Special Coverage

Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines
Vibration Tables Shake Up Aerospace and Car Testing
Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water
Computer Chips Calculate and Store in an Integrated Unit
Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing

Mass Spectrometer Containing Multiple Fixed Collectors

Two mass analyzers in a compact package detect five ion species simultaneously.

A miniature mass spectrometer that incorporates features not typically found in prior mass spectrometers is undergoing development. This mass spectrometer is designed to simultaneously measure the relative concentrations of five gases (H2, He, N2, O2, and Ar) in air, over the relative-concentration range from 10–6 to 1, during a sampling time as short as 1 second. It is intended to serve as a prototype of a product line of easy-to-use, portable, light-weight, high-speed, relatively inexpensive instruments for measuring concentrations of multiple chemical species in such diverse applications as detecting explosive or toxic chemicals in air, monitoring and controlling industrial processes, measuring concentrations of deliberately introduced isotopes in medical and biological investigations, and general environmental monitoring.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Downsizing, Spectroscopy, Product development, Test equipment and instrumentation

Waveguide Harmonic Generator for the SIM

A second-harmonic generator (SHG) serves as the source of the visible laser beam in an onboard calibration scheme for NASA’s planned Space Interferometry Mission (SIM), which requires an infrared laser beam and a visible laser beam coherent with the infrared laser beam. The SHG includes quasi-phase-matched waveguides made of MgO-doped, periodically poled lithium niobate, pigtailed with polarization-maintaining optical fibers. Frequency doubling by use of such waveguides affords the required combination of coherence and sufficient conversion efficiency for the intended application. The spatial period of the poling is designed to obtain quasi-phase-matching at a nominal middle excitation wavelength of 1,319.28 nm.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Fiber optics, Lasers, Waveguides

America’s Premier Nano Engineering Event

The 2008 NASA Tech Briefs National Nano Engineering Conference (NNEC), be held November 12-13 at the Boston Colonnade Hotel, is for design engineers who want to know what’s real, what’s close to market, and what might be coming in the world of nanotechnology. The NNEC will help you keep pace with the engineering and technology innovations behind the latest nanotech breakthroughs. Included will be technical presentations and exhibits from companies leading the nanotech industry in application areas such as biomedical, electronics, advanced materials, energy and the environment, and business. Read about some of those advanced technologies below. You’ll also find networking opportunities, and the expert insight you’ll need to stay ahead of the small-tech curve.

Posted in: Articles, Nanotechnology, Electronic equipment, Environmental technologies, Medical equipment and supplies, Career and professional development, Collaboration and partnering, Nanotechnology

Whispering Gallery Mode Resonator With Orthogonally Reconfigurable Filter Function

An optical resonator has been developed with reconfigurable filter function that has resonant lines that can be shifted precisely and independently from each other, creating any desirable combination of resonant lines. This is achieved by changing the axial distribution of the effective refractive index of the resonator, which shifts the resonant frequency of particular optical modes, leaving all the rest unchanged. A reconfigurable optical filter is part of the remote chemical detector proposed for the Mars mission (Planetary Instrument Definition and Development Program — PIDDP), but it is also useful for photonic communications devices.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Optics

Bimaterial Thermal Compensators for WGM Resonators

Net thermal drifts of spectra would be cancelled to first order.

Bimaterial thermal compensators have been proposed as inexpensive means of preventing (to first order) or reducing temperature-related changes in the resonance frequencies of whispering-gallery- mode (WGM) optical resonators. A bimaterial compensator would apply, to a WGM resonator, a pressure that would slightly change the shape of the resonator and thereby change its resonance frequencies. Through suitable choice of the compensator dimensions and materials, it should be possible to make the temperature dependence of the pressureinduced frequency shift equal in magnitude and opposite in sign to the temperature dependence of the frequency shift of the uncompensated resonator so that, to first order, a change in temperature would cause zero net change in frequency.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Lasers, Semiconductor devices, Thermal management

Powered by Lithium-Ion Batteries, NASA Spacecraft Explore Mars and the Moon

Lithium-ion batteries Yardney Technical Products Pawcatuck, CT 860-599-1100 www.yardney.com

NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander landed safely near the planet’s north polar icecap in May. Phoenix relies on advanced lithiumion batteries from Yardney Technical Products to dig and look for water, seeking a habitable environment. The Phoenix batteries provide power at night when there is no sunlight for the solar panels to convert to electricity. They can also be used any time when a task requires more power than the primary power source can deliver.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Batteries, Lithium-ion batteries, Spacecraft

Stable Calibration of Raman Lidar Water-Vapor Measurements

Data from occasional radiosonde campaigns and routine laboratory lamp measurements are utilized.

A method has been devised to ensure stable, long-term calibration of Raman lidar measurements that are used to determine the altitude-dependent mixing ratio of water vapor in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere. Because the lidar measurements yield a quantity proportional to the mixing ratio, rather than the mixing ratio itself, calibration is necessary to obtain the factor of proportionality. The present method involves the use of calibration data from two sources: (1) absolute calibration data from in situ radiosonde measurements made during occasional campaigns and (2) partial calibration data obtained by use, on a regular schedule, of a lamp that emits in a known spectrum determined in laboratory calibration measurements.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Calibration, Lidar, Humidity, Weather and climate

NASA’s Next-Generation Space Suit Built for Orion Spacecraft

Constellation Space Suit Station (CSSS) Oceaneering International Houston, TX 281-228-5300 www.oceaneering.com

Oceaneering International has secured a contract from NASA to design and build the agency’s next-generation space suit, known as the Constellation Space Suit System (CSSS). During the initial contract term of six years, Oceaneering will design and build highly reliable, operationally efficient, and simple-to-maintain suits for use during launch, abort, and reentry of the new Orion spacecraft and for all contingency Extravehicular Activity (EVA). The contract includes options to provide ongoing operational and training support, and to design and build suits for use during lunar surface activities.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Aerospace, Product development, Spacesuits

Centennial Challenges

The NASA Regolith Excavation Cha llenge was held on August 2 and 3 on the campus of the California Poly - technic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA. The competition required teams to build a roving excavator that could autonomously navigate, excavate, and transfer 150 kg of simulated lunar regolith (lunar soil) into a collector bin within 30 minutes. Excavating lunar regolith will be an important part of any construction projects or processing of natural resources on the Moon. NASA is looking for new ideas for excavation techniques that do not require excessively heavy machines or large amounts of power.

Posted in: NASA Tech Needs

The Brighter Side of Globalization for Manufacturers: New, Innovative Product Development Models

By Fielder Hiss Director of Product Management Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. Concord, MA

Global competition is an oft-cited reason for any number of ills in manufacturing, from job loss to price erosion. Viewed through another prism by savvy companies, however, globalization is something else altogether — specifically, a competitive advantage.

Posted in: Articles, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Globalization, Product development

The U.S. Government does not endorse any commercial product, process, or activity identified on this web site.