November 2015

Question of the Week
Will Li-Fi catch on?

This week's Question: A technology called ìLi-Fiî uses light waves from ordinary LED light bulbs to deliver internet connectivity that, according to its creators, is cheaper, more secure, and 100 times faster that broadband internet. Velmini ó a tech company in Tallinn, Estonia ó is the first to test visible light...

News : Sensors/Data Acquisition
'Invisible' Wires Improve Solar-Cell Efficiency

Scientists from Stanford University have discovered how to make the electrical wiring on top of solar cells nearly invisible to incoming light. The new design, which uses silicon nanopillars to hide the wires, could dramatically boost solar-cell efficiency.

In most solar cells, the upper...

News : Test & Measurement
NASA Studies How Volcanic Ash Affects Airplane Engines

NASA researchers are poring over data from a recent test that involved sending volcanic ash through an airplane engine. The primary issue, according to NASA, is that volcanic ash forms glass in the hot sections of some engines that clogs cooling holes and chokes off flow within the engine,...

News : Robotics, Automation & Control
Army’s “Robo-Raven” UAV Flies with Flapping Wings

In the future, it's possible that some unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) might sport wings that flap like a bird or a butterfly. The Army Research Lab has been testing such a UAV, known as Robo-Raven.

News : Test & Measurement
Remotely Piloted Plane Bridges Gap Between Wind Tunnel and Crewed Testing

A new modular, subscale remotely piloted aircraft offers NASA researchers more affordable options for developing a wide range of cutting edge aviation and space technologies. The Prototype-Technology Evaluation and Research Aircraft (PTERA) flying laboratory bridges the...

Question of the Week
Is it possible to empathize with robots as we do with humans?

This week's Question: According to a recent study by researchers in Japan, our brain's empathetic reaction toward humanoid robots in perceived pain is similar to that toward humans in the same situation. The researchers hooked up 15 healthy adults to electroencephalography (EEG)...

News : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Gamma-Ray Spectroscope Supports Asteroid Mining Missions

A new gamma-ray spectroscope detects the veins of gold, platinum, and rare earths hidden within the asteroids, moons, and other airless objects floating around the solar system. The sensor, developed by teams at Vanderbilt and Fisk Universities, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the...

Who's Who
Al Bowers, Chief Scientist, Armstrong Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA

Al Bowers is the program manager of Preliminary Research Aerodynamic Design to Lower Drag, or Prandtl-d. The project’s researchers validated elements of a boomerang-shaped wing design that could greatly improve the efficiency of future aircraft.

News : Energy
Sonic Tractor Beams Lift and Move Objects Using Sound Waves

Tractor beams are mysterious rays that can grab and lift objects. Now, researchers have built a working tractor beam that uses high-amplitude sound waves to generate an acoustic hologram that can pick up and move small objects.

News : Communications
Positioning Systems Improve Airport Logistics

Tow tractors, pushback tractors, tankers, luggage carts, air cargo, and catering vehicles crowd airport aprons. Poor weather conditions impede work on the apron even more. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF in Magdeburg are part of the EU project...

News : Motion Control
Tiny Carbon-Capturing Motors Could Clean up Carbon Dioxide Pollution

Machines that are much smaller than the width of a human hair could one day help clean up carbon dioxide pollution in the oceans. Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego have designed enzyme-functionalized micromotors that rapidly zoom around in water, remove...

News : Motion Control
Single-Molecule Nanosubmarines Powered by Light

Rice University scientists have created light-driven, single-molecule submersibles that contain just 244 atoms. The motors of the "nanosubmarines" run at more than a million RPM, and the sub's top speed amounts to less than 1 inch per second.

News : Green Design & Manufacturing
Researchers Develop Shock-Based Desalination Process

A team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has come up with an innovative approach that, unlike most traditional desalination systems, does not separate ions or water molecules with filters, which can become clogged, or boiling, which consumes great amounts of energy.

Question of the Week
Will jetpacks ever become a viable means of transport?

This week's Question: Dubai's civil defence force has agreed to a deal with Martin Aircraft, the New Zealand-based creator of a single-person jetpacks. Dubai has announced an initial order for up to 20 Martin jetpacks, plus simulators and a training package, for delivery next year. Lt Col...

News : Sensors/Data Acquisition
New Tool Guides Infrastructure Recovery After Disasters

A new computerized tool guides stakeholders in preparing for, and recovering from, natural and man-made disasters such as the cyclones in India that knocked out swaths of the Indian Railways Network. The method, developed by Northeastern University researchers, guides stake­holders in the...

News : Sensors/Data Acquisition
NASA Instruments Used in German Alternative Fuels Research

Working in collaboration with the German Aerospace Center (DLR), NASA's aeronautical innovators supplied several key instruments for the DLR's Emissions and Climate Impacts of Alternative Aviation Fuels (ECLIF) experiments. NASA instruments are placed about 100 feet behind a parked DLR...

News : Transportation
Autonomous DeLorean Guides Development of Self-Driving Electric Cars

Stanford engineers built an autonomous DeLorean capable of stable, precise drifting at large angles in order to study how cars perform in extreme situations, which could ultimately guide the development of autonomous safety protocols. Named MARTY – Multiple Actuator Research...

