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Cost-effective Solutions for Audio Testing

The universal popularity of mobile devices presents potentially unprecedented growth for device makers. As the user base evolves, multimedia quality features increasingly as a major determinant in market dominance. Accordingly, integration of electro-acoustic components (i.e. receiver, speaker and microphone) into home use and industrial applications is becoming more of an industry mainstay every day. With audio quality thus recognized as a key consumer consideration, providers must maximize the effectiveness of audio testing in their manufacturing process. This article discusses how high-resolution dynamic signal acquisition modules can serve as a low-cost replacement for existing sound cards while meeting all testing requirements for high-profile mobile devices.

Posted in: White Papers

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Live-Cell Microscopy and Traction Force Measurements with Simulated Microgravity “Clinochip”

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland The deleterious effects of microgravity are undeniable: reduced bone mineral density, muscle atrophy, vascular remodeling, etc. These health issues may derive from both systemic factors, and from direct alterations to intracellular components and in the local microenvironment around cells. To understand the biological mechanisms at play, detailed studies have been performed in spaceflight. However, because experiments on the International Space Station (ISS) can be prohibitively expensive, clinostats are an alternative ground-based analogue for cellular studies. Clinostats “randomize” the orientation of gravity with respect to the cell fixed-frame, thereby simulating microgravity by eliminating a preferential gravity direction.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Comparison of Three Methods for Measuring Distortion in Optical Windows

A new method for quantifying distortion based on phase-shifting interferometry has been developed. John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida The primary function of a window is to allow observation of, and protection from, a potentially hazardous environment. Yet, from the window designer’s point of view, ensuring protection from weather conditions in home windows; from wind, temperature, and airborne debris in automotive windows; and from extreme pressures and temperatures in aircraft and spacecraft windows has almost always taken precedence over image quality. It is more important to protect an astronaut from the vacuum of space than to provide clear imagery, yet these are not exclusive requirements. Advances in materials and material processing allow the designer to attain better optical performance while not sacrificing important material specifications such as strength. In addition, increased performance demands on spacecraft windows — which are now used for photography, telescope observation, and laser communications — require greater consideration of optical clarity.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Measurement of O-phthalaldehyde (OPA)

This analytical process uses high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) with post-column derivatization. Stennis Space Center, Mississippi O-phthalaldehyde (OPA) is a high-level disinfectant commonly used, for example, for sterilization of heat-sensitive medical instruments; it demonstrates effective microbicidal activity against a wide range of microorganisms (including mycobacteria, gramnegative bacteria, and spores). On the International Space Station (ISS), to achieve thermal control and maintain components at acceptable temperatures, systems that produce waste heat need to have that heat transferred from the ISS to space. To accomplish this, the ISS has an Internal Active Thermal Control System (IATCS) — a water-based system that works in conjunction with the EATCS (External ATCS), an ammoniabased system — to facilitate this heat transfer process.

Posted in: Briefs

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Improved Combustion Products Monitor for the ISS

Applications include fire and environmental analyzers in aircraft, submarines, and industrial plants. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio Fire safety in space vehicles is of utmost importance, especially for manned flight. On the International Space Station (ISS), events that may lead to fires, especially smoldering, must be detected quickly and their location found. The analyzer used on the ISS must be automated, portable, and sensitive to the gases that are most likely to indicate the presence of a fire or pre-ignition event. In addition, after any fire event, the monitor must be useful to indicate that toxic gas levels have subsided for safe reentry of the crew to the affected area. Gases of interest may originate from the smoldering of Teflon wires, polyurethane foams, Delrin, and other plastics and furnishings in the ISS.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Decomposition Technique for Remaining Useful Life Prediction

This invention has applications in electronic systems, mining, medical equipment, power generation, smart buildings, transportation vehicles, and industrial machinery. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California Technology has been developed that provides a way to compute the remaining useful life (RUL) of a component or system. The estimation of the RUL of a degraded or faulty component is at the center of condition-based maintenance, and prognostics and health management. It gives operators a potent tool in decision-making by quantifying how much time is left until functionality is lost. This is especially important for aerospace systems, where unanticipated subsystem or component failure may lead to failure of the system as a whole, which in turn may adversely affect the safety of operation.

Posted in: Briefs

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Strain Gage for Highly Elastic, Low-Modulus Materials

This gage surpasses conventional foil technology, measuring elastic strain range greater than 100 percent while reducing measurement error. Armstrong Flight Research Center, Edwards, California Researchers at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center have developed and tested a new strain gage that makes significant strides in the state of the art, particularly salient given the requirements of new structural components on aerospace vehicles. Conventional foil technology presents a significant shortcoming for these vehicles, since it is limited to less than 20 percent strains while newer vehicles include highly elastic, low-Young’s-modulus materials that require higher strain measurements. For example, fabric-reinforced rubbers and elastomers have a nonlinear stressstrain relationship with extreme rupture strains — some greater than 500 percent.

Posted in: Briefs

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