NASA Tech Needs

Cognitive Networking for NASA

NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation Program (SCaN) is exploring potential benefits of adding “intelligence” (reasoning and learning) to SCaN’s Integrated Network Architecture in order to increase network efficiency, provide tailored user services, reduce network operating costs through automation, and increase security and resiliency in an emerging environment shaped by:

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Real-Time Analysis and Reporting of Water-Borne Microorganisms

A company seeks a technology that enables monitoring of the microorganism content of stored potable water in real time, and reporting the water’s status to assure its continued potability even after storage times as long as a year. The apparatus must be small and lightweight, require minimal power, operate at ambient pressures from sea level (14.7 psi) down to 8 psi, require little or no maintenance, and not require extensive specialized training to operate or maintain.

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Technologies for Printed Electronics

An organization seeks printing technologies to produce higher-current miniature circuitry. Approaches of interest include reducing use of expensive inks, eliminating a plating step, and increasing adhesion to a variety of substrates. An additional area of interest is to enable multilayer structures for more complex circuitry. The company would consider an alternate ink material that may have lower viscosity but can produce the trace thickness capable of handling sufficient current; higher silver loadings (on the order of 40-60%); or an inexpensive seed ink that could be electroplated (or used with electroless deposit), and then electroplated afterwards.

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NASA Environmental Monitoring and Control Technology Needs

NASA’s long-duration human missions far from Earth and operation of closed-loop life support systems have critical needs for monitoring and control for environmental quality and certifying recycled life-support consumables. Monitoring technologies are employed to assure that the chemical and microbial content of the air and water environment of the astronaut crew habitat falls within acceptable limits, and that the life-support system is functioning properly and efficiently. The sensors may also provide data to automated control systems.

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Active Wing Shape Control Technology for Aircraft

NASA has long been recognized as a leader in aeronautics research and development that has greatly contributed to aircraft technology for safe and efficient air travel. A new focus is emerging in “green” aviation technologies that could potentially revolutionize aviation systems. One potential green aviation technology interest is in active wing shape control that holds the promise for improved aerodynamic efficiency. The structural flexibility of aircraft wings can afford a number of advantages that are not yet fully realized. One such advantage is the ability to aeroelastically shape a wing structure in flight by actively controlling the wash-out twist distribution and wing deflection, so as to effect local angles of attack in a favorable manner that can lead to lower drag and higher lift. Another advantage is the ability to leverage aeroelastic wing shape tailoring for improving aircraft stability and control. Development in green aviation technologies will lead to improved aerodynamic efficiency, lower emissions, less fuel burn, reduced noise, and a minimized carbon footprint.

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Polymer/Carbon or Other Materials with Conductivity Approaching Copper and Aluminum

A company seeks a weight-saving alternative to sheets and wires of copper and aluminum that can operate at specific frequencies. The goal is to replace conductive casings, conductors, wires, grounding plates, and similar electronics structures with other materials that have similar conductive properties, but that are much lighter than copper and aluminum. Such materials might be carbon or polymer.

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Accurate Measurement Techniques for Deep-Bone Density and Structure

A company seeks a clinically useful technology with enough sensitivity to assess the microstructure of “spongy” bone that is found in the marrow cavities of whole bones. However, this technology must be for skeletal sites surrounded by layers of soft tissues, such as the spine and the hip. Soft tissue interferes with conventional imaging and using a more accessible area — for example, the wrist or the ankle of limbs — as a proxy for the less accessible skeletal regions, will not be accurate. A non-radioactive technology is strongly preferred.

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