News : Energy
Real-Time Data for Smart Electric Mobility

An electronic system was developed that acquires data in real time and exchanges it across borders of systems in a standardized manner. The system makes electric vehicles more reliable and economically efficient. The electronic system is a configurable control unit in the vehicle with a telematics...

News : Aerospace
NASA Confirms That Liquid Water Flows on Today’s Mars

New findings from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) provide the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars. Using an imaging spectrometer on MRO, researchers detected signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where mysterious streaks are seen on...

News : Electronics & Computers
Simple Material Gives Electronics a Power Boost

The tiny transistor is the heart of the electronics revolution, and Penn State scientists have discovered a way to give this workhorse a big boost, using a new technique to incorporate vanadium oxide into the electronic devices. Vanadium dioxide is just a specific combination of the elements...

News : Electronics & Computers
Nanotechnology Increases Storage Capability of Dielectric Capacitors

Capacitors are key components of portable electronics, computing systems, and electric vehicles. In contrast to batteries, which offer high storage capacity, but slow delivery of energy, capacitors provide fast delivery, but poor storage capacity. A great deal of effort has...

Question of the Week
Will Robot Taxis Take the Streets by 2020?

This week's Question: Japan’s cabinet office and the Tokyo-based Robot Taxi Inc. said they will start experimenting with an unmanned taxi service beginning in 2016. The transportation will be offered for approximately 50 people in Southern Tokyo, with the autonomous car bringing users from their homes...

News : Materials
Single-Layer Material Mimics Photosynthesis

A Florida State University researcher has discovered an artificial material that mimics photosynthesis and potentially creates a sustainable energy source. The new material efficiently captures sunlight; then, the energy can be used to break down water into oxygen (O2) and hydrogen...

News : Electronics & Computers
NASA Completes Heat Shield Test for Future Mars Vehicles

As NASA missions to Mars progress, spacecraft will require larger heat shields to protect against the extreme heat of entering a planet's atmosphere and decelerating at a safe altitude in the thin Martian atmosphere. NASA’s Adaptive Deployable Entry and Placement Technology (ADEPT) is a...

News : Medical
Mobile Eye-Test Device Could Lead to Prescription Virtual-Reality Screens

MIT’s Netra, a plastic, binocular-like headset attaches in the front to a smartphone. Users peer through the headset at the phone’s display. Patterns, such as separate red and green lines or circles, appear on the screen. The user turns a dial to align the patterns and...

Question of the Week
Will virtual air-traffic control replace traditional towers?

This week’s Question: On Oct. 1, Colorado’s Fort Collins-Loveland airport was approved as the first testing ground for the Federal Aviation Administration’s own virtual air-traffic control tower system. Through a system of computers, cameras, and recording devices, human...

News : Materials
Researchers Weld the Un-Weldable

Despite recent advances in materials design, alternative metals still pose a challenge to manufacturers in practice. Many are considered un-weldable by traditional means, in part because high heat and re-solidification weaken the metals.

Engineers at The Ohio State University have developed a new welding...

Briefs : Materials
Using Paraffin Phase Change Material to Make Optical Communication-Type Payloads Thermally Self-Sufficient for Operation in Orion Crew Module

The Orion Crew Module has a pressurized cabin of approximately 20 m3 in volume. There are a number of cold plates within the Crew Module for thermal management. An optical communication type of payload...

Briefs : Materials
Aerogel-Filled Foam Core Insulation for Cryogenic Propellant Storage

Current cryogenic insulation materials suffer from various drawbacks including high cost and weight, lack of structural or load-bearing capability, fabrication complexity, and property anisotropy. A need clearly exists for lightweight thermal insulation that is isotropic and...

Briefs : Materials
Multifunctional B/C Fiber Composites for Radiation Shielding

A versatile, novel, multifunctional hybrid structural composite of a high-hydrogen epoxy matrix (UN-10) coupled with boron and carbon fibers (IM-7) has been developed. Prototype laminates of 18×18 in. (≈46×46 cm), with the nominal areal density of 0.35 g/cm2, were...

Briefs : Materials
Smart MMOD Thermal Blanket

This innovation provides for significantly improved protection from micrometeoroid and orbital debris (MMOD) particles, and reliably determines the location, depth, and extent of MMOD impact damage.

Briefs : Materials
Using Black Polyimide/Kevlar as a Metering Structure Multi-Layer Insulation (MLI)

Metering structures of remote sensing instruments often have large openings or access holes. Shear panels that are X-shaped, such as those proposed for the Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER), generally consist of C-channels and L-brackets to...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Dynamic Weather Routes (DWR)

Convective weather systems, i.e., thunderstorms, are the leading cause of flight delay in U.S. airspace. Airline dispatchers must file their flight plans 1 to 2 hours before takeoff, and are often required to incorporate large buffers to forecast weather. Weather changes as flights progress, and airline dispatchers,...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
ATMS Antenna Beam Analysis Software

The Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS) Antenna Beam Analysis Software uses a suite of test data to calculate the ATMS instrument beam pointing, and secondarily, the polarization state, in the coordinates of the onboard optical cube. The software uses measurement inputs of RF radiation pattern...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
LabNotes Mobile App for Instrument Control and Data Collection

