Special Coverage


Flight Imagery Recorder Locator (FIRLo) and High-Temperature Radome

This technology is applicable to the commercial airline industry for locating “black boxes.” NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California LDSD (Low Density Supersonic Decelerator) is a Mars EDL (entry, descent, and landing) Technology Development Project that launches three test vehicles out of the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai. On the test vehicle, most mission science data can be recorded safely on land; however, high-speed and high-resolution imagery cannot be telemetered due to bandwidth constraints. Therefore, all information had to be recorded solely onboard the test vehicle; this unit is called the flight imagery recorder (FIR). A typical commercial airliner “black box” is only capable of recording on the order of gigabytes of data, whereas this work required on the order of terabytes (a few orders of magnitude larger).

Posted in: Imaging, Communications, Articles, Briefs


Multiparty Policy Negotiation Engine

This algorithm forms the basis for reliable, fast, and automatic network communications. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Policy negotiation is the process of determining the “best” communication protocol that satisfies all requirements of all parties involved. The main challenge here is how to reconcile the various (and possibly conflicting) communications protocols used by different parties. The solution must use protocols available to all the parties involved, and should attempt to do so in the best way possible. Which protocols are commonly available, and what the definition of “best” is will be dependent on the parties involved and their individual communications priorities. Developing practical, sound, and automated ways to compose policies is a long-standing problem.

Posted in: Communications, Articles, Briefs


A Continuous-Flow, Microfluidic, Microwave-Assisted Chemical Reactor

The reactor uses a directed 60-GHz source, which may require far less power to observe the same reactivity profiles. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California In industrial synthetic chemistry laboratories, reactions are generally carried out using batch-mode methodologies, stepwise reactions, and purifications to generate a final product. Each step has an associated yield of both the reaction itself and of the final purification that is largely dependent on the procedure being used, and the scientist carrying out the procedure. Continuous-flow reactors are one way of streamlining the process. Furthermore, microwave-enhanced, or microwave-assisted, chemistry has been demonstrated to aid in many of these areas; however, scaling has been a traditional problem with this technique.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Test & Measurement, RF & Microwave Electronics, Articles, Briefs, TSP, Instrumentation


High-Resolution Data Acquisition System Enables Reliable Engine Parameter Measurements

Obtaining accurate measurements is critical for improving vehicle component performance and overall system reliability. HBM, Inc., Marlborough, Massachusetts Data acquisition plays a critical role in improving vehicle component performance and overall system reliability. Measuring engine parameters, including engine cranking speed and the mechanical condition of the engine, requires high-resolution data acquisition equipment.

Posted in: Data Acquisition, Measuring Instruments, Articles, Briefs, Instrumentation


Guarded Flat Plate Insulation Test Cryostat

Features include high testing rate and high data quality. John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida The guarded flat plate insulation test cryostat (Cryostat-500) is a boil-off calorimeter comprising a flat-bottom test apparatus for measuring the absolute thermal performance of an insulation test article. Typical dimensions allow accepting test specimens 200 mm in diameter by up to 30 mm thick. The test chamber is guarded by a second cryogen chamber to prevent parasitic heat loads. System insulation materials provide additional thermal stability for testing over a wide range of environmental conditions. The cold-mass assembly can be configured for rigid or soft materials, with or without compressive loads.

Posted in: Data Acquisition, Test & Measurement, Articles, Briefs, Instrumentation


High-Performance Polyimide Powder Coatings

Applications include bridges, pipes, machinery, exposed metal parts and structures, and automobile components. John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida Powder coatings are used throughout industry to paint a myriad of metallic objects. This method of coating has gained popularity because of its conservation of materials and elimination of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Resins used in powder coatings are traditionally chosen from those that have low melting points (polyesters, acrylics, urethanes, epoxies, etc.). These resins are used because they can melt and flow into a smooth coating before curing to a durable surface. High-performance resins such as Teflon, nylon, and polyimide have not found use in powder coatings because of their high melting points.

Posted in: Materials, Coatings & Adhesives, Articles, Briefs


Selective Functionalization of Carbon Nanotubes

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas This invention is a process by which carbon nanotubes can be chemically functionalized according to their precise electronic structure. The process involves an exploitation of charge transfer stability at the nanotube sidewall to direct selective reaction of certain electronic structures over others. This process forms the basis for manipulating and separating carbon nanotubes by their electronic structure by chemical means.

Posted in: Materials, Articles, Briefs