Tech Briefs

Human Factors Analysis Support Tool (H-FAST) v 2.0

Large-scale systems engineering projects involve multiple teams of engineers working in parallel. These projects typically include numerous human factors challenges, many of which first become evident during the integration stage. Human factors evaluations are essential in gathering human performance data and analyzing the usability of new design concepts. These evaluations are generally carried out by human factors experts due to the level of expertise required. However, many projects may not have a dedicated human factors expert available for consultation throughout all design phases. In these cases, non-human-factors engineers could derive value from a tool that locates relevant human factors design resources, and guides them through conducting simpler, formative human factors evaluations to gather feedback earlier in the process. The challenge for the design engineer is in finding the appropriate human factors design guidance relevant to a specific project.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Finite element analysis, Human factors, Systems engineering
Read More >>

RAYGUN Fast Generic Geometry Raycasting Tool

When performing spacecraft simulations, developers sometimes need to feed the simulation with a distance between two objects along a certain direction vector. For example, if a spacecraft is approaching an asteroid and needs to simulate a laser rangefinder, the simulation would need to detect what part of the asteroid the laser would intersect, and then calculate the distance from the rangefinder to the surface. For an asteroid with a very complex geometry, the search for the intersecting triangle can be very costly in terms of compute time. This scenario presented itself with the MMSEV spacecraft simulation approaching the asteroid “Itokawa.”

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Computer simulation, Mathematical models, Spacecraft
Read More >>

Ultra-High-Speed Fiber Optic Sensor Detects Structural Damage in Real Time

A research group including members from Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Japan Society for the Promotion of Science has developed a real-time, fiber-optic, distributed sensing system for strain and temperature. The system requires light injection from only one end of the fiber, and can achieve a sampling rate of 100 kHz, an improvement of more than 5,000 times the conventional rate.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors, Body structures, Fiber optics, Sensors and actuators, Diagnostics
Read More >>

Polyimides Derived from Novel Asymmetric Benzophenone Dianhydrides

NASA's Glenn Research Center invites companies to license or establish partnerships to develop its patented high-temperature, low-melt imide resins for fabrication of automotive components. Produced by a solvent-free melt process, these resins exhibit high glass transition temperatures (Tg = 370 to 400 °C), low melt viscosities (10 to 30 poise), long pot-life (1 to 2 hours), and can be easily processed by low-cost RTM and vacuum-assisted resin transfer molding (VARTM). These RTM resins melt at 260 to 280 °C, and can be cured at 340 to 370 °C in 2 hours without releasing any harmful volatile compounds.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Heat resistant materials, Materials properties, Resins
Read More >>

Low Solidity Vaned Diffuser (LSVD) Design for Improvement of Pressure Recovery

Many pump vaned diffuser designs are based on existing airfoil designs, with little attention given to the vane leading edge. There is a need for a vaned diffuser leading edge that helps resist flow separation and the resultant poor diffuser pressure recovery. Diffusers in pumps are often working with an incompressible fluid that makes potential flow methodologies — which have incompressibility as a boundary condition — attractive. The potential flow-based free-streamline analysis methods have been known to improve the aerodynamics of varied components at high incidence angles, such as diffusers, jet engine nacelles, and liquid rocket engine turbopump inducers.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Airframes, Pumps, Aerodynamics
Read More >>

Piezoelectric Field Disturbance Sensing System and Method

This technology provides a lightweight, cost-effective solution for structural measurements.

The invention developed is a piezoelectric stimulus-response quantification-based gravimeter (PEG). The PEG takes a completely innovative approach towards utilization of the piezoelectric element — quantifying the gravitational effects on them. In this way, the piezoelectric element can: (1) generate an electric charge in response to mechanical deformation, and (2) be mechanically deformed by applying electric charges. This is known as the converse-piezoelectric effect. Piezoelectric elements can be used to precisely inject energy for exciting vibratory frequencies within the element and housing, enabling the element to be used for quantifying subsequently produced electrical output. The gravimeter is capable of measuring numerous other types of physical quantities such as thermal, magnetic, electrical, electromotive, electromagnetic,and electro-static fields, and provide static and structural information.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors, Measurements, Vibration, Test equipment and instrumentation
Read More >>

iOrca Code Release

The iOrca outlier detection algorithm is based on the K-nearest neighbors approach. It calculates the distances across the dataset to determine if data points are near or far away from their set of neighbors. If a point has an unusually large distance to its neighbors, it is considered an outlier and of interest to the user. Calculating the full set of distances is computationally expensive.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Mathematical analysis, Mathematical models, Computer software and hardware
Read More >>

Polarization-Dependent Whispering Gallery Modes (WGMs) in Microspheres

WGMs can benefit sensors used in aerospace vehicle control, health and performance monitoring, optical communications, and biological applications.

Dielectric microspheres are optical structures that exhibit resonant properties, meaning they can be used to select very narrow wavelengths of an incoming light beam's spectrum for further manipulation and processing. The optical resonances of a microsphere are frequently called morphology dependent resonances (MDRs) or whispering gallery modes (WGMs). Innovators at NASA's Glenn Research Center have developed a method of separating low-level modes propagating in an optical fiber through the use of WGMs in spherical resonators. The unusually high quality factors (Q-factors) that can be achieved by side coupling of light into the dielectric spheres allow for measurement sensitivities that may far exceed those of more conventional sensors. Whispering gallery modes’ high sensitivity to environmental conditions and their small size make them good candidates for a wide range of sensors.

Posted in: Briefs, Communications, Antennas, Fiber optics, Sensors and actuators
Read More >>

Magnetically Conformed, Variable-Area Discharge Chamber for Hall Thruster, and Method

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has developed a Hall thruster with a variable-area discharge chamber that improves the performance and lifetime of the thruster. Conventional Hall thrusters have poor ionization efficiency, which limits the thrust-to-power ratio that can be achieved with the thruster. JPL's novel Hall thruster has a variable-area discharge chamber that conforms to the curvature of the local magnetic field and optimizes the ionization efficiency of the thruster and, therefore, significantly improves the power-to-thrust ratio that can be achieved. This innovative device decreases spacecraft costs and enables fast, efficient orbit transfers.

Posted in: Briefs, Propulsion, Engine efficiency, Spacecraft
Read More >>

Methods for Purifying Enzymes for Mycoremediation

This process applies to remediation and restoration of soils contaminated by fuel, polychlorinated biphenyl wastes, etc. While there can be a general beneficial effect of microbial communities, individual plant-fungus combinations can vary in their efficacy in removal of pollutants from the environment. Selection of the most effective combination of plants and fungi is very important for achieving the desired benefits. Not all fungi are created equal, as some die off in contaminated soils. Having a set of enzymes from fungi specifically adapted to conditions in contaminated soils and use of native plant/fungal combinations is a huge advantage. Ectomycorrhizal (EM) mediated remediation of phenolic-based contamination through use of specifically adapted soil and enzymes utilizes plant/fungal combinations that are specifically adapted to conditions created by phenolic application to soils, and the abilities of EM fungi to oxidize these compounds. This platform can be adapted to other ecosystems through field assessments of the EM community in each new site.

Posted in: Briefs, Green Design & Manufacturing, Land pollution, Sustainable development, Bacteria
Read More >>

The U.S. Government does not endorse any commercial product, process, or activity identified on this web site.