Seeing Closer and Clearer with NASA Imaging Technology

From mapping asteroids and planets, to recording rocket engine tests, to seeing farther into the human brain, NASA’s imaging technologies are giving scientists and engineers closer, more detailed views than ever before.NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-Rex) spacecraft launched on September 8 to the near-Earth asteroid Bennu to harvest a sample of surface material and return it to Earth for study. But before the science team selects a sample site, they can find out a bit about Bennu’s elemental make-up.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace


Unmanned Research Aircraft Test Cutting-Edge Innovations

NASA-funded aircraft tests parameters that can’t be modeled in simulations.Born out of a desire for aircraft to be able to take off and land capably at airports with shorter runways to alleviate congestion at the major hubs, the circulation control wing concept has been floated by the aeronautical community as a possible solution for decades. The technology calls for increased amounts of high-pressure air, derived from either the jet engines or separate compressors, to flow over the leading and trailing edges of the wings, creating greater lift. Given extra lift, an aircraft can take off and land at a lower speed, thus reducing the length of runway needed. Extra lift also enables increased weight-carrying capacity.

Posted in: Articles, Spinoff, Aerospace


Precision Robotics and Automation: Hexapods Advance Production Processes

Hexapods — six-legged parallel-kinematic machines — are quickly gaining ground in a broad range of industrial automation applications after “learning” how to directly communicate with PLC or CNC controllers via Fieldbus interfaces. As far as the semiconductor and electronics industry, automobile industry, and precision assembly are concerned, many production processes have become inconceivable without them. Today, the six-axis positioning systems are available with load capacity from 2 kg to 2000 kg, and travel from 10 to hundreds of millimeters while maintaining submicron precision. Hexapods are used for aligning the smallest optical components in the latest silicon photonics production processes, for controlling automated labeling machines, and positioning entire body parts for automotive production. The intrinsic hexapod features contribute to a wealth of new possibilities in robotics.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control, Machinery & Automation, Robotics


Learning the "Keys" of IoT Security

Network-connected devices provide many opportunities to improve and enrich people’s lives, but the “Internet of Things” has a range of definitions. A consumer’s experience with the “IoT” may be a wearable computer for fitness tracking. A physician may place a connected heartbeat monitor on a patient. An industrial engineer may see the Internet of Things as thousands of sensor points that provide measurements of temperatures, pressures, or valve states.

Posted in: Articles, White Papers, Electronics & Computers, Sensors


CryoFOSS Optical Sensor Offers Next-Level Liquid Measurement

NASA engineer Allen Parker and a team at Armstrong Flight Research Center have developed a fiber-optic-based sensing technology that accurately pinpoints and measures liquid levels. The CryoFOSS, or Cryogenic Fiber Optic Sensing System, uses fiber optic Bragg sensors, located along a single cable, to actively discern between liquid and gas states. The technology can be employed in a variety of applications, from NASA’s rockets to a winery’s storage tanks.

Posted in: Articles, Sensors


NASA’s Pursuit of Power

Advances in batteries and propulsion enable innovations in both terrestrial and deep-space power applications. Advances in Capacitor MaterialsElectrochemical capacitors, or supercapacitors, have gained intense interest as an alternative to traditional energy storage devices. Applications for supercapacitors range from plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) to backup power sources. While the power density of supercapacitors surpasses that of batteries, commercially available batteries have a significantly higher specific energy density.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Power Management, Propulsion


Rice Crop Models Stabilize Global Markets and Enable Efficient Irrigation

NASA satellite data gives rice producers and buyers comprehensive crop projections. When global food prices spiked dramatically in late 2007 and into 2008, with the costs of many basic dietary staples doubling or even tripling, protests and riots upset much of the developing world. Following the price spike, world leaders gathered to figure out how to foresee and avert such market instabilities in the future, and a major product of those meetings was the Group on Earth Observations’ Global Agricultural Monitoring (GEOGLAM) initiative, carried out by a partnership of governments and international organizations in the G20 nations. The initiative relies primarily on satellite Earth-imaging data to improve projections of crop production and weather forecasting.

Posted in: Articles, Spinoff, Aerospace


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