Most instruments under development rely on a traditional computer or laptop, LabVIEW software, and data acquisition (DAQ) components (which interface between the instrument and the computer) to operate an instrument and collect data. While this solution is extremely versatile, it is...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
GRAVITE Incinerator

Government Resource for Algorithm Verification, Independent Test, and Evaluation (GRAVITE) system is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) system, developed and deployed by Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) Ground Project to support Calibration and Validation (Cal/Val), Data Quality Monitoring, and...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
GRAVITE Distribution

Government Resource for Algorithm Verification, Independent Test, and Evaluation (GRAVITE) system is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) system, developed and deployed by Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) Ground Project to support Calibration and Validation (Cal/Val), Data Quality Monitoring, and...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition

Government Resource for Algorithm Verification, Independent Test, and Evaluation (GRAVITE) system is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) system, developed and deployed by Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) Ground Project to support Calibration and Validation (Cal/Val), Data Quality Monitoring, and Algorithm...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
GRAVITE Upload Tool

Government Resource for Algorithm Verification, Independent Test, and Evaluation (GRAVITE) system is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) system, developed and deployed by Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) Ground Project to support Calibration and Validation (Cal/Val), Data Quality Monitoring, and...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
SMAP SDS Science Processing and Data Management System

The Science Processing and Data Management (SPDM) system’s primary functions are to control and monitor science processes and data products for Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) Science Data System (SDS). SPDM adapts the Apache/OODT Framework 0.3 as the basic infrastructure. Although the...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Hyperlinked Overview of Piloted Evaluations (HOPE) Web- Based Data Archive

The Hyperlinked Overview of Piloted Evaluations (HOPE) application provides an interface for users to enter data on pilots, metrics, configurations, tasks, and data collection sessions, as well as descriptive information for each item and the experiment as a whole. As...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
GRAVITE Database

Government Resource for Algorithm Verification, Independent Test, and Evaluation (GRAVITE) system is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) system, developed and deployed by Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) Ground Project to support Calibration and Validation (Cal/Val), Data Quality Monitoring, and Algorithm...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition

Government Resource for Algorithm Verification, Independent Test, and Evaluation (GRAVITE) system is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Ad - ministration (NOAA) system, developed and deployed by Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) Ground Project to support Calibration and Validation (Cal/Val), Data Quality Monitoring, and...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Signal Processing for High-Temperature Health Monitoring of Condensed Water Height in Steam Pipes

An algorithm for analyzing wave reflections and time-of-flight ultrasonic pulse-echo data has been developed for monitoring the health of steam pipes to determine the height of condensed water through the wall in real time, at temperatures up to 250...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Satellite Situation Update

Satellite Situation Update (SSUP) software shows the current locations of a selected set of orbiting spacecraft, along with each satellite’s ground track and/or orbit shape. SSUP is intended as a real-time display, showing multiple spacecraft, that is suitable for a large wall monitor meant to be in public spaces for...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Autonomous Micro Aerial Vehicle Flight Using Optical Flow and Inertial Cues

Micro aerial vehicles (MAVs) are agile and have unstable flight dynamics. They require a failsafe method to be navigated through areas even without GPS coverage. The approach of this work is to use only the feature matches between two consecutive images, i.e. optical...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Universal Robotically Operated Leave-Behind Gripper

This universal robotically operated leavebehind gripper allows robotic (or extravehicular activity — EVA) attachment capability of any object at eight existing types of attachments at the International Space Station (ISS). It enables expansion of external stowage and payload sites to include...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
DshellCommon Simulation Framework

DshellCommon software has been developed for specifying and executing generic multibody system simulations. This innovation helps the user create and execute simulations for mechanisms, vehicles, spacecraft, or other systems by making it easier to write simulation “run scripts” for systems that vary from...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Neutrally Buoyant Tank Inspection and Cleaning Robot

Huge savings in cost and inspection times (as well as improved safety) could be obtained by performing in-service inspection of tank floors and walls with robotic devices. This would have a reduced environmental impact and meet EPA and state regulations.

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Visualization and Introspection for Teleoperation of Robotic Systems

The Space Exploration and Analysis Simulations (SEAS) project at JPL performs analysis of advanced mission and system concepts on behalf of NASA. One of the concepts being explored involves operation of robotic rovers on the Moon from a remote operator station located either at...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Robotic Exoskeleton (EXO)

The Exoskeleton (EXO) is a device that falls into a new classification of robotics called wearable robots. On-orbit applications include countermeasures and dynamometry, allowing for continual assessment of a person’s muscle strength while aboard the International Space Station. Due to its small, compact size and...

Briefs : Aerospace
Shuttle Orbiter Entry Aero Reconstruction Tool

A new tool calculates vehicle aerodynamic flight parameters from observed flight trajectory. These flight-observed parameters are then compared to the expected aerodynamic parameters for a nominal vehicle flying the same trajectory. The differences in the observed versus expected aerodynamic...

Briefs : Aerospace
C++ Aerospace Vehicle Modeling Software

This collection of C++ classes allows users to create and simulate aerospace vehicle models that are needed to test prototyped display software. A software model of the Apollo LEM spacecraft was developed on a Windows-based PC, and was used for initial testing and research of cockpit displays. The model...

