Tech Briefs

Generating Broadband Terahertz Radiation from Microplasma in Air

Researchers at the University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics have shown that a laser-generated microplasma in air can be used as a source of broadband terahertz radiation. Fabrizio Buccheri and Xi-Cheng Zhang recently demonstrated that an approach for generating terahertz waves using intense laser pulses in air – first pioneered in 1993 – can be done with much lower power lasers, a major challenge until now.

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Enhancing Neutron Imaging with Grazing Incidence Optics

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama A low-cost optical element was developed specifically for neutron optics applications. The technology operates as a reflective lens — similar to proven grazing incidence optics used for x-ray imaging — and improves neutron imaging resolution for applications using low-energy (<1 electron volt) neutrons.

Posted in: Briefs, Optics

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Free Space Optical Receiver for Data Detection and Radio Science Measurements

This technique is intended to save power, bandwidth, and scheduling demands on the spacecraft. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California For deep space communication systems, the decision of whether or not to suppress the transmitted carrier has always been an issue. For certain missions that use high data rates, the available bandwidth might be a limiting factor. In such cases, it is preferred to use a completely suppressed carrier system that is more bandwidth efficient.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Data Acquisition, Sensors

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Precision Miniature Attitude Determination and Control System

The system is designed to function with a high degree of autonomy. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland The MAI-400SS Space Sextant is a turnkey Attitude Determination And Control System (ADACS) for CubeSats and nanosatellites. It is an enhanced version of the MAI-400, which is a precision CubeSat ADACS incorporating three reaction wheels, three electromagnets, and an ADACS computer in a ½-U module. This Space Sextant version incorporates two star trackers to improve overall pointing knowledge to 0.02° or better. The star trackers feature “Lost In Space” attitude determination requiring no a priori information.

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Combined Detection and Tracking of Moving Objects in Aerial Surveillance Images

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California This software implements a new probabilistic framework for integrated multi-target detection and tracking of small moving objects in image sequences, with specific application to tracking people in aerial images, in which image stabilization is inherently noisy.

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Neo-Geography Toolkit (NGT) v2

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California The Neo-Geography Toolkit (NGT) is a collection of open-source software tools for the automated processing of geospatial data, including images and maps. It can process raw raster data from remote sensing instruments and transform it into useful cartographic products such as visible image base maps, topographic models, etc. It can also perform data processing on extremely large geospatial data sets (up to several tens of terabytes) via parallel processing pipelines. Finally, it can transform raw metadata, vector data, and geo-tagged datasets into standard Neo-Geography data formats such as KML.

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Real-Time, In-Situ Determination and Monitoring of Hot- and Cold-Side Thermal Resistances in Thermoelectric Systems

Applications for this method using the current perturbation approach include automobile exhaust energy recovery and industrial process waste energy recovery systems. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Thermoelectric (TE) energy recovery is an important technology for recovering waste thermal energy in high-temperature industrial, transportation, and military energy systems. TE power systems in these applications require high-performance hot-side and cold-side heat transfer to provide the critical temperature differential and transfer the required thermal energy to create the power output. Hot- and cold-side heat transfer performance is typically characterized by hot-side and cold-side thermal resistances, Rh,th and Rc,th, respectively. This heat transfer performance determines the hot-side temperature, Th, and cold-side temperature, Tc, conditions when operating in energy recovery environments with available temperature differentials characterized by an external driving temperature, Text, and ambient temperature, Tamb.

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