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Polarization Phase-Compensating Coats for Metallic Mirrors

A method of compensating for or minimizing phase differences between orthogonal polarizations of light reflected from metallic mirrors at oblique incidence, as, for example, from weakly curved mirrors, is undergoing development. The method is intended to satisfy a need to maintain precise polarization phase relationships or minimum polarization differences needed for proper operation of telescopes and other scientific instruments that include single or multiple mirrors. The basic idea of the method is to optimally coat mirrors with thin engineered layers of materials that introduce phase differences that, as nearly precisely as possible, are opposite of the undesired phase differences arising in reflection with non-optimum coatings. Depending on the specific optical system, the method could involve any or all of the following elements: Optimization of a single coat on all the mirrors in the system. Optimization of a unique coat for each mirror such that the polarization phase effects of the coat on one mirror compensate, to an acceptably high degree over an acceptably wide wavelength range, for those of the coat on another mirror. Tapering the coat on each mirror.

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Tunable-Bandwidth Filter System

Pass bands can be tuned rapidly across the visible and near infrared spectrum. A tunable-bandwidth filter system (TBFS), now undergoing development, is intended to be part of a remote-sensing multispectral imaging system that will operate in the visible and near infrared spectral region (wavelengths from 400 to 900 nm). Attributes of the TBFS include rapid tunability of the pass band over a wide wavelength range and high transmission efficiency. The TBFS is based on a unique integration of two pairs of broadband Raman reflection holographic filters with two rotating spherical lenses. In experiments, a prototype of the TBFS was shown to be capable of spectral sampling of images in the visible range over a 200-nm spectral range with a spectral resolution of ˜30 nm.

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Plasma-Based Detector of Outer-Space Dust Particles

A report presents a concept for an instrument to be flown in outer space, where it would detect dust particles — especially those associated with comets. The instrument would include a flat plate that would intercept the dust particles. The anticipated spacecraft/dust-particle relative speeds are so high that the impingement of a dust particle on the plate would generate a plasma cloud. Simple electric dipole sensors located equidistantly along the circumference of the plate would detect the dust particle indirectly by detecting the plasma cloud. The location of the dust hit could be estimated from the timing of the detection pulses of the different dipoles. The mass and composition of the dust particle could be estimated from the shapes and durations of the pulses from the dipoles. In comparison with other instruments for detecting hypervelocity dust particles, the proposed instrument offers advantages of robustness, large collection area, and simplicity.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Holographic Solar Photon Thrusters

A document discusses a proposal to incorporate holographic optical elements into solar photon thrusters (SPTs). First suggested in 1990, SPTs would be systems of multiple reflective, emissive, and absorptive surfaces (solar sails) that would be attached to spacecraft orbiting the Earth to derive small propulsive forces from radiation pressures. An SPT according to the proposal would include, among other things, a main sail. One side of the sail would be highly emissive and would normally face away from the Earth. The other side would be reflective and would be covered by white-light holographic images that would alternately become reflective, transmissive, and absorptive with small changes in the viewing angle. When the spacecraft was at a favorable orbital position, the main sail would be oriented to reflect sunlight in a direction to maximize the solar thrust; when not in a favorable position, the main sail would be oriented to present a substantially absorptive/emissive aspect to minimize the solar drag. By turning the main sail slightly to alternate between the reflective and absorptive/emissive extremes, one could achieve nearly a doubling or halving of the radiational momentum transfer and, hence, of the solar thrust.

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Correction for Thermal EMFs in Thermocouple Feedthroughs

Expensive thermocouple-alloy multipin hermetic feedthrough connectors are no longer necessary. A straightforward measurement technique provides for correction of thermal-electromotive- force (thermal-EMF) errors introduced by temperature gradients along the pins of non-thermocouple- alloy hermetic feedthrough connectors for thermocouple extension wires that must pass through bulkheads. This technique is an alternative to the traditional technique in which the thermal-EMF errors are eliminated by use of custom-made multipin hermetic feedthrough connectors that contain pins made of the same alloys as those of the thermocouple extension wires.

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Generating Breathable Air Through Dissociation of N2O

Air-supply systems can be made to weigh less and/or operate longer.

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High-Performance Scanning Acousto-Ultrasonic System

This system reveals flaws that cannot otherwise be detected nondestructively. A high-performance scanning acousto-ultrasonic system, now undergoing development, is designed to afford enhanced capabilities for imaging microstructural features, including flaws, inside plate specimens of materials. The system is expected to be especially helpful in analyzing defects that contribute to failures in polymer- and ceramic-matrix composite materials, which are difficult to characterize by conventional scanning ultrasonic techniques and other conventional nondestructive testing techniques.

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