Special Coverage

Iodine-Compatible Hall Effect Thruster
Precision Assembly of Systems on Surfaces (PASS)
Development of a Novel Electrospinning System with Automated Positioning and Control Software
2016 Create The Future Design Contest Open For Entries
Clamshell Sampler
Shape Memory Alloy Rock Splitter
Deployable Extra-Vehicular Activity Platform (DEVAP) for Planetary Surfaces
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Tracking the Martian CO2 Polar Ice Caps in Infrared Images

Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have developed a method for automatically tracking the polar caps on Mars as they advance and recede each year (see figure). The seasonal Mars polar caps are composed mainly of CO2 ice and are therefore cold enough to stand out clearly in infrared data collected by the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) onboard the Mars Odyssey spacecraft. The Bimodal Image Temperature (BIT) histogram analysis algorithm analyzes raw, uncalibrated data to identify images that contain both “cold” (“polar cap”) and “warm” (“not polar cap”) pixels. The algorithm dynamically identifies the temperature that separates these two regions. This flexibility is critical, because in the absence of any calibration, the threshold temperature can vary significantly from image to image. Using the identified threshold, the algorithm classifies each pixel in the image as “polar cap” or “not polar cap,” then identifies the image row that contains the spatial transition from “polar cap” to “not polar cap.” While this method is useful for analyzing data that has already been returned by THEMIS, it has even more significance with respect to data that has not yet been collected. Instead of seeking the polar cap only in specific, targeted images, the simplicity and efficiency of this method makes it feasible for direct, onboard use. That is, THEMIS could continuously monitor its observations for any detections of the polar-cap edge, producing detections over a wide range of spatial and temporal conditions. This effort can greatly contribute to our understanding of long-term climatic change on Mars.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Rapid Aeroelastic Analysis of Blade Flutter in Turbomachines

The LINFLUX-AE computer code predicts flutter and forced responses of blades and vanes in turbomachines under subsonic, transonic, and supersonic flow conditions. The code solves the Euler equations of unsteady flow in a blade passage under the assumption that the blades vibrate harmonically at small amplitudes. The steady-state nonlinear Euler equations are solved by a separate program, then equations for unsteady flow components are obtained through linearization around the steadystate solution. A structural-dynamics analysis (see figure) is performed to determine the frequencies and mode shapes of blade vibrations, a preprocessor interpolates mode shapes from the structural-dynamics mesh onto the LINFLUX computational- fluid-dynamics mesh, and an interface code is used to convert the steady-state flow solution to a form required by LINFLUX. Then LINFLUX solves the linearized equations in the frequency domain to calculate the unsteady aerodynamic pressure distribution for a given vibration mode, frequency, and interblade phase angle. A postprocessor uses the unsteady pressures to calculate generalized aerodynamic forces, response amplitudes, and eigenvalues (which determine the flutter frequency and damping). In comparison with the TURBO-AE aeroelasticanalysis code, which solves the equations in the time domain, LINFLUX-AE is 6 to 7 times faster.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Microwave Oscillators Based on Nonlinear WGM Resonators

Optical signals are phase-modulated with spectrally pure microwave signals.Optical oscillators that exploit resonantly enhanced four-wave mixing in nonlinear whispering-gallery-mode (WGM) resonators are under investigation for potential utility as low-power, ultra-miniature sources of stable, spectrally pure microwave signals. There are numerous potential uses for such oscillators in radar systems, communication systems, and scientific instrumentation.

Posted in: Photonics, Briefs

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Fiber-Optic Gratings for Lidar Measurements of Water Vapor

These are highly selective, lightweight, tunable optical filters. Narrow-band filters in the form of phase-shifted Fabry-Perot Bragg gratings incorporated into optical fibers are being developed for differential-absorption lidar (DIAL) instruments used to measure concentrations of atmospheric water vapor. The basic idea is to measure

Posted in: Photonics, Briefs

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Simplifying Beam Measurements in Real Time

Beam collimation measurements can be made with a test lens and beam profiler.A common misconception is that beam collimation angle measurements must involve a least two or more beam size measurements along the beam path. For this reason, collimation measurements are often viewed as complicated and time-consuming. Real-time collimation angle measurements are considered out of the question.

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Single-Phase Rare-Earth Oxide/Aluminum Oxide Glasses

These glasses are suitable for advanced optical applications.Glasses that comprise rare-earth oxides and aluminum oxide plus, optionally, lesser amounts of other oxides, have been invented. The other oxide(s) can include SiO2, B2O3, GeO2, and/or any of a variety of glass-forming oxides that have been used heretofore in making a variety of common and specialty glasses. The glasses of the invention can be manufactured in bulk single-phase forms to ensure near uniformity in optical and mechanical characteristics, as needed for such devices as optical amplifiers, lasers, and optical waveguides (including optical fibers). These glasses can also be formulated to have high indices of refraction, as needed in some of such devices.

Posted in: Photonics, Briefs

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QC Lasers Improve Hazardous Gas Monitoring

The measurement of gases associated with industrial processing/emissions monitoring has become increasingly important as the need to improve efficiencies in process control has increased, and legislation governing emissions has come into force. Gases including NOx, SOx, CO2, CO, NH3, and H2O commonly are used to assess processes such as combustion and quenching, while many fall under emissions legislation resulting from the Kyoto agreement.

Posted in: Articles, Features, ptb catchall, Photonics

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