Tech Briefs

Integrated Pitot Health Monitoring System

John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio The health and integrity of aircraft sensors and instruments play a critical role in aviation safety. Inaccurate or false readings due to icing of airspeed sensors in flight can lead to improper decision-making, resulting in serious consequences. Icing or blockages of pitot airspeed sensors provide very little indication of sensor malfunction. Sensor output may indicate high, low, or nonfunctioning state, and not be responsive to actual changes in airspeed.

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NASA Aircraft Management Information System (NAMIS)

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas The NASA Aircraft Management Information System (NAMIS) is an Enterprise Resource Planning/Mission Support software suite designed to meet both the mission support requirements and the business management requirements of NASA Johnson Space Center’s (JSC) Aircraft Operations Division (AOD). The concept and 11 high-level requirements were conceived in 1996. NAMIS was then developed over a period of 12 years in a series of modular, integrated components designed to meet those 11 requirements. The requirements were adopted by NASA’s Intercenter Aircraft Operations Panel (IAOP) in March 2003 as the basis for defining a common aircraft management solution for use at all NASA centers to replace both legacy systems and paper-based systems with one integrated software solution to track aircraft-related activities for NASA.

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Sector 33 App

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California Sector 33 is a mobile app for the Apple and Android mobile platforms that provides a single-user, interactive air traffic control simulator (game) for mobile devices. The main features of the app include an interactive air traffic control simulation with numerous problems for two to five airplanes; introductory videos on air traffic control; scoring for the problems; awards for reaching levels of achievement; integrated solution hints; a short introduction to the simulator; help; and hints for simple proportional reasoning math needed to solve the problems perfectly.

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Retinal Light Processing Using Carbon Nanotubes

This chip can be used as an electrical or optical sensor for the retina. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California NASA has patented a new technology called the Vision Chip, an implantable device that has the potential to restore or supplement visual function in a diseased or damaged retina. This technology could benefit millions of people in the US and globally who suffer from degenerative diseases of the eye’s retina such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), retinitis pigmentosa (RP), and, in some cases, diabetic retinopathy. The Vision Chip is targeted to treat AMD and other degenerative diseases of the retina by replacing a compromised retinal photoreceptor system with an array of equivalent external photoreceptors and carbon nanotube (CNT) “towers” (bundles of CNTs) that provide a pathway to transmit signals from the external photoreceptors to an active layer of retina.

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Provision of Carbon Nanotube Buckypaper Cages for Immune Shielding of Cells, Tissues, and Medical Devices

This method may prevent the rejection of transplanted cells and tissue. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California NASA has patented a new technology that may prevent the rejection of transplanted cells and tissues. The human immune system identifies and rejects non-host cells and tissues with high efficiency. The new invention involves the fabrication and use of carbon nanotube buckypaper (CNTBP) “cages” for immune shielding. This approach promotes and supports a variety of useful biological processes that are difficult or impossible when cells or tissue are maintained in culture outside the body. It allows for the transplantation of cells or tissues from unrelated donors or from unrelated species (xenografts) into host subjects with dramatically reduced potential for rejection and/or the use of immunosuppressive therapies, which can be highly toxic. Current strategies for islet cell transplantation, for example, have shown marginal success due to limited graft survival, even with immunosuppressive therapy.

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Rapid Polymer Sequencer

Maximum resolution will be improved at least 100-fold compared to biological ion-channel measurements. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California Solid-state, nanopore-based analysis of nucleic acid polymers is the only technique that can determine information content in single molecules of genetic material at the speed of 1 subunit per microsecond. Because individual molecules are counted, the output is intrinsically quantitative. The nanopore approach is more generalized than any other method, and in principle may be used to analyze any polymer molecule, including proteins. The approach to the development of a solid-state nanopore device is novel in the use of nanofabrication, nanoelectric components, and high-speed signal acquisition.

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High-Density, Homogenous Bacterial Spore Distributions on Test Surfaces

This method uses polycarbonate membrane to transfer spores onto a mirror surface. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Thus far, spore transfer had been successful from the polycarbonate membrane onto stainless steel, aluminum, and to some extent, glass. In order to image the endospores under an ESEM (environmental scanning electron microscope), the spores were transferred onto a 4-mm-diameter, mirror-polished, stainless steel ESEM tab. For the spectroscopic and irradiation procedures in the Planetary Ice Group, it has also been necessary to transfer a highly concentrated, homogenous layer of spores onto a 1/2- or 1-in. (≈1.3- or 2.5-cm) aluminum mirror. Various other methods have been developed and tested for statistical spore deposition and transfer, but transfer was previously prone to uneven coverage due to poor contact, as well as visible microdroplets from over-saturation of the backing filter contact or non-homogeneity on a larger scale. A complete, reproducible method follows to avoid these issues and ensure quantitative predictions and uniformity.

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