Products of Tomorrow: April 2015

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. This column presents technologies that have applications in commercial areas, possibly creating the products of tomorrow. If you are interested in licensing the technologies described here, use the contact information provided. To learn about more available technologies, visit the NASA Technology Transfer Portal at

Posted in: Articles, Products, Consumer Product Manufacturing, Joining & Assembly, Optical Components, Optics


Emily Wilson, Scientist, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD

Emily Wilson developed a miniaturized laser heterodyne radiometer (mini-LHR) to measure the emissions of carbon dioxide and methane from melting permafrost. Wilson’s technology will be one of several NASA instruments sent to Alaska in June to analyze trace gases in the region’s atmosphere.

Posted in: Who's Who, Environmental Monitoring, Greenhouse Gases, Lasers & Laser Systems, Measuring Instruments, Monitoring


Reducing Interconnection Weight in Autosports

In Formula 1 and other autosports, weight reduction is critical to competitive advantage. A few grams saved here and a few more saved there can add up to significant savings. There is also a move toward high-density packaging of electronics parts. As the electronics content of cars increases, the natural drive is to miniaturize the package to gain maximum efficiency in the use of space.

Posted in: Articles, Electronic Components, Electronics, Composites, Fiber Optics


Precision Measurement and Inspection Ensure Quality of SLS Rocket Panels

Reverse engineering and inspection software Verisurf Software Anaheim, CA 714-970-1683 In spaceflight, the first eight minutes are critical. This is when the greatest opposing forces of thrust and gravity are impacting the launch vehicle. The new NASA Space Launch System (SLS) will weigh 5.5 million pounds at liftoff, or roughly the weight of eight fully loaded 747 jets. Everything comes down to weight and the integrity of design and fabrication to insure success. Today, it costs $10,000 to send one pound of payload into orbit; since the entire launch vehicle makes the trip to low-Earth orbit, its net weight is a big consideration. The lighter the launch vehicle, the greater the payload can be.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Articles, Lasers & Laser Systems, Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM), Mathematical/Scientific Software


Low Er-Doped Yttrium Gallium Garnet (YGG) as Active Media for Solid-State Lasers at 1651 nm

This technology could serve applications in the bio-medical areas such as nerve stimulation and dentistry. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland The typical approach for producing laser output at the 1651-nm wavelength is via nonlinear frequency conversion. Lasers based on nonlinear conversion are complex, and it is very difficult to provide stability over time and over a wide range of operating temperatures. The efficiency of such optical sources is also low. A much more promising approach is the use of active media that allows for the development of solid-state lasers (SSL) with spectral emission at 1651 nm. An important requirement for this active medium is the ability to support in-band pumping with a low quantum defect since this approach leads to significant improvement in efficiency of SSLs and excellent beam characteristics due to low thermal stress of the active media.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Lasers & Laser Systems


Dual-Cavity Rayleigh Scattering Measurement System

A method and apparatus were developed for simultaneous measurement of velocity, density, temperature, and their spatial and temporal derivatives in gas flow. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia Molecular-based optical diagnostics techniques capable of obtaining simultaneous measurements of multiple fluid properties are critically important for characterizing hypersonic air-breathing engines, such as scramjet engines and scramjet-rocket combined cycle engines. Correlations between those properties lead to a more detailed understanding of complex flow behavior, and aid in the development of multiparameter turbulence models required for supersonic combustion engine flow path predictions.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Optics, Measuring Instruments


Miniature Laser Magnetometer

This conceptual design includes three key innovations future space science requires while minimizing size, mass, and power. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland Space missions using magnetometers have been very successful. However, science missions now require higher levels of accuracy and stability in order to refine existing understanding and improve modeling. In most space missions that require high-accuracy vector measurement of magnetic fields, a separate scalar magnetometer must also be included in order to calibrate the vector measurements. The miniature laser magnetometer (MLM) addresses the need for a single, high-stability magnetometer instrument that provides both scalar and vector measurements for future space science needs while minimizing size, mass, and power.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Lasers & Laser Systems, Measuring Instruments


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