Electronics & Computers

Technology-Independent RHBD Library Through Gate Array Approach

All gates in the library are based on one common cell. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland As semiconductor technology nodes scale down, the limitation on polysilicon pitch makes it almost impossible to shrink libraries built for previous technologies. To design a library for a new technology, all of the cells have to basically start from scratch. Starting over for each technology node shrink is time-consuming and expensive. Further, obtaining space qualification for a technology node will require significant time and money. If a RHBD (radiation-hardened-by-design) library gates invention shares the same transistor structured as the SASIC (Structured Application-Specific Integrated Circuit), it will benefit from the existing qualification effort and high-performance advanced technology of the SASIC design flow.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Briefs

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Advanced Pulse Compression System and Testbed

Industrial applications include 3D machine vision systems that rely on radar for target identification and obstacle avoidance. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland Detection of low-level water clouds from space is one of the outstanding challenges in radar remote sensing. Spaceborne remote sensing is the only means of assessing the distribution and variability of cloud cover on a global basis. Uncertainties in models of the Earth’s heating budget will persist until CloudSat and follow-on missions such as ACE (Advanced Composition Explorer), with enhanced radar capabilities, complete their missions. Detecting weak scatters at lower altitudes presents significant challenges. Millimeter-wave radars offer the only chance to measure these scatters from space. Unfortunately, the peak power available at Ka and W-band — desirable wavelengths for cloud remote sensing — does not provide adequate sensitivity at the resolution required. For many spaceborne radars, pulse compression techniques are used to overcome the limitations in peak power and take advantage of the average power available. But the backscatter from clouds, even at W-band, can be 7 to 8 orders of magnitude weaker than the surface backscatter. In order to use pulse compression techniques, peak range sidelobes need to be suppressed by upwards of 80 dB.

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Quasi-Static Electric Field Generator

This generator is an essential component for human-safe electric field imaging for military and civilian security applications. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia This innovation is an electric field “illumination” system that is a companion component to the e-Sensor. This generator, when combined with the e-Sensor, enables a new, nondestructive inspection technology called electric field imaging (EFI) by producing spatially uniform, large-magnitude, quasi-static electric fields with human-safe currents (supporting only microampere currents) over large areas or large distances. These fields “illuminate” the objects to be inspected, and enable the EFI method to quantify the distortion of the applied electric field of the invention to detect, locate, and characterize materials present (liquid, solid, insulating, semiconducting, conducting, metallic, non-metallic, polymer, ceramic, composite, etc.), material variations, material damage, material age, and to identify hidden structures.

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Fourier Transform Spectrometer on Autonomous Self-Healing Hardware Platform

This liquid crystal waveguide-based platform provides self-healing for electronics in dangerous or hard-to-reach locations. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California The autonomous self-healing (eDNA) hardware platform is a reconfigurable field-programmable gate-array (FPGA)-type platform developed by Technical University of Denmark (patent: WO/2010/060923). It is capable of autonomously reconfiguring itself in case a fault is detected and, thusly, restoring functionality at a fault-free location on the chip.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Briefs, TSP

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Low-Temperature-Compatible Electronics for a Miniature Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrometer

The electronics have been demonstrated to function down to 77 K. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Missions to Titan are severely limited in available mass and power because spacecraft have to travel over a billion miles to get there, consuming large masses of propellants. Thus low-mass, low-power instruments are a high priority need for Titan missions. A miniature, liquid-phase, high-resolution, pulsed proton-NMR (1H-NMR) spectrometer was developed with low mass (1.5 kg), requiring low power, that can be operated cryogenically on the surface of Titan. This work focuses on new pulsed electronic circuits, optimized for a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometer for analysis of hydrocarbon liquids on Titan.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Briefs, TSP

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Ionospheric Delay Compensation Using a Scale Factor Based on an Altitude of a Receiver

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas GPS receivers must compensate for the delay a GPS signal experiences as it passes through the ionosphere in order to accurately determine the position of the receiver. Receivers limited to terrestrial operation may utilize the Klobuchar parameters transmitted by the GPS satellites to model the ionosphere and remove much of this delay. However, as a GPS receiver passes through the ionosphere, such as in a spacecraft or low-Earth orbit space station, the Klobuchar model no longer adequately approximates the correction to be applied. Other models exist, particularly the IRI 2007 model created by NASA et al., but these are too computationally complex to be performed in real time by common hardware available for space implementations. Moreover, although the IRI model provides extensive insight into the historical characteristics of the ionosphere, it is purely predictive for times beyond the publication date of the model. Still other models exist that can be used during post-processing but are also not available in real time.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Briefs, TSP

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Microelectronic Repair Techniques for Wafer-Level Integration

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland Wafer-level integration was employed to mount the microshutter array for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and the detector-read-out hybrid for TIRS (Thermal Infrared Sensor). In the case of the JWST substrate, two conductors (polysilicon and aluminum) separated by a silicon oxide insulating layer were fabricated on a roughly 85-mm-square silicon wafer. The size of the substrate, the density and length of the conductive traces, and the requirement of zero shorts and zero opens on the finished device necessitated nearly impossible cleanroom requirements. Techniques were developed to repair the inevitable shorts and opens created during the wafer fabrication process. The wafers were repaired to zero shorts and zero opens without degradation of device performance.

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