Features

Products of Tomorrow: July 2014

The technologies NASA develops don’t just blast off into space. They also improve our lives here on Earth. Life-saving search-and-rescue tools, implantable medical devices, advances in commercial aircraft safety, increased accuracy in weather forecasting, and the miniature cameras in our cellphones are just some of the examples of NASA-developed technology used in products today.

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The Modern Industrial Workhorse: PID Controllers

Proportional-Integral-Derivative (PID) controllers are used in most automatic process control applications in industry today to regulate flow, temperature, pressure, level, and many other industrial process variables.

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Standards Help Protect Technology and Life in Orbit or on Earth

A recent conversation with engineers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston revealed that there’s often “a world of difference” between the standards for circuit protection components for a typical Earthbound electronics engineering application, and those intended for use in spacecraft. However, for both environments, engineers have essentially the same goals: safeguarding life and protecting technology. Carlton Faller, a NASA electrical, electronic, and electromechanical (EEE) parts engineer, and Paul Delaune, Deputy Branch Chief - Command and Data Handling, shared some insights on the differing requirements associated with creating circuit designs for use in low-Earth orbit (LEO) and beyond.

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Spacecraft Seat Standards Lead to Comfort in Your Car

NASA standards for optimum neutral body posture in spacecraft have led to ergonomic car seats. In the beginning, safety outweighed comfort in spacecraft designs for human space travel. Capsules like Gemini and Apollo were small, and most of the flight activities were performed while the crew was strapped to their seats. Later, NASA devoted more attention to understanding how a spacecraft could provide comfort as well as safety and function to astronauts. NASA examined the neutral body posture (NBP), or the posture the human body naturally assumes in microgravity.

Posted in: Articles, Spinoff

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CCD and CMOS Sensors

What's best for your application? How does one select the best HD video camera and imaging sensor for professional video in applications such as life sciences, surgical imaging, microscopy, industrial imaging, and specialized point-of-view broadcasting where physical camera size is important and exceptional color video characteristics are critical?

Posted in: Features, Photonics, Articles

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Industry Roundtable: 3D Printing

It’s being called a revolutionary change in the way we design and make products – a disruptive technology that will have far-reaching effects for both engineers and consumers. It’s 3D printing, and it is shaping the future of manufacturing. NASA Tech Briefs spoke recently with executives at four of the leading 3D printer vendors about what 3D printing is today, what it will be tomorrow, and if it really will change the world.

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Home Air Purifiers Eradicate Harmful Pathogens

An air scrubber used in space station plant growth helps you breathe easier at home. In the 1990s, NASA scientists were thinking of what astronauts would need to survive long-term missions to the Moon and other planets. One important requirement was a dependable source of food, which could be accomplished by astronauts growing their own produce in space-age greenhouses. But cultivating crops in a sealed-off environment results in the buildup of an undesirable gas called ethylene. Plants release the odorless, colorless fume into the air, which has the unfortunate effect of accelerating decay, hastening the wilting of flowers and the ripening of fruits and vegetables.

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