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NASA Teams To Build Gyroscopes 1,000X More Sensitive Than Current Systems 91

coondoggie writes "NASA today said it would work with a team of researchers on a three-year, $1.8 project to build gyroscope systems that are more than 1,000 times as sensitive as those in use today. The Fast Light Optical Gyroscope project will marry researchers from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center; the US Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center and Northwestern University to develop gyroscopes that could find their way into complex spacecraft, aircraft, commercial vehicles or ships in the future."
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NASA Teams To Build Gyroscopes 1,000X More Sensitive Than Current Systems

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  • by MassiveForces ( 991813 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @12:44AM (#41838805)
    According to NASA's site, the contract is $1.8 million - just in case you thought NASA might be able to spend $1.8 billion on something like that... http://www.nasa.gov/centers/marshall/news/news/releases/2012/12-111.html [nasa.gov]

    I think they should focus on cheaper space pens*

    *(I kid, I kid!)
  • Crap article (Score:5, Informative)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @02:22AM (#41839179) Homepage

    Crap article, from a crap blog, copied from a press release [nasa.gov]. It's so Slashdot.

    Here's the actual paper on the research. [northwestern.edu] The physics is interesting. It's a way to make optical gyros better. Currently, good fiber-optic gyros have drift rates around 1 degree per hour. Ring laser gyros can do better, and mechanical gyros still beat the optical systems on long-term drift. This proposal is to develop a way to get a few more orders of magnitude less drift out of optical gyros.

    Low-end MEMS gyros have drift rates of several degrees per minute, but there's steady progress, and degrees-per-hour MEMS gyros now exist.

  • by jittles ( 1613415 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @09:51AM (#41841477)
    Gyroscopes are very very important to the maintenance and operation of all aircraft, as well as inertial navigation systems. For instance, gyroscopes help you to determine where you are when your GPS has failed, or if GPS does not exist. I'm not sure how useful that would be with space, I'm no physicist. But they also use gyroscopes to make sure mechanical parts are still operating within specification. This allows them to use the part until it falls out of spec, instead of replacing a part every 500 flight hours because they know the part will last at least that long. It saves the government a ton of money, and they're trying to roll them out wherever possible. The gyros are also helpful when an in-flight failure occurs, often helping the computer diagnose the exact problem. This allows the pilot to more accurately determine whether he needs to make an emergency landing, or RTB. The big push for this all happened after Blackhawk Down, and the pilots who crashed because they did not realize their tail rotor was about to fail. That is the exact sort of failure a gyroscope could have warned them about.

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351