Special Coverage

Soft Robot “Walks” on Any Terrain
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Using Microwaves to Produce High-Quality Graphene
Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat
Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines

Python Interface to Dual-Pol Radar Algorithms (DualPol)

This object-oriented Python module facilitates precipitation retrievals (e.g., hydrometeor type, precipitation rate, precipitation mass, particle size distribution) from polarimetric radar data. It leverages existing open-source radar software packages to perform all-in-one retrievals that are then easily visualized or saved using existing software.

Posted in: Briefs, Software
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Thermal Micro-Extraction Laboratory

Typical extractions in the laboratory require a significant amount of sample material, large-scale equipment, and hands-on participation of a scientist. Such a setup is impractical (or impossible), heavy, and expensive to be carried out on spaceflight instrumentation. While great strides are being made to improve spaceflight instrumentation, the front-end sampling and extraction steps are often neglected. Only a few examples discuss the development of extraction systems for spaceflight, and they are immature in development. Additionally, several other microfluidic methods in development at GSFC will eventually require front-end sampling and extraction instrumentation.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement
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Water-Based, Recyclable Membrane Filters all Types of Nanoparticles

Separation technology is at the heart of water purification, sewage treatment, and reclaiming materials, as well as numerous basic industrial processes. Membranes are used to separate out the smallest nanoscale particles, and even molecules and metal ions. A new type of membrane was developed that could extend the life of a separation system, lower its cost, and in some cases, increase its efficiency as well.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials
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Sound Lab (SLAB) Version 5

Interest in the simulation of acoustic environments has prompted a number of technology development efforts over the years for applications such as auralization of concert halls and listening rooms, spatial information displays in aviation, virtual reality, and better sound effects for video games. Each of these applications implies different task requirements that require different approaches in the development of rendering software and hardware.

Posted in: Briefs, Software
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Using Sunlight to Activate the Flow of Electrical Current in a New Material

Modifying the composition of magnetite enables this material to convert sunlight into electrical current.

Mined to make the first compass needles, the mineral magnetite is also made by migratory birds and other animals to allow them to sense north and south, and thus navigate in cloudy or dark atmospheric conditions or under water. Researchers have compositionally modified magnetite to capture visible sunlight and convert this light energy into electrical current. This current may be useful to drive the decomposition of water into hydrogen and oxygen. The team generated this material by replacing one third of the iron atoms with chromium atoms.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials
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Multi-Pulse Motor (MPM) for Use with Electric Solid Propellants (ESP)

The purpose of this work was to create a safe, green, controllable solid rocket motor that can be pulsed a number of times with electricity to control the ignition and extinguishment times to produce a required thrust or impulse bit. The innovation features an Electric Solid Propellant (ESP). The key problem is that the geometry of the ESP grain changes because of the evolution of the propellant to exhaust gases, but a closed electrical circuit is required to keep the electrical power applied to the grain and continue burning. The chamber pressure is utilized in the multi-pulse motor (MPM) design to ensure electrical contact is retained during the pulsing event.

Posted in: Briefs, Propulsion
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Container Screening Device (CSD)

The CSD detects anomalies, contraband, and hidden compartments in liquid-filled containers, and discriminates between threat and non-threat materials.

The Container Screening Device (CSD) is a portable, benchtop measurement system for real-time sealed-container inspection, and content (liquid/ material) classification and discrimination. The technology uses sound waves to acoustically detect, classify, and discriminate threat versus non-threat substances and materials such as liquid explosives, hazardous and flammable liquids, and other caustic or dangerous liquids at security checkpoints. The CSD originally was designed as a prototype for both field measurements and bench-top applications for liquid forensics, intelligence, and law enforcement scenarios.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement
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New Materials Could Turn Water into Solar Fuel

A process speeds the discovery of commercially viable solar fuels that could replace coal, oil, and other fossil fuels.

Solar fuels are created using only sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide (CO2). Researchers are exploring a range of target fuels, from hydrogen gas to liquid hydrocarbons, but producing any of these fuels involves splitting water.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials
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Modified Surface Having Low Adhesion Properties to Mitigate Insect Residue Adhesion

Surface roughness is not affected by the process.

NASA Langley Research Center, in collaboration with ATK Space Systems, has developed a method to reduce insect adhesion on metallic substrates, polymeric materials, engineering plastics, and other surfaces. The method topographically modifies a surface using laser ablation patterning followed by chemical modification of the surface. This innovation was originally developed to enhance aircraft laminar flow by preventing insect residue buildup, but the method provides a permanent solution for any application requiring insect adhesion mitigation as well as adhesion prevention of other typical environmental contaminants.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials
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CornerStone Knowledge Acquisition and Synthesis Framework

In general, and especially in the “big data” era, there is often a failure to collect sufficient data about the data (metadata). This lack of metadata drastically reduces the potential use of the data, and the attempt to rectify this situation after the fact is often difficult, if not impossible. The necessary metadata must first be located, and then organized and associated with the data. Often those who know about the metadata are no longer available. The proposed alternative is to prepare the data for long-term preservation based on currently accepted best-practices for long-term digital archives. This means that both the data and the metadata are simultaneously collected and prepared for the archive. This methodology provides the best chance that the necessary metadata will be available for future analysis, and ensures use of the data being collected and preserved.

Posted in: Briefs, Software
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