Briefs : Aerospace
Autonomous Quadrotor Safety System

Autonomous operations of small unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs (quadrotors), require safety modules to alert a human operator of a critical system state, or even take over control of the vehicle entirely to initiate a pre-defined safety maneuver during an emergency (e.g. an emergency landing when a radio link...

Briefs : Aerospace
Spot and Runway Departure Advisor (SARDA)

The Spot and Runway Departure Advisor, or SARDA, is NASA’s contribution to improving the efficiency of airport surface operations. It is the centerpiece of a partnership among airlines, airports, and air traffic controllers to improve operations at the nation’s busiest airports.

Briefs : Aerospace
Two-Phase Airborne Security Search

This innovation is an airborne area security search system and method that features a two-phase search from an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) using a novel combination of sensor technologies not previously employed. Its key strength is a wide-area search at high resolution for reliable identification of objects....

Briefs : Aerospace
Blended Cutout Flap for Reduction of Jet-Flap Interaction Noise

An aircraft trailing edge device, coupled with an aircraft wing, provides a reduction in jet-flap interaction noise while preserving the aerodynamic load capacity of the trailing edge. Embodiments of the present invention provide a trailing edge flap device that includes a center...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Fault Recovery for Multi-Phase Power Converters

A fault recovery method for multiphase power converters enables delivery of reduced output power of as much as 66% of normal power in the event of a shorted power switch component. The need for redundant power converters in conventional multi-phase space power systems is reduced, if not eliminated....

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Isolated Bidirectional DC Converters for Distributed Battery Energy Applications

Power systems are the core heartbeat of any advanced vehicle. Reliability and flexibility of these systems are of the highest priority. This innovation is a highly efficient and modular isolated bidirectional DC converter for battery energy applications that has...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Device Accommodating Volume Expansion and Contraction for Water-Ice Phase Change Material Heat Sinks

This invention accommodates the volume expansion and contraction of water ice as it freezes and thaws, thus enabling the use of water as a phase change material (PCM) for thermal energy storage. Due to the relatively large volume expansion of...

Briefs : Aerospace
High-Power, Solid-State Power Amplifier System

The purpose of the invention was to increase the operational power levels of solid-state power amplifiers using state-ofthe- art power amplifier design and combining methodology. Using 1-kW RF modules and proper RF combining techniques, a system was built that generated 16 kW of RF power for use in...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
H2O/NaCl-Based Radio Frequency Power Load

The purpose of the invention was to increase the operational power levels of power loads as well as improve the overall reliability and safety of existing systems. Using water (H2O), table salt (NaCl) or some other form of salt, and a matching network, an RF power load can be built to absorb...

Briefs : Software
Discovery Through Eigenbasis Modeling of Uninteresting Data

When presented with a new data set, a common initial goal is to explore its contents in a discovery mode to find items of interest. However, each user who views the data set may have a different scientific goal in mind, and therefore a different desired prioritization of the items for...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Obstacle Avoidance Methods

Obstacle avoidance is a difficult problem due to the non-convex state constraints. Therefore, the feasible state space needs to be convexified, or split, into convex regions at which point the search for an optimal solution among those convex regions is done. Methods for obstacle avoidance include two mixed integer...

Briefs : Information Technology
Bar Code Scanner to Supplement Property Inventory Process

Within NASA Goddard, property inventories outside of the formal inventories had no automated method to perform quick checks of equipment location, especially during periods leading up to a formal inventory. One method that existed simply involved printing out an end-user’s equipment in...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Semantic Language and Tools for Reporting Human Factors Incidents

This human factors incident reporting tool for authoring and using human factors incident data combines semantic Web technologies with automated assistive technologies to aid users in finding relationships among incidents. The semantic indexing provided by the use of incident...

Briefs : Software
Control Software for Integrated CW Radar Module

This software controls the behavior of a miniaturized microwave radar module. It controls the hardware, digitizes raw samples from the analog output of the module, and applies DSP (digital signal processing) algorithms to the data stream to reduce the bandwidth and data rate. It also implements an...

Briefs : Software
Furuno Radar/SureTrak Interface Software

The Wallops Flight Facility Launch Range has a need to interface data from ship surveillance Furuno radar to an existing surveillance display system (SureTrak). SureTrak is a multi-sensor waterway and air surveillance system. The display of Furuno radar data by the SureTrak system will be used for risk...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
An Empirical Metric of Individual Datapoint Utility Given Ample Metadata as Applied to the OCO-2 Flight System

Traditionally, quality flags provided a binary yes/no estimation of a datapoint’s utility. However, in modern instrumentation, significant auxiliary information for each datapoint can be obtained. This permits prediction of more than...

Briefs : Information Technology
Gravitational Compensation Onboard a Comsat

This technique for compensating the gravitational attraction experienced by a test-mass freely floating onboard a satellite is new, and solves an important problem that all gravitational wave missions face. Its application to the geostationary Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (gLISA) mission concept...

Briefs : Software
Open Scheduling and Planning Interface for Exploration (Open SPIFe)

In order to accomplish mission objectives, NASA must be able to plan and sequence assets (spacecraft and astronauts) in a short amount of time. Planning is a complex process that involves reasoning about thousands of constraints and uncertain conditions in order to produce a...

