Tech Briefs

Mass Gauging Demonstrator for Any Gravitational Conditions

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama This concept uses an optical interferometric method to determine the density and/or pressure of the gas state contained with tank ullage. The system is similar to compression tank volume methods. By using an optical interferometric technique to determine gas density and/or pressure, a much smaller compression volume or higher-fidelity measurement is possible.

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Multiport Hat Coupler for Electronically Steerable Antenna Testing

This technology provides the same performance as an anechoic closet, but at two orders of magnitude lower cost. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas This invention provides a lower-cost means for verifying the scanning functionality of an electronically steerable (i.e. phased array) antenna (PAA) compared to existing methods that use a scanning probe or scanning test fixture and surrounding anechoic enclosure. This design is comprised of a standard test hat that has been modified to include additional probes located in the positive and negative directions of each scan axis. RF measurements taken from these additional probes provide an estimate of the beam-pointing angle. This solves the problem of verifying the platform-installed antenna’s beam-pointing functionality without the relatively high cost of a conventional anechoic chamber with a scanning probe or scanning test fixture.

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Neutron Spectrometer for Inner Radiation Belt Studies

The instrument is inherently robust, cost-effective, compact, and modular. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland The Earth’s magnetosphere offers a wealth of information on particle dynamics, acceleration, and trapping. Fast neutrons, produced in the Earth’s atmosphere by the impact of galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) and solar energetic particles (SEPs), are an important but poorly measured component of the radiation environment in the inner magnetosphere. Cosmic ray albedo neutron decay (CRAND), whereby atmospheric neutrons beta-decay into protons and electrons, is a significant source of energetic protons in the inner radiation belt. Current models of the inner proton belt rely heavily on Monte Carlo simulations for the CRAND component, validated primarily by a handful of single-point balloon measurements from the 1970s.

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High-Energy Instrumentation for Small Satellite Platforms

A key asset of the instrument design is the ability to measure a broad range of radiation. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland Given the increased availability of small satellite opportunities either through CubeSats or the Air Force’s University Nanosat program, and the limited availability of larger platforms, it is challenging to develop new instrumentation that not only fits within the envelope of small satellites, but also addresses the diverse science applications available in low Earth orbit (LEO). While small-platform instrumentation is limited in sensitivity, the ability to populate LEO with a fleet of instruments opens new science objectives not available with larger standalone payloads. Furthermore, coordinated observations of a variety of radiation species that either enter LEO from the Sun or heliosphere directly, or that reside within the radiation belts themselves, are necessary to fully reach closure on complex processes that govern particle acceleration and transport.

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Variable Acceleration Force Calibration System

Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia A variable acceleration calibration system combines an innovative mechanical system and a statistical design of experiments to calibrate multi-axis force transducers. This system can reduce calibration time, allow for improved calibration of large-scale transducers, provide mobility for on-site calibrations, allow multiple transducers to be calibrated simultaneously, and accommodate dynamic force calibration.

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A Synthetic Quadrature Phase Detector/ Demodulator for Fourier Transform Spectrometers

This method makes it possible to use simple, low-cost, high-resolution audio digitizers. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia Fourier transform spectroscopy works by measuring a spectral/light signal through a Michelson interferometer. In order to know the wavelength of the signal, one must use a stable reference, which is typically a metrology laser. In a standard Fourier transform spectrometer (FTS) system, the laser signal also runs through the interferometer and the laser beam is guided to a separate detector that is then used to trigger an analog-to-digital converter, which then captures the spectral signal.

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Device for Direct Measurement of the Diffusivity and Molecular Release Through Membranes and Filters

Controlled-release systems for drug delivery, molecular sieving, and single-molecule detection use micro and nano structures. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas Concentration-driven molecular diffusion is a fundamental phenomenon essential for the transport of nutrients in cells, for oxygen exchange in the lungs, and mating of chemicals in industrial reactors and the food industry. Thus, diffusion plays a key role in a variety of disciplines. The concentration-driven diffusive transport is commonly described by Fick’s laws of diffusion. It is most often approximated by the Stokes-Einstein equation, which assumes a rigid solute sphere diffusing in a continuum of solvent at a low Reynolds number and infinite dilution.

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