November 2002

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Flexure Rings for Centering Lenses

Specially shaped mounting rings keep lenses precisely centered, regardless of temperature, in the lens housings of cameras and other optical systems. These rings feature (1) well-defined contact spots for alignment, plus (2) relieved surfaces that form flexures to accommodate small manufacturing tolerances and...

Briefs : Materials
Lightweight Foam Pads for Helmets

Special foam pads have been developed for use in helmets. The foams in these pads have been formulated to obtain a combination of light weight, resistance to oxidation, flame retardance, superior shock-absorbing properties, and physical comfort during long use. In the original application, the pads are intended...

Briefs : Materials
Water-Borne, Silicone-Based, Primerless Paints

Water-borne, silicone- based paints for protecting metal structures against corrosion have been developed as substitutes for traditional anticorrosion paints that contain large amounts of volatile organic solvents. It is desirable to reduce the volatile-organic-compound (VOC) contents of paints in...

Briefs : Software
Computer Code for Analyzing Piezoelectric Composite Shells

SMARTSHELL is a finite-element computer program for analyzing composite-material propulsion-system structural components (including shells) that are characterized as “smart” because they contain integral piezoelectric sensors and/or actuators. The program implements a unique...

Briefs : Materials
PM Gamma Titanium Aluminide and Fabrication Techniques

A γ titanium aluminide alloy produced by a powder-metal (PM) process, and techniques for fabricating sheets and sheet-metal components from the alloy, have been developed. The alloy and techniques, used together, are expected to satisfy a need for relatively economical manufacture of...

Briefs : Materials
Composite-Material Pipes for Liquid Hydrogen

Pipes made of graphite-fiber/epoxymatrix composites have been shown to be suitable as conduits for liquid hydrogen. Conceived for as replacements for heavier metallic liquid-hydrogen feedlines in spacecraft, pipes like these could also be advantageous in terrestrial applications in which there are...

Briefs : Materials
Refractory, Oxidation-Resistant Ceramic/Carbon Insulation

Lightweight, refractory ceramic/carbon thermal-insulation materials have been invented. These materials, consist of carbon, silicon, and oxygen in suitable pro- portions combined into molecular structures that are stable at high temperatures. Insulating tiles and other components made of...

Briefs : Software
Analyzing Loads and Strains in Polymer-Matrix Composites

Strain Rate Dependent Analysis of Polymer Matrix Composites (STRANALPMC) is a computer program for analyzing strain-rate-dependent, nonlinear deformation and failure responses of composite materials in which the matrices are ductile polymers. Modified versions of the Ramaswamy-Stouffer...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Synthesis of Fuzzy-Logic Circuits in Evolvable Hardware

The synthesis of some fuzzy-logic circuits by use of evolvable hardware (EHW) has been demonstrated in an investigation of EHW as a means of auto- mated synthesis of computational-intelligence circuitry in general. This investigation is, in turn, part of continuing research on the broader...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Improved Circularly Polarized Microstrip Antenna

Two modifications improve the performance of a circularly polarized microstrip-patch-array antenna described in U.S. Patent 5,661,994. Because the phase difference between the orthogonal sides in the original design was 135°, there was substantial cross-polarization and waste of power. One...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Direct Methanol Fuel Cells for Low-Power Applications

Direct methanol fuel cells integrated with fuel reservoirs have been proposed as power sources in applications that involve power demands up to about 50 W. A prior concept of direct methanol fuel cells as alternatives to re- chargeable batteries in such applications was reported previously in...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Lithium-Ion Batteries for Demanding Applications

High-performance lithium-ion electro- chemical cells and batteries have been developed to satisfy a need for longer lifetimes and greater capacities in the power supplies of the life-support systems attached to space suits. These and similar cells and batteries could also be used on Earth to...

Briefs : Software
Software for an Autonomous Constellation of Satellites

The Autonomous Sciencecraft Constellation (ASC) software has been developed for Techsat-21 — a group of small satellites, to be launched by the Air Force Research Laboratory in 2004, intended to demonstrate the feasibility of groups of satellites cooperating in the performance of tasks....

Briefs : Software
Training by Use of Games Played via the Internet

A software system that resides on a server delivers training via the Internet to users of client computers. Admin- istrators can also interact with the system via client computers. The training lessons are in the form of trivia games, which are implemented by a game-engine software subsystem that...

Briefs : Software
Software for Designing Thermal Protection for Spacecraft

Traj and Traj.CGI are computer programs for designing thermal-protection systems (TPSs) for spacecraft that must survive re-entry into planetary atmospheres. Together with a separately developed program denoted FIAT, Traj and Traj.CGI are integral parts of NASA’s Entry Vehicle Integrated...

Briefs : Software
Software for Validating Planetary Data Volumes

The PDS Validation Toolkit is an integrated set of scripts and computer programs for determining whether data recorded on compact disk (CD) or digital video disk (DVD) conform to the standards of the Planetary Data System (PDS). The software provides both command- line and graphical user interfaces,...