Briefs : Software
AMMOS-PDS Pipeline Service (APPS) — Label Design Tool (LDT)

A software program builds PDS4 science product label (metadata) and automatically generates its description as part of the software interface specification (SIS) document. This software allows the mission system engineer to interact programmatically with the PDS4 information model,...

Briefs : Software
Activity Model Problem Translator

The Problem Translator is a software program that translates functional Unified Modeling Language (fUML) activity models into a behavior-based computational problem representation language called Behavior XML (BXML). The BXML translation may then be solved by engines such as the Behavior and Analysis Engine. The...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Ontological System for Context Artifacts and Resources (OSCAR)

Current data systems catalog and link data using a synthetic modeling approach that requires much domain knowledge in order to interact with the system. Domain knowledge includes what keyword to look for and how data artifacts are linked. OSCAR offers a semantic solution to data...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers

SPSCGR generates a contact graph suitable for use by the ION (Interplanetary Overlay Network) DTN (Delay/Disruption Tolerant Network) implementation from data provided by the JPL SPS (Service Preparation System) Portal. Prior to SPSCGR, there was no way for a mission or other entity to route DTN traffic across the DSN without manually...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Retools: Restriping Tools for Lustre

Modern parallel file systems achieve high performance by distributing (“striping”) the contents of a single file across multiple physical disks to overcome single-disk I/O bandwidth limitations. The striping characteristics of a file determine how many disks it will be striped across and how large each...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Method and Program Code for Improving Machine Efficiency in the Computation of Nearly-Singular Integrals

Currently, there is a need for the computational handling of near-singularities that arise in many branches of physics, particularly for handling near-strong singularities. An example of such singularities is presented by the case of...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Optical Alignment of the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Spacecraft

Theodolite autocollimation metrology continues to play an important part in spacecraft optical alignment. Spacecraft optical alignment is both art and science for using optical instruments to place or determine the orientation and envelope of critical components on...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Low-Excess-Noise, High-Gain Avalanche Photodiodes

Avalanche photodiodes (APDs) are widely used to sense and amplify optical signals into electric signals based on their high quantum efficiency of photon detection and desirable internal gain. The high internal gain associated with APDs, however, may also lead to increased levels of excess noise...

Photonics Tech Briefs : Photonics/Optics
A Novel Approach to Liquid-Level Sensing Using Fiber Bragg Grating Technology (CryoFOSS)

The Cryogenic Fiber Optic Sensing System (CryoFOSS) offers an approach to liquid-level sensing that uses fiber optic Bragg sensor technology. The innovation is able to sense liquid levels to within 1/4-inch spatial resolution and can actively discern between...

Photonics Tech Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Radiation Design of Ion Mass Spectrometer for Europa

An ion mass spectrometer was developed (IMS) that can operate in the high radiation environment of Jupiter’s magnetosphere and its icy moons. If successful, this instrument will provide the first plasma composition measurements within Jupiter’s magnetosphere. This entails development of...

Photonics Tech Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Algorithm for Determining Solar Aspect from Images Generated by the HEROES Mission

The goal of the High Energy Replicated Optics to Explore the Sun (HEROES) mission was to adapt an existing balloon payload, known as High Energy Replicated Optics (HERO), for solar observation. HERO used an on-axis star camera for fine aspect sensing, but this...

Photonics Tech Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Semiconductor Quantum Cascade Lasers Fabricated Without Epitaxial Regrowth

Laser absorption spectroscopy has emerged as one of the most important applications for semiconductor quantum cascade (QC) lasers, particularly in the mid-infrared spectral regime where many gases of interest exhibit fundamental absorption features. Laser absorption...

Photonics Tech Briefs : Photonics/Optics
MEMS Glow Discharge Plasma Electron and Ion Source

A microelectromechanical system (MEMS) glow discharge plasma electron and ion source (GDEIS) was designed for operation in high-pressure environments such as planetary atmospheres for mass spectroscopy. Glow discharge electron/ ion sources create electrons and ions from gas molecules in an...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Conformal Nanotube Baffle for a Compact Coronagraph

The development of a conformal nanotube process is enabling for many applications in solar physics and space astrophysics (e.g., direct detection and imaging of exoplanets). Coronagraphs are key heliophysics instruments because they image coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which are the most...

Photonics Tech Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Fabrication of Ion Optics Using Additive Manufacturing

Ion optics, or grids, for ion thrusters or ion sources are traditionally made by subtractive manufacturing methods such as milling/drilling or chemically etching holes from thin sheets of bulk material. This innovation uses additive manufacturing (AM), or 3D printing, to build the grids from...

