05/03/2021

Licensing Consultant

Not just any technology

NASA’s Perseverance Pays Off Back Home

A laser-mild sensor that can recognize microbes in a wound could audio much-fetched, but it’s by now getting to be a truth, thanks in portion to NASA’s Mars Exploration Software. The technological know-how is likely to Mars for the 1st time on Perseverance, which will contact down on the Pink Planet in February, but it’s by now detecting trace contaminants in pharmaceutical producing, wastewater remedy, and other significant operations on Earth.

That’s not the only technological know-how headed to Mars that is by now shelling out dividends on the ground. Below on Earth, these innovations are also improving circuit board producing and even led to a unique drill bit layout for geologists.

NASA has been checking out Mars because the sixties, pushing the frontier of innovation to get to the crimson earth and explore its tricks. This new technological know-how has frequently located other makes use of listed here on Earth as properly. A few highlights can be seen on the infographic. Credits: NASA

Providing Geologists a Break

Honeybee Robotics has been doing the job on robotic missions to Mars and other planetary bodies because the nineties, which include a number of tasks funded by Tiny Small business Innovation Investigate (SBIR) contracts from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. One of the important contributions to arrive from that function has been sample selection technological know-how, which include a drill bit for extracting rock cores. 50 percent a dozen coring bits made from study that started off extra than 20 several years ago are now in house for the 1st time, ready for use in the rover’s turret, or “hand,” at the conclude of its robotic arm.

On Earth, immediately after drilling a core with a hollow bit, a geologist commonly makes use of a screwdriver or other software to break the sample off and pull it out. This can final result in a fragmented or even contaminated sample. A robot expected something various.

New York-based mostly Honeybee arrived up with a breakoff tube nested in just a coring bit. Immediately after the core has been drilled, the breakoff tube rotates relative to the bit, shifting its central axis and snapping off the core. Not like other breakoff strategies, this sort of as pinching the foundation of the core, the breakoff tube applies tension alongside the duration of the sample, cutting down the risk of fragmentation.

Honeybee has equipped grinders, scoops, and other sampling units that flew on preceding Mars missions. This is the 1st time the company’s coring bit technological know-how is likely to Mars, for the reason that it’s the 1st time NASA has prepared a upcoming mission to carry samples of the Martian area back again to Earth. Perseverance will acquire and deal people samples.

“It’s the important portion of the sample return mission,” claimed Keith Rosette, who managed the rover’s sampling and caching method for JPL. “You really can’t acquire a sample on Mars if you don’t have a drill bit that can retrieve it.”

Even though obtaining a sample return motor vehicle household from Mars will pose a host of challenges, it will let researchers do almost endless screening with a broad array of instruments, Rosette claimed. “Rather than trying to carry all people instruments to Mars, it’s fewer hard and even extra valuable to carry samples back again.”

Meanwhile, Honeybee has commercialized its patented breakoff bits in coring toolkits for geologists on Earth. The bits can be made use of with a common drill, making the technological know-how straightforward and inexpensive, claimed Kris Zacny, Honeybee vice president and director of exploration technological know-how.

Honeybee has also been in talks with businesses intrigued in employing the bits for nuclear catastrophe remediation the place it is as well hazardous to send out in human investigators, Zacny claimed. “If there are concrete tanks that are leaking, for illustration, then robots can go in and choose samples to check out radiation degrees.”

The technological know-how was invented by Honeybee’s late Chief Engineer Tom Myrick. “Tom would have been extremely happy that his invention made a difference to planetary missions,” claimed Zacny.

Property Films from Mars

Gathering samples for return to Earth is not the only 1st that engineers have prepared for Perseverance. For the 1st time, NASA has crafted a method that could send out back again superior-high-quality online video of a rover’s remarkable entry and landing sequence.

Honeybee Robotics made its rotary percussive corer drill to acquire rock samples on Mars. The variation that is flying on the Perseverance rover has important differences, but they share a novel technological know-how for breaking off core samples, which Honeybee has now made available to geologists on Earth. Credits: Honeybee Robotics

Even though the Curiosity rover sent back again a collection of compressed illustrations or photos demonstrating the Martian area all through descent, Perseverance’s entry, descent, and landing deal contains 6 superior-definition cameras and a microphone that aims to capture all the drama of the “seven minutes of terror” among hitting the outer environment and touching down. In addition to observing the planet’s area, the cameras are positioned to look at the parachutes unfold and also to search back again at the descent phase and down at the rover as the two independent.

