Test & Measurement

Sonar Inspection Robot System

The system surveys interior volume, interrogates structure integrity, and displays real-time video and sonar. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas The robotic inspection device prototype that was used for testing. NASA’s Johnson Space Center innovators have designed a Robotic Inspection System that is capable of surveying deep sea structures such as oil platform storage cells/tanks and pipelines in order to determine the volume of material remaining inside, interrogate structure integrity, and display real-time video and sonar. This inspection device and method could significantly reduce the cost of inspecting, and in the future, provide sampling of the structure contents. The technology is an all-in-one inspection device that includes cameras, sonar, and motion-sensing instruments with hardware and software components. This NASA-developed technology is available for licensing.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement

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Modules for Inspection, Qualification, and Verification of Pressure Vessels

This automated, modular, standardized system features interchangeable probes. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas After decades of composite over-wrapped pressure vessel (COPV) development, manufacturing variance is still high, and has necessitated higher safety factors and additional mass to be flown on spacecraft, reducing overall performance. When liners are used in COPVs, they need to be carefully screened before wrapping. These flaws can go undetected and later grow through the thickness of the liner, causing the liner to fail, resulting in a massive leakage of the liner and subsequent mission loss.

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Using PXI to Build a High-Performance MEMS Microphone Testing System

The demand for increasing microphone signal quality from handheld mobile devices has led to the development of microphone signal processing technologies such as: HD audio, noise cancellation, active noise cancellation, beam forming, directional reception, stereo sound field reconstruction, and speech recognition. As well, devices incorporating multiple microphones are becoming more and more popular. Several newly released smart phones now integrate multiple MEMS (Micro Electrical-Mechanical System) microphones for improved background noise cancellation. All flagship smart phone models in introduced in 2015 featured three or more MEMS microphones to support HD audio, ambient noise cancellation, noise filtering, directional reception and speech recognition. Popularity of MEMS microphones is expected to grow.

Posted in: White Papers, Electronics, Data Acquisition, Sensors, Test & Measurement

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Hermetic Seal Leak Detection Apparatus with Variable Size Test Chamber

A streamlined, cost-effective, sensitive approach to detecting leaks in hermetic seals. Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center has developed a unique apparatus ideal for use in nondestructive testing (NDT) of hermetic seals of containers or instrumentation. The device is capable of detecting both large and small leaks and can be calibrated to characterize the relative leak rate. Its simple design does not require specialized gases for pressurization and detection, and eliminates the need for expensive instrumentation such as a mass spectrometer to analyze leaks and achieve high sensitivity. Low in cost and simple to manufacture, the patent-pending technology is ideal for use in many industries, from aerospace applications to food packaging and commercial goods.

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Extreme Low Frequency Acoustic Measurement System

This system detects and locates atmospheric clear air turbulence and severe weather. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a system to detect and locate atmospheric clear air turbulence (CAT) by means of a ground-based infrasonic array to serve as an early warning system for aircraft. This system could augment existing systems such as pilot reports (PIREPs), airborne lidar, and airborne radar. The NASA system offers a benefit since the existing electromagnetic methods lack targets at 30,000-40,000 feet and will not detect CAT. Because CAT and severe storms emit infrasound that propagates over vast distances through the Earth’s atmosphere, the Langley system offers an excellent early warning opportunity. The system has been able to detect known events — such as detection of the launch of the Space Shuttle in Florida all the way from Virginia. It also has correlated data with NOAA’s PIREPs information.

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Low-Temperature Radiometer

This technology can look for heat leaks and reflected flux in low-temperature thermal vacuum systems. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland Many present and future NASA missions require high-performance, large-scale cryogenic systems, such as the sunshields and cold instruments for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Testing these systems is problematic because of both the size and the low heat loads allowed. The heat loads can be greatly influenced by non-ideal blackbody characteristics of the test chamber, and by stray heat from warmer parts of the system and ground support equipment. Previously, stray thermal energy was not directly measured, but inferred from deviations in the expected results, which leads to errors in thermal modeling and in lack of knowledge of the thermal performance of the item under test. Technologists at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center have developed a radiometer to help identify the sources of stray heat and to make non-contact thermal emission measurements of such materials as vapor-deposited aluminum on Kapton and multilayer insulation blankets, as well as background measurements of non-ideal chamber effects such as light leaks and radiation bounces.

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Lightweight Internal Device to Measure Tension in Hollow-Braided Cordage

This device has applications in industries commonly using cordage, such as shipping, sailing, and lifting. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California The suspension system of parachutes is typically made from ropes (referred to as cordage). Measuring loads in the suspension system cordage has thus far proven very challenging because of the dynamic nature of the parachute. The suspension lines must be deployed along with the parachute, and experience rapid acceleration and dynamic motion as the parachute inflates. The addition of bulky load cells to the suspension lines would change the dynamics of the system and corrupt the data.

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