Tech Briefs

Method of Fault Detection and Rerouting

The technology can be used in wiring for aerospace, marine, automotive, industrial, and smart grid applications. John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida NASA seeks partners interested in the commercial application of the In Situ Wire Damage Detection and Rerouting System (ISWDDRS). NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is soliciting licensees for this innovative technology. The ISWDDRS consists of a miniaturized inline connector containing self-monitoring electronics that use time domain reflectometry (TDR) to detect wire faults and determine fault type and fault location on powered electrical wiring. When a damaged or defective wire is identified, the system is capable of autonomously transferring electrical power and data connectivity to an alternate wire path. When used in conjunction with NASA’s wire constructions that use a conductive detection layer, the system is capable of detecting and limiting damage not only to the core conductor, but also to the insulation layer before the core conductor becomes compromised.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers

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Metal Oxide Vertical Graphene Hybrid Supercapacitors

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California NASA has developed a novel hybrid supercapacitor system utilizing vertical graphene as an electrode material grown directly on collector metals using a plasma enhanced chemical vapor de - position. Supercapacitors are an alternative to batteries for energy storage, offering high power density and rapid charging time. Nanomaterials such as carbon nanotubes and graphene offer high surface area and porosity to construct the electrodes. Vertical graphene grown directly on a collector metal substrate enables construction of a supercapacitor. The key to the hybrid supercapacitor technology is the growth of vertical graphene directly onto an inexpensive metal substrate without the use of bulk graphene, catalysts, or binders, resulting in increased power density. Adding the metal oxide or electrically conducting polymer to the vertical graphene adds redox (reduction and oxidation) capacitance, thus increasing the overall performance of the device.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers

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Reconfigurable Drive Current System

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) has developed compact, reconfigurable electronic devices to drive and control avionics instruments. Typical avionics systems function through centralized power distribution units (PDUs), which have complex, expensive, and time-consuming design, development, test, and evaluation (DDT&E) cycles. To increase efficiency and lower design and implementation costs, the Standardized Multipurpose Avionics with Reconfigurable Technology (SMART) has been developed, replacing the PDU and sensor signal conditioning functions. By replacing the PDU, the system is able to process commands and condition signals at the application site, thus lowering system load. SMART can also be reconfigured for new tasks without changing hardware. This means functions can be added or changed later in the DDT&E cycle and even during integration, helping to reduce cost and schedule impact while enabling responsiveness to changing application needs.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers

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System and Method for Aiding Pilot Preview, Rehearsal, Review, and Real-Time Visual Acquisition of Flight Mission Progress

Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a synthetic 3D visualization flight display that presents flight data information in an intuitive way using 3D computer graphic capabilities. The flight crew can preview and rehearse flight maneuvers in a realistic environment. The display also provides an unimpeded visualization of the surrounding environment in the case of inclement weather, enabling safer flying conditions. Flight crews can rewind, fast forward, or pause at certain areas of an approach or go-around, and discuss abort strategies or point out dangerous terrain. New pilots can safely train on upcoming flights because of the intuitive and easy-to-follow technology. Seasoned pilots will notice the current paper chart arrangement, but with information presented in a quickly interpretable manner. Flight crews can use the technology as a refresher for destinations less frequently traveled. The technology is widely applicable for civilian, military, and even unmanned flights.

Posted in: Briefs, Aeronautics

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System, Apparatus, and Method for Pedal Control

This novel system and device can control movement of an object in three-dimensional space using foot pedals. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas Innovators at NASA’s Johnson Space Center have developed a novel footpedal-operated system and device to control movement of an object in three-dimensional (3D) space. The system enables operators to control movement of spacecraft, aircraft, and watercraft using only foot pedals. This design leaves the hands free for simultaneous operation of other equipment. The foot pedal controller integrates six articulating mechanisms and motion sensors, and provides continuous positional feedback to the operator. Motion control across six degrees of freedom is enabled by three control motions for each foot. Specifically, the foot pedal controller moves the object forward/backward, up/down, and left/right (translation in three perpendicular axes) combined with rotation about three perpendicular axes, often termed pitch, yaw, and roll.

Posted in: Briefs, Aeronautics

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RapidScat Flight Software

This software acts as an interface between the ISS and the scaterometer radar. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Figure 1. RapidScat DIB top-level software architecture. The legacy SeaWinds scatterometer radar needed to be interfaced to the International Space Station (ISS) without any modifications. It had been designed to fly on the Adeos II spacecraft. An interface to translate between ISS protocols and the existing radar interface was needed both for commanding and for science data return.

Posted in: Briefs, Aeronautics

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Achieving a Realistic Model of Flight Dynamics and Aeroelasticity of Flexible Aircraft

This method enables creation of a state-space model familiar to flight control engineers, and avoids the numerical errors that hinder traditional methods. Armstrong Flight Research Center, Edwards, California Researchers at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center have developed a method that allows for the translation of frequency-domain aerodynamics from commercial code (e.g., ZAERO™ or NASTRAN®) to a time-domain formulation that can be easily understood by flight control engineers, and eliminates the complications inherent in previous methods. These previous methods were designed for structural control (independent of flight dynamics) and are therefore formulated in the inertial (stationary) modal reference frame, which cannot accurately capture phugoid mode dynamics without significant complexity. Thus, a non-inertial reference frame was required to correctly model flight dynamics — a goal previously achieved by applying a transformation to the final statespace model. However, the transformation method created numerical errors, leading to problems in model simulation, reduction of the order-for-control development, and decreased accuracy.

Posted in: Briefs, Aeronautics

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