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Gas and Vapor Sensors on Paper

These sensors can be used wherever chemical or gas sensors are used, such as in mining, security, biomedical, food processing, and agriculture. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California Sensors on paper have been proposed and fabricated to identify gas or vapors (chemicals). Traditional sensors are based on hard substrates such as silicon. Sensors fabricated on paper are cheaper, foldable, flexible, and bio - degradable. Paper electronics is an emerging area. Logic devices, memory, RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags, etc. have been demonstrated. Sensors on paper will be another building block to achieve complete, true paper electronics.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors

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Intelligent Flamefinder Detection and Alert System

This method detects and localizes both leaks and flames of hydrogen. Stennis Space Center, Mississippi While NASA facilities already use huge volumes of hydrogen as a propellant/fuel, many other federal and state programs across the country are looking at potentially expanding the use of hydrogen. There are, however, significant challenges associated with hydrogen use. These include a tendency to leak through seals (due to the very small size of the hydrogen atom) that ordinarily would efficiently stop most other materials, a very high diffusion rate, a huge explosive mixture range, and the fact that hydrogen burns with an invisible flame. Therefore, hydrogen leak detection is an important capability associated with a safe and operational work environment for NASA facilities, as well as at any other location/site that would potentially use this fuel. At the time of this reporting, there is not a technology that provides simple, inexpensive, and wide-coverage methods that enable large quantities of hydrogen to be monitored. Sensors that are available tend to be limited to either a very short range, or have no directionality. For instance, a standard hydrogen sensor detects an increase in hydrogen, but cannot determine if that increase is from a small leak nearby or a larger leak some distance upwind. A technology that is capable of alerting and providing emergency detection information about hydrogen leakage would be beneficial and increase overall safety.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors

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Load-Indicating Sensor for Lines and Cords

Tension-indicating device will indicate the peak load that the cord is subjected to. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas During the development of parachute systems, it is desirable to size the lines correctly, and to pack and deploy the parachute in a manner that produces uniform loading among the lines. Analytical methods would greatly reduce the cost of development; however, test verification is essential. This is extremely difficult to do with small lines, as there may be hundreds of lines in a multi-parachute deployment. The load-indicating sensors developed at JSC are extremely small, do not interfere with packing, do not change the load capacity of the lines, and can be inserted into an existing, assembled parachute system.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Sensors

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Wide-Input-Range Signal-Conditioning Input Interface for Motor Position Sensing in Extreme Environments

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Motor position sensing is a critical application in a number of systems. Galvanically isolated sensors for motor position sensing are strongly favored in both industrial and extreme-environment applications. Two examples of these sensors are resolvers and linear variable differential transformers (LVDTs). Both of these utilize a transformer with a primary and two secondary windings whose coupling constants are variable with either shaft angle (for the resolver) or position (for the LVDT). These sensors are utilized by driving the primary winding with a sinusoidal signal and measuring the relative amplitudes of the secondary winding outputs. The resulting output waveforms have wide range (up to ±20 V for some applications), and are usually ground-referenced. It is thus critical to have a signal-conditioning interface circuit that can sense voltages across wide ranges and convert them to voltages that a standard integrated circuit can process.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Data Acquisition, Sensors

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Products of Tomorrow: May 2015

The technologies NASA develops don’t just blast off into space. They also improve our lives here on Earth. Life-saving search-and-rescue tools, implantable medical devices, advances in commercial aircraft safety, increased accuracy in weather forecasting, and the miniature cameras in our cellphones are just some of the examples of NASA-developed technology used in products today.

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Industry Roundtable: 3D Printing

It seems that every day, designers and engineers are finding exciting new applications for 3D printing, from creating custom prostheses to making tools used for repairs on the International Space Station. 3D printing is considered a revolutionary technology that can transform our lives. But what are the real benefits — and the real consequences — of such a drastic change in manufacturing?

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NASA Spinoff: NASA’s UV Radiation Research Keeps Sun Worshipers Safe

Studying radiation effects on spacecraft led to a personal Sun exposure monitor. To understand the Sun’s impacts on Earth, NASA initiated the Living with a Star program in 2001, and began developing a key research satellite: the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). One of the instruments created for the SDO was the Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE), tasked with measuring extreme ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which plays a key role in atmospheric heating and satellite drag. In 2005, Goddard Space Flight Center scientist Shahid Aslam joined other research - ers in developing EVE.

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