Sensors/Data Acquisition

Free-Space, Coupled, Multi- Element Detector for Deep Space Optical Communication

The detectors have application in optical communication, trace gas and chemical detection, and defect detection in semiconductor manufacturing. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California High-data-rate deep space optical communication (DSOC) links are desired by NASA and other space agencies to support future advanced science instruments, live high-definition (HD) video feeds, telepresence, and human exploration of Mars and beyond. Optical communications can provide a 10 to 100× increase in data rates from deep space for equivalent spacecraft mass and power as compared to state-of-the-art deep space Ka-band RF communication systems. One of the key technologies for DSOC is a large-area photon-counting detector array for the ground-based receiver.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Sensors

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Depth-Sensing Camera Works in Bright Light and Darkness

A new imaging technology from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Toronto operates in both bright sunlight and darkness. A mathematical model programs the device so that the camera and its light source work together efficiently, eliminating extraneous light, or “noise,” that would otherwise wash out the signals needed to detect a scene’s contours.

Posted in: News, Detectors, Sensors

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Low-Cost Solar-Simulated Radiometric Calibration Source

A novel integrating sphere system was developed for calibrating large optical sensors. Stennis Space Center, Mississippi An integrating sphere is a spherical shell that has its internal wall coated with a highly reflective, diffuse scattering material. It typically includes both entrance and exit ports where illumination sources and light monitoring sensors are added to produce a well-known uniform light source. Integrating spheres are used to calibrate radiometric instruments ranging from imagers to spectrometers. Sensors that need radiometric calibration used by NASA and the commercial aerial imaging community include aerial hyperspectral spectroradiometers, aerial multispectral cameras, and some moderate- and high-resolution satellite sensors. However, many of the larger sensors need large radiometric calibration integrating spheres, which can be costly and complex. Part of the issue is that a calibration source should simulate a solar spectra with high brightness levels. Achieving the spectral and brightness goals with traditional illumination sources, such as tungsten halogen and plasma arc lamps, requires a significant number of lamps. Traditional lamps are inefficient and generate a large amount of heat that must be dissipated. Another issue is that these calibration sources are typically manufactured using spun cast aluminum machining techniques, and because of this, a fairly thick coat of highly reflective Lambertian material must be applied to mask the manufacture-induced spun cast rings. These factors combined limit the widespread use of these radiometric calibration sources, especially for large-diameter optical sensors.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors

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Capacitively Coupled Quantum Capacitance Detector

A large number of future NASA astrophysics missions will rely on cryogenic detectors in order to meet science goals. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Future cryogenic far-infrared (IR) missions will require moderate-resolution far-IR spectrometers operating at the photon background limit. Full utilization of these facilities requires compact, multiplexable dispersive spectrometers with integrated detector arrays with sensitivities less than 3×10–20 W/(Hz)1/2. The detectors described here will be capable of those sensitivities.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors

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Nanosensors for Medical Diagnosis

This technology also has homeland security and medical applications. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California Many diseases are accompanied by characteristic odors, and their recognition can provide diagnostic clues, guide the laboratory evaluation, and affect the choice of immediate therapy. The study of the chemical composition in human breath using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) has shown a correlation between the volatile compounds and the occurrence of certain illnesses. The presence of those specific compounds can provide an indication to physiological malfunction and support the diagnosis of diseases. This condition requires an analytical tool with very high sensitivity for measurement.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors

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Passive Voice-Enabled RFID Devices

The devices are used for sensor and RFID multifunctionality. Stennis Space Center, Mississippi Radio-Frequency IDentification (RFID) is a technology that provides automatic identification of objects, and relies on storing and remotely retrieving data using devices called RFID tags or transponders. The RFID tag is an object that can be applied to and/or incorporated into a product, animal, or person for the purpose of identification using radio waves. Some tags can even be read from several meters away and beyond the line of sight of the reader. Generally, there are three varieties of RFID tags: passive, active, or semi-passive (also known as battery-assisted). Passive tags require no internal power source, are powered by harvesting energy from various artificial energy sources and/or natural energy sources (such as voice signals, other electromagnetic waves, sunlight, vibrations, or RF noise), and are only active when a reader is nearby to power them; semi-passive and active tags require a power source to function (usually a small battery).

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors

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Designing Antenna and Electronic Systems for Space and Airborne Applications

Across all industry sectors electronic systems such as antennas and sensors are becoming ubiquitous in support of wireless communication, sensing and power transfer. These are examples of the practical realization of the "Internet of Things". In the aerospace sector, such technologies are playing an increasingly important role in advanced technologies. For example, highly instrumented and connected aircraft are supporting condition based maintenance and health monitoring techniques. Remotely piloted systems are becoming more autonomous and delivering increasing amounts of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data to support the warfighter. At the same time, the industry is expected to deliver these more advanced capabilities at lower cost, in a smaller and lighter footprint and with increased robustness, reliability and resilience.

Posted in: On-Demand Webinars, Electronics, Antennas, Sensors

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