Special Coverage

Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines
Vibration Tables Shake Up Aerospace and Car Testing
Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water
Computer Chips Calculate and Store in an Integrated Unit
Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing
Mechanoresponsive Healing Polymers
Variable Permeability Magnetometer Systems and Methods for Aerospace Applications
Evaluation Standard for Robotic Research

Photo-Acoustic Chemical Detector

This technology could be used for the detection of explosives and hazardous or toxic chemicals.

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a photo-acoustic sensing-based laser vibrometer for the measurement of ambient chemical species. The technology allows for detection of sub-part-per-billion (ppb) levels of ambient trace gases and chemical species, with an order of magnitude more sensitivity than similar technologies. Among other applications, the technology could be used for the detection of explosives and hazardous or toxic chemicals.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors
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Open Mission Control Technologies (Open MCT) Web

The fundamental idea behind the Mission Control Technologies (MCT) project is to build software from pieces that can be assembled by end users to create integrated visualizations. Applications are eliminated in favor of compositions of live data objects that can be combined in different ways for different users and missions as required, in contrast to the more traditional software development method of pre-determining functionality and building a monolithic application. This new approach has the potential to change how users design, deploy, and maintain mission system software.

Posted in: Briefs, Software
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Human Factors Analysis Support Tool (H-FAST) v 2.0

Large-scale systems engineering projects involve multiple teams of engineers working in parallel. These projects typically include numerous human factors challenges, many of which first become evident during the integration stage. Human factors evaluations are essential in gathering human performance data and analyzing the usability of new design concepts. These evaluations are generally carried out by human factors experts due to the level of expertise required. However, many projects may not have a dedicated human factors expert available for consultation throughout all design phases. In these cases, non-human-factors engineers could derive value from a tool that locates relevant human factors design resources, and guides them through conducting simpler, formative human factors evaluations to gather feedback earlier in the process. The challenge for the design engineer is in finding the appropriate human factors design guidance relevant to a specific project.

Posted in: Briefs, Software
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RAYGUN Fast Generic Geometry Raycasting Tool

When performing spacecraft simulations, developers sometimes need to feed the simulation with a distance between two objects along a certain direction vector. For example, if a spacecraft is approaching an asteroid and needs to simulate a laser rangefinder, the simulation would need to detect what part of the asteroid the laser would intersect, and then calculate the distance from the rangefinder to the surface. For an asteroid with a very complex geometry, the search for the intersecting triangle can be very costly in terms of compute time. This scenario presented itself with the MMSEV spacecraft simulation approaching the asteroid “Itokawa.”

Posted in: Briefs, Software
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Ultra-High-Speed Fiber Optic Sensor Detects Structural Damage in Real Time

A research group including members from Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Japan Society for the Promotion of Science has developed a real-time, fiber-optic, distributed sensing system for strain and temperature. The system requires light injection from only one end of the fiber, and can achieve a sampling rate of 100 kHz, an improvement of more than 5,000 times the conventional rate.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors
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Polyimides Derived from Novel Asymmetric Benzophenone Dianhydrides

NASA's Glenn Research Center invites companies to license or establish partnerships to develop its patented high-temperature, low-melt imide resins for fabrication of automotive components. Produced by a solvent-free melt process, these resins exhibit high glass transition temperatures (Tg = 370 to 400 °C), low melt viscosities (10 to 30 poise), long pot-life (1 to 2 hours), and can be easily processed by low-cost RTM and vacuum-assisted resin transfer molding (VARTM). These RTM resins melt at 260 to 280 °C, and can be cured at 340 to 370 °C in 2 hours without releasing any harmful volatile compounds.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials
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Low Solidity Vaned Diffuser (LSVD) Design for Improvement of Pressure Recovery

Many pump vaned diffuser designs are based on existing airfoil designs, with little attention given to the vane leading edge. There is a need for a vaned diffuser leading edge that helps resist flow separation and the resultant poor diffuser pressure recovery. Diffusers in pumps are often working with an incompressible fluid that makes potential flow methodologies — which have incompressibility as a boundary condition — attractive. The potential flow-based free-streamline analysis methods have been known to improve the aerodynamics of varied components at high incidence angles, such as diffusers, jet engine nacelles, and liquid rocket engine turbopump inducers.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components
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Piezoelectric Field Disturbance Sensing System and Method

This technology provides a lightweight, cost-effective solution for structural measurements.

The invention developed is a piezoelectric stimulus-response quantification-based gravimeter (PEG). The PEG takes a completely innovative approach towards utilization of the piezoelectric element — quantifying the gravitational effects on them. In this way, the piezoelectric element can: (1) generate an electric charge in response to mechanical deformation, and (2) be mechanically deformed by applying electric charges. This is known as the converse-piezoelectric effect. Piezoelectric elements can be used to precisely inject energy for exciting vibratory frequencies within the element and housing, enabling the element to be used for quantifying subsequently produced electrical output. The gravimeter is capable of measuring numerous other types of physical quantities such as thermal, magnetic, electrical, electromotive, electromagnetic,and electro-static fields, and provide static and structural information.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors
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iOrca Code Release

The iOrca outlier detection algorithm is based on the K-nearest neighbors approach. It calculates the distances across the dataset to determine if data points are near or far away from their set of neighbors. If a point has an unusually large distance to its neighbors, it is considered an outlier and of interest to the user. Calculating the full set of distances is computationally expensive.

Posted in: Briefs, Software
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Polarization-Dependent Whispering Gallery Modes (WGMs) in Microspheres

WGMs can benefit sensors used in aerospace vehicle control, health and performance monitoring, optical communications, and biological applications.

Dielectric microspheres are optical structures that exhibit resonant properties, meaning they can be used to select very narrow wavelengths of an incoming light beam's spectrum for further manipulation and processing. The optical resonances of a microsphere are frequently called morphology dependent resonances (MDRs) or whispering gallery modes (WGMs). Innovators at NASA's Glenn Research Center have developed a method of separating low-level modes propagating in an optical fiber through the use of WGMs in spherical resonators. The unusually high quality factors (Q-factors) that can be achieved by side coupling of light into the dielectric spheres allow for measurement sensitivities that may far exceed those of more conventional sensors. Whispering gallery modes’ high sensitivity to environmental conditions and their small size make them good candidates for a wide range of sensors.

Posted in: Briefs, Communications
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