January 2007

Who's Who
Bill Sheredy, Project Manager for SAME (Smoke Aerosol Measurement Experiment)

Bill SheredyFire is deadly and unpredictable on Earth; in an enclosed space vehicle in orbit, its presence takes on even more serious implications. To prevent the threat of smoke and fire on missions, NASA conducted the Smoke Aerosol Measurement Experiment (SAME),...

Products
3D Navigation Devices

3Dconnexion(r), a Logitech company, San Jose, CA, has released two new 3D navigation devices, SpaceNavigator and SpaceExplorer, that provide designers with intuitive 3D computer navigation control. SpaceNavigator is an entry-level device that lets users move naturally and fluidly in 3D environments without making repetitive...

Articles : Software
The Problems With CAD Tools: Vendors Address User Pain Points

CAD systems can be a design engineer’s best friend or their worst enemy. They help engineers create better products faster, but can prove daunting and frustrating in the process.We spoke to executives at several CAD companies to find out how they are helping their customers get past...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Flexible Skins Containing Integrated Sensors and Circuitry

Artificial sensor skins modeled partly in imitation of biological sensor skins are undergoing development. These sensor skins comprise flexible polymer substrates that contain and/or support dense one- and two-dimensional arrays of microscopic sensors and associated microelectronic...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Artificial Hair Cells for Sensing Flows

The purpose of this article is to present additional information about the flow-velocity sensors described briefly in the immediately preceding article. As noted therein, these sensors can be characterized as artificial hair cells that implement an approximation of the sensory principle of flow-sensing...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Optoelectronic Nose Senses Vapors Associated with Hazmat and Security Scenarios

Since 9/11, we are increasingly threatened by terrorist plots — the release of noxious substances into crowded public places or on airplanes, in crowded buildings, and in sports arenas. Anxieties about these rare events are mostly unrealized, but such events...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Video Guidance Sensor and Time-of-Flight Rangefinder

A proposed video guidance sensor (VGS) would be based mostly on the hardware and software of a prior Advanced VGS (AVGS), with some additions to enable it to function as a time-offlight rangefinder (in contradistinction to a triangulation or image-processing rangefinder). It would typically be...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Optical Beam-Shear Sensors

A technique for measuring optical beam shear is based on collecting light from the four quadrants of the beam and comparing the optical power collected from each quadrant with that from the other three quadrants. As used here, "shear" signifies lateral displacement of a beam of light from a nominal optical axis.

Briefs : Software
The PICWidget

The Plug-in Image Component Widget (PICWidget) is a software component for building digital imaging applications. The component is part of a methodology described in “GIS Methodology for Planning Planetary-Rover Operations” (NPO-41812), which appears elsewhere in this issue of NASA Tech Briefs. Planetary rover missions return a...

Briefs : Software
Fusing Symbolic and Numerical Diagnostic Computations

"X-2000 Anomaly Detection Language" denotes a developmental computing language, and the software that establishes and utilizes the language, for fusing two diagnostic computer programs, one implementing a numerical analysis method, the other implementing a symbolic analysis method into a...

Briefs : Software
Probabilistic Reasoning for Robustness in Automated Planning

A general-purpose computer program for planning the actions of a spacecraft or other complex system has been augmented by incorporating a subprogram that reasons about uncertainties in such continuous variables as times taken to perform tasks and amounts of resources to be consumed....

Briefs : Software
Short-Term Forecasting of Radiation Belt and Ring Current

A computer program implements a mathematical model of the radiation-belt and ring-current plasmas resulting from interactions between the solar wind and the Earth's magnetic field, for the purpose of predicting fluxes of energetic electrons (10 keV to 5 MeV) and protons (10 keV to 1...

Briefs : Software
JMS Proxy and C/C++ Client SDK

JMS Proxy and C/C++ Client SDK ("JMS" signifies "Java messaging service" and "SDK" signifies "software development kit") is a software package for developing interfaces that enable legacy programs (here denoted "clients") written in the C and C++ languages to communicate with each other via a JMS broker. This...

