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Flight Test System for Accurately Predicting Flutter

Armstrong Flight Research Center, Edwards, California Traditional methods of flight flutter testing analyze system parameters such as damping levels that vary with flight conditions to monitor aircraft stability. In the past, the actual flight envelope developed for aircraft operation was essentially determined only by flight testing. The edges of the envelope are points where either the aircraft cannot fly any faster because of engine limitations, or, with a 15% margin for error, where the damping trends indicate a flutter instability may be near. After flight testing, the envelope empirically determined is used for regular operations.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement

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TestEVAL Software to Assist in Mechanical Testing

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland Typically, mechanical test data has been reviewed and processed using a combination of Excel, PDF Viewer, MATLAB, and other tools. TestEVAL provides a central tool for all these tools, and enhances their capability. Having been developed in Python, it is expendable and portable. It uses no proprietary software and an all open-source code base.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement

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Technique to Measure Degradation of Submillimeter-Wave Spectrometer Response to Local Oscillator Phase Noise

This technique uses one LO source with known high purity that can be fixed in frequency and the LO source under test. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California High-resolution submillimeter-wave spectroscopy is based on the heterodyne principle, where the incident signal is down-converted to a low intermediate frequency (IF) by nonlinear mixing with a local oscillator (LO) signal. The IF difference frequency output is discrete Fourier transformed into ≈1,000 frequency channels to measure the spectral power dependence of the signal. Unfortunately, the LO system cannot generate pure tones: the signal has a “skirt” of additional power in the vicinity that generally decreases in spectral power density as the frequency difference from the center increases. This extra signal is known as phase noise.

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Polymer Nanofiber-Based Reversible Nano-Switch/Sensor Schottky Diode (nanoSSSD) Device

This microsensor has applications in biomedical devices, combustion engines, and detection/switching devices used in mass transit systems. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio NASA’s Glenn Research Center has developed a groundbreaking new microsensor that detects toxic gases and explosives in a variety of environments. Most devices can perform only a unidirectional sensing task, lacking a switching feature that would allow the device to return to baseline operation after the volatile species is removed or has dissipated. Glenn’s nano-Switch Sensor Schottky Diode (nanoSSSD) device consists of a thin film of graphene deposited on a specially prepared silicon wafer. Graphene’s two-dimensional properties make this technology both extremely sensitive to different gases and highly reliable in harsh, enclosed, or embedded conditions. The nanoSSSD can be connected to a visual and/or sound alarm that is autonomously triggered as the sensor detects a selected gas, and then is returned to its passive mode when the gas is no longer present. The innovation has applications in biomedical devices, combustion engines, and detection/switching devices used in mass transit systems.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers

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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.

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