Tech Briefs

Method Improves Accuracy of Imaging Data

Research by the University of Chicago provides scientists looking at single molecules or into deep space a more accurate way to analyze imaging data captured by microscopes, telescopes, and other devices. The method, known as single-pixel interior filling function (SPIFF), detects and corrects systematic errors in data and image analysis used in many areas of science and engineering.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors, Imaging and visualization, Data management, Research and development

Automation System Manages Critical Gas Distribution Process

Part of the TDK group of companies, Headway Technologies (Milpitas, CA) is a semiconductor manufacturer of memory and drive head technologies, and designs and manufactures recording heads for high-performance hard disk drives.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors, Semiconductor devices, Automation, Gases

LTAS Source Slaving Selector (LS3) Analyzer

The objective of the Launch Trajectory Acquisition System (LTAS) Source Slaving Selector (LS3) Analyzer application is to convert recorded data files — which are generated by the LTAS Source Slaving Selector (LS3) application in binary format — to human-readable text files as per a variety of options set by the user via a graphical user interface (GUI).

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Trajectory control, Displays, Data management

Ad Hoc Selection of Voice Over Internet Streams

This flexible system is applicable to a wide variety of systems, including office communications and telemedicine.

NASA seeks interested parties to license the Ad Hoc Selection for Voice Over Internet (VoIP) Streams technology developed by engineers at Johnson Space Center. This technology features the ability to select specific audio streams from one or more sources and then convert them into a multicast to the user's audio player. This selection ability benefits the user by allowing a wide range of information and/or data to be monitored from a remote location using existing network technologies in near real time. For example, a user with a personal computer equipped with special-purpose audio player software first needs to launch the program and provide an identification and a password. Once both access control checks are completed, the audio software graphic is displayed, including audio stream and volume control buttons. The user can now select up to 21 streams to monitor simultaneously.

Posted in: Briefs, Communications, Communication protocols, Computer software and hardware, Internet, Telecommunications systems

Deep-Space Positioning System

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has developed a compact, low-power, self-contained instrument that provides the equivalent of GPS throughout the solar system without the aid of an artificially provided infrastructure. The state-of-the-art X-ray navigation instrument is also able to determine the position of a spacecraft anywhere in the solar system, but it cannot provide this information relative to the Earth, the Sun, or any other remote target body (the equivalent of GPS providing a user's position relative to a vehicle, a second user, or any other moving target). JPL's uniquely capable deep-space positioning system determines the position and the target-relative position of a spacecraft anywhere in the solar system using optical navigation, which makes it ideally suited for any spacecraft requiring deep-space navigation services.

Posted in: Briefs, Communications, Navigation and guidance systems, Radiation, Spacecraft

WX Subsystem Weather Station

This instrument can be used by any organization that needs to monitor weather or the effects of weather.

The WX Subsystem Weather Station was designed for use as part of the Weather Instrumentation (WX) Subsystem for the Constellation Program (CxP) to be implemented in the Launch Complex 39B at Kennedy Space Center. The weather stations need to be rugged, robust, and reliable. Although this equipment is not to be located in hazardous zones, it is still required to withstand harsh environmental conditions typical of the launch environment. Health management considerations are incorporated in the design so the user can be notified remotely when sensors, power supplies, dataloggers, etc. require service or maintenance.

Posted in: Briefs, Green Design & Manufacturing, Weather and climate, Durability, Reliability, Test equipment and instrumentation

Representation and Analysis of System Behavior Using Monotonic Signals

NASA has developed a new method for analyzing complex system behavior that also may be viewed as a type of data visualization and decision support tool. Large complex control systems may have thousands or even millions of sensors, each providing some type of signal that ultimately integrates into a larger organization. For each signal, behavior is represented by a sequence of pairs, with each pair containing a change value (monotonic) and a time interval length over which each of these changes occurs. Signal amplitudes and first derivatives serve as markers for these time intervals. This approach permits a finer scale characterization of the signal(s). The novelty of this approach is in using human visual interpretation in combination with computer signal analysis to monitor the behavior of complex systems in an enhanced manner.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Finite element analysis, Electronic control systems, Imaging and visualization, Systems management

GPS Satellite Geometry Analysis Tool (GPSGEM)

The purpose of the GPS Satellite Geometry Analysis Tool (GPSGEM) is to evaluate GPS satellite geometry for a given Earth-fixed location or for a provided trajectory. The tool will generate a listing of all satellites in view, the best satellite combination defined by the most optimum Geometric Dilution of Precision (GDOP), the GDOP profile expected if all satellites are available, and the worst-case GDOP profile when one or two satellites are removed from the available constellation. The tool will provide the navigation controller with insight into the expected performance of the GPS constellation, and allow an assessment of the implications to onboard navigation performance for the ascent, orbit, abort, and entry phases of flight.

Posted in: Briefs, Communications, Finite element analysis, Global positioning systems, Global positioning systems (GPS), Spacecraft guidance, Entry, descent, and landing, Satellites

Propellant Distributor for a Thruster

Innovators at NASA's Glenn Research Center have developed several new technological innovations to improve the capability of Hall-effect thrusters, which are used primarily on Earth-orbiting satellites and can also be used for deep-space robotic vehicles. Hall thrusters are susceptible to discharge channel erosion from high-energy ion impingement, which can reduce operational thruster lifetimes. Glenn researchers have developed several approaches to mitigate this problem. One is a magnetic circuit design that minimizes discharge chamber ion impingement. Another successful improvement developed by Glenn is a means of replacing eroded discharge channel material via a channel wall replacement mechanism. A third innovation is a propellant distributor that provides both a high degree of flow uniformity, and shielding from back-sputtered contamination and other potential contaminants. All of these advances work toward increasing the operational lifetime and efficiency of Hall thrusters.

Posted in: Briefs, Propulsion, Propellants, Performance upgrades, Engine efficiency, Satellites

Nanotubular Toughening Inclusions

This technology is used for making stable resin dispersions and composite plastic films, and for standard polymer melt processing.

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed an extensive technology portfolio on novel methods for effective dispersion of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in polymers. The technology portfolio extends from making stable dispersions of CNTs in polymer resins to processes for making composite CNT/polymer films and articles. The technologies apply to a range of polymer types, enable low or high CNT loadings as needed, and can be used with a variety of standard polymer processing methods, including melt processing. Currently, the technology is being used commercially for electrically conductive polymer films for components in electronic printers and copiers.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Fabrication, Composite materials, Nanomaterials, Polymers

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