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

DSN Scheduling Engine

The DSN (Deep Space Network) Scheduling Engine targets all space missions that use DSN services. It allows clients to issue scheduling, conflict identification, conflict resolution, and status requests in XML over a Java Message Service interface. The scheduling requests may include new requirements that represent a set of tracks to be scheduled under some constraints. This program uses a heuristic local search to schedule a variety of schedule requirements, and is being infused into the Service Scheduling Assembly, a mixed-initiative scheduling application.

Posted in: Briefs, Information Sciences, Data exchange, Data exchange, Logistics

Replacement Sequence of Events Generator

The soeWINDOW program automates the generation of an ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations)- compliant sub-RSOE (Replacement Sequence of Events) by extracting a specified temporal window from an RSOE while maintaining page header information. RSOEs contain a significant amount of information that is not ITAR-compliant, yet that foreign partners need to see for command details to their instrument, as well as the surrounding commands that provide context for validation. soeWINDOW can serve as an example of how command support products can be made ITAR-compliant for future missions.

Posted in: Briefs, Information Sciences, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Defense industry, Globalization, Regulations, Standardization

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, Mathematical models, Electronic control systems, Electronic control systems, Robotics, Test equipment and instrumentation, Test procedures

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, Internet, Internet, Customization, Data management, Risk assessments

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, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Logistics, Systems management

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, Optics, Spectroscopy, Optics, Spectroscopy, Fabrication

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, Product development, Fabrication, Productivity, Nanotechnology

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, Automation, Fabrication, Conductivity, Fabrics

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.

Posted in: Articles, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Design processes

Special Polymer/Carbon Composite Films for Detecting SO₂

These films offer distinct advantages over prior SO2-sensor materials.

A family of polymer/ carbon films has been developed for use as sensory films in electronic noses for detecting SO2 gas at concentrations as low as 1 part per million (ppm). Most previously reported SO2 sensors cannot detect SO2 at concentrations below tens of ppm; only a few can detect SO2 at 1 ppm. Most of the sensory materials used in those sensors (especially inorganic ones that include solid oxide electrolytes, metal oxides, and cadmium sulfide) must be used under relatively harsh conditions that include operation and regeneration at temperatures >100 °C. In contrast, the present films can be used to detect 1 ppm of SO2 at typical operating temperatures between 28 and 32 °C and can be regenerated at temperatures between 36 and 40 °C.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials, Sensors and actuators, Sensors and actuators, Composite materials, Gases, Polymers

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