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

Is Pluto a Planet? Scientists Seek New Definition

In 2006, the International Astronomical Union demoted Pluto to "non-planet" status. Johns Hopkins University scientist Kirby Runyon led a group of six researchers to draft a new definition of "planet" — one that includes more than 100 other celestial bodies, including Pluto. The proposal was presented at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, hosted in Houston, Texas on March 21.

Posted in: News, Cameras, Imaging, Physical Sciences, Propulsion


Hybrid Tractor-Trailers Take the Road

A prize-winning hybrid technology puts a Toyota Prius-like spin on the tractor trailer.

Posted in: Homepage, News, Automotive, Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Harvesting, Energy Storage, Renewable Energy


Logistics for Building Radiation Storm Shelters and their Operational Evaluation

Various habitat structures were tested for use in exploration activities.Over the past three years, NASA has been studying the operational effectiveness and astronaut protection efficacy of numerous radiation protection shelters for use in space exploration activities outside of Earth's magnetosphere. The work was part of NASA's Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) RadWorks Storm Shelter project. Fabricated items were integrated into mockup deep space habitat vehicle sections for operational evaluations. Two full-scale human-in-loop simulations were designed, fabricated, and implemented. The goal was to provide design and performance assessment information for consideration by mission designers who must quantify the radiation protection characteristics of their exploration trade space.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Protective structures, Radiation protection, Spacecraft


Hot Isostatic Pressing of 60-Nitinol

The material 60-Nitinol (60wt%Ni-40wt%Ti) has a unique combination of physical properties, including high hardness, low apparent elastic modulus, and resistance to saltwater corrosion. These properties give the material tremendous potential for use in aerospace and defense-related components such as bearings, gears, and other apparatuses. Various methods of primary processing are being explored for fabrication of high-performance components that are free of metallurgical defects that might lead to premature failure. Hot isostatic pressing (HIP) is one process under consideration. The steps in the HIP process include (a) filling a sealed canister of the appropriate dimensions with powder, (b) heating the canister under vacuum to remove volatile and gaseous contents, (c) applying heat and pressure to the evacuated and sealed canister to consolidate the contents, and (d) removing the canister.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Fabrication, Materials properties, Reliability


ViDAR Optical Radar Provides New Maritime Search Capability

ViDAR, developed by Sentient Vision Systems in Melbourne Australia, provides autonomous, real-time, wide-area search capability, optically, from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or manned aircraft. ViDAR, which stands for Visual Detection and Ranging, essentially acts as an optical radar, using high-megapixel video or infrared cameras to search the ocean over significantly greater operational coverage areas than can be achieved with current optical sensor approaches.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Imaging, Photonics, Optics, Surveillance, Performance upgrades, Product development, Fixed-wing aircraft, Unmanned aerial vehicles


Fourier Transform Spectrometer System

NASA's Langley Research Center and Science Applications International Corporation have developed a method of processing data from Fourier transform spectroscopy (FTS) measurements that improves upon existing methods. This method is simpler, more accurate, faster, and less expensive than previous methods. It uses less hardware and can be used with all wavelengths.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics, Architecture, Spectroscopy, Data management


2.2-Micron, Uncooled, InGaAs Photodiodes and Balanced Photoreceivers up to 25-GHz Bandwidth

These photodiodes have applications in LiDAR sensors, telecommunications links, and pulsed laser systems.Traditional applications for 2-micron photodetectors have been largely dominated by passive remote sensing where detectors having bandwidth of even one megahertz are deemed sufficient. The onus in such applications is to achieve low dark current through active cooling. The advent of high-power, 2-micron-wave-length lasers have made coherent LiDARs viable for active sensing applications. Such a system needs photodetectors that can handle high local oscillator optical power and have large bandwidth. Through a combination of high coherent gain and small integration time, a large signal-to-noise ratio can be achieved. Operation at high optical power levels reduces the significance of photodiodes’ dark current. As a result, uncooled operation at room temperature is feasible, simplifying the overall instrument design.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics, Optics, Remote sensing, Cooling


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