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 Applications
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
Nasa Tech Briefs

Optical Phased Array with Digitally Enhanced Interferometry

A proof-of-concept technique has been developed for measuring and controlling the individual phases of array elements. Electro-optic steering and beam-forming of laser beams is an emerging field with devices such as optical phased arrays that are capable of steering with significantly reduced noise floors and that are faster by orders of magnitude.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Optics, Satellites


Mass Spectrometry of Spacecraft Contamination Using the Direct Analysis in Real-Time Ion Source

Mass spectrometry is presented as a powerful tool for the analysis of spacecraft contamination when coupled to the Direct Analysis in Real Time (DART) ionization source. DART technology is based on soft ionization and desorption using metastable helium (MSHe). This provides efficient sample introduction for the rapid analysis of polymers and bio-organic compounds. It is particularly useful to the evaluation of polymers that may outgas in the space environment. In addition, this approach provides sensitive analysis of bio-marker and organic compounds that may interfere with organic and life detection instruments on future spacecraft missions.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Biological sciences, Medical, health, and wellness, Polymers, Spacecraft


Lithium-Ion Battery Technologies with High Energy Density

New lithium-ion technologies are increasing battery safety and reducing cost dramatically. There is a need to advance the development of high energy density batteries, along with other efficient alternative energy sources. The need for batteries having a higher energy capacity, versus a lower weight, is simple to understand when stated in a battery’s Watt hour per kilogram rating. The focus of this work is on secondary or rechargeable batteries.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Lithium-ion batteries, Product development


Low-Cost Communications Concept for Smallsats: Opportunistic MSPA

Provides smallsat projects with an affordable means for obtaining routine science downlink, while minimizing the cost to the ground antenna network to implement and operate it. Multiple Spacecraft Per Antenna (MSPA) techniques have been used for well over a decade to increase the efficient utilization of ground network assets while decreasing the antenna fees allocated to the missions. In the Deep Space Network’s traditional MSPA service, two missions that will be located within the same beam of a ground antenna (e.g., at Mars) can schedule to share the antenna and associated microwave electronics. The antenna, of course, must be equipped with two separate receivers — one for each spacecraft. Applying this MSPA service to more than two spacecraft at a time requires adding receivers. But adding lots of receiver and telemetry processor chains to each antenna to facilitate MSPA for multiple spacecraft within the same beam could prove prohibitively expensive for the Deep Space Network.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Antennas, Satellite communications, Telematics


Spatial Standard Observer

An accurate visibility metric is produced with relatively few calculations. This invention relates to the devices and methods for the measurement and/or for the specification of the perceptual intensity of a visual image, or the perceptual distance between a pair of images. Grayscale test and reference images are processed to produce test and reference luminance images. A luminance filter function is convolved with the reference luminance image to produce a local mean luminance reference image. Test and reference contrast images are produced from the local mean luminance reference image and the test and reference luminance images, respectively, and are followed by the application of a contrast sensitivity filter. The resulting images are combined according to mathematical prescriptions to produce a Just Noticeable Difference, JND value, indicative of a Spatial Standard Observer (SSO). Advantages of an SSO include a simple and efficient design that produces an accurate visibility metric with relatively few calculations.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Mathematical models, Imaging and visualization, Test procedures


Use of Selective Oxidation Catalyst for Amperometric Sensing Electrode

A modified oxidation catalyst material can be used to build a carbon-monoxide-sensing electrode for amperometric sensors to overcome the typical cross-sensitivity of these sensors toward hydrogen. The technology will have applications in the emerging hydrogen fuel cell economy for monitoring traces of carbon monoxide in the fuel feed of hydrogen fuel cells.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Sensors and actuators, Carbon monoxide, Catalysts, Fuel cells


Simple Subset Wizard

The Simple Subset Wizard (SSW) was developed for the Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) to simplify the myriad ways of ordering or obtaining subsets of satellite data from EOSDIS’ different data centers. It provides a simple, coherent interface to a variety of subsetters at ten of the centers. The SSW has an additional advantage in shortening the user’s work-flow to obtain subsets by handling the search for individual files (and subsequent selection) behind the scenes.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Data management, Satellites


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