Test & Measurement

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Product of the Month: July 2017

Tektronix, Beaverton, OR, introduced the TTR500 Series USB vector network analyzer, a USB-based RF test instrument. It includes VectorVu-PC analysis software and built-in bias tee for testing active devices. The 2-port, 2-path S-parameter VNA features 100 kHz to 6 GHz frequency range, 122 dB dynamic range, less than 0.008 dB trace noise, and -50 to +7 dBm output power. The built-in bias tee allows for 0 to ± 24V, and 0 to 200 mA on both ports for active devices. The analyzer operates with any Windows PC or laptop, and VectorVu-PC software controls and calibrates the instrument. For automated test systems in design or manufacturing, the software offers programmatic support for SCPI commands, including command compatibility with common legacy VNAs for integration into existing test systems. In addition, the software offers an offline mode for data analysis with an output file format compatible with common EDA simulation tools. Accessories include a rugged carrying case, rack mount kits, phase-stable cables, attenuators, adapters, and calibration kits.

Posted in: Products, Instrumentation, Measuring Instruments, Monitoring, 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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Nanofabricated Devices Detect Ultrasound with Light

Tiny, soft, transparent, nanofabricated devices can be integrated into a contact lens.

The Micro-ring resonator detector can determine the speed of blood flow and the oxygen metabolic rate at the back of the eye. This information could help diagnose such common and debilitating diseases as macular degeneration and diabetes. The tiny, transparent device can fit into a contact lens, and could help a range of scientific endeavors from biomedicine to geology.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement, Optics, Sensors and actuators, Optics, Sensors and actuators, Diagnosis, Medical equipment and supplies, Fabrication, Nanotechnology
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Bio-Detection System is a Handheld Chemistry Lab

The device miniaturizes bench-scale analyses in a handheld, low-power device.

Devices for manipulating fluids on the microscale have been developed to store, hold, and manipulate small amounts of fluids, and have been applied to the detection of analytes in sample fluids. Manipulating fluids and performing capillary electrophoresis in microfluidic devices promises advantages of small size, high throughput, low sample volumes, and low cost.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement, Sensors and actuators, Sensors and actuators, Bacteria, Biological sciences, Chemicals, Materials identification
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