Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



TECH SPACE
Clean room helps NASA robot explore frontiers of materials science
by Sam McDonald for LRC News
Hampton VA (SPX) Oct 04, 2016


Air inside the ISAAC clean room is fully recirculated every two minutes, according to NASA Langley engineer Brian Stewart. Image courtesy NASA/David C. Bowman. For a larger version of this image please go here.

The celebrated robot ISAAC now has a hermetically sealed workshop where it's free to follow its prime directive: discovering bold new ways of making composite materials for the air and space vehicles of tomorrow. The $750,000 air-tight, temperature- and moisture-controlled enclosure - an unusually capable clean room - was completed in July and now keeps the surrounding air pristine for ISAAC, a multi-million-dollar robot on a mission to build experimental composite structures.

"Minimizing foreign particles is really important when building flight hardware, but also when doing research," said Dawn Jegley, ISAAC project lead at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. "We don't want contaminants in the air to mess something up and mislead us in our studies." But ISAAC needs more than pure air from its clean room. The new enclosure also gives researchers the ability to control air temperature and humidity so precisely it can be used as a variable in experiments.

For instance, researchers could ask ISAAC to build a panel of composite material while holding the temperature inside the clean room at exactly 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 Celsius). While holding the temperature steady, they could build panels at any relative humidity level between 50 and 80 percent. Testing and inspection could then determine how those humidity levels affected the end product.

"We don't know anyone else who is doing that right now," said Brian Stewart, an engineer at NASA Langley who was part of the team that brought ISAAC to the center. "As a national lab, we created a capability that can do this kind of deep study and get a real firsthand understanding that we can disseminate to the composites community at large."

ISAAC stands for Integrated Structural Assembly of Advanced Composites and it's been a part of Langley's research arsenal since January 2015. The robot is being used to improve methods of manufacturing components made of composite materials for use in aircraft, spacecraft, launch vehicles and other systems.

But the robot itself was always envisioned as one part in a suite of elements working in concert.

"The idea was to create a capability that's a unique research asset for the agency," said Stewart, who with Chauncey Wu and Rob Martin advocated for ISAAC in 2012. "The entire plan was to have the robotic platform as a motion base, have the heads as processing alternatives and then have the environmental capability to do this kind of stuff that we haven't seen before."

While a climate-controlled clean room was always part of their proposal, funding constraints prevented the entire system from being purchased at once.

Now, Stewart says, the team's original vision has been realized.

Getting to the finish line wasn't always easy. Besides finding money for the project, building the clean room required adaptations to the laboratory in Building 1232A that the robot calls home. Having purchased the clean room's walls and roof from a vendor, project leaders at Langley upgraded electrical service in the lab to accommodate the system's high-powered heating, ventilation and air conditioning system and its HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter.

"A big project like this is always a challenge, but it worked out really well," Jegley said.

The enclosure is 70 feet long, 41 feet wide and 17 feet high. Getting large parts and materials in and out of the clean room will be accomplished through two retractable sections of wall and roof that allow access to the room's interior from a ceiling crane that runs the length of the lab. After opening the clean room in this way, the air filtration system is powerful enough to restore the level of purity in under three hours.

On the International Standards Organization's scale of cleanliness, the enclosure will operate at class 7, which means it's cleaner than the standard typically maintained by facilities making aircraft parts.

The system's 20-ton climate control unit is at the heart of what Stewart described as one of the most sophisticated HVAC systems on center. "That's because of the degree of control, the number of sensors, the pressures inside the cell, the pressures inside the system," he said.

ISAAC has been in its new clean room for two months and Jegley said she's still learning from operators of other clean facilities at NASA Langley, such as the room where the SAGE-III on ISS (Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment-III on the International Space Station) instrument was held during the final stages of its development.

As a result, researchers working with ISAAC now use special writing paper covered in a coating that prevents it from shedding particles. Similarly, run-of-the-mill pencils aren't allowed inside because they leave behind small amounts of carbon dust.

And despite precautions and first-rate technology, surfaces inside the clean room must be wiped down regularly. Air filter vacuums up most of the dust, but some particles will always remain.

"It's things like that we're learning," Jegley said. "There are a lot of things we're coming up to speed with and adapting to. We want to keep our clean room clean."

Stewart said he's glad to see the full system up and running.

"It's incredibly satisfying," Stewart said. "We started out imagining this capability and then, four years later, it's actually there."


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

.


Related Links
Materials Science at NASA
Space Technology News - Applications and Research






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
TECH SPACE
Indonesian scavengers scrape a living by recycling
Jakarta (AFP) Sept 30, 2016
Sifting through piles of pungent trash in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, scores of men and women collect used plastic bottles with their bare hands and put them into big bags. The scavengers earn small sums of money by selling plastic bottles and cups to companies who re-use them, a rare example of recycling in the teeming, polluted metropolis. The capital of Southeast Asia's biggest ec ... read more


TECH SPACE
Exploration Team Shoots for the Moon with Water-Propelled Satellite

Space tourists eye $150mln Soyuz lunar flyby

Roscosmos to spend $7.5Mln studying issues of manned lunar missions

Lockheed Martin, NASA Ink Deal for SkyFire Infrared Lunar Discovery Satellite

TECH SPACE
Curiosity Finds Evidence of Mars Crust Contributing to Atmosphere

Yorkshire salt mine could help shed light on Martian life

Unusual Martian region leaves clues to planet's past

Opportunity completes busy week of science and imaging

TECH SPACE
Elon Musk an innovator wary of humanity's future

Space Traffic Management May Soon be Here

Software star Google expected to flex hardware muscle

California dreamin' for Chinese investors in US

TECH SPACE
Waiting for Shenzhou 11

Tiangong-2 space lab enters preset orbit for docking with manned spacecraft

Batch production of Long March 5 underway

Chinese Space Lab Tiangong-2 Ready to Dock With Manned Spacecraft

TECH SPACE
Airbus DS and Neumann Space sign payload agreement for ISS

NASA, JAXA Focus on Maximizing Scientific Output From Space Station

Manned launch of Soyuz MS-02 maybe postponed to Nov 1

Russia cancels manned space launch over 'technical' issues

TECH SPACE
NASA develops satellite concept to exploit rideshare opportunities

New twist in SpaceX rocket blast probe

Arianespace to launch satellites for Australia and India with Ariane 5

Launch of Atlas V Rocket With WorldView-4 Satellite Postponed Till October

TECH SPACE
Protoplanetary Disk Around a Young Star Exhibits Spiral Structure

New Low-Mass Objects Could Help Refine Planetary Evolution

Pluto's heart sheds light on a possible buried ocean

Hubble Finds Planet Orbiting Pair of Stars

TECH SPACE
Raytheon to begin production planning for AN/TPY-2 radars

Digital photography: The future of small-scale manufacturing

Indonesian scavengers scrape a living by recycling

Use of 'large open-ended pipe piles' could lead to lower-cost bridge construction




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement