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Mars 2020: The Next Journey

Building on the success of Curiosity’s landing, NASA has announced plans for the next robotic science rover, which is set to launch in 2020. The proposed 2020 rover mission is part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort of robotic exploration of the red planet. The mission would address key questions about the potential for life on Mars, and would provide opportunities to gather knowledge and demonstrate technologies that address the challenges of future human expeditions to Mars.

Posted in: Features, Articles, Homepage

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Organic Photovoltaic Technology

Organic photovoltaic (OPV) technology has been rapidly growing in performance and popularity over the past few years and is expected to become a major PV technology within the next decade. Here’s why.

Posted in: Features, Photonics, Articles

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CAMERA TRENDS 2013: A Simpler Machine Vision

Today’s cameras are cheaper, smaller, and more capable than ever before. Without breaking the budget, a company manager who needs products inspected can buy a camera, quickly code in commands to recognize an object, bracket the device above a production line, and begin capturing images.

Posted in: Imaging, Articles

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Picking the Pattern for a Stealth Antenna

A frequency selective surface that acts as an RF filter and helps reduce the radar cross-section of antennas consists of a pattern of geometrical objects. There are literally thousands of possibilities, and testing each one physically would take enormous amounts of time. With simulation, though, promising candidates can be found in just minutes.

Posted in: Features, Articles, Software

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Potting Compounds Offer Superior Protection for Electronic Circuits

Product reliability is an absolute must for manufacturers to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace. As customers demand ever-increasing levels of performance at lower unit costs, it becomes increasingly challenging to ensure that electronic circuits operate as designed for a prolonged period of time. Delicate components, densely populated printed circuit boards (PCBs), confining packaging, and highly demanding service environments have the potential to lead to increased failure rates as a result of excessive heat build-up and electrical interference.

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Advanced Exercise Concepts for Long-Duration Spaceflight

Long-duration spaceflight poses many hazards to the health of a space exploration crew, including physiological deconditioning of the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems due to prolonged exposure to microgravity. To combat these adverse physical changes, the crew is required to perform both aerobic and resistive exercises. Onboard the International Space Station (ISS), the crew has access to the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED), the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill (T2), and the Cycle Ergometer with Vibration Isolation and Stabilization System (CEVIS). These devices provide the crew with the capability to perform a wide variety of exercises.

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Using Source Measure Units to Characterize High Power Semiconductors

Part 2: OFF-State Characterization Part 1 of this article, which appeared in the August 2013 issue of NASA Tech Briefs, dealt with ON-state characterization of high power semiconductors (link to Part 1). Part 2 concludes this discussion with an overview of OFF-state characterization. OFF-State Characterization The impact of the device on the overall circuit when the device is turned off must be investigated to understand overall product efficiency. For high-power devices, OFF-state characterization often requires a high-voltage instrument capable of sourcing hundreds or thousands of volts and measuring small currents. OFF-state characterization is often performed between two device terminals (regardless of the total number of device terminals), so a single SMU is often sufficient. However, an additional SMU can be used to force the device into its OFF state or add stress to certain terminals. Two primary DC tests are performed when the device is off: breakdown voltages and leakage currents.

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