Briefs : Software
XML Flight/Ground Data Dictionary Management

A computer program generates Extensible Markup Language (XML) files that effect coupling between the command- and telemetry-handling software running aboard a spacecraft and the corresponding software running in ground support systems. The XML files are produced by use of information from the flight...

Briefs : Software
Cross-Compiler for Modeling Space-Flight Systems

Ripples is a computer program that makes it possible to specify arbitrarily complex space-flight systems in an easy-tolearn, high-level programming language and to have the specification automatically translated into LibSim, which is a textbased computing language in which such simulations are...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Microstrip Antenna Arrays on Multilayer LCP Substrates

A research and development effort now underway is directed toward satisfying requirements for a new type of relatively inexpensive, lightweight, microwave antenna array and associated circuitry packaged in a thin, flexible sheet that can readily be mounted on a curved or flat rigid or...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Multiple-Agent Air/Ground Autonomous Exploration Systems

Autonomous systems of multipleagent air/ground robotic units for exploration of the surfaces of remote planets are undergoing development. Modified versions of these systems could be used on Earth to perform tasks in environments dangerous or inaccessible to humans: examples of tasks could...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Multiloop Rapid-Rise/Rapid Fall High-Voltage Power Supply

A proposed multiloop power supply would generate a potential as high as 1.25 kV with rise and fall times <100 μs. This power supply would, moreover, be programmable to generate output potentials from 20 to 1,250 V and would be capable of supplying a current of at least 300 μA at...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Applications for Subvocal Speech

research and development effort now underway is directed toward the use of subvocal speech for communication in settings in which (1) acoustic noise could interfere excessively with ordinary vocal communication and/or (2) acoustic silence or secrecy of communication is required. By "subvocal speech" is meant...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
A 640 x 512-Pixel Portable Long-Wavelength Infrared Camera

A portable long-wavelength infrared electronic camera having a cutoff wavelength of 9 μm has been built around an image sensor in the form of a 640 × 512- pixel array of AlxGa1–xAs/GaAs quantum well infrared photodetectors (QWIPs). This camera is an intermediate...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
An Array of Optical Receivers for Deep-Space Communications

An array of small optical receivers is proposed as an alternative to a single large optical receiver for high-data-rate communications in NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN). Because the telescope for a single receiver capable of satisfying DSN requirements must be greater than 10 m in...

Briefs : Materials
Composite Elastic Skins for Shape-Changing Structures

Composite elastic skins having tailorable mechanical properties have been invented for covering shape-changing ("morphable") structures. These skins are intended especially for use on advanced aircraft that change shapes in order to assume different aerodynamic properties.

Briefs : Materials
Glass/Ceramic Composites for Sealing Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

A family of glass/ceramic composite materials has been investigated for use as sealants in planar solid oxide fuel cells. These materials are modified versions of a barium calcium aluminosilicate glass developed previously for the same purpose. The composition of the glass in mole...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Manufacturing Large Membrane Mirrors at Low Cost

Relatively inexpensive processes have been developed for manufacturing lightweight, wide-aperture mirrors that consist mainly of reflectively coated, edge-supported polyimide membranes. The polyimide and other materials in these mirrors can withstand the environment of outer space, and the mirrors...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Double-Vacuum-Bag Process for Making Resin-Matrix Composites

A double-vacuum-bag process has been devised as a superior alternative to a single-vacuum-bag process used heretofore in making laminated fiber-reinforced resin-matrix composite-material structural components. This process is applicable to broad classes of high-performance matrix...

Briefs : Medical
Surface Bacterial-Spore Assay Using Tb3+/DPA Luminescence

Equipment and a method for rapidly assaying solid surfaces for contamination by bacterial spores are undergoing development. The method would yield a total (nonviable plus viable) spore count of a surface within minutes and a viable-spore count in about one hour. In this method, spores...

