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Multi-Channel Laser Absorption Spectrometer for Combustion Product Monitoring

This instrument can detect fires associated with electrical wiring and electronics packaging materials. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Tunable laser absorption spectrometer (TLAS) sensors enable gas monitoring with high accuracy and gas specificity, and can be optimized for continuous, maintenance-free operation on long-duration manned spacecraft missions. This innovation is a portable, five-channel TLAS instrument designed to continuously monitor ambient concentrations of carbon monoxide, hydrogen chloride, hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen fluoride, and carbon dioxide, with low-level detection limits below the standard spacecraft maximum allowable concentrations. Monitoring of these particular hazardous compounds allows tracking of ambient conditions and enables detection of fires associated with electrical wiring and electronics packaging materials.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Tech Briefs, Photonics

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Disturbance-Free, High-Resolution Imaging from Space

Telecommunication satellites, astrophysical imaging, remote sensing, surveillance, and reconnaissance from space could all benefit from this innovation. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California All imaging systems from space are affected by disturbances originating in the spacecraft in the form of mechanical noise from thruster and reaction/momentum wheels, and sensor noise. A drag-free system is truly unaffected by any disturbances, as it is in pure freefall. Hence, leveraging drag-free technology can provide a quantum leap in improvement for spaceborne imaging systems.

Posted in: Briefs, Tech Briefs, Photonics

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Hollow-Core Fiber Lamp for Mercury Ion Clocks and Micro-Plasma Studies

These lamps may provide flexible spectroscopic solutions for chemical and medical analysis, as well as metrology and thin-film coating applications. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California The mercury linear ion trap frequency standard (LITS) at JPL has been demonstrated to have multiple potential applications in NASA deep space missions. An increase of the deep ultraviolet (DUV)/vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) light output from the plasma discharge lamp light source used in trapped ion clock atomic state preparation and detection would improve the clock signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and decrease optical pumping times. Both lead to an improvement in clock short-term stability and/or enable the use of a local oscillator having lower cost and performance. A solution for higher intensity light generation is needed.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Tech Briefs

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3D Imaging Technology and System

Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia All current cameras and imaging systems have the same classical problem in practical applications. To complete the observation task, a large amount of data is captured, processed, and transmitted; then most of the data is discarded because it is not essential for the given observation task. The problem comes from the principle of the cameras and imaging systems — they are all based on the traditional concept that each pixel of the image is equal in importance, and all the pixels are captured to complete the observation task. But in the most practical applications, the pixels at different parts of images usually have different importance to the observers. For given observation and recognition tasks, only a part of the pixels on one image is essential.

Posted in: Briefs, Tech Briefs

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Virtual Windows to Supplement Conventional Spacecraft Windows

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas Legacy NASA spacecraft windows suffer from specialized costs and operational constraints associated with embedding optically transparent apertures within structures that are designed to maximize strength, safety, and environmental integrity. A new approach to the legacy window solution may lead to a substantial decrease in program costs, while also enhancing crew safety and functional capability. The project includes integration of tiled displays, scene-stitching software, multiple cameras with real-time video imagery, and alternative display configurations and control input methods for scene and perspective change.

Posted in: Briefs, Tech Briefs

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SCaN Optical Link Assessment Tool Version 2

John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio In response to the requirements of the Space-Based Relay Study (SBRS) undertaken by NASA in 2013, as well as the Integrated Radio and Optical Communications (iROC) project being conducted by NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC) beginning in 2012, a calculation procedure was required to rapidly assess the operation of optical communication links originating from within deep space (in particular, from around Mars in the case of iROC), as well as within the near-Earth scenarios of LEO and GEO (in the case of SBRS). Such an assessment included the specification of the design components of the optical system to achieve reliable communications as prescribed by one or several metrics that indicate overall system operation. Additionally, it was also desired to be able to dynamically evaluate such optical link operation as the satellite/earth orbital positions evolve during the mission lifetime.

Posted in: Briefs, Tech Briefs, Photonics

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Optical Correlation Receiver

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland Precise distance, time, and pulse width measurements are required for many areas of science and engineering. Time-of-flight methods are often used to measure remote distances. Optical signals are attractive because the small wavelength allows small transmit and receive telescopes. Short pulsed lasers are attractive sources that can provide high-distance measurement precision. Fast optical detectors are typically used at the receiver. Measurement precision is usually limited by the detectors’ temporal bandwidth. Picosecond and sub-picosecond pulses are difficult to measure and resolve. Optical autocorrelators have been used that employ nonlinear crystals. The optical autocorrelators require strong optical signals that can limit or preclude their use for remote, long-distance measurements.

Posted in: Briefs, Tech Briefs

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