Tech Briefs

Hydraulic Pressure Distribution System

This mechanism enhances the performance of mechanically impeding elements in an on-command operational exoskeleton. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Human operation in space over long time periods causes bone and muscle deterioration, so there is a need for countermeasures in the form of physical exercises consisting of working against controlled resistivity. Generally, there are three types of exercise machines that are used by space crews to maintain their fitness: the Crew Exercise Vibration Isolation System (CEVIS), the Treadmill Vibration Isolation System/Second ISS Treadmill (TVIS/T2), and the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED). These machines have the limitations of very large mass (some weigh about a ton), large operational volumes, cumbersome design, and the need to compensate the generated vibrations and large shifting of the center of mass. They also require interrupting the astronauts’ duties to perform the exercises, as well as requiring periodic costly maintenance. The disclosed de vice provides key elements to enabling the design and operation of compact exercise machines that overcome many of the disadvantages of the current exercise machines found on space vehicles/stations.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Machinery & Automation

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Improved Digital Map Rendering Method

Software for aeronautics collision avoidance can be used in aerospace satellites, automobiles, scientific research, marine charting systems, and medical devices. Armstrong Flight Research Center, Edwards, California Data adaptive algorithms are the critically enabling technology for automatic collision avoidance system efforts at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center. These Armstrong-developed algorithms provide an extensive and highly efficient encoding process for global-scale digital terrain maps (DTMs) along with a real-time decoding process to locally render map data. Available for licensing, these terrain-mapping algorithms are designed to be easily integrated into an aircraft’s existing onboard computing environment, or into an electronic flight bag (EFB) or mobile device application. In addition to its use within next-generation collision avoidance systems, the software can be adapted for use in a wide variety of applications, including aerospace satellites, automobiles, scientific research, marine charting systems, and medical devices.

Posted in: Briefs, Software

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Interactive Diagnostic Modeling Evaluator

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California NASA’s Ames Research Center has developed an interactive diagnostic modeling evaluator (i-DME) tool to aid in modeling for noise and lag in the data and debugging of system models when fault detection, isolation, and recovery results are incorrect. i-DME is designed to dramatically speed up the modeling debugging process. Often what hinders human-led model developments are 1) the sheer size of playback files, 2) the modeling for noise and lag in the data, and 3) debugging the fault/test relationships in the model. To alleviate these problems, i-DME can automatically play back very large data sets to find time points of interest where userset performance criteria for detection and isolation are violated. i-DME modifies the diagnostic model through its abstract representation, diagnostic matrix (D-matrix). The types of modifications are procedures ranging from modifying 0s and 1s in the D-matrix, adding/removing the rows/columns, or modifying test/wrapper logic used to determine test results. This software has the capacity to be applied to any complex system for navigation or generation of large amounts of complex data to identify, prioritize, and resolve errors in a self-correcting manner.

Posted in: Briefs, Software

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High-Fidelity 3D Electromagnetic (E&M) Propagation Modeling Tools

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California For a future potential radar sounder mission to small celestial bodies like comets and asteroids, it is important to understand the interaction between propagating waves and interior geophysical structures. In general, it is not easy to build a software model capable of handling relevant dimensions with high numerical accuracy. Researchers often rely on a scaled-down model that cannot fully represent physical phenomena.

Posted in: Briefs, Software

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In-Flight Pitot-Static Calibration

This precise yet time- and cost-effective method is based on GPS technology using output error optimization. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a new method for calibrating pitot-static air data systems used in aircraft. Pitot-static systems are pressure-based instruments that measure the aircraft’s airspeed. These systems must be calibrated in flight to minimize potential error. Current methods — including trailing cone, tower fly-by, and pacer airplane — are time- and cost-intensive, requiring extensive flight time per calibration. NASA’s method can reduce this calibration time by up to an order of magnitude, cutting a significant fraction of the cost. In addition, NASA’s calibration method enables near-real-time monitoring of error in airspeed measurements, which can be used to alert pilots when airspeed instruments are inaccurate or failing. Because of this feature, the technology also has applications in the health usage and monitoring (HUMS) industry. Flight test engineers can be trained to use this method proficiently in 12 days without costly specialized hardware.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement

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Real-Time Radiation Monitoring Using Nanotechnology

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California NASA has patented a unique chemical sensor array leveraging nanostructures for monitoring the concentration of chemical species or gas molecules that is not damaged when exposed to protons and other high-energy particles over time. The nanotechnology-enabled chemical sensor array uses single walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs), metal catalyst-doped SWCNTs, and polymer- coated SWCNTs as the sensing media between a pair of interdigitated electrodes (IDE). By measuring the conductivity change of the SWCNT device, the concentration of the chemical species or gas molecules can be measured. These sensors have high sensitivity, low power requirements, and are robust and have a low manufacturing cost compared to other commercial chemical sensors for detection of trace amount of chemicals in gasses and liquids.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement

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External Diagnostic Method to Detect Electrical Charging in Complex Ion Trapping Systems

This procedure is implemented without breaking the vacuum and/or disassembling the system. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Electron-ionized atom trapping technology is widely used in mass spectrometry and atomic clocks. The complexity of the trapping configuration operating in an ultra-high vacuum system is driven by demands for ultimate sensitivity, performance, and fundamental science. Consequently, external diagnosis, maintenance, and design verification and validation without opening the vacuum and disassembling the system become increasingly difficult. In these ion trapping configurations, electrical charging of non-metallic materials or opening connections are a hard-to-detect problem, yet can easily compromise the intended trapping potential. More specifically, the JPL Linear Ion Trap Standards (LITS) will benefit from a non-invasive solution for system verification/validation, diagnosis, maintenance, and troubleshooting.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement

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