Tech Briefs

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, Measuring Instruments


Rotary-Hammer Core Sample Acquisition Tool

This tool can be used for drilling in construction, mining, or scientific research applications. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California NASA is developing technologies to enable in situ analysis and sample acquisition from planetary bodies. Missions to these diverse locations require autonomous, highly customizable, reliable tools. A tool capable of core generation, capture, and transfer, and customizable for different missions, would be very valuable.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP


Fabrication of Single-Mode, Distributed-Feedback, Interband Cascade Lasers

Applications exist in the oil and gas industry, automobile emissions monitors, breath analyzers, and fire detection equipment. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Type-II interband cascade lasers (ICLs) based on the GaSb material system represent an enabling technology for laser absorption spectroscopy in the 3-to-5-μm wavelength range. Instruments operating in this spectral regime can precisely match strong absorption lines of several gas molecules of interest in atmospheric science and environmental monitoring, specifically methane, ethane, other alkanes, and inorganic gases. Compared with non-semiconductor-based laser technologies, ICLs can be made more compact and power efficient, ultimately leading to more portable, robust, and manufacturable spectroscopy instruments.

Posted in: Briefs, Lasers & Laser Systems, Optics, Photonics


Developing Ceramic-Like Bulk Metallic Glass Gears

This technology has applications in gears, bearings, and gearboxes for automotive, spacecraft, and robotics. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California This invention describes systems and methods for implementing bulk metallic glass-based (BMG) macroscale gears with high wear resistance. This invention creates bulk metallic glasses (BMGs) with selected mechanical properties that are very similar to ceramics, such as high strength and resistance to wear, but without high melting temperatures. Ceramics are high-strength, hard materials that are typically used for their extremely high melting temperatures. Because of their extreme hardness, ceramics are optimal materials for making gears, due to their low wear loss. Unfortunately, ceramics suffer from low fracture toughness (typically <1 MPa·m1/2), and their high melting temperatures prevent them from being cast into net-shaped parts. Ceramic gears, for example, must be ground to a final shape at great expense.

Posted in: Briefs, Ceramics, Metals


Post-Flight Analysis Statistical Heating (PFlASH)

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas This software tool automates the statistical analysis of heating indicators for a family of trajectories. It allows for quick and clear relative comparison of the trajectories by concisely and meaningfully reducing an arbitrarily large set of body point heating into single values that are used to rank the trajectories. This software is user friendly, and enables other engineers to easily perform analysis. PFlASH post-processes the XF0002 Dump7 files or QLIST to calculate heating indicators and statistics on the heating indicators. PFlASH automatically generates Matlab.m files to produce presentation-quality plots that are ready to be inserted into briefings or collated into a pdf.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Mathematical/Scientific Software


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, Measuring Instruments


Open-Source, Platform-Neutral BLAS Library

This work seeks to create libraries that are truly cross-platform, and support hardware from different manufacturers of different generations. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland New hybrid computing systems consist of a multicore CPU (central processing unit) and one or more massively parallel accelerator devices, such as GPUs (graphics processing units). Effectively utilizing these systems involves using all of the available computational resources, which may be difficult to program. Computing libraries have long existed to alleviate programmer burden and to provide high-performing and tested implementations for common tasks. Unfortunately, the library space is very fragmented, even in cases where the libraries cover similar functionality. In the accelerated computing space, this is compounded by different libraries and manufacturer-specific products that are used, all of which are incompatible with one another. The work described here seeks to overcome much of this burden, by creating libraries that are truly cross-platform, supporting hardware from different manufacturers, of different generations, and of differing levels of parallelism.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronics & Computers