Test & Measurement

A Balancing Act: How Months in Space Impact Astronauts' Performance

When you arrive back on Earth after a year in space, you’re going to feel it.

NASA and Jacob Bloomberg, senior scientist in the Houston, TX- headquartered Johnson Space Center, have been trying to quantify exactly what those effects will be — and how 12 months of microgravity impact an astronaut’s ability to perform simple operational tasks like opening a hatch or climbing a ladder.

Posted in: News, Patient Monitoring, Monitoring
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Mini Spectrometer Has Big Potential

Researchers have created a miniaturized, portable version of the mass spectrometer, which traditionally has been bulky, limiting its in-field potential. Other smaller spectrometers have been less sensitive and more likely to break down.

Posted in: News, Instrumentation, Test & Measurement
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Portable Kit Recovers Traces of Chemical Evidence

This measurement kit can recover trace chemicals such as environmental pollutants, and forensic evidence such as arson fire debris.

An arson investigation typically requires collecting one or two liters of ashes and debris from various locations within a fire scene in metal cans similar to those used for paint, and sending the material to a lab. The testing methods typically include gas and liquid chromatography or various versions of spectroscopy, with gas chromatography being the most widely used in fire debris analysis. When the fire debris is received at the testing facility, samples are taken for testing. Sometimes this will involve suspending a strip with activated charcoal in the air or “headspace” directly above the sample in the metal can for a period of time that can vary, depending on the judgment of the analyst, for 2-3 hours or up to 16 hours.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement
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Overspeed Protection for Turbine Flowmeters in Cryogenic Applications

Flowmeters for cryogenic applications often fail in service. Turbine flowmeters in particular fail due to very high speeds encountered during chill-down operations. Very cold, very high-velocity gas causes the turbine to spin uncontrollably, which quickly degrades bearings. Those flowmeters that do not fail are often unreliable, degrading their effectiveness as instrumentation to monitor and control cryogenic propellant loading.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement
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Handheld Device with Reagents for Detection and Diagnostics

The high risk associated with biological threat agents determines that any suspicious sample be handled under strict surety and safety controls, and processed under high-level containment in specialized laboratories. These specialized facilities are complex, very expensive to operate, and need to be staffed by personnel from an extremely limited pool of experts. In addition, safe means of transporting samples suspected of containing highly virulent agents to specialized high-level containment laboratories for analysis is also expensive, requiring, in many countries, the custody of armed personnel. It can be estimated that several million dollars are spent annually worldwide to secure and safely transport an increasing stream of suspicious biological samples that are collected in theaters of war, as well as in domestic environments.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement
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Thermal Micro-Extraction Laboratory

Typical extractions in the laboratory require a significant amount of sample material, large-scale equipment, and hands-on participation of a scientist. Such a setup is impractical (or impossible), heavy, and expensive to be carried out on spaceflight instrumentation. While great strides are being made to improve spaceflight instrumentation, the front-end sampling and extraction steps are often neglected. Only a few examples discuss the development of extraction systems for spaceflight, and they are immature in development. Additionally, several other microfluidic methods in development at GSFC will eventually require front-end sampling and extraction instrumentation.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement
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Container Screening Device (CSD)

The CSD detects anomalies, contraband, and hidden compartments in liquid-filled containers, and discriminates between threat and non-threat materials.

The Container Screening Device (CSD) is a portable, benchtop measurement system for real-time sealed-container inspection, and content (liquid/ material) classification and discrimination. The technology uses sound waves to acoustically detect, classify, and discriminate threat versus non-threat substances and materials such as liquid explosives, hazardous and flammable liquids, and other caustic or dangerous liquids at security checkpoints. The CSD originally was designed as a prototype for both field measurements and bench-top applications for liquid forensics, intelligence, and law enforcement scenarios.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement
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Sound-Off: How to Set Pass/Fail Thresholds for Self-Driving Vehicles

As Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) technology evolves, how do you test autonomous cars that ‘learn from their mistakes?’

Posted in: News, Automotive, Instrumentation, Measuring Instruments, Test & Measurement
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Decoupled Ranging and Orientation Inversions Enable Linear and Fast Long-Range Non-Line-of-Sight Positioning

New linear solutions are significantly simpler than the previous complex nonlinear solutions.

The wireless radio positioning or radiolocation problem is of great importance in society today. Existing radiolocation systems such as the Global Positioning System (GPS), Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) systems, and Ultra Wide-Band (UWB) systems use propagating EM waves and show reduced accuracy in non-line-of-sight (NLoS) environments due to propagation losses, delays, or multi-path effects. These significantly limit their use in radiolocation applications where the line of sight to the device is blocked. Examples of these are many, and include radiolocation for a device inside a cave or building, embedded underground or in a tunnel or mine, and for underwater applications, which covers a multitude of space, military, and civilian applications. In addition to these severe limitations, existing radiolocation systems using propagating EM waves enable ranging and positioning, but cannot provide precision two-dimensional (2D) or three-dimensional (3D) orientation sensing, which is critical in many applications where the sensor's attitude is important.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement, Global positioning systems, Global positioning systems (GPS), Radio equipment, Sensors and actuators, Global positioning systems, Global positioning systems (GPS), Radio equipment, Sensors and actuators
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Ultrasonic Transducer Delivery Tool

This tool can be used in any industry using double-walled storage tanks.

Stennis Space Center has the need to measure the inner wall thickness of cryogenic storage tanks without entering the inner tank of the double-walled vessels. It was proposed that an ultrasonic probe be inserted through access points in the outer wall of the vessel and delivered to the inner wall of the vessel, which would provide for at least a discrete set of inner wall thickness measurements where access points were available.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement, Measurements, Tools and equipment, Storage, Inspections
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