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NASA’s Composite Elastic Skins for Shape-Changing Structures


NASA Langley Research Center has developed composite elastic skins for covering shape-changing (morphable) structures. These skins are intended especially for use on advanced aircraft that change shapes in order to assume different aerodynamic properties. Examples of aircraft shape changes include growth or shrinkage of bumps, conformal changes in wing planforms, cambers, twists, and bending of integrated leading- and trailing-edge flaps. Prior to this invention, there was no way to provide smooth aerodynamic surfaces capable of large deflections while maintaining smoothness and sufficient rigidity.

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NASA Langley Research Center

Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, is the oldest of NASA's field centers. The Center has focused primarily on aeronautical research, but the Apollo lunar lander was flight-tested at the facility. A number of the earliest high-profile space missions were planned and designed onsite.

Established in 1917 by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the Center devotes two-thirds of its programs to aeronautics and the remainder to space.

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