Tech Briefs

CubeSat-Compatible, High-Resolution, Thermal Infrared Imager

This imager will consolidate many of the best features in a single technology. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland A small, adaptable, and stable thermal imaging system was developed that can be flown on an aircraft, deployed on the International Space Station as an attached payload, launched on a ride-share as an entirely self-contained 3U CubeSat, flown on a small satellite, or be a co-manifested satellite instrument. When the instrument design is proven, multiple copies of it could be assembled and aligned into an instrument array to enable large-swath thermal imaging from space, all to provide more detailed spatial and temporal data for biomass burning and land surface temperature studies than has heretofore been available from orbit. The instrument has an Earth-observing expected noise equivalent differential temperature (NEDT)

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Fiber-Optic Sensor for Aircraft and Structure Lightning Measurement

Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia An optical-fiber sensor based on Faraday Effect was developed for measuring total lightning current. Designed for aircraft installation, it is lightweight, non-conducting, structure conforming, and is immune to electromagnetic interference, hysteresis, and saturation. It can also be used on windmills, lightning towers, and can help validate lightning detection network measurements.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics

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Generating Broadband Terahertz Radiation from Microplasma in Air

Researchers at the University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics have shown that a laser-generated microplasma in air can be used as a source of broadband terahertz radiation. Fabrizio Buccheri and Xi-Cheng Zhang recently demonstrated that an approach for generating terahertz waves using intense laser pulses in air – first pioneered in 1993 – can be done with much lower power lasers, a major challenge until now.

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Enhancing Neutron Imaging with Grazing Incidence Optics

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama A low-cost optical element was developed specifically for neutron optics applications. The technology operates as a reflective lens — similar to proven grazing incidence optics used for x-ray imaging — and improves neutron imaging resolution for applications using low-energy (<1 electron volt) neutrons.

Posted in: Briefs, Optics

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Free Space Optical Receiver for Data Detection and Radio Science Measurements

This technique is intended to save power, bandwidth, and scheduling demands on the spacecraft. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California For deep space communication systems, the decision of whether or not to suppress the transmitted carrier has always been an issue. For certain missions that use high data rates, the available bandwidth might be a limiting factor. In such cases, it is preferred to use a completely suppressed carrier system that is more bandwidth efficient.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Data Acquisition, Sensors

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Precision Miniature Attitude Determination and Control System

The system is designed to function with a high degree of autonomy. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland The MAI-400SS Space Sextant is a turnkey Attitude Determination And Control System (ADACS) for CubeSats and nanosatellites. It is an enhanced version of the MAI-400, which is a precision CubeSat ADACS incorporating three reaction wheels, three electromagnets, and an ADACS computer in a ½-U module. This Space Sextant version incorporates two star trackers to improve overall pointing knowledge to 0.02° or better. The star trackers feature “Lost In Space” attitude determination requiring no a priori information.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Combined Detection and Tracking of Moving Objects in Aerial Surveillance Images

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California This software implements a new probabilistic framework for integrated multi-target detection and tracking of small moving objects in image sequences, with specific application to tracking people in aerial images, in which image stabilization is inherently noisy.

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