Test & Measurement

Vision Algorithms Catch Defects in Screen Displays

Software based on NASA vision research is used in making laptop, cellphone, and TV displays. NASA has sent more than a few robotic missions into space, but it never loses sight of its goal to enable human exploration of the cosmos. A core component of planning for future manned missions is the Human Systems Integration Division, headquartered at Ames Research Center, that focuses on advancing our understanding of how people process information and interact with mechanical and electronic systems.

Posted in: Articles, Spinoff, Imaging, Software, Test & Measurement


Data Recorders Prepare Orion for Splashdown Test

Data recorders and software Diversified Technical Systems (DTS) Seal Beach, CA 562-493-0158 www.dtsweb.com It’s no simple task to travel 3,600 miles into space, blaze back through Earth’s atmosphere at 20,000 mph with temperatures approaching 4,000 °F, and then splash-land into the Pacific Ocean. That’s why NASA spent three years dropping the 18,000-pound mockup of the Orion space capsule into a special test pool wired with hundreds of sensors, strain gauges, and accelerometers to measure stresses and structural integrity, as well as the safety of future astronauts onboard.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Aerospace, Data Acquisition, Measuring Instruments, Test & Measurement


Nozzle Heat Flux Gauge

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama This innovation is a tungsten-rhenium gauge that can be placed into an aft exit cone of a rocket motor. It will measure heat flux with time for the full duration of the RSRM (reusable solid rocket motor) nozzle environment with equal response time.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Measuring Instruments


Magnetic Sensitivity of a Ka-Band Isolator Measured Using the GRAIL Testbed

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California The magnetic sensitivity of a Ka-band isolator’s output phase is measured at 7 × 10–4 deg/G level. This high degree of precision is enabled by the sensitive phase measuring capabilities of a testbed built to mimic NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft. Its ground-based testbed was used to measure the magnetic sensitivity of a flight-spare Ka-band isolator, and the authors found it to be 0.0052 ±0.0007 deg/G along its most sensitive axis. The GRAIL mission was able to incorporate microwave isolators into its instrumentation because the spacecraft orbited the Moon and, thus, did not travel through a permanent magnetic field as it would in a mission around Earth. Understanding this magnetic sensitivity is key to evaluating the impact an isolator would have on data quality for future gravity missions such as GRACE-FO (Gravity Recover and Climate Experiment — Follow On), a scheduled follow-on mission to GRACE, which has been mapping out Earth’s gravity for over a decade.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Information Sciences, Software, Measuring Instruments, Test & Measurement


ORCA Prototype Ready to Observe Ocean

If selected for a NASA flight mission, the Ocean Radiometer for Carbon Assessment (ORCA) instrument will study microscopic phytoplankton, the tiny green plants that float in the upper layer of the ocean and make up the base of the marine food chain.Conceived in 2001 as the next technological step forward in observing ocean color, the ORCA-development team used funding from Goddard’s Internal Research and Development program and NASA’s Instrument Incubator Program (IIP) to develop a prototype. Completed in 2014, ORCA now is a contender as the primary instrument on an upcoming Earth science mission.The ORCA prototype has a scanning telescope designed to sweep across 2,000 kilometers (1,243 miles) of ocean at a time. The technology collects light reflected from the sea surface that then passes through a series of mirrors, optical filters, gratings, and lenses. The components direct the light onto an array of detectors that cover the full range of wavelengths.Instead of observing a handful of discrete bands at specific wavelengths reflected off the ocean, ORCA measures a range of bands, from 350 nanometers to 900 nanometers at five-nanometer resolution. The sensor will see the entire rainbow, including the color gradations of green that fade into blue. In addition to the hyperspectral bands, the instrument has three short-wave infrared bands that measure specific wavelengths between 1200 and 2200 nanometers for atmospheric applications.The NASA researchers will use ORCA to obtain more accurate measurements of chlorophyll concentrations, the size of a phytoplankton bloom, and how much carbon it holds. Detecting chlorophyll in various wavelengths also will allow the team to distinguish between types of phytoplankton. Suspended sediments in coastal regions could also be detected by the instrument.SourceAlso: Learn about a Ultra-Low-Maintenance Portable Ocean Power Station.

Posted in: News, Imaging, Optics, Photonics, Sensors, Measuring Instruments, Test & Measurement


Computed Tomography Systems

JG&A Metrology Center (Detroit, MI) introduced increased flat panel sizes for computed tomography (CT) systems. Cone beam systems now utilize flat panel technology and scan parts up to 14" (350 mm) in diameter. With increases in LDA sizes as well, the CT systems use line detector array technology when scanning parts up to 26" (650 mm) in diameter. The equipment is used to provide 3D internal part inspection using industrial CT equipment.

Posted in: Products, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Detectors, Test & Measurement


Data Acquisition and Control

Dataforth Corp. (Tucson, AZ) introduced the MAQ20® industrial data acquisition and control system that features an analog resistance input module for channel protection. It interfaces to three types of 3-wire sensors: 100Ω Pt, 120Ω Ni RTDs, and potentiometers up to 5kΩ. The module has six input channels, each of which is protected up to 240 Vrms continuous overload in case of inadvertent wiring errors. Overloaded channels do not adversely affect other channels in the module. Transient protection is per the ANSI/IEEE C37.90.1 standard; input-to-bus isolation is 1500Vrms. The system can individually configure channels for sensor, range, alarm limits, and averaging. While all channels are enabled by default, those not used can be disabled to increase the sampling rate of channels enabled for scanning.

Posted in: Products, Data Acquisition, Sensors, Test & Measurement


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