Test & Measurement

Mars Science Laboratory ChemCam Sun Safety

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) ChemCam instrument can be damaged when the Sun enters or passes through its field of view (FOV). There is no Sun cover, yet other instruments mounted with boresights pointing in the same direction must observe the Sun for scientific observations and for attitude determination. When in a Suntolerant focus range during rover motion and pointing for observations by other remote sensing instruments, the Sun must be allowed to pass through the ChemCam FOV, and when in a Sun-damage focus range for ChemCam observations, the Sun must never be allowed to enter the FOV, even after a rover system fault. Both of these scenarios depend upon knowledge of the attitude of the rover relative to the motion of the Sun. A Sun search that is guaranteed to be Sun-safe for the ChemCam, even when the location of the Sun is unknown, had to be developed.

Posted in: Briefs, Instrumentation, Attitude control, Optics, Sun and solar


Small-Body Testbed

The system can simulate a microgravity environment with a wide range of terrain types and topographies.This technology allows one to test small-body surface mobility and sampling systems in the laboratory. It is capable of simulating a microgravity environment with relevant terrain. The magnitude of the gravity, the terrain properties, and the surface system being tested are all easily modified to allow for a broad range of experimental setups.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement, Simulation and modeling, Terrain, Test equipment and instrumentation, Test facilities, Test procedures


Neutral Mounting of Whispering Gallery Mode Resonators for Suppression of Mechanical Frequency Fluctuations

This technology can be used in laser devices, chemical sensing, navigation, aerospace, and scientific instrumentation.NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has developed a neutral mounting scheme that eliminates the acceleration sensitivity of whispering gallery mode resonators (WGMRs), making them suitable for use in high-precision portable instruments such as optical atomic clocks and high-resolution laser ranging systems. With state-of-the-art WGMR mounting schemes, accelerations induce deformations in the resonator structure, changing its resonant frequency and limiting their usefulness in precision devices. JPL’s novel coaxial mounting scheme is capable of reducing and even eliminating these vibration- and acceleration-induced frequency fluctuations, yielding a WGMR with superior frequency stability that can be used for creating ultra-compact, highly stabilized lasers that are ideally suited for use in spectroscopy, sensing, and frequency metrology applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Instrumentation, Amplifiers, Architecture, Acoustics, Mountings, Reliability


Photogrammetry System and Method for Determining Relative Motion Between Two Bodies

Highly accurate, flexible system measures relative dynamics in six degrees of freedom.NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a novel method to calculate the relative position and orientation between two rigid objects using a simplified photogrammetric technique. The system quantitatively captures the relative orientation of objects in six degrees of freedom (6-DOF), using one or more cameras with non-overlapping fields of view (FOV) that record strategically placed photogrammetric targets.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement, Mathematical models, Measurements, Optics


Directed Design of Experiments for Validating Probability of Detection Capability of a Testing System

NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed new software that enables users of critical inspection systems to validate the capability of the inspection system. Traditionally, inspection systems are validated using various methodologies to determine probability of detection (POD). One widely accepted metric of an adequate inspection system is that there is 95% confidence that the POD is greater than 90% (90/95 POD). Directed Design of Experiments for Probability of Detection (DOEPOD) is a user-friendly software package that enables detailed analysis of 90/95 POD or at any specified confidence level. Although it was designed to validate the capability of inspection systems to find fracture- critical flaws in materials, DOEPOD can be applied to systems to locate any type of flaw as well as to validate the detection capability of personnel. DOEPOD can also be employed as the core of an NDE (nondestructive evaluation) system, and provide accurate on-demand validation of the inspection system.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement, Failure modes and effects analysis, Measurements, Computer software and hardware, Inspections


Method and Apparatus for Measuring Surface Air Pressure

This technology enhances the predictive capabilities of weather forecasting models.NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a novel method for long-range atmospheric pressure sensing. Based on known properties involving oxygen density, the technology is able to measure small pressure changes over a wide area. NASA developed the technology to address known gaps in the area of weather forecasting as a result of the inability to accurately detect atmospheric pressure above the ocean. Oxygen band reading can be performed remotely, most likely from a satellite-based system. The technology is particularly applicable in the area of storm forecasting.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement, Measurements, Radar, Weather and climate, Oxygen


HEIST Ironbird to Test Cutting-Edge Hybrid Electric Propulsion Technologies

Testbed will study the system complexities of powering an aircraft with two different power sources.A key goal of NASA’s aeronautics research is to help the aircraft industry transition to low-carbon propulsion. Many potential power architectures for electric propulsion have been proposed, and design considerations for turbo-electric distributed propulsion have been studied. However, few mid- to full-scale testbeds have been built to validate these different architectures.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement, Electric hybrid power, Electric motors, Turbojet engines, Turboprop engines


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