Features

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.

Posted in: Articles, Spinoff

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Sterility Verification of a Flowing Liquid

A client seeks a device capable of detecting contamination in a liquid flow. The system needs to detect non-liquid particles, bacteria, yeasts, mold, and/or spores in a continuous liquid stream. Any proposed sensing methodology must not physically interact with the liquid flowing in the interior of the channel. In operation, the detection system should report any contamination; the nature of the contamination can be determined later. A proposed solution need not identify the specific contaminant. An optical or light-based system is desired, but a variety of technologies may be acceptable if they do not require the fluid flow to be sampled directly.

Posted in: Tech Needs, NASA Tech Needs

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A Step Up for R2

The lower limbs for the humanoid Robonaut 2 (R2) are aboard the International Space Station (ISS) awaiting attachment by a station crewmember to R2’s torso, which arrived on the ISS in February 2011 during the last flight of the space shuttle Discovery. That event signaled the first human-like robot to arrive in space to become a permanent resident of the laboratory. Jointly developed by NASA and General Motors, R2 showcases how a robotic assistant can work alongside humans, whether tasks are done in space or on Earth in a manufacturing facility.

Posted in: UpFront

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Jet Fuel from Sunlight

The European Union-funded Solar chemical reactor demonstration and Optimization for Long-term Availability of Renewable JET fuel (SOLAR-JET) project has successfully demonstrated the production chain for renewable kerosene obtained directly from sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide, potentially revolutionizing the future of aviation.

Posted in: UpFront

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Product of the Month: June 2014

The USB-2404-UI from Measurement Computing, Norton, MA, offers simultaneous sampling at up to 100 S/s, per channel, on four 24-bit channels of universal analog input. The device is designed for multi purpose testing, and can measure voltage, current, thermocouples, RTDs, resistance, and bridge-based sensors. The device features a built-in thermistor for cold-junction compensation, and a six-position spring terminal that allows different measurement types to be performed on each channel. It includes channel-to-channel isolation to protect the entire system from harmful voltage spikes and eliminate measurement errors caused by ground loops. It also includes 250 Vrms channel-to-channel and channel-to-ground isolation, and does not require an external power supply. TracerDAQ® software acquires and displays data, and generates analog signals.

Posted in: Products

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Blurring the Boundaries: IP and Machine Vision Cameras Converge

In modern production facilities, users are more frequently combining two different strands of camera technology. Classic machine vision cameras manage inspection tasks and yield management, while network cameras (also called IP cameras) handle process monitoring and bringing production to a standstill when necessary.

Posted in: Features, Imaging, Articles

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Defining the Smart Camera

Smart cameras have been used in industrial applications for roughly two and a half decades, but advances in processor technologies have made the devices much more accessible and popular within the past 7 years, especially in areas such as machine vision and surveillance. However, when the term smart camera is mentioned, a wide variety of ideas still come to mind among individuals because there is no widespread agreement upon the definition of what a smart camera technically is. It is generally agreed upon that the basics of a smart camera include not only the image sensor, but also some type of processing chip: a CPU, DSP, FPGA, or other type of processing device (see Figure 1).

Posted in: Features, Imaging, Articles

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