Property Films from Mars

Gathering samples for return to Earth is not the only 1st that engineers have prepared for Perseverance. For the 1st time, NASA has crafted a method that could send out back again superior-high-quality online video of a rover’s remarkable entry and landing sequence.

Even though the Curiosity rover sent back again a collection of compressed illustrations or photos demonstrating the Martian area all through descent, Perseverance’s entry, descent, and landing deal contains 6 superior-definition cameras and a microphone that aims to capture all the drama of the “seven minutes of terror” among hitting the outer environment and touching down. In addition to observing the planet’s area, the cameras are positioned to look at the parachutes unfold and also to search back again at the descent phase and down at the rover as the two independent.

What appears to be like like a picture of a printed circuit board is in fact a personal computer-produced simulation based mostly on personal computer-aided layout documents for a board-to-be. Tempo Automation made this “fabrication simulation” capability although doing the job on a circuit board for the method of cameras and a microphone made to report the Perseverance rover’s Mars atmospheric entry, descent, and landing. Credits: Tempo Automation

The digital camera factors are off-the-shelf versions, but the circuit board that manages their interface and ability was made by JPL. It was then crafted by San Francisco-based mostly Tempo Automation. Founded in 2013, just immediately after NASA declared the Mars 2020 mission, Tempo made use of the function to improve its producing procedures.

As its title suggests, Tempo Automation’s aim is rapid, automated output of printed circuit boards, even in little batches. One established of instruments the company gives to that conclude is the course of action for making every single part “traceable,” to continue to keep monitor of who touched it and what was performed to it at each and every position in the board output course of action, as properly as which part lot the piece arrived from. This information would make it simpler to zero in on the trigger of a trouble and see what other boards may have been influenced, claimed Tempo cofounder Shashank Samala.

To meet JPL’s stringent documentation necessities, Tempo extra X-ray illustrations or photos, ionic cleanliness data, and data from an automated optical inspection for every single part, all of which is now portion of the company’s common treatment.

A software distinctive to Tempo is what it calls fabrication simulation – program that translates a personal computer-aided layout (CAD) model into a photorealistic representation of what the remaining board will search like. A group was prototyping the software when the JPL function started in early 2018, and that function helped them entire it, claimed Samala. It debuted the pursuing 12 months.

The simulation lets prospects check out their types for any problems or flaws just before output begins, he claimed. “A easy blunder can price tag a lot of cash and time.”

Even though it was conceived to assistance prospects finalize their types, the company identified that it was useful in-dwelling as properly. The producing course of action can final result in discrepancies among the unique CAD model and the remaining merchandise, Samala described. The simulation “serves as a source of truth of the matter on the factory floor, to connect the designer’s intent. The 1st factor we search at is the simulation.”

He claimed delivering a merchandise that achieved NASA benchmarks has helped the company get into numerous other house units, which include satellites and rockets.

Meanwhile, Chris Basset, who made the circuit board at JPL, looks forward to the minute the digital camera footage is beamed back again from Mars immediately after Perseverance’s landing Feb. 18, 2021. “This is so much outdoors of what we commonly do that it’s super-interesting,” he claimed. “I can’t wait around to see people illustrations or photos.”

Ultraviolet Lasers Scan for Chemical Clues

One more technological know-how whose roots get to much back again into NASA’s Mars Exploration Software is also flying for the 1st time on Perseverance and has a lot of potential applications listed here on Earth.

When two longtime colleagues started Photon Devices in 1997, study showed amazing promise for spectrometers – gadgets that use mild to establish a sample’s composition – running at deep-ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths. These experienced the potential to recognize a microbes or detect even the slightest chemical traces. But sources for mild in the 220- to 250-nanometer selection have been as well substantial, large, and delicate to environmental interference, and experienced a lot of other problems.

William Hug and Ray Reid established out to establish a miniature, lightweight, rugged deep-UV laser source for spectroscopy in the subject. Their 1st outdoors investment decision arrived in 1998 from a pair of SBIR contracts with JPL, which was intrigued in a spectrometer that could detect nucleic and amino acids, organic and natural elements that are foundational to all known lifetime. Considering the fact that then, the Covina, California-based mostly company has gained a number of NASA SBIRs, mainly with JPL, as properly as funding from NASA plans aimed at creating instruments for planetary and astrobiology science.

Now the house agency will get the 1st large returns on its extensive investment decision in the technological know-how: Perseverance is geared up with the Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals (SHERLOC) instrument, which makes use of a Photon Devices laser to place previously invisible clues in its search for indicators of previous lifetime on Mars.

