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

SPIE Photonics West 2017 Preview

The SPIE Photonics West 2017 technical conference and exhibition returns to The Moscone Center in San Francisco, January 28 through February 2, offering attendees the opportunity to explore the latest innovations in lasers, photonics, optics, optoelectronics, biophotonics, biomedical optics, 3D printing, and more. As in the past, the event will once again kick off with BiOS, the world’s largest biomedical optics conference, before transitioning into the Photonics West conference and exhibition. Last year’s event hosted more than 20,000 attendees and put the products and services of over 1,300 exhibitors on display. More than 4,800 technical papers will be available to conference participants throughout the week (http://spie.org/photonicswest.xml).

Posted in: Articles, Photonics, Lasers, Optics, Lasers, Optics, Career and professional development, Product development, Additive manufacturing
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NASA's Software Answers Big Questions About Space and Earth

NASA-developed software tools provide modeling and simulation methods that tackle some of the toughest science and engineering challenges in aerospace, space exploration, and our knowledge of Earth.

Simulating the SLS Sound Suppression Water System

NASA’s next-generation Space Launch System (SLS) for deep space exploration consists of four RS-25 liquid rocket engines and two five-segment solid rocket boosters (SRBs). At ignition, the SRBs create a significant over-pressure event, known as the Ignition Over-Pressure (IOP) event. The IOP event experienced in the first space shuttle flight (STS-1) in 1981 damaged the space shuttle orbiter and motivated significant design changes to the launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The RS-25 liquid rocket engines aboard the SLS, along with the SRBs, also create a very significant acoustic environment that, if not mitigated, can harm the SLS launch vehicle. An Ignition Over-Pressure/Sound Suppression (IOP/SS) water system was developed to reduce the amplitude of both the IOP event and the acoustic environment caused by the firing of the RS-25 engines and the SRBs.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Water, Acoustics, Acoustics, Booster rocket engines, Liquid propellant rocket engines, Launch vehicles
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Top Prizes Awarded in the Create the Future Design Contest

Top prizes in the 2016 Create the Future Design Contest were awarded on November 11 in New York City. The Grand Prize winner, and winners in seven categories, took home awards for their innovative design ideas.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Design processes, Cartography, Cartography, Child restraint systems, Trailers
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Temperature Sensors Cement the Integrity of Bridges

Thermal profilers, developed with NASA, ensure structural integrity of cement as it cures.

The Obama administration wanted to foster partnerships with small- to medium-sized manufacturers through its Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative, wherein Federal agencies around the country are asked to mentor local businesses. One of the communities selected was the Cleveland-Youngstown region of Ohio, resulting in a call to Glenn Research Center. The Adopt a City program was launched, in which eight companies were identified to receive 40 hours each of assistance from experts at Glenn.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Sensors, Collaboration and partnering, Cooperative programs
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Choosing Stepper- or Servo-Driven Actuators to Replace Air Cylinders

Pneumatic (air) cylinders are widely used in industrial automation due to their low per-axis cost and high-speed/force capabilities. They have a long history of being popular workhorses in the automation industry. However, there are many reasons to use electric actuators in place of air cylinders: reduced machine downtime, reduced energy consumption, increased precision, and increased speed. In addition, electric actuators can be powered by servo or stepper motors, in conjunction with a control device, to provide linear motion.

Advantages of Electric Linear Actuators

Reduced downtime. Electric linear actuators (whether screw- or belt-driven) are very low-maintenance. Regreasing may be the only regular maintenance necessary, and many screw-driven models are lubricated for the life of the actuator.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Motion Control, Sensors and actuators, Sensors and actuators, Electric motors, Durability, Durability
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Vote for Tech Briefs 22nd Annual Readers' Choice Awards

Each December, we ask our readers to cast their vote for the annual NASA Tech Briefs’ Readers’ Choice Product of the Year Awards. Each month, our editors choose a Product of the Month that has exceptional technical merit and practical value for our design engineering readers.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Design processes, Product development
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High-Resolution Surface Measurement

Inspectors who are assessing the severity of defects and the dimensions of small features on precision machined surfaces are limited by the capabilities of existing measurement techniques. A new type of instrument has been developed that enables direct, non-contact inspection of precision surfaces in shop floor environments. By combining the resolution of optical techniques with the portability of a handheld gauge, the new technology gives inspectors an important tool for finding and quantifying critical features on machined components.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Test & Measurement, Measurements, Fiber optics, Fiber optics, Tools and equipment, Inspections
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Optical Fiber Sensors for Infrastructure Monitoring

Virtually every type of public infrastructure — including bridges, pipelines, tunnels, foundations, roadways, dams, etc. — is subject to factors that can degrade it or lead to malfunctions. These structural problems can be the result of deterioration, improper construction methods, seismic activity, or nearby construction work. Although electrical strain gauges have long been used for monitoring structural changes, they sometimes lack the durability and integrity necessary to provide accurate, actionable information over extended periods.

Posted in: Articles, Optics, Test & Measurement, Fiber optics, Sensors and actuators, Fiber optics, Sensors and actuators, Inspections, Roads and highways
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ECG Small Signal General and Analysis

Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is the most common way to identify various ailments, especially when the ailment is related to the heart. To perform an ECG, the medical personnel places the leads on the patient’s skin. The leads measure the heart’s electrical activity of one heartbeat cycle and record it as a continuous line tracing on paper to produce a graph. The ECG signal may indicate:

Posted in: Articles, Diagnostics, Medical, Monitoring, Test & Measurement, Oscilloscopes, Oscilloscopes, Cardiovascular system, Medical equipment and supplies
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A 40-Year Legacy and Excitement for the Future

As I approach retirement after 40 years as CEO of National Instruments (NI), I am reminded of the great progress and innovations the test and measurement industry has witnessed over that time. We have gone from an industry driven by vacuum tube technology in the era of General Radio, to a time where the transistor ruled with Hewlett-Packard, to today where software truly is the instrument — a transition that NI helped shepherd.

Posted in: Articles, Software, Test & Measurement, Measurements, People and personalities, Technical reference, Technical review
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