Physical Sciences

Laser Spider Web Sensor Used With Portable Handheld Devices

This device can be used for monitoring of greenhouse gases and tailpipe emissions, and for breath analysis. A powerful tool in understanding the role that greenhouse gasses play in climate change would be real-time data from laser chemical sensors providing concentrations and locations of key gasses. The adoption and widespread use of smart mobile phones is an ideal platform on which to create an international web of data collection devices. Because long path lengths often mean more space, many precision instruments are too large to be useful anywhere outside of a lab or test bench environment. A more compact method of achieving long path lengths is needed to advance the field of trace chemical detection.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Sensors, Briefs, TSP

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Life-Detecting Radar

First responders and search and rescue teams are the primary applications. A new device detects the heartbeat and respiration of victims trapped in rubble or disaster debris, and reduces the time required to initiate a rescue. Searchers would like to distinguish live victims from those who have died recently and to distinguish humans from animals. In addition to search and rescue, there are other uses for the device that can detect multiple humans from a distance, and with material between the device and the humans.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs, TSP

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High-Energy Lithium Flow Cells With Sulfur Cathodes for Transportation Applications

These cells can be used for large energy storage systems. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Since the entry of lithium-ion rechargeable batteries into the market, considerable improvements have been made in their gravimetric and volumetric energy densities, especially compared to aqueous systems such as Pb-acid, Ni-Cd, and Ni-MH. Sulfur cathodes have been well studied for over three decades, due to many of their attractive features such as high specific energy, abundance, and low cost. A successful sulfur-based battery is, however, still to emerge, especially for ambient temperature applications.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs

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Physical Causes of Extremely Low Geomagnetic Activity

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California An analysis of solar, solar wind, and geomagnetic data during the recent solar cycle minimum (2008) has recently been undertaken. It was discovered that the lowest value of the Ap index [this index is an averaged planetary A index based on data from a set of specific magnetometer stations] in the history of its recording occurred during 2009, about 1 year after solar minimum. The investigators were able to determine that it was the decrease of solar and interplanetary forcing that was causing the anomalous effect. The coronal holes, which emit high-speed solar wind plasma streams, were located at middle (solar) latitudes during this epoch of the solar cycle. Thus the full brunt of the solar wind and its embedded Alfvén waves missed the Earth and its magnetosphere, lessening the effect of the solar wind-magnetosphere interaction.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs

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Green PCB Removal From Sediment Systems (GPRSS)

A redeployable polymer blanket attacks and adsorbs PCBs. John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida A number of NASA centers have used polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-containing materials that have subsequently ended up in surrounding sediment systems. Each center is evaluating remediation technologies that may have application to their environmental problems; however, there are only limited options available for application to sediments containing PCBs. Currently, the most utilized option is dredging followed by disposal in a Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)-regulated landfill. This is an expensive option with long-term liability implications for simply enacting a waste transfer remedy (as opposed to a waste destruction alternative), as well as possible contaminant re-introduction into the water table. PCB contamination in sediment systems is a global issue, posing ecological and human health risks.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs

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Internalization of Non-Spherical Particles

This device enhances proliferation of cell cultures in a rotating bioreactor. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas This invention specifically relates to an interchangeable sleeve that encompasses a rotating, substantially cylindrical bioreactor. The sleeve supplies a time-varying electromagnetic force of from 0.05 to 0.5 gauss to the culture chamber of the bioreactor in order to increase cell growth and proliferation within the rotating bioreactor. The sleeve comprises a substantially cylindrical and rigid, electrically conductive material wound in a cylindrical shape, and is capable of being connected to a pulsating, time-varying electromagnetic current.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs

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System for Observing Dynamic Atmospheric Phenomena

System has drastically increased transmitter capability at much reduced cost. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Existing observing systems are inadequate to measure a variety of dynamic atmospheric processes. Ground-based or airborne systems do not observe over sufficiently large regions to capture the context or time history of many phenomena. Space-based systems do not observe a specific region over sufficient duration with sufficient spatial resolution to capture the essential features of the phenomena. Radar systems are limited in what they can observe because of the need for scattering sources to be present in the observed volume.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs

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