Deep-UV photons interact strongly with a lot of elements, primarily ones containing organic and natural molecules. This success in larger detection sensitivity and bigger accuracy when as opposed with infrared or even visible-mild laser sources.

Deep-UV spectroscopy has been performed in study labs, but Hug and Reid arrived up with a development that was much lesser, easier, and much less expensive to create than any present substitute. “Deep-UV lasers start at $a hundred,000. That’s why they are not made use of in business,” Hug claimed, noting that laboratory instruments employing the technological know-how may choose up a few laboratory tables and choose a month to established up.

One big problem has been the degree of perfection the technological know-how calls for. The similar sensitivities that help tiny, superior-energy wavelengths to detect even a virus make them vulnerable to the slightest flaws. A microscopic imperfection in a lens or other area can disrupt or scatter them, and Hug claimed it has taken improvements throughout multiple industries to meet the essential benchmarks.

Photon Devices focuses on two forms of spectroscopy the place deep-UV laser sources offer big benefits more than longstanding spectrometer technological know-how, and SHERLOC will use both of those. Fluorescence spectroscopy observes the mild that most organic and natural and a lot of inorganic elements emit when thrilled by specified ultraviolet wavelengths, just like detergent glowing under a black mild. Each and every emits a distinct spectral “fingerprint.”

Raman spectroscopy, on the other hand, observes the mild that a molecule scatters, some of which will shift to various wavelengths because of to conversation with molecular bond vibrations in just the sample. These shifts in wavelength can be made use of to recognize the elements in a sample. The larger-energy photons of UV mild elicit a much more powerful Raman scattering sign from organic and natural molecules than decrease-frequency mild. And for the reason that deep-UV mild is not current in all-natural fluorescence or in daylight, employing these really quick wavelengths eradicates sources of interference.

In latest several years, the company has started off creating the technological know-how into solutions, which include handheld sensors and gadgets that watch individual exposure to contaminants, as properly as lab devices. Their biggest marketplaces now are in the pharmaceutical, food processing, and wastewater remedy industries, claimed Hug. Deep UV can recognize and measure specified compounds at much decrease concentrations than any other strategy, featuring unparalleled precision in high-quality manage, regardless of whether measuring the energetic substances in pharmaceuticals or guaranteeing the cleanliness of machinery and facilities.

In wastewater remedy, the technological know-how can recognize and measure contaminants, permitting the operator tailor the remedy course of action and help you save on ability for ozone infusion and aeration. “For a little wastewater remedy plant, the full method pays for itself in fewer than a month,” Hug claimed.

An application the military services has invested in is determining microbes and viruses. Figuring out which microbes are current in a wound, for illustration, would assistance pinpoint the ideal antibiotic to take care of it, fairly than employing broad-spectrum antibiotics that risk causing drug resistance.

And rapid, inexpensive deep-UV spectroscopy retains promise for health-related study, from diagnostics to determining proteins, peptides, and other biological material.

“NASA has been a regular companion in our journey to day, and the laser is only portion of the story,” claimed Hug. “It’s also the deep-UV Raman and fluorescence instruments we crafted for NASA and the Office of Defense more than the several years that are now furnishing breakthroughs for pharma, wastewater, and drinking water high-quality in basic, and now clinical screening for viruses.”

Much more than 20 several years of NASA funding has helped Photon Devices carry down the price tag of deep-ultraviolet (UV) spectroscopy and shrink it to a handheld size. One of the company’s deep-UV lasers is flying to Mars for the 1st time aboard Perseverance. Credits: Photon Devices

On Mars, SHERLOC will search for organic and natural elements and examine the minerals encompassing any possible indicators of lifetime so researchers can understand their context, claimed Luther Beegle, principal investigator for SHERLOC at JPL. This will offer extra particulars about the heritage of Mars and also assistance to recognize samples for return to Earth. The instrument, which also contains a digital camera capable of microscopic imaging, will be able to map a rock’s mineral and organic and natural composition in superior depth, furnishing plenty of significant data.

“We’re likely to make a model-spanking-new measurement on Mars,” Beegle claimed. “This is something that is never ever even been tried just before. We consider we’re really likely to transfer the needle on Mars science and discover some excellent samples to carry back again.”

NASA has a extensive heritage of transferring technological know-how to the private sector. The agency’s Spinoff publication profiles NASA technologies that have reworked into business solutions and companies, demonstrating the broader gains of America’s investment decision in its house program. Spinoff is a publication of the Technological innovation Transfer program in NASA’s Place Technological innovation Mission Directorate.

Resource: NASA