Tech Briefs

Testing Astronaut-Controlled Surface Robots from the International Space Station

NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are currently developing robots that can be remotely operated on planetary surfaces by astronauts in orbiting spacecraft. The primary objective of this work is to test and demonstrate crew-controlled communications, operations, and telerobotic technologies that are needed for future deep space human exploration missions.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, White Papers, Briefs

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Step on It! Walking for Power

What would be an alternative energy resource that could work well in the middle of a crowded city? The answer was a technology that harvests mechanical energy of walking feet and converts it to electrical energy via a special floor tile. But it was a big step from theory to practical design.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, White Papers, Briefs

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The Road to Lightweight Vehicles

With a steady rise in fuel prices and increasing restrictions on emissions, automakers face difficult challenges as they are forced to find ways of making their cars lighter and more fuel-efficient. One way to achieve this goal is to incorporate strong, lightweight, and durable composite materials to replace heavier, more energy-hungry materials.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, White Papers, Briefs

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Strobing to Mitigate Vibration for Display Legibility

Blur is eliminated with appropriate strobing frequency. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California This method mitigates the motion blur introduced when a display, and/or the operator reading it, is undergoing vibration (e.g. during the launch phase of spaceflight). If both the operator and the display are undergoing vibration, their respective impulses need not be in phase. This mitigation occurs when the display is illuminated at a strobing rate that corresponds with the frequency of the vibration. This can be done either by strobing the ambient illumination in the environment (e.g., if the operator is reading a reflective surface display), or by strobing the display itself (e.g., strobing the LED backlighting of an electronic display).

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Imaging, Briefs

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Imaging Space System Architectures Using a Granular Medium as a Primary Concentrator

Higher-resolution optics provide improved hyperspectral imaging for ocean and land monitoring, as well as exoplanet detection. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Typically, the cost of a space observatory is driven by the size and mass of the primary aperture. Generally, a monolithic aperture is much heavier and complex to fabricate (hence, more costly) than an aperture of the same size but composed of much smaller units. Formation flying technology, as applied to swarm systems in space, is an emerging discipline.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Imaging, Briefs

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Image Processing Method To Determine Dust Optical Density

John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida Image processing techniques for determining dust optical density in Apollo videos have been developed. The software generates histograms, and calculates the mean and standard deviation, which are then used to match dusty and clear images for the purpose of estimating an effective optical density. A dust thickness model, based on the tilt of the camera and increasing thickness of the dust layer towards the top of the image, is used to account for the distance light travels through dust.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Imaging, Briefs

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Automatic Lunar Rock Detection and Mapping

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Safe spacecraft landing on planetary and small body surfaces is of primary concern. Estimation of landing risk is a critical task when evaluating and certifying potential landing sites. Such analyses require the detection and mapping of all potential landing hazards such as rocks and boulders, craters, slopes, and terrain roughness.

Posted in: Information Sciences, Electronics & Computers, Imaging, Briefs

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