Photonics Tech Briefs : Photonics/Optics
A 16-Beam, Non-Scanning, Swath-Mapping Laser Altimeter Instrument

The purpose of this work was to develop and demonstrate technologies for a next-generation, efficient, swath-mapping space laser altimeter. The Lidar Surface Topography (LIST) mission concept allows simultaneous measurements of 5-meter-spatial-resolution topography and vegetation...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Non-Intrusive, On-Line, Simultaneous Multi-Species Impurity Monitor for Hydrogen Gas

In testing hydrogen-fueled engines, the purity of the hydrogen fuel is important. Hydrogen may become contaminated with nitrogen (N2), argon (Ar), or oxygen (O2), thereby making the hydrogen unusable for engine testing at Stennis Space...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
X1 Human Interface Detection System (HIDS)

This innovation is a sensor technology that can detect pressures, such as ground force reactions, down to 30 g in weight with a minimum resolution of 5 × 5 mm (resolution dictated by the limitations of the resistor grid array). This device uses a commercially available resistor grid array and custom...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Spacesuit Glove Cut/Damage Warning System

Current spacesuit gloves used by astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) have sustained cuts during extravehicular activities (EVAs) due to sharp edges and burrs, possibly on damaged ISS handrails. A warning system in the glove would aid in identifying the location of sharp objects and the...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
An Alternative Molecular Sexing Method for the Florida Scrub-jay

A new method of molecular sexing is described that helps to understand population dynamics of the Florida Scrub-jay (FSJ). FSJ is an endemic, nonmigratory, monomorphic species of bird found on the Florida peninsula in lowgrowing oak or pine scrub. The current conservation status...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) Science Simulator

The SWOT Science Simulator simulates projected SWOT altimetry observations that can be applied to an ocean general circulation model, allowing the exploration of ideas and methods to optimize information retrieval from the proposed SWOT Mission, which is currently baselined to launch in...

Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
Digital Elevation Model Maker (DEMmaker)

The DEMmaker suite of software applications produces data products containing surface shape, reflectivity, and geomorphology (craters and rocks) for a desired planetary surface based on statistically accurate size and frequency distributions of geologic and surface impact features. The current version can...

Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
Terrestrial Observation and Prediction System (TOPS)

TOPS is a modeling software system that integrates data from satellite, aircraft, and ground sensors, and weather/climate models with application models to expeditiously produce operational nowcasts and forecasts of ecological conditions. TOPS allows determination of the options for different...

Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
Images of Change for iPad

Images of Change provides a user-friendly mobile interface for exploring an extensive gallery of land-based and space-based images showing dramatic change over time on Earth. Hosted on NASA’s Global Climate Change website, Images of Change is designed to raise awareness of climate change, inspire curiosity and...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Characteristics of the Spliced Kennedy Space Center Doppler Radar Wind Profiler Database

NASA relies on the Natural Environments (NE) Branch located at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) to provide databases that represent the wind magnitudes and wind changes expected on day-of-launch (DOL) for vehicle programs that MSFC NE supports. MSFC NE...

Products : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Products of Tomorrow: November 2015

The technologies NASA develops don’t just blast off into space. They also improve our lives here on Earth. Life-saving search-and-rescue tools, implantable medical devices, advances in commercial aircraft safety, increased accuracy in weather forecasting, and the miniature cameras in our cellphones are just...

Articles : Aerospace
2015 Create the Future Design Contest

The 2015 Create the Future Design Contest — sponsored by COMSOL, Mouser Electronics, and Tech Briefs Media Group (publishers of NASA Tech Briefs) — recognized innovation in product design in seven categories: Aerospace & Defense, Automotive/ Transportation, Consumer Products, Electronics,...

Articles : Aerospace
2015 Create the Future Design Contest: Grand Prize Winner

Non-Surgical Circulatory Support Device for the Treatment of Chronic Heart Failure

Omar Benavides, Benjamin Hertzog, Jace Heuring, Reynolds
Delgado, and Will Clifton
Procyrion, Inc.
Houston, TX

Procyrion is developing the first catheter-deployed heart...

Articles : Aerospace
2015 Create the Future Design Contest: Aerospace & Defense Category Winner

N5 Filo (First-In-Last-Out): An Ultra-Small, Low-Cost Hazardous Gas Detector Using Novel Chip-Scale Chemical Sensor Technology

Abhishek Motayed, Ratan Debnath, Baomei Wen, Audie Castillo, Ting Xie, and Gavin Liu, N5 Sensors Inc., Rockville, MD

N5 Sensors...

Articles : Automotive
2015 Create the Future Design Contest: Automotive & Transportation Category Winner

Smart Coating for Corrosion Detection and Protection

Luz Marina Calle NASA Kennedy Space Center, FL

Researchers, at NASA Kennedy Space Center’s (KSC) Corrosion Technology Laboratory have developed a smart, environmentally friendly coating system...

Articles : Electronics & Computers
2015 Create the Future Design Contest: Electronics Category Winner

Real-Time Fiber Optic Sensing System

Lance Richards
NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center
Edwards, CA

A team at NASA Armstrong has developed fiber optic sensing system (FOSS) technology that represents a major breakthrough in high-speed operational...

Articles : Robotics, Automation & Control
2015 Create the Future Design Contest: Machinery/Automation/Robotics Category Winner

Compact, Long-Reach Robotic Arm

William R. Doggett, John T. Dorsey, George G. Ganoe, Thomas C. Jones, and Cole K. Corbin, Langley Research Center (Hampton, VA); Bruce D. King, Lockheed Martin (Bethesda, MD); and Charles D. Mercer, Stinger Ghaffarian...

Articles : Aerospace
2015 Create the Future Design Contest: Consumer Products Category Winner

Modular Jet Ski: No Trailer, Affordable, High-Performance

Anders Stubkjaer
BomBoard LLC
Whitewater, WI

Millions of water enthusiasts have no practical and affordable way to enjoy a high-performance watercraft close to home. Jet skis typically...

