Micro-Accelerometers Monitor Equipment Health

MEMS-based accelerometers used on the International Space Station to control the microgravity environment are also used to monitor industrial machinery. Objects that orbit the Earth, such as the International Space Station (ISS), provide a unique environment called zero-g, or more correctly, microgravity. All objects in orbit are pulled by Earth’s gravity, but they achieve the lack of gravity when they move at just the right speed (in the case of the ISS, around 17,500 miles per hour) so that the curve of their fall matches the curve of the Earth. The result is a perpetual freefall, creating weightlessness.

Posted in: Articles, Spinoff


Product of the Month: October 2014

National Instruments, Austin, TX, has introduced the NI VirtualBench that combines five instruments in one device: a mixed-signal oscilloscope, a digital multimeter, a function generator, a programmable DC power supply, and digital I/O. The software-based device integrates with PCs and iPads, and offers WiFi and USB connectivity. It measures 10 × 7.5 × 2.9" and is portable with an optional carrying case. User interfaces for each instrument are consolidated into one for viewing and interacting with all instruments at once. A mouse and scroll wheel can be used on a PC, or pinch and zoom on an iPad with finger touch. Users can instantly document results by clicking or tapping a button to save screenshots and data to an iPad or PC. When plugged into a USB port, VirtualBench software automatically loads on PCs with Windows AutoPlay. The device integrates with NI LabVIEW software for building custom applications to programmatically control VirtualBench.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Products


NASA’s Space Station Fix-It for Satellites

NASA’s fix-it investigation on the International Space Station (ISS), the Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM), has moved one step closer to its 2.0 update with the delivery of new RRM hardware. The RRM module, affixed to an exterior ISS platform since 2011, now awaits the robotic transfer of two new task boards and a borescope inspection tool that will equip RRM for a new round of satellite-servicing demonstrations.

Posted in: UpFront


The Power of Salt

Where the river meets the sea, there is the potential to harness a significant amount of renewable energy, according to mechanical engineers at MIT. They evaluated an emerging method of power generation called pressure retarded osmosis (PRO) in which two streams of different salinity are mixed to produce energy. In principle, a PRO system would take in river water and seawater on either side of a semi-permeable membrane. Through osmosis, water from the less-salty stream would cross the membrane to a pre-pressurized saltier side, creating a flow that can be sent through a turbine to recover power.

Posted in: UpFront


Dr. Ajay Koshti, Lead Nondestructive Evaluation Engineer, Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX

Dr. Ajay Koshti, Lead Nondestructive Evaluation Engineer, invented NASA Flash Infrared Thermography Software. Koshti also worked as a Non-Destructive Evaluation (NDE) Engineer on NASA Space Shuttle Orbiter for 23 years.

Posted in: Who's Who


Prepping Advanced Driver Assistance for Mainstream Vehicles

Forward-facing cameras, integrated with vehicle controls, are being used to recognize pedestrians, signs, and other cars and motorcycles. Automatic brake mechanisms — often connected to a combination of radar, camera, and sensors — can halt a vehicle as it approaches an object ahead. New mounted cameras have the ability to register road markings and keep drivers within their own lanes.

Posted in: Imaging, Articles


Microscope Camera

The Imaging Source (Charlotte, NC) 13-megapixel microscope camera is equipped with a distortion-free 5.3-mm (35-mm equivalent) auto-focus lens, allowing capture through the ocular, not just a region of interest. The camera can take the place of the ocular or can be screwed into the Cmount. Other features include: Sony Exmor CMOS, 1/2.5” sensor; full image circle capture; full HD at up to 30 FPS; focal length of 5.3 mm; and USB 3.0 interface.

Posted in: Imaging, Products


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