in the high-efficiency and high-power density design.
In Phase II Busek will characterize the breadboard PPU with sub-kilowatt Hall thrusters and develop a proto-flight brass-board level unit using GaN devices. At the conclusion of Phase II, Busek will deliver a PPU to NASA for additional characterization testing.
HET systems are well suited for interplanetary transfers, supporting exploration and science missions. The Outer Planet Assessment Group identified high power density/high efficiency power electronics for its Titan/Enceladus Flagship and planetary exploration missions. These types of missions, including Mars Sample Return using Hall thrusters and PPUs, require advancements in power electronics. The proposed system meets requirements and is easily scalable, providing greater mission flexibility.
EP systems have been identified as a key technology for transportation of DoD space assets for both orbit transfer and station keeping. The AFRL IHPRPT Program continues to invest in the development of HET systems.
A high power density PPU could also find applications on an all-electric upper stage derived from Busek/ULA orbit maneuvering system, a free flying S/C based on the ESPA ring.