Tech Briefs

Simple Impedance Matched Planar Microwave Blocking Filter

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland Thermal blocking filters find wide use in cryogenic applications ranging from quantum computing to ultra-low-noise detectors. They can be used to provide the environmental isolation between cooled devices and the warmer temperature supporting bias and readout circuitry. In particular, they are effective in rejecting thermal radiation, limiting radio frequency interference, and providing a convenient means of heat sinking or realizing a vacuum feedthrough for signal lines.

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Microwave Regenerative Sorbent-based Hydrogen Purifier (MRSHP)

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama The Microwave Regenerative Sorbent-based Hydrogen Purifier (MRSHP) is a unique microwave power-based technology demonstrator created for the purification of a hydrogen product stream produced by the Plasma Pyrolysis Assembly (PPA). The MRSHP prototype uses 2.45-GHz microwave power to heat a 13x sorbent bed during a vacuum/thermal contaminant desorption step. By utilizing the well-known high-sorbate-loading capability of conventional physical sorbents coupled with microwave dielectric heating phenomenon, this technology is employed as a regenerative filter for a contaminated hydrogen gas stream.

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Low-Power Wireless Body Area Network (WBAN) Communication System

Applications include astronaut health monitoring, parts tracking, and sensing. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas NASA seeks semi-passive, RFIDenabled wearable tags for inventory tracking and astronaut body area network applications. Wearable sensor tags can be printed on astronaut clothing or suits, and are powered by printed thin film batteries and/or via energy harvesting. Energy is harvested by flexible solar cells or from the kinetic energy of the astronaut’s motion by minimizing the power requirement of the suit electronics. A tag antenna functions while being flexed or bent, which normally occurs with clothing. Tags communicate with the astronaut body area network. The functions of the RFID system can be extended to include low-data-rate telemetry for bio-monitoring utilizing wearable RFID-enabled biosensors.

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RF System MATLAB Model Simulation Using a Variety of Data Sources

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California During the development of the Soil Moisture Active-Passive (SMAP) High-Power Amplifier (HPA), a power glitch was observed with the characteristic of producing small 0.1-0.3 dB jumps in power across temperature. In order to troubleshoot this glitch behavior, a nonlinear model that could describe the saturation behavior of the HPA across temperature was desired. However, nonlinear device models were not available for the transistors and components within the HPA. Measured data of the HPA subassemblies were available but were of various formats, including s-parameters, nonlinear pin-pout curves, and fixed losses over temperature, and not easily modeled within commercial EDA (electronic design automation) simulation tools. This tool was built to be able to understand the gain/power distribution stackup and the sensitivities to power changes in the HPA over temperature.

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Lightweight, Reusable Payload Launch and Transportation Latch

This device can be used for latching cargo in aircraft, supporting hazardous materials, or latching pallets and shipping boxes. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia This innovation addresses the problem of automatic engagement and disengagement of payloads from their transport vehicle when lifted by a crane or other material handling device. The prior state-of-the-art is in material handling devices that require personnel to activate the latch, or latches that are actuated by heavy, bulky actuator systems fixed to the transportation device. These require significant accommodations on the transport vehicle to mate to the latch.

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Structural Assembly Incorporating Integral Thermal Heat Spreader for Cold Plate Cooling

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas In a structural cold plate, typically there is a structural member such as a honeycomb panel or a brazed sandwich assembly that provides the structural strength, and at least one cold plate that cools equipment attached to the structural member. The cold plate is typically located between the structural member and the item it is cooling. With this configuration, the cold plate’s location, shape, and size are limited to being placed beneath the item it is cooling. This requires an additional envelope that is equal to the cold plate thickness. Being able to locate the cold plate in locations other than beneath the item it is cooling would have multiple benefits including reduced envelope requirements in the direction of the item it is cooling, as well as allowing a larger cold plate cooling footprint.

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Advanced Magnetostrictive Regulator, Valve, and Force-to-Angle Sensor

The components are lightweight, compact, highly precise, and can operate over a wide range of temperatures and pressures. Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama Typical aerospace rocket engines use valves to control the flow and pressures of propellant and pressurants. These typical valves are designed to operate with a mechanical, electromechanical, or pneumatic operator. They all have at least one, and often multiple, penetrations from the fluid to the operator’s prime mover. The penetrations are sources for leaks, failures, and are often considered to be unreliable for use in single string systems. Therefore, the fluid system designer frequently will utilize several parallel path valves, effectively doubling the resources needed to accomplish the task. These redundant valves allow for isolation of the potentially leaking fluid penetrations. If the systems cannot afford the multiple path approach, then the valves are subjected to high levels of testing and quality control, or utilize bellows or other expensive and difficult to handle/design and costly features.

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