News

Earthquake Sensor

An engineer at Washington University in St. Louis has successfully performed the first test of wireless sensors in the simulated structural control of a model laboratory building. The demonstration is the first step toward implementing wireless sensors for structural control in real buildings and structures, enabling less manpower requirements and far less remodeling of existing structures. The wireless sensors are attached to the sides of buildings to monitor the force of sway when shaking occurs. The information is transmitted to a computer program, which then sends a message to magnetorheological (MR) dampers that are within the building's structure. Filled with a fluid that includes suspended iron particles, the MR dampers lessen the shaking by becoming solid when an electrical current is run through them, aligning all of the iron particles. For more information, click here.

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Tech Needs of the Week

A method is needed to determine the cloud ceiling height up to at least 3,000' cloud coverage and visibility up to at least 5 miles using a small, low-power automatic sensor. The device would operate periodically to provide cloud and visibility measurements for these assessments. To respond to this Tech Need, click here. Technologies are needed to provide better performance for MOS image sensors (or CMOS image sensors) used in camera applications. MOS image sensors potentially provide superior image capture compared to CCD as currently used in consumer video, still, and cell phone cameras. To respond to this Tech Need click here. The Technology Needs of the Week are anonymous requests for technology, distributed through the yet2.com marketplace, that you and your organization may be able to fulfill. Responding to a Tech Need is the first step to gaining an introduction with a prospective "buyer" for your technology solution.

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"Create the Future" Design Contest Winners

The winners of the fifth annual Emhart Teknologies "Create the Future" Design Contest have been announced. The awards will be presented on April 23 during a dinner reception at the beautiful Water Club in New York City. The contest, co-sponsored by NASA Tech Briefs, COMSOL, and SolidWorks Corp., attracted an unprecedented number of entries from engineering professionals, students, and the general public from the United States and 40 other countries around the globe. The following innovations were selected to receive the contest's grand prize and first prize: The Grand Prize of a hybrid automobile or $20,000 will be presented to David A. Torrey of Advanced Energy Conversion LLC (AEC, Malta, NY) for the AEC Integrated Motor/Pump. The pump provides for the dual use of parts by integrating the rotor of the electric motor with the impeller of the pump in a common housing. Average energy requirements may be significantly reduced by employing controlled flow as allowed by variable speed pump operation independent of engine speed. First-Prize winner Buck Albritton of GearMax (Ashland, VA) will receive a Panasonic 42" plasma TV for his Grip Handle tool. Co-developed with Gene Albritton, the tool allows the user to carry heavier loads with a better grip, while saving their back. The tool is placed against the load at a comfortable position for lifting, the movable grip pad slides next to the load, and the load is ready to lift by the handle. For more information on all of the contest winners, click here. Be sure to check out the special contest winners' section beginning on page 11 of the April issue of NASA Tech Briefs.

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NASA Tech Briefs FREE CAD Webinar

On June 6, 2007, NASA Tech Briefs will present a FREE webinar on "Virtual Testing at the CAD Stage with Simulation Software," sponsored by Noran Engineering. In order to successfully compete in the global marketplace, your product design process needs to be the best in its class, delivering innovative products of the highest quality, at the lowest cost, with the shortest possible design cycle time. This free webinar will examine how progressive engineering departments are accomplishing this by using analysis software at the CAD design stage to virtually test parts and validate structural, thermal, and dynamic performance before they make the first article. To register for this free webinar, click here.

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Hot Products on the CAD/CAE Market

ALGOR (Pittsburgh, PA) has released ALGOR V20 integrated CAD/FEA modeling software. New features include design scenarios, allowing a single FEA model to contain numerous analyses; a software wizard for creating bolts and fasteners; design studies and size optimization; and improved meshing capabilities. Click here for more information. MSC.Software Corp. (Santa Ana, CA) announced MD Adams mechanical dynamics software suite, which adds integrated multi-body dynamics, structural, and controls systems simulation capabilities. It enables extensions to system simulation including control systems and frequency response prediction. Click here for more information. Alibre (Richardson, TX) offers Alibre Design 9.2 3D parametric CAD Software that is compatible with Windows Vista. It also features expanded PDF publishing, including support for Adobe Systems' Adobe Acrobat 3D. Click here for more information. SpaceClaim Corp. (Concord, MA) has released SpaceClaim Professional 2007 open 3D mechanical design software that features a flexible design environment, geometric inferencing for real-time design hints, an integrated parts and assembly workspace, and an open XML data model. Click here for more information.

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MIT Creates Software to Track Supplies to the Moon

By 2020, NASA plans to establish a long-term human presence on the Moon, which means that necessities such as fuel, food and oxygen, and spare parts would have to get from the Earth to the Moon as predictably as an Earth-based delivery system - especially when the delivery point is 240,000 miles away. MIT researchers and professors Olivier L. de Weck and David Simchi-Levi created SpaceNet software for modeling interplanetary supply chains. Although "supply chain" usually refers to the flow of goods in and out of manufacturing facilities and retail stores, an interplanetary supply chain would operate much the same way. The system is based on a network of nodes on planetary surfaces, in stable orbits around the Earth, the moon, or Mars, or at well- defined points in space where the gravitational force between the two bodies cancel each other out. These nodes act as a source, point of consumption, or transfer point for space exploration logistics. SpaceNet simulates the flow of vehicles, crew, and supply items through the trajectories of a space supply network, taking into account how much fuel and time are needed for single missions as well as multi-year campaigns in which a cargo shipment might have to be prepositioned by one set of vehicles or crewmembers while being used by another. Click here for more information on SpaceNet software.

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NASA-Funded GPS Monitoring Software Now in Commercial Use

At NASA, the Global Positioning System (GPS) is a vital resource for scientific research aimed at understanding and protecting Earth. NASA employs the band of GPS satellites for mapping Earth's ionosphere and developing earthquake-prediction tools. But traditional GPS still can't communicate beyond latitudes of 75 degrees, meaning that most of Greenland and Antarctica cannot receive GPS signals. NASA partnered with NAVSYS Corp. of Colorado Springs, CO, to enhance the technology for better surveying of urban areas prone to signal blockages. The result of this collaboration led to a new aerial mapping and targeting system called GI-Eye, a software platform that integrates GPS with inertial and digital camera data to collect high-resolution imagery for precise visual navigation and geolocation of target coordinates. The GI-Eye technology has been integrated into FLIR Systems' Star SAFIRE III airborne electro-optic thermal imaging system. Currently, there are about 800 of these units on more than 35 types of aircraft. The long-distance, 360-degree, day or night scoping abilities of the System have made it popular for aerial surveillance associated with search and rescue, reconnaissance, law enforcement, border patrol, news gathering, land-use planning, and environmental monitoring. Click here for the full story.

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