Test & Measurement

Energy Harvesting Could Help Power Spacecraft of the Future

A consortium is working on a project to maximize energy harvesting on a spacecraft of the future. The initiative seeks to find energy-saving and -maximizing solutions to enable eco-friendly aircraft to stay in space for long periods of time without the need to return to Earth to re-fuel, or to avoid carrying vast amounts of heavy fuel on long-stay journeys.

Posted in: Green Design & Manufacturing, Energy Efficiency, Energy Harvesting, Energy, Test & Measurement, Communications, Aerospace, Aviation, News


NASA Robot Explores Volcanoes

Carolyn Parcheta, a NASA postdoctoral fellow based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and JPL robotics researcher Aaron Parness are developing robots that can explore volcanic fissures."We don't know exactly how volcanoes erupt. We have models but they are all very, very simplified. This project aims to help make those models more realistic," Parcheta said.Parcheta, Parness, and JPL co-advisor Karl Mitchell first explored this idea last year using a two-wheeled robot they call VolcanoBot 1, with a length of 12 inches (30 centimeters) and 6.7-inch (17-centimeter) wheels.VolcanoBot 2, smaller and lighter than its predecessor, will explore Hawaii's Kilauea volcano in March 2015. Parcheta's research endeavors were recently honored in National Geographic’s Expedition Granted campaign. SourceAlso: Learn about Autonomous Response for Targeting and Monitoring of Volcanic Activity.

Posted in: Test & Measurement, Measuring Instruments, Monitoring, Machinery & Automation, Robotics, News


Forensic Tracers Identify Contamination in Water

Duke University scientists have developed new forensic tracers to identify coal ash contamination in water and distinguish it from contamination coming from other sources. The tools can be used by regulatory agencies to monitor the environmental effects of coal ash, and determine whether it has or hasn’t impacted the environment. Previous methods to identify coal ash contaminants in the environment were based solely on the contaminants’ chemical variations. The newly developed tracers provide additional forensic fingerprints that give regulators a more accurate and systematic tool. The tracers, which have been tested both in the laboratory and the field, are based on the distinctive isotopic and geochemical signatures of two elements, boron and strontium, found in coal ash effluent. The U.S. EPA has submitted a proposal to the Office of Management and Budget to restrict coal ash disposal into the environment and, for the first time, establish federal regulations to govern how the ash is stored and disposed. Source:

Posted in: Environmental Monitoring, Green Design & Manufacturing, Test & Measurement, Monitoring, News


Technology Diagnoses Brain Damage from Concussions, Strokes, and Dementia

New optical diagnostic technology developed at Tufts University School of Engineering promises new ways to identify and monitor brain damage resulting from traumatic injury, stroke, or vascular dementia in real time and without invasive procedures.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Electronic Components, Photonics, Fiber Optics, Optics, Medical, Diagnostics, Test & Measurement, Measuring Instruments, Semiconductors & ICs, News


Analog Signal Conditioning for Accurate Measurements

By Jon Titus Q: Should I put some sort of circuit between my sensor and an analog-to-digital converter? A:Yes. You probably need some signal conditioning. The explanation below goes on for a bit, but stay with it and you'll understand what you need and why you need it. Before you make any connections, get the electrical specifications for the analog-to-digital converter (ADC) and for the sensor or sensors in your system. Let's assume the data-acquisition module uses a Maxim Integrated Products MAX197 12-bit ADC. This device can accept eight differential (2-wire) inputs or 16 single-ended (1-wire) inputs. Maxim's specifications show an input impedance of 21 kohms for single-ended inputs and 16 kohms for differential inputs.

Posted in: Test & Measurement, White Papers


Process-Hardened, Multi-Analyte Sensor for Characterizing Multiple Rocket Plume Constituents in a Test Environment

A multi-analyte measurement capability is integrated into a single sensor. Stennis Space Center, Mississippi Stennis Space Center (SSC) is one of three government-operated rocket engine test facilities in the United States and is the primary center for testing and flight-certifying rocket propulsion systems for future space vehicles. Safety is a top priority at NASA-SSC. To safely test and certify rocket engines, monitoring technologies for rocket test stands, which (1) verify compliance with federal, state, and local government guidelines; (2) ensure a safe work environment for its personnel at ground testing facilities; as well as (3) monitor environmental impacts, are all required. Additionally, NASA has a need to monitor engine combustion efficiencies and engine health of a variety of launch vehicle configurations utilizing liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen, isopropanol, and kerosene. Multi-analyte measurement technology is essential for a safe and effective working environment. Therefore, for the advancement in multi-analyte technology in the rocket testing industry, a device was created that integrates multi-analyte measurements into a single sensor unit.

Posted in: Sensors, Test & Measurement, Monitoring, Articles, Briefs


Automated Table Lookup Solution Algorithm of the Optimal Powered Descent Guidance for Planetary Landing

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California A novel automated table lookup method is developed to compute the near-fuel-optimal powered descent guidance trajectories, in real-time, for planetary soft landing. The main advantage of this algorithm is that it can be executed autonomously in milliseconds without performing iterative numerical computations to obtain the solution of the optimization problem. The key enabling idea behind this approach is to store, in a lookup table, a number of optimal trajectories that have been computed on the ground for a systematically chosen set of initial conditions. In flight, a near-fuel-optimal trajectory is computed for the actual initial condition by interpolating between these pre-computed trajectories. The lookup method requires only a small, predetermined number of basic algebraic operations. Moreover, this method guarantees that the interpolated solutions are in a prescribed neighborhood of the true optimal solutions.

Posted in: Test & Measurement, Aviation, Articles, Briefs, Aeronautics