Tech Briefs

Measurement and Controls Data Acquisition System

Measurement and Controls Data Acquisition System (MCDAS) is an application program that integrates the functions of two stand-alone programs: one for acquisition of data, the other for controls.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software

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Adding Hierarchical Objects to Relational Database General-Purpose XML-Based Information Managements

NETMARK is a flexible, high-throughput software system for managing, storing, and rapid searching of unstructured and semi-structured documents. NETMARK transforms such documents from their original highly complex, constantly changing, heterogeneous data formats into well structured, common data formats in using Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and/or Extensible Markup Language (XML). The software implements an object-relational database system that combines the best practices of the relational model utilizing Structured Query Language (SQL) with those of the object oriented, semantic database model for creating complex data. In particular, NETMARK takes advantage of the Oracle 8i object-relational database model using physical-address data types for very efficient keyword searches of records across both context and content. NETMARK also supports multiple international standards such as WEBDAV for drag-and-drop file management and SOAP for integrated information management using Web services. The document-organization and -searching capabilities afforded by NETMARK are likely to make this software attractive for use in disciplines as diverse as science, auditing, and law enforcement.

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Implantable Wireless MEMS Sensors for Medical Uses

Sensors designed and fabricated according to the principles of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) are being developed for several medical applications in outer space and on Earth.The designs of these sensors are based on a core design family of pressure sensors, small enough to fit into the eye of a needle, that are fabricated by a “dissolved wafer” process. The sensors are expected to be implantable, battery-less, and wireless. They would be both powered and interrogated by hand-held radio transceivers from distances up to about 6 in. (about 15 cm). One type of sensor would be used to measure blood pressure, particularly for congestive heart failure. Another type would be used to monitor fluids in patients who have hydrocephalus (high brain pressure). Still other types would be used to detect errors in delivery of drugs and to help patients having congestive heart failure.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical

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Dehydrating and Sterilizing Wastes Using Supercritical CO2

A relatively low-temperature process for dehydrating and sterilizing biohazardous wastes in an enclosed life-support system exploits (1) the superior mass-transport properties of supercritical fluids in general and (2) the demonstrated sterilizing property of supercritical CO2 in particular. The wastes to be treated are placed in a chamber. Liquid CO2, drawn from storage at a pressure of 850 psi (˜5.9 MPa) and temperature of 0 °C, is compressed to pressure of 2 kpsi (˜14 MPa) and made to flow into the chamber. The compression raises the temperature to 10 °C. The chamber and its contents are then further heated to 40 °C, putting the CO2 into a supercritical state, in which it kills microorganisms in the chamber. Carrying dissolved water, the CO2 leaves the chamber through a back-pressure regulator, through which it is expanded back to the storage pressure. The expanded CO2 is refrigerated to extract the dissolved water as ice, and is then returned to the storage tank at 0 °C.

Posted in: Briefs, Bio-Medical, Medical

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Airport Remote Tower Sensor Systems

Better weather information will be available for guiding approaches and landings. Networks of video cameras, meteorological sensors, and ancillary electronic equipment are under development in collaboration among NASA Ames Research Center, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). These networks are to be established at and near airports to provide real-time information on local weather conditions that affect aircraft approaches and landings.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers

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Embedded Sensors for Measuring Surface Regression

Electrical-resistance measurements are translated into real-time material thickness and surface regression data for hybrid fuels, solid propellants, and ablative materials. The development and evaluation of new hybrid and solid rocket motors requires accurate characterization of the propellant surface regression as a function of key operational parameters. These characteristics establish the propellant flow rate and are prime design drivers affecting the propulsion system geometry, size, and overall performance. There is a similar need for the development of advanced ablative materials, and the use of conventional ablatives exposed to new operational environments. The Miniature Surface Regression Sensor (MSRS) was developed to serve these applications. It is designed to be cast or embedded in the material of interest and regresses along with it. During this process, the resistance of the sensor is related to its instantaneous length, allowing the real-time thickness of the host material to be established. The time derivative of this data reveals the instantaneous surface regression rate.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers

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Range-Measuring Video Sensors

Distances would be measured by three-dimensional triangulation. Optoelectronic sensors of a proposed type would perform the functions of both electronic cameras and triangulation- type laser range finders. That is to say, these sensors would both (1) generate ordinary video or snapshot digital images and (2) measure the distances to selected spots in the images. These sensors would be well suited to use on robots that are required to measure distances to targets in their work spaces. In addition, these sensors could be used for all the purposes for which electronic cameras have been used heretofore.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers

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