Briefs : Medical
Simplified Microarray Technique for Identifying mRNA in Rare Samples

Two simplified methods of identifying messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), and compact, low-power apparatuses to implement the methods, are at the proof-of-concept stage of development. These methods are related to traditional methods based on hybridization of nucleic acid, but...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
High-Resolution, Wide-Field-of-View Scanning Telescope

A proposed telescope would afford high resolution over a narrow field of view (<0.10°) while scanning over a total field of view nominally 16° wide without need to slew the entire massive telescope structure. The telescope design enables resolution of a 1-m-wide object in a...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Multispectral Imager With Improved Filter Wheel and Optics

Figure 1 schematically depicts an improved multispectral imaging system of the type that utilizes a filter wheel that contains multiple discrete narrow-band-pass filters and that is rotated at a constant high speed to acquire images in rapid succession in the corresponding spectral...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Compensation for Phase Anisotropy of a Metal Reflector

A method of compensation for the polarization-dependent phase anisotropy of a metal reflector has been proposed. The essence of the method is to coat the reflector with multiple thin alternating layers of two dielectrics that have different indices of refraction, so as to introduce an...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Integral Radiator and Storage Tank

A simplified, lightweight system for dissipating heat of a regenerative fuel- cell system would include a heat pipe with its evaporator end placed at the heat source and its condenser end integrated into the wall of the regenerative fuel cell system gas-storage tanks. The tank walls act as heat-radiating...

Briefs : Information Technology
Integrated Hardware and Software for No-Loss Computing

When an algorithm is distributed across multiple threads executing on many distinct processors, a loss of one of those threads or processors can potentially result in the total loss of all the incremental results up to that point. When implementation is massively hardware distributed, then...

Briefs : Information Technology
Decision-Tree Formulation With Order-1 Lateral Execution

A compact symbolic formulation enables mapping of an arbitrarily complex decision tree of a certain type into a highly computationally efficient multidimensional software object. The type of decision trees to which this formulation applies is that known in the art as the Boolean class of...

Briefs : Information Technology
GIS Methodology for Planning Planetary-Rover Operations

A document describes a methodology for utilizing image data downlinked from cameras aboard a robotic ground vehicle (rover) on a remote planet for analyzing and planning operations of the vehicle and of any associated spacecraft. Traditionally, the cataloging and presentation of large...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Optimal Calibration of the Spitzer Space Telescope

A document discusses the focal-plane calibration of the Spitzer Space Telescope by use of the instrument pointing frame (IPF) Kalman filter, which was described in "Kalman Filter for Calibrating a Telescope Focal Plane" (NPO-40798), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 30, No. 9 (September 2006), page 62. To...

Briefs : Information Technology
Automated Detection of Events of Scientific Interest

A report presents a slightly different perspective of the subject matter of “Fusing Symbolic and Numerical Diagnostic Computations” (NPO-42512), which appears elsewhere in this issue of NASA Tech Briefs. Briefly, the subject matter is the X-2000 Anomaly Detection Language, which is...

Briefs : Information Technology
Representation-Independent Iteration of Sparse Data Arrays

An approach is defined that describes a method of iterating over massively large arrays containing sparse data using an approach that is implementation independent of how the contents of the sparse arrays are laid out in memory. What is unique and important here is the decoupling of the...

Briefs : Information Technology
Mission Operations of the Mars Exploration Rovers

A document describes a system of processes involved in planning, commanding, and monitoring operations of the rovers Spirit and Opportunity of the Mars Exploration Rover mission. The system is designed to minimize command turnaround time, given that inherent uncertainties in terrain conditions...

Briefs : Information Technology
More About Software for No-Loss Computing

A document presents some additional information on the subject matter of "Integrated Hardware and Software for No-Loss Computing" (NPO-42554), which appears elsewhere in this issue of NASA Tech Briefs. To recapitulate: The hardware and software designs of a developmental parallel computing system are...

Application Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Deformable Mirror to Help NASA Search for New Planets

Boston Micromachines, a provider of MEMS-based deformable mirror products for adaptive optics systems, is developing a deformable mirror that will aid NASA in the search for extra-solar planets. The mirror comprises a micromirror array consisting of 331 closely packed ultra-flat hexagonal...

