Tech Briefs

Energy Analysis Method for Hidden Damage Detection

Better understanding of composite damage could eliminate unnecessary repairs and help prevent catastrophic in-service failure.NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a new Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) method for identifying and characterizing hidden damage in composite materials. The new technique requires only single-sided access to the test specimen, and uses trapped energy analysis to detect and characterize damage that was previously ob - scured. Current methods, usually ultrasound or laser ultrasound, cannot characterize imperfections below or hidden by near surface damage. The new method uses 3D custom ultrasonic simulation tools to study ultrasonic guided wave behavior and energy trapping due to multilayer delamination damage (Figure 1).

Posted in: Briefs, Instrumentation

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Deconvolution Methods and Systems for the Mapping of Acoustic Sources from Phased Microphone Arrays

This technology provides noise location and strength diagnostics for mechanical and aerodynamic systems.NASA’s Langley Research Center researchers developed DAMAS using an iterative algorithm to deconvolute noise signals, allowing for more accurate quantification of the position and strength of acoustic sources. Recent development of the DAMAS microphone phased array processing methodology allows the determination and separation of coherent and incoherent noise source distributions. The DAMAS technology represents a significant breakthrough in the field of aero-acoustics.

Posted in: Briefs, Instrumentation

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High-Precision Electric Gate for Time-of-Flight Ion Mass Spectrometers

This technology can be used for chromatography and analytical measurements. The HPEG can deliver a precise start pulse when an ion enters the time-of-flight section of an ion mass spectrometer, which provides a very high mass resolution capability. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has developed a high-precision electric gate (HPEG) time-of-flight (TOF) mass spectrometer to study the magnetosphere of Jupiter and Europa. The HPEG can provide a precise start pulse when an ion enters the TOF section of an Ion Mass Spectrometer (IMS) to provide a very high mass resolution capability. The design uses a row of very thin, parallel aligned wires that are pulsed in sequence so the ion can pass through the gap of two parallel plates, which are biased to prevent passage of the ion.

Posted in: Briefs, Instrumentation

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Method of Adjusting Acoustic Impedances for Impedance-Tunable Acoustic Segments

NASA’s Langley Research Center researchers have developed an adaptive noise-reduction system that optimizes impedance in an aircraft engine. Aerospace and automotive engineers can take advantage of this innovative system that offers a superior approach to noise dampening. Advantages will be seen in improved noise reduction through all stages of the flight, including takeoff and landing. In addition, the system corrects and adapts to mechanical and chemical changes over the life of the engine liner. The technology employs a honeycomb design with a variable control backing that self-adjusts based on real-time aeroacoustics for maximum effectiveness. The technology can be readily incorporated into existing technologies and transitioned to the marketplace. NASA is seeking market insights on commercialization of this new adaptive noise-reduction technology, and welcomes interest from potential producers, users, and licensees.

Posted in: Briefs, Instrumentation

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Nanostructure Neutron Converter Layer Development

NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a nanostructure neutron converter layer that can be used for neutron detection. Neutron radiation is a significant risk in long-duration spaceflight and is also a risk in commercial aviation and nuclear reactors. This invention provides for more effective neutron radiation detection than currently available technologies.

Posted in: Briefs, Instrumentation

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Mars Science Laboratory ChemCam Sun Safety

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) ChemCam instrument can be damaged when the Sun enters or passes through its field of view (FOV). There is no Sun cover, yet other instruments mounted with boresights pointing in the same direction must observe the Sun for scientific observations and for attitude determination. When in a Suntolerant focus range during rover motion and pointing for observations by other remote sensing instruments, the Sun must be allowed to pass through the ChemCam FOV, and when in a Sun-damage focus range for ChemCam observations, the Sun must never be allowed to enter the FOV, even after a rover system fault. Both of these scenarios depend upon knowledge of the attitude of the rover relative to the motion of the Sun. A Sun search that is guaranteed to be Sun-safe for the ChemCam, even when the location of the Sun is unknown, had to be developed.

Posted in: Briefs, Instrumentation

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System for In-Situ Detection of Plant Exposure to Trichloroethylene (TCE)

The system can scan the surface of a leaf to quickly detect the presence or absence of TCE without damaging the plant.In collaboration with the State University of New York and the Naval Research Laboratory, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is developing a hyperspectral estimator to detect trichloroethylene (TCE) in plants. TCE has been a widely used industrial solvent known to be toxic to humans and animals. Although its use and disposal have become more restricted in recent years, TCE is one of the more prevalent groundwater contaminants in the United States. Current methods exist to identify the locations of TCE at contaminated sites; however, these methods typically require destructive sampling techniques as well as time-consuming and expensive laboratory analysis. In contrast, the hyperspectral estimator is being designed as a nondestructive, quick, and lower-cost way to screen for TCE across large areas. It works by using spectral signatures to determine the presence/absence of TCE in the leaves of plants that may have absorbed the contaminant from surrounding groundwater.

Posted in: Briefs, Green Design & Manufacturing

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