Articles

Network Interface Links Sensor-Web Instruments

NASA Airborne Science operates a fleet of aircraft in conjunction with orbiting satellites for Earth observations. In 2004, NASA started planning missions to employ constellations of instruments flying on those platforms that would mutually interact and communicate as a network with stations on the ground. These sensor webs would simultaneously collect data from multiple perspectives to better describe hurricanes, polar ice conditions, and other geophysical dynamics. Data from various spectra and locations could be correlated in real time to form detailed composites of events in progress.

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Sensor-Web Experiments Advance Earth Science

NASA funds more atmospheric research by far than any other government agency or private concern internationally. More than 100 different instruments have been developed and flown in support of NASA airborne science missions during more than three decades of investigation, most of which were designed, built, and are maintained by various NASA field centers, by universities, or by other government agencies such as NOAA.

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Using Vacuum Technology to Cool CCDs

Imagine a CCD camera operating on a long exposure and seeing only 1 electron per pixel every 16 minutes. That equates to dark current of less than 0.000001 electrons/pixel/sec. Imagine the same camera delivering less than 1.75 electrons readout noise with minimal hot spots and blemishes while delivering a peak QE of 77%. To hit these specs it would need to be cooled significantly.

Posted in: Features, Photonics, Articles

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Spacesuit Materials Add Comfort to Undergarments

Phase change materials for spacesuits are being used in “cool” underwear. More than two decades ago, NASA started looking for a new way to keep astronauts comfortable in their space gloves. During a spacewalk, temperatures can range between 250 °F and -250 °F. One of the technologies NASA looked at to help maintain a “just right” temperature was phase change materials (PCMs). At a designated high temperature, PCMs absorb and hold heat to produce a cooling effect. At a designated low temperature, PCMs release their stored heat to produce a warming effect in an area.

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NASA Announces 2012 Inventions of the Year

NASA’s Inventions of the Year competition consists of two awards: the NASA Commercial Invention of the Year and the NASA Government Invention of the Year. Each NASA field center submits nominations for the awards, which are evaluated by NASA’s Inventions and Contributions Board. Here are the 2012 winners.

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Designing Rugged, Standards-Based Embedded Solutions

It can be argued that small form factor design trends are paradoxical. As form factor size decreases, functionality requirements increase; as processing power requirements heighten, lower power consumption and thermal output is expected. Add to that the requirement for ruggedness to accommodate for the shock, vibration, humidity, and temperature extremes and variance inherent in mobile and outdoor applications, and designers are faced with a very complex soup.

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Tips for Selecting or Designing a Membrane Switch

Membrane switches are known for standing up to tough environmental conditions. Flexible and durable, the membrane switch can be customized with embossing, backlighting, sealing, and electrostatic discharge (ESD) shielding. Membrane switches can be made with either tactile or non-tactile feedback and they can be integrated with LEDs and other components. To get the switch that works for your application, follow these simple guidelines.

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