Application Briefs : Research Lab
NASA Institute Studies and Identifies Martian Land Formations

The Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) in Houston is part of the Universities Space Research Association, and is a NASAfunded institute that conducts research in the lunar, planetary, and terrestrial sciences on behalf of university science departments and NASA. The most recent...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Instrumented Spindle Improves Manufacturing of Optical Materials

High-performance materials such as ceramics, optics, and alloy steels are manufactured using abrasive grinding technology. Until now, the grinding wheel and process conditions have been difficult to measure in production.

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Flexible Laser Design Targets Low-Volume Material Processing Needs

Q-switched, diode-pumped solid-state lasers with an end-pumped cavity design are now widely used in micromachining, materials processing, marking, and related applications. They are used to process a broad range of materials including metals, glass, plastics, and semiconductors....

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Aligning Optical Fibers by Means of Actuated MEMS Wedges

Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) of a proposed type would be designed and fabricated to effect lateral and vertical alignment of optical fibers with respect to optical, electro-optical, optoelectronic, and/or photonic devices on integrated circuit chips and similar monolithic device...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Optical Characterization of Molecular Contaminant Films

A semi-empirical method of optical characterization of thin contaminant films on surfaces of optical components has been conceived. The method was originally intended for application to films that become photochemically deposited on such optical components as science windows, lenses,...

NASA Tech Needs
Eliminate Color Fading in Washable Cotton Garments

Cotton garments, especially dark-colored garments, lose their initial color through repeated washings and exposure to sunlight. Needed is a new technology or technology system that will give cotton garments improved color fastness, but which does not depend just on using a more expensive dye...

NASA Tech Needs
Frizzy Hair Control

Materials and compounded products are sought that, when deposited on hair from a leave-on or rinse-off conditioner, will control frizzy hair and leave a positive feel to the hair. Any solution must be non-toxic and safe for use by children. It should neither produce environmental difficulties in its use or manufacture, nor...

Techs for License
Database Interrelation Miner

The Interrelation Miner Methodology is a technology for multivariate statistical data analysis and outcome prediction (data mining) of either complex and/or multidimensional data sets, or of very small datasets based on statistical fuzzy set theory. This tool can be applied to any complicated data set with many...

Techs for License
Lactic-Acid-Producing Bacterial Strain

This technology has solved the problem of adding beneficial lactic-acid-producing bacteria (LAB) to both wet and dry foods that undergo processing with heat and pressure. The bacterial strain is able to withstand harsh manufacturing regimes including high- compression tableting, coating, highshear blending,...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Card Provides PCI-Based Multi-Axis Motion Control

Performance Motion Devices (Lincoln, MA) offers the Prodigy™-PCI motion card for multi-axis motion control. Available in 1-, 2-, 3-, and 4-axis versions, the card provides trajectory generation, performance trace, on-the-fly changes, and commutation. Motor type can be software- selected on...

Articles : Electronics & Computers
Sensor Interface Design Demystified
With the rapid expansion of available sensor elements driven by the growth of MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) sensors, the considerations of sensor interface design become ever more important. The design engineer needs to understand both the sensor as well as the application in order to make the proper...
Articles : Electronics & Computers
Advanced Ceramic Heaters Improve IC Packaging and System Performance

The continuous increase in the consumption of semiconductor devices and the emergence of new applications in optical components — MEMS, LCD display, flip-chip, chip-onglass, and multichip modules — has created a vast demand for faster throughput and better...

Articles : Electronics & Computers
Accelerated Testing — Raising the Bar on Electronics Integrity

By now, most test engineers have recognized that both HALT (Highly Accelerated Life Testing) and HASS (Highly Accelerated Stress Screening) are the fastest and most effective new methodologies for quickly passing design verification and testing (DVT), and the most effective...

