NASA Tests Prepare Space Launch System for Liftoff

Wind tunnel tests simulate ground winds on the rocket during liftoff using smoke flow visualization. This technique allows engineers to see how the wind flow behaves as it hits the surface of the launch tower model. (NASA/Les Yeh) NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) may experience ground wind gusts of up to 70 mph as it sits on the launch pad before and during liftoff for future missions. Understanding how environmental factors affect the rocket will help NASA’s guidance, navigation, and control team to identify the safety distance between the rocket and the launch tower.

Posted in: News, Aerospace, Defense


Lightweight Artificial Hair Sensors Could Enable “Fly by Feel”

The Artificial Hair Sensor was inspired by the hairs on bats and crickets. The Air Force Research Laboratory was inspired by the hairs on bats and crickets in creation of artificial hair sensors that could assess the external environment and change maneuvers during flight. The need to understand ambient air data and its effects on aircraft performance, navigation, and more has become more critical as aircraft are now lighter and operate in diverse environments.

Posted in: News, Defense, Sensors


Creating the Future: A Better Way to Map Terrain

Mark Skoog, an aerospace engineer at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center, led the development of new software that stores terrain data in a more efficient and accurate way. The achievement, Skoog says, opens the prospect of anyone – yes, anyone – being able to fly.

Posted in: News, News, Aerospace, Imaging, Sensors


AMRDEC Technologies to Improve Air and Missile Defense

From Left to Right: Keith Godwin, Sam Curtis, Tony Rainoldi (Photo Credit: Joseph Mendiola) Engineers at the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) are working on a trio of technologies to explore improving existing air and missile defense designs at lower costs and in less development time. Each of the technologies was developed out of a demand from the warfighter. Investment in current missile weapons is high so the Army prefers to improve what is in use instead of fielding new items. Also, soldiers have more trust in machinery they have used and experienced.

Posted in: News, Aerospace, Defense, Software, Test & Measurement


Drop of Mock Nuclear Weapon Is First of New Flight Tests

An F-16C makes a pass over Nevada’s Tonopah Test Range after a March test of a mock nuclear weapon as part of a Sandia National Laboratories life extension program for the B61-12. Teams will spend months analyzing the data gathered from the test. (Photo by John Salois) From a distance, the drop of a mock nuclear weapon — containing only non-nuclear components — was a mere puff of dust rising from a dry lake bed at Nevada’s Tonopah Test Range. However, it marked the start of a new series of test flights vital to the nation’s B61-12 weapon refurbishment program. Initial data showed the test was a success, said officials at Sandia National Laboratories, which runs Tonopah. For months, teams will be analyzing a wealth of data they collected from this first of a qualification test series planned over the next three years.

Posted in: News, Defense, Test & Measurement


Mobile High-Energy Laser Shoots Down Drones

This Mobile High-Energy Laser-equipped Stryker was evaluated, April 12, during the 2017 Maneuver Fires Integrated Experiment at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The MEHEL can shoot a drone out of the sky using a 5kW laser. (Photo Credit: C. Todd Lopez) A Stryker combat vehicle equipped with a 5kW laser and an array of sensors spent several minutes scanning the horizon for a wayward "enemy" drone. On a television screen in a nearby tent off Thompson Hill - a range used during the recent 10-day Maneuver Fires Integrated Experiment (MFIX) - observers watched the black and white output of those sensors on two flat-screen televisions. A crosshair was centered on the screen. When what appeared to be a drone entered the frame, the crosshairs locked on to it and followed it.

Posted in: News, Defense, Lasers & Laser Systems


New System Assists X-Planes with Super-Fast Data Transmission

A NASA King Air successfully tested the Advanced Data Acquisition and Telemetry System during three research flights. (NASA Photo: Lori Losey) A network and communication architecture that can more efficiently move data from research aircraft, while using half the bandwidth of traditional methods, could eventually also enable data collection of precise measurements needed for testing the next generation of X-planes. Researchers at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center integrated the new systems into a NASA King Air for three flights following extensive ground testing.

Posted in: News, Data Acquisition, Defense


In-Flight, On-Demand Hydrogen Production for Greener Aircraft

The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology developed a process that can be used onboard aircraft while in flight to produce hydrogen from water (including wastewater on the plane) and aluminum particles, safely and cheaply. The hydrogen can then be converted into electrical energy for in-flight use. While the use of hydrogen fuels has been a potential greener energy solution for some time, storing hydrogen has always been a problem.

Posted in: News, Defense, Green Design & Manufacturing


Experimental Confirmation of an Aquatic Swimming Motion Theoretically of Very Low Drag and High Efficiency

Researchers used an anguilliform swimming robot to replicate an idealized “wakeless” swimming motion.It has been established theoretically that self-propulsion of deformable bodies in ideal fluid can occur with a careful specification of the deformation mode shape. With the fluid assumed ideal, vortex shedding, rotational wake, and induced drag would not occur. The implication is that for a real fluid, provided the existence of a thin boundary layer, similarly configured bodies with the same deformation mode shape self-propel without vortex shedding, rotational wake, and induced drag. Only viscous drag effects, due to the existence of the thin boundary layer, are present and unavoidable. The motion mode in question is the little-exploited anguilliform mode exhibited in some aquatic animal swimming. The Anguilla includes the snake, eel, lamprey, and leach, among others.

Posted in: Briefs, Aerospace


Gesture-Based Controls for Robots: Overview and Implications for Use by Soldiers

Developing a more effective means to communicate with robotic devices.Afuture vision of the use of autonomous and intelligent robots in dismounted military operations is for soldiers to interact with robots as teammates, much like soldiers interact with other soldiers. Soldiers will no longer be operators in full control of every movement, as the autonomous intelligent systems will have the capability to act without continual human input. However, soldiers will need to use the information available from, or provided by, the robot. One of the critical needs to achieve this vision is the ability of soldiers and robots to communicate with each other. One way to do that is to use human gestures to instruct and command robots.

Posted in: Briefs, Aerospace