Nozzle Heat Flux Gauge

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama This innovation is a tungsten-rhenium gauge that can be placed into an aft exit cone of a rocket motor. It will measure heat flux with time for the full duration of the RSRM (reusable solid rocket motor) nozzle environment with equal response time.

Posted in: Briefs, Measuring Instruments


Magnetic Sensitivity of a Ka-Band Isolator Measured Using the GRAIL Testbed

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California The magnetic sensitivity of a Ka-band isolator’s output phase is measured at 7 × 10–4 deg/G level. This high degree of precision is enabled by the sensitive phase measuring capabilities of a testbed built to mimic NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft. Its ground-based testbed was used to measure the magnetic sensitivity of a flight-spare Ka-band isolator, and the authors found it to be 0.0052 ±0.0007 deg/G along its most sensitive axis. The GRAIL mission was able to incorporate microwave isolators into its instrumentation because the spacecraft orbited the Moon and, thus, did not travel through a permanent magnetic field as it would in a mission around Earth. Understanding this magnetic sensitivity is key to evaluating the impact an isolator would have on data quality for future gravity missions such as GRACE-FO (Gravity Recover and Climate Experiment — Follow On), a scheduled follow-on mission to GRACE, which has been mapping out Earth’s gravity for over a decade.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Measuring Instruments


Vision Algorithms Catch Defects in Screen Displays

Software based on NASA vision research is used in making laptop, cellphone, and TV displays. NASA has sent more than a few robotic missions into space, but it never loses sight of its goal to enable human exploration of the cosmos. A core component of planning for future manned missions is the Human Systems Integration Division, headquartered at Ames Research Center, that focuses on advancing our understanding of how people process information and interact with mechanical and electronic systems.

Posted in: Articles


ORCA Prototype Ready to Observe Ocean

If selected for a NASA flight mission, the Ocean Radiometer for Carbon Assessment (ORCA) instrument will study microscopic phytoplankton, the tiny green plants that float in the upper layer of the ocean and make up the base of the marine food chain.Conceived in 2001 as the next technological step forward in observing ocean color, the ORCA-development team used funding from Goddard’s Internal Research and Development program and NASA’s Instrument Incubator Program (IIP) to develop a prototype. Completed in 2014, ORCA now is a contender as the primary instrument on an upcoming Earth science mission.The ORCA prototype has a scanning telescope designed to sweep across 2,000 kilometers (1,243 miles) of ocean at a time. The technology collects light reflected from the sea surface that then passes through a series of mirrors, optical filters, gratings, and lenses. The components direct the light onto an array of detectors that cover the full range of wavelengths.Instead of observing a handful of discrete bands at specific wavelengths reflected off the ocean, ORCA measures a range of bands, from 350 nanometers to 900 nanometers at five-nanometer resolution. The sensor will see the entire rainbow, including the color gradations of green that fade into blue. In addition to the hyperspectral bands, the instrument has three short-wave infrared bands that measure specific wavelengths between 1200 and 2200 nanometers for atmospheric applications.The NASA researchers will use ORCA to obtain more accurate measurements of chlorophyll concentrations, the size of a phytoplankton bloom, and how much carbon it holds. Detecting chlorophyll in various wavelengths also will allow the team to distinguish between types of phytoplankton. Suspended sediments in coastal regions could also be detected by the instrument.SourceAlso: Learn about a Ultra-Low-Maintenance Portable Ocean Power Station.

Posted in: News, Optics, Photonics, Sensors, Measuring Instruments


Testing Devices Garner Data on Insulation Performance

A NASA-developed instrument tests insulation for everything from racecars to refrigerators. According to James Fesmire, senior principal investigator of the Cryogenics Test Laboratory at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, “When we talk about cryogenic tanks and deep spacecraft protection, we can easily talk about hot water heaters and engine compartments for NASCAR at the same time.”

Posted in: Articles, Measuring Instruments


Method for Performing GPS L1 C/A Measurements in Wideband Jamming and Interference

John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida For effective range safety, global positioning system (GPS) metric tracking must be robust to interference with, and jamming of, GPS signals. The conventional approach to mitigating interference and jamming is to use a Controlled Reception Pattern Antenna (CRPA). These few-element phased arrays are used to steer nulls in the directions of interference sources, and/or to point beams in the directions of GPS satellites. The use of CRPAs is limited by their cost and size, as well as the difficulties of integrating the array into a platform. The problems are compounded for a launch vehicle, which must acquire and track GPS signals at high speed and acceleration, and undergo vibration and temperature conditions not common to CRPA use.

Posted in: Articles, Briefs, TSP


JWST IV&V Simulation and Test (JIST) RT Logic T501 Emulator

Emulator using only software implements the behavior of a processor. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland In order to develop a software-only test environment for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) mission, a solution was needed to send commands and receive telemetry between the TCTS (Telemetry and Command Test Set) and CMM-S card. The as-is solution requires the utilization of commercial off-the-shelf hardware (RT Logic Telemetrix T501 processor) and custom CMM-S hardware.

Posted in: Articles, Briefs, TSP, Electronics & Computers