Special Coverage

Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water
Computer Chips Calculate and Store in an Integrated Unit
Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing
Mechanoresponsive Healing Polymers
Variable Permeability Magnetometer Systems and Methods for Aerospace Applicationst
Evaluation Standard for Robotic Research
Small Robot Has Outstanding Vertical Agility
Smart Optical Material Characterization System and Method
Lightweight, Flexible Thermal Protection System for Fire Protection

Photogrammetric-Based Pose Initialization and Propagation for Inertial Navigation Systems

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California The purpose of the Pose Initialization and Propagation (PIP) system is to provide an absolute navigational solution (position, velocity, and attitude) to a moving vehicle without using GPS. This was developed as a navigation system for rocket launches in a GPS-denied environment, but it is applicable to a variety of moving vehicles. It was designed to be integrated with JPL’s Terrain Relative Navigation system as a test of the Mars Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) system. It was successfully used by JPL on Masten Space Systems’ Xombie vehicle in 2014.

Posted in: Briefs, Tech Briefs, Imaging, Photonics, Mathematical models, Navigation and guidance systems, Entry, descent, and landing, Vehicle dynamics


Multi-Channel Laser Absorption Spectrometer for Combustion Product Monitoring

This instrument can detect fires associated with electrical wiring and electronics packaging materials. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Tunable laser absorption spectrometer (TLAS) sensors enable gas monitoring with high accuracy and gas specificity, and can be optimized for continuous, maintenance-free operation on long-duration manned spacecraft missions. This innovation is a portable, five-channel TLAS instrument designed to continuously monitor ambient concentrations of carbon monoxide, hydrogen chloride, hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen fluoride, and carbon dioxide, with low-level detection limits below the standard spacecraft maximum allowable concentrations. Monitoring of these particular hazardous compounds allows tracking of ambient conditions and enables detection of fires associated with electrical wiring and electronics packaging materials.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Tech Briefs, Imaging, Photonics, Spectroscopy, Life support systems, Gases, Fire detection, Hazardous materials, Spacecraft


Disturbance-Free, High-Resolution Imaging from Space

Telecommunication satellites, astrophysical imaging, remote sensing, surveillance, and reconnaissance from space could all benefit from this innovation.All imaging systems from space are affected by disturbances originating in the spacecraft in the form of mechanical noise from thruster and reaction/momentum wheels, and sensor noise. A drag-free system is truly unaffected by any disturbances, as it is in pure freefall. Hence, leveraging drag-free technology can provide a quantum leap in improvement for spaceborne imaging systems.

Posted in: Briefs, Tech Briefs, Imaging, Photonics, Imaging and visualization, Spacecraft


SCaN Optical Link Assessment Tool Version 2

John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio In response to the requirements of the Space-Based Relay Study (SBRS) undertaken by NASA in 2013, as well as the Integrated Radio and Optical Communications (iROC) project being conducted by NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC) beginning in 2012, a calculation procedure was required to rapidly assess the operation of optical communication links originating from within deep space (in particular, from around Mars in the case of iROC), as well as within the near-Earth scenarios of LEO and GEO (in the case of SBRS). Such an assessment included the specification of the design components of the optical system to achieve reliable communications as prescribed by one or several metrics that indicate overall system operation. Additionally, it was also desired to be able to dynamically evaluate such optical link operation as the satellite/earth orbital positions evolve during the mission lifetime.

Posted in: Briefs, Tech Briefs, Imaging, Photonics, Mathematical analysis, Computer software and hardware, Satellite communications


Defining and Measuring “LOOSE TIGHT BUFFER” in Fiber Optic Cables

As the optical fiber and cable industry unfolded, several terms were coined to describe specific properties that were new and different from conventional wire processing. One of those that stayed around was the term “Loose Tight Buffer.”

Posted in: Articles, Imaging, Photonics, Measurements, Fiber optics, Terminology, Test equipment and instrumentation, Test procedures


Advanced Infrared Camera Maps Methane "Hot Spots"

Methane often appears in the atmosphere at an irregular rate, puzzling researchers challenged with the task of tracking the gas’s sources in the landscape. An advanced infrared camera developed by Linköping University and Stockholm University researchers, in collaboration with the infrared imaging manufacturer Telops, allows users to both film and photograph methane emissions.

Posted in: Articles, Imaging, Photonics, Optics, Emissions measurement, Methane


Cambridge Researchers Take Computer Vision for Test Drive

Google's driverless car, like many autonomous vehicles in development, is packed with sensors, radars, lasers, and cameras. To lighten the load of sensing devices in self-driving autos, researchers at Cambridge University have hit the streets with a system that uses only computer vision.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Imaging, Photonics, Computer software and hardware, Imaging and visualization, Autonomous vehicles


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