Special Coverage

Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water
Computer Chips Calculate and Store in an Integrated Unit
Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing
Mechanoresponsive Healing Polymers
Variable Permeability Magnetometer Systems and Methods for Aerospace Applications
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
Nasa Tech Briefs

Charge-Control Unit for Testing Lithium-Ion Cells

This unit is useful for testing any non-aerospace battery cells. A charge-control unit was developed as part of a program to validate Li-ion cells packaged together in batteries for aerospace use. The lithium-ion cell charge- control unit will be useful to anyone who performs testing of battery cells for aerospace and non- aerospace uses and to anyone who manufacturers battery test equipment. This technology reduces the quantity of costly power supplies and independent channels that are needed for test programs in which multiple cells are tested. The cost savings that were achieved in a test program are shown in Figure 1. Battery test equipment manufacturers can integrate the technology into their battery test equipment as a method to manage charging of multiple cells in series.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Lithium-ion batteries, Test equipment and instrumentation

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Reduced-Order Kalman Filtering for Processing Relative Measurements

A Kalman filter can be propagated using fewer computations. A study in Kalman-filter theory has led to a method of processing relative measurements to estimate the current state of a physical system, using less computation than has previously been thought necessary. As used here, “relative measurements” signifies measurements that yield information on the relationship between a later and an earlier state of the system. An important example of relative measurements arises in computer vision: Information on relative motion is extracted by comparing images taken at two different times.

Posted in: Briefs, Information Sciences, Measurements, Imaging and visualization

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Lidar System for Airborne Measurement of Clouds and Aerosols

This is an eye-safe, rugged, all-solid-state system. The figure schematically depicts a lidar system for measuring optical properties of clouds and aerosols at three wavelengths. The system is designed to be operated aboard the NASA ER-2 aircraft, which typically cruises at an altitude of about 20 km — above about 94 percent of the mass of the atmosphere. The system can also be operated aboard several other aircraft, and a version for use on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) is presently under construction. In addition to the requirement for fully autonomous operation in a demanding airborne environment, three other main requirements have governed the design: (1) to make the system eye-safe at the operating altitude; (2) to make the system as lightweight as possible, yet rugged; and (3) to use solid-state photon-counting detectors fiber-coupled to the receiver.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Architecture, Lidar, Weather and climate, Product development, Fixed-wing aircraft, Unmanned aerial vehicles

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Spaceborne Processor Array

A Spaceborne Processor Array in Multifunctional Structure (SPAMS) can lower the total mass of the electronic and structural overhead of spacecraft, resulting in reduced launch costs, while increasing the science return through dynamic onboard computing. SPAMS integrates the multifunctional structure (MFS) and the Gilgamesh Memory, Intelligence, and Network Device (MIND) multi-core in-memory computer architecture into a single-system super-architecture. This transforms every inch of a spacecraft into a sharable, interconnected, smart computing element to increase computing performance while simultaneously reducing mass.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Downsizing, Architecture, Test equipment and instrumentation, Spacecraft

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Commercial Product Activation Using RFID

Products would be tracked to points of sale and there activated automatically. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) would be used for commercial product activation, according to a proposal. The concept of RFID is not new: RFID systems are widely used in commerce for tracking such diverse assets as animals, credit cards, and retail products. Also not new is the concept of manufacturing commercial products to be nonfunctional or unusable until activated at points of sale or in response to electronic submission of proof of purchase. What is new here is the concept of combining RFID with activation — more specifically, using RFID for activating commercial products (principally, electronic ones) and for performing such ancillary functions as tracking individual product units on production lines, tracking shipments, and updating inventories (see figure).

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronics & Computers, Surveillance, Logistics, Radio-frequency identification

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Chromatic Modulator for a High-Resolution CCD or APS

Color images would be detected without loss of spatial resolution. A chromatic modulator has been proposed to enable the separate detection of the red, green, and blue (RGB) color components of the same scene by a single charge- coupled device (CCD), active-pixel sensor (APS), or similar electronic image detector. Traditionally, the RGB color-separation problem in an electronic camera has been solved by use of either (1) fixed color filters over three separate image detectors; (2) a filter wheel that repeatedly imposes a red, then a green, then a blue filter over a single image detector; or (3) different fixed color filters over adjacent pixels. The use of separate image detectors necessitates precise registration of the detectors and the use of complicated optics; filter wheels are expensive and add considerably to the bulk of the camera; and fixed pixelated color filters reduce spatial resolution and introduce color-aliasing effects. The proposed chromatic modulator would not exhibit any of these shortcomings.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronics & Computers, Imaging and visualization, Performance upgrades, Product development

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Instrumentation System Diagnoses a Thermocouple

This system can detect an open or short circuit or a debond.An improved self-validating thermocouple (SVT) instrumentation system not only acquires readings from a thermocouple but is also capable of detecting deterioration and a variety of discrete faults in the thermocouple and its lead wires. Prime examples of detectable discrete faults and deterioration include open- and short-circuit conditions and debonding of the thermocouple junction from the object, the temperature of which one seeks to measure. Debonding is the most common cause of errors in thermocouple measurements, but most prior SVT instrumentation systems have not been capable of detecting debonding.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Failure analysis, Diagnostics, Joining, Test equipment and instrumentation

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