Physical Sciences

Method for Processing Lunar Regolith Using Microwaves

A paper describes a method of using microwave heating experiments on lunar simulants to determine the mechanism that causes lunar regolith to be such an excellent microwave absorber. The experiments initially compared the effects of sharp particle edges to round particle edges on the heating curves. For most compositions, sharp particle edged samples were more effective in being heated by microwaves than round particle edged materials. However, the experiments also showed an unexpected effect for both types of particles. Upon heating the sample surface above 400 °C, the sample experienced some sort of internal structure change that caused it to heat much more efficiently. This enhancement may be associated with the unique microwave volumetric heating that can produce a large temperature gradient within the sample leading to melting of some components at the center of the sample. This new effect that may also be happening in lunar regolith samples is probably the cause of the previously observed enhanced heating of a sample of lunar regolith. Properly designed microwave applicators could heat and solidify the lunar regolith to form roads and building blocks for structures needed on the Moon.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs, TSP

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A Hybrid Fiber/Solid-State Regenerative Amplifier with Tunable Pulse Widths for Satellite Laser Ranging

A fiber/solid-state hybrid seeded regenerative amplifier, capable of achieving high output energy with tunable pulse widths, has been developed for satellite laser ranging applications. The regenerative amplifier cavity uses a pair of Nd:YAG zigzag slabs oriented orthogonally to one another in order to make thermal lensing effects symmetrical and simplify optical correction schemes. The seed laser used is a fibercoupled 1,064-nm narrowband (

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Photonics, Briefs, TSP

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Optical Device for Converting a Laser Beam Into Two Co-aligned but Oppositely Directed Beams

Optical systems consisting of a series of optical elements require alignment from the input end to the output end. The optical elements can be mirrors, lenses, sources, detectors, or other devices. Complex optical systems are often difficult to align from end-to-end because the alignment beam must be inserted at one end in order for the beam to traverse the entire optical path to the other end. The ends of the optical train may not be easily accessible to the alignment beam.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Photonics, Briefs, TSP

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Support Routines for In Situ Image Processing

This software consists of a set of application programs that support ground-based image processing for in situ missions. These programs represent a collection of utility routines that perform miscellaneous functions in the context of the ground data system. Each one fulfills some specific need as determined via operational experience. The most unique aspect to these programs is that they are integrated into the large, in situ image processing system via the PIG (Planetary Image Geometry) library. They work directly with space in situ data, understanding the appropriate image meta-data fields and updating them properly. The programs themselves are completely multimission; all mission dependencies are handled by PIG.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Software, Imaging, Briefs, TSP

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Automatic Calibration of an Airborne Imaging System to an Inertial Navigation Unit

This software automatically calibrates a camera or an imaging array to an inertial navigation system (INS) that is rigidly mounted to the array or imager. In effect, it recovers the coordinate frame transformation between the reference frame of the imager and the reference frame of the INS.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Software, Imaging, Briefs

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Planetary Data Systems (PDS) Imaging Node Atlas II

The Planetary Image Atlas (PIA) is a Rich Internet Application (RIA) that serves planetary imaging data to the science community and the general public. PIA also utilizes the USGS Unified Planetary Coordinate system (UPC) and the on-Mars map server.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Software, Imaging, Briefs

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Planar Superconducting Millimeter-Wave/Terahertz Channelizing Filter

The design enables multiple-octave operation with no spurious harmonic response. This innovation is a compact, superconducting, channelizing bandpass filter on a single-crystal (0.45 μm thick) silicon substrate, which operates from 300 to 600 GHz. This device consists of four channels with center frequencies of 310, 380, 460, and 550 GHz, with approximately 50-GHz bandwidth per channel. The filter concept is inspired by the mammalian cochlea, which is a channelizing filter that covers three decades of bandwidth and 3,000 channels in a very small physical space. By using a simplified physical cochlear model, and its electrical analog of a channelizing filter covering multiple octaves bandwidth, a large number of output channels with high interchannel isolation and high-order upper stop-band response can be designed.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs, TSP

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