Briefs : Software
Java Version of Embedded Web Software Server

Tempest is a computer program that functions as a HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) server for embedded systems. Tempest enables remote command and control of embedded systems. Tempest accepts HTTP requests from standard Webbrowser programs running on remote client computers and returns HyperText...

Briefs : Software
Image Display Component of JADE

A Java bean that offers high performance display of images has been developed as a component of the Java Advanced Display Environment (JADE) computer program.

This component works asynchronously, loading and/or computing image tiles as needed in background threads. In so doing, it enables a main...

Briefs : Software
Software for Analyzing Scientific Data Aboard a Spacecraft

A computer program designed for execution aboard an exploratory spacecraft analyzes scientific data (espec- ially image data) in order to (1) enable the reservation of limited communication re- sources for transmission of data likely to be of significant scientific value and (2) enable...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Variable Submillimeter-Wave Delay Line for Cryogenic Use

A variable delay line is being developed as part of a far-infrared or submillimeter- wavelength interferometer that would operate in a vacuum in the cryogenic temperature range. No such delay line for spatial interferometry has previously been built for operation under these...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Precise Air Bearings Redesigned

Highly precise air bearings for suspending objects over an epoxy flat floor in a laboratory have been developed. These bearings float on airgaps 3 to 5 mil (about 0.08 to 0.13 mm) thick. They are modern versions of precise air bearings, developed during the 1960s, that offer a working coefficient of friction of...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
User’s Guide for ENSAERO

A report summarizes the development, applications, and procedures for use of ENSAERO, a computer program for simulating aeroelastic phenomena (e.g., wing flutter) of aircraft and spacecraft. ENSAERO computes aeroelastic responses by simultaneously numerically integrating Euler and/or Navier-Stokes equations of airflow...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Minimally Actuated Hopping Robot

A small robot that travels by hopping has been built and tested. This is a prototype of hopping robots that would carry video cameras and possibly other sensory devices and that are under consideration for use in exploring cluttered, unpredictable terrain on distant planets. On Earth, robots like this one might...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Mobile Robot With Foveal Machine Vision

The Foveal Extra-Vehicular Activity Helper-Retriever (FEVAHR) is a mobile robot that features a hierarchical foveal machine-vision system (HFMV). The FEVAHR is a prototype of future robots that could detect, recognize, track, and pursue objects and avoid obstacles while operating autonomously, controlled...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Rotary Tool and Retractable Foot for Walking Robot

A mechanism has been developed to serve as an end effector for one of the legs of the Legged Excursion Mechanical Utility Robot (LEMUR) — a walking robot designed for demon- strating robotic cap- abilities for maintenance and repair. [The LEMUR was described in “Six-Legged Experimental...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Minirovers as Test Beds for Robotic and Sensor-Web Concepts

The figure depicts a proposed reconfigurable miniature exploratory robotic vehicle (mini- rover) that would serve as a versatile prototype in the development of exploratory robots and “smart”-sensor systems that contain them. For example, minirovers could serve as nodes of sensor...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Tool for Installing a Seal Ring Between Pipe Flanges

A tool has been devised to facilitate the accurate placement of a seal ring between the hubs of two pipe flanges that are to be clamped together. Heretofore, technicians have resorted to impro- visations that have included, variously, insertion of a ring with fingertips, lowering a ring into...

Briefs : Medical
Locating Epileptic Foci by ANN Analysis of Interictal Spikes

A diagnostic software system (DSS) now under development is intended to implement artificial neural networks (ANNs) that will analyze magnetoencephalographic (MEG) data to locate foci and epicenters of epileptic activity in human patients. This DSS is applicable to single-focus...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Electrostatic/Electrodynamic Nanoparticle-Capture Vessel

A proposed simple, portable, robust apparatus, capable of automated operation, has been proposed for collecting samples of selected biological or chemical species in harsh environments. The sampled species could range in size from molecules to nanoparticles (that is, particles with...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Radiometer for Measuring Cirrus-Cloud Ice and Water Vapor

An airborne submillimeter-wavelength radiometer, expected to be built and tested in the near future, is designed primarily to yield measurement data that can be processed to quantify the ice contents and mean sizes (and, to some extent, the shapes) of ice crystals in cirrus clouds that...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
System For Measuring Osmotic Transport Properties of a Membrane

The membrane test cell (MTC) is an automated laboratory apparatus that applies a known osmotic potential across a membrane and measures the kinetics of the resulting transport of solvents across the membrane as a function of time. Data acquired by use of the MTC should prove...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Vacuum Leak Detection Using Piezoelectric Film

A technique for detecting a small leak of gas into a vacuum involves the use of a diaphragm made of a thin film of poly (vinylidene fluoride) [PVDF]. To exploit the piezoelectricity of PVDF for this purpose, both sides of the film are coated with thin, electrically conductive layers that serve as...

