Special Coverage

Self-Healing Wire Insulation
Thermomechanical Methodology for Stabilizing Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) Response
Space Optical Communications Using Laser Beams
High Field Superconducting Magnets
Active Response Gravity Offload and Method
Strat-X
Sonar Inspection Robot System
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Using a Power Grid as an Extremely Large Antenna for Geophysical Imaging

Geomagnetic storms drive geomagnetically induced currents (GICs) in high-voltage power transmission systems. GICs thus carry information about the near-space environment conditions. The U.S. high-voltage power transmission system was used as an extremely large antenna to extract unprecedented spatiotemporal space physical and geological information from distributed GIC observations.

Posted in: Briefs, Tech Briefs, Communications

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Cryogenic Liquid Level Sensor Apparatus and Method

This technology can be used in many medical, industrial, and pharmaceutical applications. Innovators at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center have developed a highly accurate method for measuring liquid levels using optical fibers. Unlike liquid level gauges currently on the market that rely on discrete measurements to give broad approximations of liquid levels, Armstrong’s innovative fiber optic method provides precise and accurate measurements. Specifically, Armstrong’s novel method is capable of providing measurements at 1/4-inch intervals within a tank. This significant leap forward in precision and accuracy in liquid level sensing offers significant benefits to many industries. Originally designed by NASA to monitor a rocket’s cryogenic fuel levels, this technology can be used in many medical, industrial, and pharmaceutical applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors

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Piezoresistive Sensor

The present innovation, developed at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, comprises several piezoresistor sensor configurations for sensing rotation or torque that are superior to those currently in use in microelectromechanical (MEMS) devices. These may be used for sensing rotation/torque or any other quantity that can be converted by the sensor to a rotation (as is frequently done in sensors), and are therefore of wide applicability in current and future MEMS sensors.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors

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Short-Range Communication System

Applications range from hard disk drives and printers to robot-assisted surgery. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center has a suite of novel technologies for digital control of electronic machinery. NASA developed the technologies for autonomous assembly of modular space structures. The base technologies in the suite can improve gap sensors and absolute position sensors. They sense position and proximity, and can also wirelessly communicate the information to drive switching and stepper motor operations. Applications for these technologies span a broad range of industrial robotics topics, and they can be combined to perform a variety of functions. Other technologies in the suite can be incorporated into the base technologies to perform additional sensor functions, and serve as a short-range antenna and close proximity transmitter and receiver. The technologies are self-calibrating and have embedded integrity monitoring functions for assured position and proximity readings.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors

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Real-Time Oil Reservoir Evaluation Using Nanotechnology

This innovation is a method and system for evaluating the status and response of a mineral-producing field (e.g., oil and/or gas) by monitoring selected chemical and physical properties in or adjacent to a well site headspace. Nanotechnology sensors and other sensors are provided for one or more underground (fluid) mineral-producing well sites to determine the presence/absence of each of two or more target molecules in the fluid; relative humidity, temperature, and/or fluid pressure adjacent to the well site; and flow direction and flow velocity for the fluid. The nanosensor measures an electrical parameter value and estimates a corresponding environmental parameter value, such as water content or hydrocarbon content. The system is small enough to be located down-hole in each mineral-producing horizon for the well site.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors

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Stackable Form-Factor Peripheral Component Interconnect Device and Assembly

Applications include fault-tolerant computing systems, high-speed data acquisition, embedded servers, and intelligent transportation systems. The invention is a design for a peripheral component interconnect (PCI) local bus controller and target in a PC/104-Plus form-factor. The design uses a flash-based field programmable gate array (FPGA) to provide immediate functionality from power-on to avoid delay after power is applied. It can be reprogrammed from connectors directly on the board, and is able to both receive and drive the clock for system and local peripherals, allowing it to function as either a PCI bus host controller or PCI target device interface. Fully compliant with the PC/104-Plus specification, the design has associated schematics and Gerber files in a vendor-ready state. The design was developed to support ongoing research in fault-tolerant computing systems.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers

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Vibration Damping Circuit Card Assembly

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center has developed a particle impact damper (NASA damper) that can be used in circuit card assemblies to reduce vibrations encountered during space vehicle launch. The damper, filled with high-density metallic beads, is attached to printed circuit boards (PCBs) and printed wiring assemblies (PWAs) to dissipate vibrations and improve component reliability and robustness. Testing has demonstrated an order-of-magnitude reduction in observed peak vibration response, and dramatic improvement in circuit component life span. The NASA technology provides simple and inexpensive vibration reduction for sensitive heritage or commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) electronics in applications where the vibration environment is either severe or exceeding its original design envelope. The technology can benefit heritage hardware in a wide range of applications as a retrofitted upgrade, or can be incorporated into the design of new circuit cards.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers

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