Articles : Medical
2015 Create the Future Design Contest: Medical Category Winner

Smart X-ray Source

Mark Eaton
Austin, TX

Since the discovery of x-rays 110 years ago, affordable x-ray sources have all been point source x-ray tubes in which x-rays are generated at a single spot on an anode by a single electron beam...

Briefs : Data Acquisition
GRAVITE Pull Server

Government Resource for Algorithm Verification, Independent Test, and Evaluation (GRAVITE) system is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) system, developed and deployed by Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) Ground Project to support Calibration and Validation (Cal/Val), Data Quality Monitoring, and...

Articles : Green Design & Manufacturing
2015 Create the Future Design Contest: Sustainable Technologies Category Winner

ECHY: Solar Lighting with Fiber Optics

Stephanie Le Beuze
Ile-de-France, France

For many, artificial light has completely replaced natural light. Lighting can account for up to 50% of building electricity consumption, and up to 56%...

Application Briefs : Aerospace
Computers Record and Maintain Video and Data on Space Station
GE Intelligent Platforms
Northamptonshire, England
+44 (0)1327 322821

Two CR11 single-board computers (SBCs) from GE Energy Management’s Intelligent Platforms were deployed and are fully operational onboard the International Space...

Application Briefs : Aerospace
Steel Chassis Lets Space Vehicles Traverse Grueling Terrain
Off-Road International,
a Racefab Inc. company
Rusk, TX

The structural panels and chassis for NASA’s latest rovers are being built and analyzed by Off-Road International to traverse unpredictable terrain. The...

Articles : Aerospace
Thermally Conductive Adhesives Bring Specialized Solutions to Complex Design Challenges

Thermally conductive adhesives are uniquely qualified to meet the increasingly diverse requirements of advanced electronics systems. From their traditional use as fastening materials, adhesives find wide application in bonding and encapsulation in nearly...

Articles : Aerospace
LED Lighting Enables Better Sleep and Wake Cycles

Because NASA is planning for future visits to distant locations like Mars, the agency is researching how to grow plants in space. Live plants on space missions provide a nutritious food...

Products : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Product of the Month: November 2015

Honeywell, Minneapolis, MN, announced the Amplified Basic Pressure (ABP) sensors for small and low-power devices. The ABP sensors feature wet-media compatibility, as well as sleep mode and temperature output options, making them suitable for Internet of Things (IoT) applications. Measuring 8 x 7 millimeters,...

Articles : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Imaging Sensor Eliminates Extraneous Light

A new imaging sensor created by a team at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Toronto allows depth cameras to operate effectively in bright sunlight. The researchers, including Srinivasa Narasimhan, CMU associate professor of robotics, developed a mathematical model to help cameras capture...

Articles : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Authentication by Heart: Radar's New Role in Biometrics

The field of wireless vital sign monitoring has a relatively long history, almost as long as radar itself. Doppler radar has been the primary sensor technology for detecting blood flow or fetal heart rate. Over the past decade, there has been an increasing interest and need for creating...

Articles : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Finding the Right Custom Magnetic Sensor For Your Application

Successful magnetic circuits are built upon proper planning and design principles. Experienced design engineers take a holistic approach to the design process by considering the full magnetic circuit. Open communication between the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) team and the...

Application Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Highway Sensor Deployment Gives Valuable Data to ‘Connected’ Drivers

In an effort to improve traffic flow, driver safety, and asset management, the Michigan Department of Transportation (DOT) has installed 17 sensors on a 50-mile stretch of one of the state’s busy Interstate highways. The “connected corridor” deployment will provide...

Articles : Photonics/Optics
Using Radiation-Hardened Optoelectronic Devices

Optoelectronic components must be protected from the radiation they are exposed to in military, space and nuclear environments to prevent malfunction and damage. Radiation hardening electronics makes them resistant to this damage by letting them retain characteristics, and keeps imaging and...

Articles : Photonics/Optics
How Quantum Dots and Ultra HD Are Changing the Way TV Displays Are Made

Chances are you’re familiar with HDTV. Most of us have one of these in our living rooms. In fact, according to a recent study, more than 80% of US residents probably have at least one HDTV in their homes. And there’s a good possibility these sets are LCDs. They may be a...

Photonics Tech Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Product of the Month: Multi-Functional Goniometer

Lambda Research Corporation (Littleton, MA), the US distributor of opsira metrology equipment and designer and publisher of illumination and optical design software, has introduced the robogonio from opsira. The robogonio is the first robot-driven, multi-functional goniometer that incorporates...

Photonics Tech Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Laser Power/Energy Meter

Ophir Photonics (North Logan, UT) recently announced the 120K-W Laser Power Meter, the only commercial sensor for measuring very high power 120 kW lasers. The 120K-W Laser Power Meter consists of a beam dump with overall dimensions of about 50 cm diameter × 50 cm deep, and a water flow power measurement unit of...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Ultrahigh-Speed Digital Cameras

Vision Research (Wayne, NJ) has enhanced its UHS-Series line of 1 megapixel (1Mpx) ultrahigh-speed cameras. The new Phantom v2512, v2012, v1612, and v1212 cameras are now available with either 72GB, 144GB, or 288GB of memory, providing significantly longer recording times and more data recording flexibility than...