Briefs : Information Technology
An Off-Line FQPSK-B Software Receiver

Software that performs the functions of an FQPSK-B receiver (and to some extent, an FQPSK-B transmitter) has been developed to reduce the risks and costs associated with the development of hardware FQPSK-B transmitters and receivers. (“FQPSK-B” signifies version B of Feher Quadrature-Phase-Shift Keying,...

Briefs : Information Technology
Update on Web Interactive Training

The Web Interactive Training (WIT) project at Kennedy Space Center has expanded its course offerings, enhanced its technical capabilities, and automated its administrative functions. Aspects of the WIT project at previous stages of development were reported in “Further Developments in Web Interactive...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Quasi-Decoupling of Shvab-Zel’dovich Variables

A paper presents some novel conclusions concerning the Shvab-Zel’dovich (SZ) vari- ables, which are linear combinations of dep- endent variables in mathematical models of multicomponent, chemically reacting flows. The SZ variables represent scalar quantities that are conserved, that is, are not...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Mechanism for Docking a Miniature Spacecraft

This report discusses a proposed docking mechanism to be located in a small hangar on the outside of the International Space Station (ISS). The mechanism would enable docking of a miniature robotic spacecraft (or free flyer) that would carry a video camera and would operate in the vicinity of the ISS....

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Emergency Tether-Deployment-and-Recoil-Mitigating Systems

A report describes an emergency tether-deployment (ETD) system designed to minimize the harm caused by two events that can occur during deployment of tethered payloads from a space shuttle in orbit. One such event is snagging of the tether during payout while the payload is near the...

Briefs : Materials
Analysis of Multilayer Thermal Insulation for Reentry

A paper presents a study of multilayer thermal insulations for protecting spacecraft against aerodynamic heating during reentry into a planetary atmosphere. A multilayer insulation considered in the study comprised (1) thin ceramic/composite foils coated with gold for high reflectance...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Assessing Energetic-Ion Effects Using Energetic Protons Only

Two reports describe a method of assessing the susceptibility of digital electronic equipment to upsets (bit errors) caused by impingement of energetic ions (both protons and heavier ions) in outer space.

The method, which is applicable at the single-component, circuit-board,...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
System Would Detect Aircraft to Turn Off Upward-Aimed Laser

An electronic system based on long-wavelength infrared (LWIR) sensors is being developed to detect aircraft flying near an upward-aimed, high-power laser beam. In the intended application, the system would alert a human laser operator and/or generate a signal to turn off the laser...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Simplified Achromatic Nulling Beam Combiner

The figure schematically depicts a proposed achromatic nulling beam combiner. This instrument is intended for use in astronomy - principally, for attenuating light from stars or other bright sources in order to enable detection of fainter objects that lie near the bright sources. In comparison with a...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Low-Loss, High-Extinction-Ratio Polarizer

An improved optical polarizer has been proposed for use with a high-energy pulsed laser. This polarizer would separate the p- and s-polarized components (the components polarized parallel and perpendicular, respectively, to a designated plane or axis) of an incoming beam of light into two outgoing beams...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Rugged Laser-Diode Oxygen Sensor

A rugged laser-diode oxygen sensor is being developed for detecting leaks of oxygen from diverse systems, including rocket engines, cryogenic systems, and medical equipment. The sensor is required to have a range of 250 to 250,000 parts per million, to be accurate within 5 percent, to be capable of operating at...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Thermography Using YVO₄:Dy³⁺

A proposed thermographic technique would exploit the unique fluorescence characteristics of yttrium vanadate doped with dysprosium (YVO4:Dy3+). The particular aspect of the fluorescence characteristics that would be exploited in this technique is the relative intensity of emitted light as a...

Briefs : Materials
Carbon-Composite Heat-Sinking Submounts for Laser Diodes

Carbon-composite submounts tipped with diamond are being developed as improved means of dissipating heat generated in high-power laser diodes. Copper is the traditional heat-sinking material for many applications other than laser diodes; it is not suitable for heat-sinking submounts for...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Estimating White-Light-lnterferometer Phases in Dim Light

A method has been developed to increase the accuracy of estimates of phase differences attributable to the optical-path-length difference between the arms of a long-baseline, white-light interferometer. The method is intended for use in the Space Interferometer Mission (SIM), in which...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Semiconductor Quantum Dots as Radiation-Hard Light Emitters

Light-emitting devices based on semiconductor quantum dots have been shown to be suitable for use in environments that include high levels of radiation that causes displacement damage in semiconductors - in particular, energetic protons. Conventional light-emitting diodes and other...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Optical-Based Method for Characterizing Protein Crystals

A method of characterization of growing of protein crystals involves the utilization of an optical imaging technique known as spatial phase imaging. The methods used heretofore have been, variously, invasive (e.g., adding a dye that is absorbed by the protein of interest), destructive...

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