NASA Tech Needs

In-Space Inspection Sensors Look Through Conductive Material to Target Surface

NASA needs a sensor system to characterize damage from Micro-meteoroid and Orbital Debris (MMOD), corrosion, or to perform configuration verification when there is a conductive surface in between the sensor and the site. The in-space system(s) will need to look from the inside (IVA) out or from the outside (EVA) in for both existing and future to-be-designed vehicles. The ground versions will be very useful for ground inspection purposes in areas of vehicles that are “closed out,” or areas with limited access behind conductive structures. The damage includes, but is not limited to, deformations, penetrations, fractures, cracks, corrosion, and dis-bonds.

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Preserving Core-Shell Particle Coatings During Thermoplastic Mix Processing

A company develops composite materials using core-shell particles: ceramic, metal, or polymer elements coated with a ceramic oxide shield. The particles are mixed into thermoplastic resins, including polyethylene. During the melt processing, the high shear in the mixing damages or removes the particle shell and exposes the core particle surface. Due to the aggressive action of mixing core-shell particles with the polymer, the particles become deformed, and the coating scrapes off or cracks. The coating on core-shell particles needs to be preserved during thermoplastic mix processing; the matrix must remain a thermoplastic resin.

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New Methods to Sterilize Food Products

Traditionally, heat treatments are used to sterilize food products, through either ultra-high-temperature processing or retorting. These treatments negatively affect the color, taste, and nutritional content of the food products, especially for “non-cooked” products such as gazpacho, cheese-based or light-colored sauces, and vegetable-based products. New, non-thermal sterilization methods are needed that will improve the nutritional and sensorial profile of food products. Potential solutions should retain the nutritional values and textural qualities of the ingredients, avoid antioxidants, and provide a shelf-life of 9 to 12 months.

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NASA Planetary Protection

NASA seeks innovative technologies to facilitate meeting back Planetary Protection objectives for a potential Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission, and to facilitate forward Planetary Protection implementation for a potential mission to Europa. Forward and back Planetary Protection concerns biological material transported from Earth, or to Earth, respectively.

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Sensitive, Robust Sensors for Ethane and Methane Detection

A company seeks a sensor that is sensitive and quantitative for ethane from 5 ppm to 5,000 ppm, and for methane from 5 ppm to 7,000 ppm. The sensor(s) should work in or near oil. While the location of the sensor heads should primarily be positioned in the headspace above the oil, ability to operate in oil could be an added, but not required feature. Sensing must take place at room temperatures. Optical or other types of non-arcing sensors may be desirable because this eliminates most danger from heat, flame, and arcing in what can be an explosive monitoring environment.

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Solution to Filter Light to High Specification

A firm seeks to identify spectral filter technologies to operate within a demanding optical environment. The technology solution will enable the suppression of out-of-band wavelengths above 100 nm, while exhibiting minimal loss to wavelengths of the order of 10 nm. The solution can be manufactured pinhole-free with an optical aperture of 180-200 mm in diameter. Structure and dimensions must be resilient to rapid thermal cycling over a prolonged period, and the solution would preferably be freestanding, i.e. not supported by a secondary layer. A supporting grid may be considered.

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Quick and Easy Way to Identify Beryllium Contamination and Assess its General Level

A company seeks a simple, real-time way to identify that a plant area is clear of beryllium contamination and, if it is not, to obtain a general assessment of the level of contamination that may be present without having to send swabs to a laboratory for testing. The method must be suitable for a production environ- ment and used by non-laboratory personnel. Calibration of the detection methodology must meet lab calibration. The applied method must have minimum detection limit below the current DOE action limit of 0.2 micrograms-per-100 cm2, and measure- ment uncertainty within ±25% at action limit.

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