Special Coverage

Mechanoresponsive Healing Polymers
Variable Permeability Magnetometer Systems and Methods for Aerospace Applicationst
Evaluation Standard for Robotic Research
Small Robot Has Outstanding Vertical Agility
Smart Optical Material Characterization System and Method
Lightweight, Flexible Thermal Protection System for Fire Protection
High-Precision Electric Gate for Time-of-Flight Ion Mass Spectrometers
Polyimide Wire Insulation Repair System
Distributed Propulsion Concepts and Superparamagnetic Energy Harvesting Hummingbird Engine
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Force-Control Algorithm for Surface Sampling

A G-FCON algorithm is designed for small-body surface sampling. It has a linearization component and a feedback component to enhance performance. The algorithm regulates the contact force between the tip of a robotic arm attached to a spacecraft and a surface during sampling. The control algorithm is insensitive to the surface properties, enabling it to maintain the right contact force for a wide range of surface compliance properties.

Posted in: Briefs, Information Sciences

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Problem Reporting System

The Problem Reporting System (PRS) is a Web application, running on two Web servers (load-balanced) and two database servers (RAID-5), which establishes a system for submission, editing, and sharing of reports to manage risk assessment of anomalies identified in NASA’s flight projects. PRS consolidates diverse anomaly- reporting systems, maintains a rich database set, and incorporates a robust engine, which allows tracking of any hardware, software, or paper process by configuring an appropriate life cycle. Global and specific project administration and setup tools allow lifecycle tailoring, along with customizable controls for user, e-mail, notifications, and more. PRS is accessible via the World Wide Web for authorized user at most any location.

Posted in: Briefs, Information Sciences

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Tool for Merging Proposals Into DSN Schedules

A Practical Extraction and Reporting Language (Perl) script called “merge7da” has been developed to facilitate determination, by a project scheduler in NASA’s Deep Space Network, of whether a proposal for use of the DSN could create a conflict with the current DSN schedule. Prior to the development of merge7da, there was no way to quickly identify potential schedule conflicts: it was necessary to submit a proposal and wait a day or two for a response from a DSN scheduling facility. By using merge7da to detect and eliminate potential schedule conflicts before submitting a proposal, a project scheduler saves time and gains assurance that the proposal will probably be accepted. merge7da accepts two input files, one of which contains the current DSN schedule and is in a DSN-standard format called “7da.”

Posted in: Briefs, Information Sciences

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Micromachined Slits for Imaging Spectrometers

Slits can now be made about 100× the precision previously attainable. Slits for imaging spectrometers can now be fabricated to a precision much greater than previously attainable. What makes this possible is a micromachining process that involves the use of microlithographic techniques. This micromachining process supplants a prior machine-shop process.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping

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Fabricating Nanodots Using Lift-Off of a Nanopore Template

Applications include nano-scale electronic and magnetic devices. A process for fabricating a planar array of dots having characteristic dimensions of the order of several nanometers to several hundred nanometers involves the formation and use of a thin alumina nanopore template on a semiconductor substrate. The dot material is deposited in the nanopores, then the template is lifted off the substrate after the dots have been formed. This process is expected to be a basis for development of other, similar nanofabrication processes for relatively inexpensive mass production of nanometer- scale optical, optoelectronic, electronic, and magnetic devices.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping

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Making Complex Electrically Conductive Patterns on Cloth

Circuit patterns are implemented in tightly woven cloth instead of stitched conductive thread. A method for automated fabrication of flexible, electrically conductive patterns on cloth substrates has been demonstrated. Products developed using this method, or related prior methods, are instances of a technology known as “e-textiles,” in which electrically conductive patterns are formed in, and on, textiles. For many applications, including high-speed digital circuits, antennas, and radio frequency (RF) circuits, an e-textile method should be capable of providing high surface conductivity, tight tolerances for control of characteristic impedances, and geometrically complex conductive patterns. Unlike prior methods, the present method satisfies all three of these criteria. Typical patterns can include such circuit structures as RF transmission lines, antennas, filters, and other conductive patterns equivalent to those of conventional printed circuits.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Manufacturing & Prototyping

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2007 Product of the Year and Design Contest Winners Honored

The 2007 NASA Tech Briefs (NTB) and Photonics Tech Briefs (PTB) Readers’ Choice Product of the Year Awards were presented recently by the editors of NTB and PTB at an awards dinner in New York City. The event honored the top three products of 2007 as chosen by each magazine’s readers. Also honored at the event were the winners of the sixth annual Create the Future Design Contest, presented by SolidWorks Corp.

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