Special Coverage

Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water
Computer Chips Calculate and Store in an Integrated Unit
Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing
Mechanoresponsive Healing Polymers
Variable Permeability Magnetometer Systems and Methods for Aerospace Applications
Evaluation Standard for Robotic Research
Small Robot Has Outstanding Vertical Agility
Smart Optical Material Characterization System and Method
Lightweight, Flexible Thermal Protection System for Fire Protection
Nasa Tech Briefs

Gearing Up For Trade Shows

Posted in: Blog


Shaft Collars for Solar Arrays

Anodized aluminum shaft collars from Stafford Manufacturing Corp. (Wilmington, MA) are ideally suited for structural and drive applications involved with positioning solar arrays.

Posted in: GDM, Products, Products, Energy, Renewable Energy, Solar Power


Should whole body imaging be used for airport security?

The first Question of the Week for 2010 concerns airline security. The recent foiled attempt by a Nigerian terrorist to set off a bomb aboard a Northwest Airlines flight landing in Detroit has renewed concerns that current X-ray technology is insufficient in detecting concealed weapons and substances. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) already has a pilot program in place at six airports deploying millimeter-wave machines, which produce a 3-D image of the body, in place of X-ray machines. But some government officials worry these machines violate the privacy of individuals such as women and children. What do you think? Should whole body imaging be used for airport security? Yes or no?

Posted in: Question of the Week


Cryogenic Flow Sensor

An acousto-optic cryogenic flow sensor (CFS) determines mass flow of cryogens for spacecraft propellant management. The CFS operates unobtrusively in a high-pressure, high-flowrate cryogenic environment to provide measurements for fluid quality as well as mass flow rate. Experimental hardware uses an optical “plane-of-light” (POL) to detect the onset of two-phase flow, and the presence of particles in the flow of water.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Sensors and actuators, Propellants, Spacecraft


Multi-Sensor Mud Detection

This technology is also applicable to terrain hazard assessment in terrestrial or planetary situations. Robust mud detection is a critical perception requirement for Un manned Ground Vehicle (UGV) auton omous offroad navigation. A military UGV stuck in a mud body during a mission may have to be sacrificed or rescued, both of which are unattractive options. There are several characteristics of mud that may be detectable with appropriate UGV-mounted sensors. For example, mud only occurs on the ground surface, is cooler than surrounding dry soil during the daytime under nominal weather conditions, is generally darker than surrounding dry soil in visible imagery, and is highly polarized. However, none of these cues are definitive on their own. Dry soil also occurs on the ground surface, shadows, snow, ice, and water can also be cooler than surrounding dry soil, shadows are also darker than surrounding dry soil in visible imagery, and cars, water, and some vegetation are also highly polarized. Shadows, snow, ice, water, cars, and vegetation can all be disambiguated from mud by using a suite of sensors that span multiple bands in the electromagnetic spectrum. Because there are military operations when it is imperative for UGV’s to operate without emitting strong, detectable electromagnetic signals, passive sensors are desirable.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Imaging and visualization, Sensors and actuators, Soils, Autonomous vehicles, Off-highway vehicles and equipment


Gas Flow Detection System

Commercial applications include flow measurement systems. This system provides a portable means to detect gas flow through a thin-walled tube without breaking into the tubing system. The flow detection system was specifically designed to detect flow through two parallel branches of a manifold with only one inlet and outlet, and is a means for verifying a space shuttle program requirement that saves time and reduces the risk of flight hardware damage compared to the current means of requirement verification.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Sensors and actuators, Gases, Hoses, Non-destructive tests, Reusable launch vehicles and shuttles


Mapping Capacitive Coupling Among Pixels in a Sensor Array

Cross-talk calibration of all pixels can be performed efficiently.An improved method of mapping the capacitive contribution to cross-talk among pixels in an imaging array of sensors (typically, an imaging photodetector array) has been devised for use in calibrating and/or characterizing such an array. The method is applicable to almost all image detectors in modern electronic cameras for diverse applications, ranging from consumer cellular-telephone cameras at one extreme to high-performance imaging scientific instruments at the other extreme. In comparison with prior methods of quantifying the capacitive coupling among pixels, this method is a more efficient means of obtaining detailed information pertaining to all the pixels. Unlike the prior methods, this method does not require flat-field illumination of the array: indeed, the method does not require any illumination.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences


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