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Spacesuit Materials Add Comfort to Undergarments

Phase change materials for spacesuits are being used in “cool” underwear. More than two decades ago, NASA started looking for a new way to keep astronauts comfortable in their space gloves. During a spacewalk, temperatures can range between 250 °F and -250 °F. One of the technologies NASA looked at to help maintain a “just right” temperature was phase change materials (PCMs). At a designated high temperature, PCMs absorb and hold heat to produce a cooling effect. At a designated low temperature, PCMs release their stored heat to produce a warming effect in an area.

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NASA Announces 2012 Inventions of the Year

NASA’s Inventions of the Year competition consists of two awards: the NASA Commercial Invention of the Year and the NASA Government Invention of the Year. Each NASA field center submits nominations for the awards, which are evaluated by NASA’s Inventions and Contributions Board. Here are the 2012 winners.

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Designing Rugged, Standards-Based Embedded Solutions

It can be argued that small form factor design trends are paradoxical. As form factor size decreases, functionality requirements increase; as processing power requirements heighten, lower power consumption and thermal output is expected. Add to that the requirement for ruggedness to accommodate for the shock, vibration, humidity, and temperature extremes and variance inherent in mobile and outdoor applications, and designers are faced with a very complex soup.

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Tips for Selecting or Designing a Membrane Switch

Membrane switches are known for standing up to tough environmental conditions. Flexible and durable, the membrane switch can be customized with embossing, backlighting, sealing, and electrostatic discharge (ESD) shielding. Membrane switches can be made with either tactile or non-tactile feedback and they can be integrated with LEDs and other components. To get the switch that works for your application, follow these simple guidelines.

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Flexible’ Machine Vision: Sensors, Lenses, and Software

Machine vision has become indispensable in today’s highly automated manufacturing environments, which rely on accurate in spec tion to ensure high product quality and high process efficiency. Applications for the technology span industry, and include everything from validation of printed barcodes and text on consumer product labeling, to assembly verification of printed circuit boards, to dimensional measurement of automotive parts. The demand for vision inspection only continues to grow with increasing throughput requirements and stringent quality standards that necessitate full inspection and render manual product inspection unfeasible.

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Pixel-Scale Coated Sensors Bring Multispectral Imaging to New Users

The pixel-scale patterning of optical filters directly onto sensors has the potential to drastically simplify and scale down the cost of real-time multispectral imaging. Without moving parts, a more robust and compact system can be deployed into harsher environments than have been previously accessible for multispectral imagers.

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A New American Space Age

NASA and industry are working together to ensure safe, reliable, and affordable space transportation launching from U.S. soil by mid-decade. NASA and its industry partners are developing a U.S. commercial crew space transportation capability with the goal of achieving safe, reliable, and cost-effective access to and from low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station. Through a program begun in 2006, NASA is investing financial and technical resources to stimulate efforts within the private sector to develop these capabilities.

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