Application Briefs : Electronics & Computers
High-Integrity Java Targets Safety-Critical Systems

High-integrity software plays critical roles in telecommunications, transportation, defense systems, industrial automation, and power management. Because human lives may be lost and tremendous economic costs may result if the software fails, the development of high-integrity software adopts...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Wired and Wireless Connectivity on One Single-Board Computer

WinSystems (Arlington, TX) has introduced the LBC-GX500, a singleboard computer based on the AMD GX500@1W processor, designed for machine-to-machine connectivity. The board is a Pentium-class CPU with an x86- native instruction set and 32KB of integrated L1 cache that runs Windows...

Products : Electronics & Computers
8-Port RS-232 Universal PCI Communication Card

The eAutomation Group of Advantech (Cincinnati, OH) has released the PCI- 1625U, an 8-port RS-232 universal PCI communication card. The PCI-1625U functions as a self-contained computer and features an onboard DSP processor that can take over the processing load from the host PC. The PCI-1625U...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Backplane and Development Chassis Provide Evaluation Platform

Molex (Lisle, IL) offers a μTCA backplane and development chassis to allow developers to build and debug μTCA designs before going to production. The backplane has a fully redundant dualstar architecture designed to run at 10 Gbps to facilitate the development of μTCA...

Products : Electronics & Computers
10-Port Industrial Ethernet Managed Switch Supports Networking Features

SIXNET (Clifton Park, NY) has introduced the ET-10MG, a 10-port industrial Ethernet managed switch offering eight 10/100 Mbps RJ45 ports plus two Gigabit combination ports for copper or fiber connections. All of the RJ45 copper ports support auto-negotiating (10/100 or...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Single-Port Power Over Ethernet Controller Enables PSE Design

Linear Technology Corp. (Milpitas, CA) has introduced the LTC4263, an autonomous single-channel Power Sourcing Equipment (PSE) controller with an onboard MOSFET for use in IEEE 802.3af Power Over Ethernet (PoE)-compliant systems. The IC functions as a single-port PSE tool that...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Platform Enables Wideband Data Links and SATCOM Processing

Mercury Computer Systems (Chelmsford, MA) has announced its integrated COTS application-ready platform for wideband data links and satellite communications (WBDLS) processing. The suite includes the Mercury Echotek™ Series ECV4-RFT 6U Wideband Remote Fiber Transceiver, which...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Pentium M-Based Slot-O Controller

KineticSystems (Lockport, IL) has announced the V155, a VXI Slot-0 controller featuring a Pentium® M embedded processor. The V155 is a single- width C-size module with 1.1-GHz, 1.6-GHz, and 1.8-GHz clocking options. It features dual Ethernet controllers that support 10BaseT, 100BaseTX, and 1000BaseT...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Real-Time Controller Enables Embedded Graphical Design

National Instruments (NI, Austin, TX), in collaboration with Freescale Semiconductor and Wind River, has developed the NI cRIO-9012 real-time controller based on Freescale's MPC5200 processor built on Power Architecture™ technology, and Wind River's VxWorks realtime operating system...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Quad DMOS Full-Bridge PWM Motor Driver

The A3988 quad DMOS full-bridge driver from Allegro MicroSystems (Worcester, MA) can drive two stepper motors or four DC motors. Each fullbridge output is rated to 1.2 A and 36 V. The A3988 includes fixed off-time pulse width modulation (PWM) current regulators; DC motors in forward, reverse, and coast...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Full-Size PICMG Single-Board Computer

ADLINK Technology (Irvine, CA) has released the NuPRO- 851 Series, a PICMG 1.0 full-size single-board computer. It features an Intel® LGA-775 for Pentium® 4 with FSB 533/800-MHz, dual-channel DDR2 memory at speeds of 400/533-MHz. The single-board computer also includes an Intel® GMA900 graphics...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Small-Form-Factor SDR Platform for Development and Optimization of Radio Designs

Xilinx (San Jose, CA) offers a Small Form Factor (SFF) Software Defined Radio (SDR) development platform allowing OEMs to develop and optimize their radio designs for low power operation. The RF-to-baseband platform provides the hardware, operating software, and...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Small-Footprint Computer Brings Web Connectivity to Embedded Controllers

The Ethersmart Wildcard™, an expansion module from Mosaic Industries (Newark, CA), enables Web connectivity to the company's embedded controllers and operator interfaces. The module can be combined with the company's QCard, a 2 × 2.5" single-board computer,...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Mid-Sized AdvancedMC Modules for Designing Wireless and Wireline Applications

Kontron America (Poway, CA) has released four AdvancedMC modules that will facilitate the security, processing, I/O, and storage configurations of pre-integrated open modular equipment designed for IMS, 3G wireless, and wireline network applications. The AM4330 IPSec...

