Features

Don’t Miss Out on Creating the Future

Time is running out to enter the 2011 "Create the Future" Design Contest. Entries for the ninth annual contest are due by June 30th. Click here to submit your design idea.Sponsored by COMSOL, Creo - a PTC product, and Tech Briefs Media Group, the contest recognizes outstanding innovations in product design, awarding a Grand Prize of $20,000 USD. New this year is an Electronics Design category sponsored by Digi-Key Corp. Other categories are Consumer Products, Machinery & Equipment, Medical, Safety and Security, Sustainable Technologies, and Transportation. Entries can be submitted by individuals and/or teams in up to seven categories. The top entry in each category will receive a workstation computer from Hewlett-Packard. The top ten most popular entries, as voted on by site registrants, will get a 3D mouse from 3Dconnexion. All qualified entrants will be included in a drawing for NASA Tech Briefs T-shirts, and the winning entries will be featured in a special supplement to NASA Tech Briefs magazine. If you haven’t submitted your design, you have until June 30th to visit www.createthefuture2011.com and enter your great idea.

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NASA Awards 2010 Government and Commercial Inventions of the Year

NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA, has won NASA’s 2010 Government Invention of the Year Award and the Commercial Invention of the Year Award. The Government Invention of the Year was the Future ATM (Air Traffic Management) Concepts Evaluation Tool (FACET), a software tool that creates simulations for managing air traffic scenarios. The center won the Commercial award for developing a powder vibration system used in portable X-ray diffraction (XRD) instruments.

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Innovation Fuels the Future of Air Travel

Aircraft of the future may not look significantly different from today’s aircraft, but a peek “under the hood” will reveal technologies that are vastly different. Commercial aviation giants such as Boeing and Airbus — in addition to NASA and academia — are developing breakthrough airframe, propulsion, materials, and cabin designs that will help aircraft of the future fly quieter, cleaner, and more fuel-efficiently, with enhanced passenger comfort.

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Sensors Capture New Images of Mercury

CCD TH7888A imaging sensorse2vChelmsford, Essex, UK+44 (0) 1245 493 493www.e2v.comEarlier this year, NASA’s MESSENGER became the first spacecraft to orbit the planet Mercury. The e2v Charge Coupled Device (CCD) imaging sensors equip the cameras onboard and captured unique new images of the planet.

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Langley Research Center

This feature profiles NASA’s ten field centers located across the country. Each month, we’ll highlight a NASA center’s unique facilities, capabilities, and areas of research, as well as specific missions and projects underway at each center. If you are interested in partnering with a particular center, or in licensing specific technology, check out the More Information section at the end of each profile for contact information.Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA, has always been innovative. By solving monumental technology challenges, including those that spawned the aviation industry and space travel, our researchers have earned a reputation for their expertise in research, development, and experimentation. Today is no different. We are looking at new ways to revolutionize airplanes and the air transportation system, to provide access to space, and to understand climate change. With our unique blend of aerosciences, structures and materials, atmospheric characterization, systems analysis, and entry, descent, and landing expertise, we work across all of NASA’s missions.

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Applying OpenVPX to Single Board Computers

For more than two decades, single board computers (SBCs) built on open standards have been largely based on specifications from two preeminent industry organizations, VITA and PICMG. For the 6U Eurocard format, each organization has developed a platform that has provided the basis for standardized SBCs; where VITA introduced the VMEbus standard and derivatives, PICMG introduced CompactPCI bus and its derivatives. Both bus structures use a parallel bus architecture, which has its performance limitations, hence the recent movement to use fabric-based technologies.

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Using Static Analysis and Code Verification to Improve Embedded Software

Modern software development and test processes encompass a wide range of best practices and development methodologies. Personal preferences and lessons learned — both good and bad — dictate most workflows. Customized tools and scripts are frequently cobbled together with internal and external automation tools. However, at the core there are a set of proven development and test methods that enable deployment of high quality software with, ideally, no defects. Adherence to coding standards, performing software verification early in the development process, checking against an established set of quality metrics, and identifying software operations that are known good or known to contain faulty code will bring quality and consistency to critical embedded software.

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