Products : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Ultra-Stable Light Sources

OZ Optics’ (Ottawa, Canada) series of laser diode sources delivers an ultra-stable output, either directly or via a fiber optic cable. Sources are available at wavelengths ranging from 375 nm to 2050 nm, and with output powers up to 300 mW. The system resides in a compact package with both the source and temperature...

Photonics Tech Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Green Pulsed Lasers

The new Revolution series of q-switched, green, pulsed lasers from Coherent, Inc. (Santa Clara, CA) provides average power up to 80W at a wavelength of 527 nm, with a beam profile featuring an extremely smooth energy distribution. They also deliver pulse rate flexibility; the repetition rate can be smoothly adjusted from...

Products : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Ice Sensors

New Avionics Corp (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) has announced its Ice*Meister™ Model 9732-PLASTIC Ice Detecting Sensor for Aircraft. The unit consists of a probe, housing, circuit board, and lightweight blue cable. The product, tested at NASA Glenn Research Center, complies with in-flight ice-detection standard SAE AS 5498.

Products : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Automotive Sensors

STMicroelectronics (Geneva, Switzerland) has introduced two central airbag crash sensors. The AIS1120SX and AIS2120SX single- and dual-axis 120g in-plane MEMS accelerometers are designed to be mounted in the vehicle’s Airbag Control Unit (ACU) responsible for evaluating the sensor data and triggering the appropriate...

Products : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Vehicle Attitude Sensors

Prova Systems (Carbondale, PA) has announced its Vehicle Inertia Monitor (VIM). The VIM is a dual-mode advanced J1939 CAN-bus vibration analyzer and vehicle attitude sensor for heavy duty vehicle prognostics and performance monitoring. The VIM vibration mode helps maintenance engineers plot equipment performance over...

Products : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Touch Sensors

Opaque QTC® force touch sensors from Peratech (Richmond, North Yorks, England) can be integrated under a range of top surfaces such as plastics, rubbers, wood, leather, metals, and glass. The “3D multi-touch” matrix sensors provide a human-machine interface (HMI) experience in automotive cockpits. The sensors track multiple...

Products : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Ceramic Sensor Elements

The EPCOS NTC sensor element from TDK Corporation (Tokyo, Japan) measures temperatures up to 650 °C. The ceramic sensor element, connected to a metallized aluminum oxide rod and then glass-encapsulated, is available optionally with wires welded to the aluminum-oxide rod. The component is 16-mm long, and the glass...

Products : Sensors/Data Acquisition

The AS7000 health/fitness biosensor from ams (Unterpremstaetten, Austria) incorporates an integrated optical sensor module accompanied by software to provide heart rate measurements (HRM) and heart rate variation (HRV) readings. Housed in a 6.1 × 4.1 × 1.0-mm package, the AS7000 is intended to be worn constantly, at rest, and when...

Products : Sensors/Data Acquisition
IoT Platform

WiSilica (Aliso Viejo, CA) has launched a smart end-to-end IoT platform (WiSe) that provides predictive intelligence to connected devices. The secure platform supports legacy and new devices, and can operate locally, in the cloud, or as a hybrid network. Devices can be configured to act on events initiated by other devices....

Products : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Magnetic Reed Sensors

Littelfuse (Chicago, IL) has introduced the 59022 Series Firecracker Reed Sensor, a compact, cylindrical, magnetically operated device capable of switching up to 265 Vac/300 Vdc at 10 Watt/VA. The sensor has a 5.8 mm diameter, and circuit designers may choose from normally open, normally closed, or change-over contacts. The...

Products : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Detection Sensors

H18 SureSense sensors from SICK (Minneapolis, MN) detect objects in a variety of environments and ensure machines and lines operate at full capacity. The IP 69K-rated sensors feature a signal strength light bar that alerts users to maintenance and alignment issues. Other capabilities include configurable part selection; LED and...

Products : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Photoelectric Sensors

The S18-2 compact photoelectric sensors from Banner Engineering (Minneapolis, MN) are now available in fixed-field background suppression mode configurations. The compact, self-contained sensors provide up to six detection ranges from 30 to 200 mm. Resistant to fluorescent light, the components also feature a small, bright...

Products : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Voltage Sensors

Sendyne (New York, NY) has released the SFP102MOD, a shunt-based enclosed module capable of current measurements to 375 A, with 45 μA resolution. The module achieves ±0.25% accuracy for current magnitudes, as long as the module is within the operating temperature range of -40 °C to +125 °C. When attached to properly-sized...

Products : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Motion Sensors

Bosch Sensortec (Kusterdingen, Germany) has announced the BMF055, a compact, programmable 9-axis motion sensor. The new sensor from Bosch Sensortec’s Application-Specific Sensor Node (ASSN) family combines a triaxial 16 bit gyroscope with a range of ± 2000 degrees per second; a triaxial geomagnetic sensor; and a 32 bit Cortex...

Al Bowers, Chief Scientist, Armstrong Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA

Al Bowers is the program manager of Preliminary Research Aerodynamic Design to Lower Drag, or Prandtl-d. The project’s researchers validated elements of a boomerang-shaped wing design that could greatly improve the efficiency of future aircraft.

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