Articles

Precision Electronics and Laser Optics Expand Thermal Applications

Thermal imagers allow a user to see an object’s heat signature, and heat provides an entirely different set of performance data than the visible spectrum available to the naked eye. A fully radiometric camera will calculate a temperature value for every pixel seen on screen. The technician uses the thermal colors on screen to look for differences in temperature, between previous states or like components, without actually coming into direct contact with the device under test.

Posted in: Imaging, Articles

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Optimizing Closed-Loop Control in Hydraulic Motion

Performing closed-loop control of hydraulic servo systems is often more challenging than controlling servomotor systems. The main reason is that hydraulic systems use compressible oil to move the actuator. Because of this, a hydraulic system can be modeled as a mass between two springs, where the piston and the load is the mass, and the oil on both sides of the piston represents the two springs. In contrast, servomotor systems are easier to control because there is basically only the inertia of the motor and the connected load to be dealt with.

Posted in: Features, Motion Control, Articles

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2013 Create the Future Design: Aerospace & Defense Category Winner

Microwave Extraction of Water for Space Propellant Edwin Ethridge, Ph.D. NASA (retired), Huntsville, AL Space exploration is extremely expensive because very large rockets are required to put small payloads into space. Large reductions in launch mass will come from production of inspace rocket propellant from in-space water. Vast quantities of water are present at the lunar poles, on Mars, comets, and some asteroids. Using the in-space resource of solar energy, in-space water can be split into hydrogen and oxygen for propellant. Molecular water can even be used for the reaction mass ejecta with ion engines for missions to Mars and beyond.

Posted in: Features, Articles

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2013 Create the Future Design: Grand Prize Winner

ChemoPatch™ Alydaar Rangwala, Nikhil Mehandru, Aaron Perez, and Brandon Sim Theratech, Loudonville, NY The world is facing a global cancer crisis. In 2011, 13.7 million new cancer cases and 8.6 million cancer deaths occurred worldwide. More than half of the new cases, and nearly twothirds of deaths, were in developing countries. Despite substantial innovations, there remains a lack of treatment methods that are cost-effective enough to be widely and practically implemented in these countries.

Posted in: Features, Articles

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Advisory Systems Save Time and Fuel for Airlines

Software provides Boeing pilots with suggested shortcuts in real time. In the 1990s, Heinz Erzberger led a team at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California to develop a suite of automated tools to reduce restrictions and improve the efficiency of air traffic control operations. Called Center-TRACON (Terminal Radar Approach Control) Automation System (CTAS), the suite included a traffic management advisor that was adopted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Another one of the tools, Direct-To, has followed a different path.

Posted in: Features, Articles

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2013 Create the Future Design Contest

The 2013 Create the Future Design Contest — sponsored by COMSOL, SAE International, and Tech Briefs Media Group (publishers of NASA Tech Briefs) — recognized innovation in product design in eight categories: Aerospace & Defense (new this year), Consumer Products, Electronics, Machinery & Equipment, Medical, Safety & Security, Sustainable Technologies, and Transportation & Automotive. On the following pages, you’ll meet the Grand Prize Winner, as well as the winners and Honorable Mentions in all eight categories. Congratulations to this year’s winners, and thanks to the more than 900 entrants from across the globe who submitted their design ideas. To view the entries online, visit www.createthefuturecontest.com

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2013 Create the Future Design: Machinery & Equipment Category Winner

Fuel Flexible, Ultra-Portable Microturbine Generator Erik Herold, Jason Ethier, and Ivan Wang Dynamo Micropower, Boston, MA A large unmet need in the oil and gas industry is a portable power generation system that is reliable, requires little maintenance, can operate continuously for extended periods of time, and has the capacity to consume on-site fuel. Dynamo Micropower is developing robust, fuel-flexible, ultra-portable, sub-30kW microturbine generators for highly distributed generation in an electrically driven world.

Posted in: Features, Articles

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