Press Release

JPL Sounds Off on New Technologies

By SpaceRef Editor
November 30, 2000
Filed under ,

Artificial ears, ultrasonic motors to drill rocks on Mars
and sensors for monitoring humidity in the space station will
be among the topics discussed during the joint meeting of the
Acoustical Society of America (ASA) and NOISE-CON 200, Dec. 3-
8 in Newport Beach, Calif.

Experts from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena,
Calif., will be speaking and presenting papers on the
following topics:

Ultrasonic Motors, Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 8:40 a.m., Dr.
Yoseph Bar-Cohen will describe the emerging technology of
ultrasonic motors. These lightweight, compact, low-power,
self-braking, high-torque density devices can potentially play
important roles in future space missions. Aiming to develop
technologies for the Mars environment, the researchers have
created a robotic arm with such motors, which can operate at
temperatures below -150 degrees centigrade (-235 degrees
Fahrenheit) and pressures that are fractions of those on
Earth.

Nanoscale Ears Based on Artificial Stereocilia, Tuesday,
Dec. 5 at 9:05 a.m., Dr. Flavio Noca will speak about a
biologically inspired acoustic sensor based on artificial
sterocilia, the hair-like inner ear structures that are
involved in detecting sound. To demonstrate the potential of
this design, the researchers are using arrays of carbon
nanotubes. The miniature device may lead to revolutionary
advances in acoustic detection and signal processing and could
allow for the development of an artificial cochlea, or inner
ear. Other applications for the device include a
nanostethoscope that could be used to test water quality or
monitor the health of living cells and listen to the “sounds”
of life on other planets.

Atmospheric Humidity Sensor, Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 9:30
a.m., Dr. Michael E. Hoenk, will discuss a sensitive
hygrometer, its application in taking atmospheric humidity
measurements on NASA aircraft and small weather balloons.
Possible applications of this hygrometer include early warning
systems alerting pilots to hazardous weather conditions. A
fast, accurate hygrometer could be useful in identifying
potential icing conditions in time for the pilot to respond
before the ice accumulation becomes severe. A fast hygrometer
could also be useful in detecting microbursts, localized
downdrafts that represent a navigational hazard and could be
detected by sudden drops in humidity.

A press luncheon is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 5 at
11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Balboa Room of the Newport
Beach Marriott. Reporters wishing to attend should contact
Ben Stein at (301) 209-3091, or e-mail him at [email protected] .
More information about the meeting and lay-language papers is
available at www.acoustics.org .

For more information or to schedule an interview with the
technologists listed, please contact Carolina Martinez at
(818) 354-9382.

The ASA is the largest scientific organization in the
United States devoted to acoustics, with 7,000 members
worldwide. Managed for NASA by the California Institute of
Technology in Pasadena, JPL is the lead U.S. center for
robotic exploration of the solar system.

SpaceRef staff editor.