Articles

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.

Posted in: Articles, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Design processes, Sensors and actuators, Chemicals, Materials identification, Nanotechnology
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Digital Picture Technology Connects Sports Teams with Fans

NASA-developed digital photo technology lets baseball fans enjoy highly detailed panoramic pictures.

NASA’s twin Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, remain one of the Agency’s greatest achievements in exploration. On Earth, these robots are best known for their stunning pictures of the Martian landscape. Although the rovers each had a mere 1-megapixel camera, the pictures they have become famous for measure up to 96 megapixels in size. This was made possible by a NASA-built automated tripod that, with the help of photo processing software, seamlessly integrates a series of smaller shots into one large image.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Articles, Cameras, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Collaboration and partnering, People and personalities
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Flexible’ Machine Vision: Sensors, Lenses, and Software

Machine vision has become indispensable in today’s highly automated manufacturing environments, which rely on accurate in spec tion to ensure high product quality and high process efficiency. Applications for the technology span industry, and include everything from validation of printed barcodes and text on consumer product labeling, to assembly verification of printed circuit boards, to dimensional measurement of automotive parts. The demand for vision inspection only continues to grow with increasing throughput requirements and stringent quality standards that necessitate full inspection and render manual product inspection unfeasible.

Posted in: Articles, Imaging, Artificial intelligence, Imaging and visualization, Automation, Reliability, Inspections
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Pixel-Scale Coated Sensors Bring Multispectral Imaging to New Users

The pixel-scale patterning of optical filters directly onto sensors has the potential to drastically simplify and scale down the cost of real-time multispectral imaging. Without moving parts, a more robust and compact system can be deployed into harsher environments than have been previously accessible for multispectral imagers.

Posted in: Articles, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Optics, Sensors and actuators
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A New American Space Age

NASA and industry are working together to ensure safe, reliable, and affordable space transportation launching from U.S. soil by mid-decade.

NASA and its industry partners are developing a U.S. commercial crew space transportation capability with the goal of achieving safe, reliable, and cost-effective access to and from low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station. Through a program begun in 2006, NASA is investing financial and technical resources to stimulate efforts within the private sector to develop these capabilities.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Air transportation facilities, Research and development, Spacecraft
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Linear Guide Systems Streamline Aircraft Seat Assembly and Operation

Linear guide rails are an important component within aircraft interiors. Following are some of the places where they are used:

• For seat adjustments — forward and back seat movements, footrests, sliding armrests, and tables. • Rails enable 180° positioning for super first class seats that flatten for sleeping. • Sliding privacy screens between passengers. • Kitchen slide-outs, such as garbage compactors. • Sliding lavatory doors.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control, Seats and seating, Assembling, Aircraft
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Fiber Delivery of Lasers in Bioinstrumentation

In many laser-based types of bioinstrumentation, including flow cytometers, confocal microscopes, and array readers for proteomics, laser output is delivered to the system’s final optics regime via fiber coupling. Over the past few years, this fiber delivery has evolved from simple remote delivery to finally encompass plug-and-play use of multiple lasers with sub-micron beam positioning accuracy. This capability is supporting a new generation of instruments that combine state-of-the-art performance with ease of use.

Posted in: Articles, Features, Photonics, Fiber optics, Lasers, Microscopy, Medical equipment and supplies, Test equipment and instrumentation
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Turbomachinery Solutions for Green and Renewable Energy

For more than two decades, nearly all renewable energy endeavors have incorporated the latest advances in turbomachinery design and turbomachinery manufacturing technology in an evolving effort to achieve and even surpass the economics of utility scale. Even mature turbomachines continue to be optimized for increments of better performance, efficiency, and energy conservation.

Posted in: Articles, Energy, Renewable Energy, Sustainable development, Solar energy, Wind power
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Space-Inspired Trailers Encourage Exploration on Earth

Space Station living quarters inspire custom RVs.

Garrett Finney moved the office coffeemaker into the full-size, cardboard mockup of the new trailer he was designing. The need for caffeine — and the threat of hot coffee accidentally dumped on a coworker — provided motivation and means for assessing the feasibility of a confined living space. Finney has what he calls a “nonstandard expertise in people in small spaces.” He developed it while part of a NASA team designing living quarters for the International Space Station (ISS).

Posted in: Articles, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Design processes, Human factors, Recreational vehicles and equipment
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Energy Harvesting Wireless Lighting Control Systems

Energy can be found everywhere — in the movement of doors and windows or machine components, the vibration of motors, changing temperature or variances in luminance level. These energy sources, which usually remain unused, can be tapped by means of energy harvesting to power electronic devices and transmit wireless signals. This principle is the basis of energy harvesting wireless technology. In the course of ten years, the technology has opened up three different sources of energy to power wireless modules: motion, light and temperature differences.

Posted in: Articles, Lighting
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