Products : Electronics & Computers
ZigBee™ Protocol Platform Includes Transceiver and Network-Analyzer Tool

Microchip Technology (Chandler, AZ) offers three tools for IEEE 802.15.4 wireless networking. The MRF24J40 is a 2.4-GHz IEEE 802.15.4 transceiver targeted for the ZigBee™ protocol in RF applications requiring low power and RF performance. The ZENA™ wireless...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Motion-SPM Devices in SMD Packaging Optimize Board Space

Fairchild Semiconductor (South Portland, ME) has introduced the FSB50325S (250V), the FSB50250S (500V), and the FSB50450S (500V) Motion-SPM™ devices available in 29 × 12-mm surface-mount-device (SMD) packages. The Motion-SPM in SMD enables designers to achieve energy efficiency,...

Products : Electronics & Computers
Telecom Adapter for Intra-Chassis Communication

Performance Technologies (Rochester, NY) has expanded its family of communication platforms with the PCE385, a quad T1/E1/J1 PCI Express telecom adapter. The device is enabled with NexusWare Core®, the company’s Linux-based software, and includes an onboard MPC8280 PowerQUICC II™ RISC...

Products
Product of the Month: Infrared Emitters & Sensors

O P T E K Technology (Carrollton, TX) offers the OP280 series of infrared emitters, and the OP580 series of matching silicon photo sensors. The OP280 emitter series consists of three standard devices: the OP180 940-nm infrared emitter, the OP280 880-nm infrared emitter, and the OP280K 890-nm...

Articles : Photonics/Optics
Digital Servos, Software Chart New Directions in Optical Scanning

Optical scanners, or servo-controlled, limited-rotation motors with laser-beam steering mirrors, were first introduced 40 years ago by General Scanning. Since then, they have become the enabling technology behind many innovative products across many different industries, including...

Application Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Design Software Bridges Optical/Mechanical Gap for Life Sciences

The inherently interdisciplinary nature of developing instrumentation for life sciences requires a high level of collaboration between scientists and engineers across the fields of analytical or clinical chemistry, optics, mechanics, material science, and microbiology. Moreover,...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Instrumented Spindle Improves Manufacturing of Optical Materials

Lion Precision and Professional Instruments, St. Paul, Minnesota

High-performance materials such as ceramics, optics, and alloy steels are manufactured using abrasive grinding technology. Until now, the grinding wheel and process conditions have been difficult to measure in...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Flexible Laser Design Targets Low-Volume Material Processing Needs

Coherent, Inc., Santa Clara, California

Q-switched, diode-pumped solid-state lasers with an end-pumped cavity design are now widely used in micromachining, materials processing, marking, and related applications. They are used to process a broad range of materials...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Aligning Optical Fibers by Means of Actuated MEMS Wedges

Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) of a proposed type would be designed and fabricated to effect lateral and vertical alignment of optical fibers with respect to optical, electro-optical, optoelectronic, and/or photonic devices on integrated circuit chips and similar monolithic device...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Optical Characterization of Molecular Contaminant Films

A semi-empirical method of optical characterization of thin contaminant films on surfaces of optical components has been conceived. The method was originally intended for application to films that become photochemically deposited on such optical components as science windows, lenses,...

Products
Photonics West Exhibitor Preview

View these and other new products on display by exhibitors at Photonics West, January 23-25, in San Jose, CA. Visit Photonics Tech Briefs at Booth 435. Visit https://spie.org/Conferences/programs/07/pw/ for more information.

Technology Leaders