March 2014

News : Transportation
Driving Simulator Helps Engineers Calculate Human Factor

Simulations are an important development tool in the automobile and utility vehicle. The properties of vehicle components, such as how they respond in an accident, their reliability, or their energy efficiency can be investigated using simulations before the first component is...

Platform Dampens Vibrations in All Spatial Directions

When scientists wish to protect sensitive measuring devices from interference, they turn to active damping or, more specifically, an isolation platform. Each of the platform's four integrated swivel-mount modules contains a sensor that measures any vibrations in all three directions and an...

News : Motion Control
Harnessing Everyday Motion to Power Mobile Devices

Imagine powering your cell phone by simply walking around your office or rubbing it with the palm of your hand. Rather than plugging it into the wall, you become the power source. Researchers at Georgia Tech have developed the first triboelectric nanogenerator, or "TENG." The team paired two...

New Battery Technology Employs Multifunctional Materials

Researchers at the University of Delaware have discovered that fragmented carbon nanotube films can serve as adhesive conductors in lithium-ion batteries.

“The problem with the current technology is that the binders impair the electrochemical performance of the battery because of their...

Robotic System Enables Early-Earth Simulations

A new robotic system at Georgia Tech’s Center for Chemical Evolution could soon let scientists better simulate and analyze the chemical reactions of early Earth on the surface of real rocks.

In a proof-of-concept study, scientists selected a region for analysis using a 3-D camera on a robotic...

Liquid Metal Pump Breakthrough for Microfluidics

RMIT University researchers have developed the world's first liquid metal enabled pump, a revolutionary new microscale device with no mechanical parts. The unique design will enable micro-fluidics and lab-on-a-chip technology to finally realize their potential, with applications ranging from...

Articles : Electronics & Computers
System-on-Module for Pre-Packaged Convenience

Increasing design complexity, coupled with compressed time to market, has been an engineering reality for some time. A system-on-module (SOM) addresses both of these real engineering issues. An engineer who chooses to use a SOM trades a very complex, chip-down circuit design for a much simpler SOM...

Who's Who
Dr. Vadim Smelyanskiy, Principal Scientist, Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

Dr. Vadim Smelyanskiy, Principal Scientist, Ames research Center, Moffett Field, CA

Dr. Vadim Smelyanskiy is a principal scientist for physics-based methods in the Exploration Technology Directorate at NASA Ames Research Center. During his tenure at...

Vote on NASA's Next Spacesuit Design

NASA's Z-2 Suit is the newest prototype in its next-generation spacesuit platform, the Z-series. The surface-specific planetary mobility suit is the first to be tested in full vacuum. The prototype used 3D human laser scans and 3D-printed hardware for suit development and sizing. The suit-port concept is...

Question of the Week
Will 'Smell Notes' Catch On?

Set for a beta launch in July, a new "oPhone" app allows users to compose and send notes containing aromas. The free app lets user send the smell note by text or email, based on a set menu of scents contained in 'Ochips.' The message can be received like a typical text from a mobile device, and recipients can then...

New Airborne GPS Improves Weather Models

By designing a new GPS system aboard airplanes, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego researchers will improve weather models and hurricane forecasting by detecting precise conditions in the atmosphere.

Current measurement systems that use GPS satellite signals as a source to probe the...

Researchers Build Innovative, Solar-Powered Toilet

A revolutionary University of Colorado Boulder toilet, fueled by the sun, will assist some of the 2.5 billion people around the world lacking safe and sustainable sanitation. The technology will be unveiled in India this month.

The self-contained, waterless toilet, designed and built...

System Enables Unmanned Aircraft to Detect Another in Flight

Queensland University of Technology Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) researchers have made what's believed to be a world-first breakthrough for small unmanned aircraft (UA), developing an onboard system that has enabled a UA to detect another aircraft using vision while in flight.

Flying Robot Would Monitor Environmental Health

With a contract from the U.S. Army, the University of Nevada, Reno is partnering with NevadaNano to develop a robotic flying vehicle that can be used for environmental health and safety monitoring of large areas. The goal is development of a flying robot with integrated chemical sensing, inter-unit...

Shape-Changing Wing Flap Reduces Drag and Noise

A milestone for the Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge (ACTE) project at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center occurred with the delivery of two revolutionary experimental flaps designed and built by FlexSys of Ann Arbor, MI, for installation on the Gulfstream G-III Aerodynamics Research Test Bed...

Question of the Week
Will Most Doctors Adopt Wearable Computing Like Google Glass?

Emergency room clinicians at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston recently tried out the wearable Google Glass eyeglasses. With Google Glass, the doctors could communicate and examine patients while simultaneously reading their charts. By using Glass to access...

Engineers Build 3D Acoustic Cloaking Device

Using little more than a few perforated sheets of plastic and a staggering amount of number crunching, Duke engineers have demonstrated a three-dimensional acoustic cloak. The new device reroutes sound waves to create the impression that both the cloak and anything beneath it are not there.


Application Briefs : Test & Measurement
Water Impact Simulation Ensures Safer Landing for NASA Astronauts

The water landing of a craft like the Orion Crew Module is a very complex and changeable event, subject to the dynamics of the vehicle’s structure and sub-structures, such as its heat shield and atmospheric and water conditions. To maintain the spacecraft’s structural...

Programmable Metamaterial Damps Vibrations

Researchers from Empa and ETH Zurich have produced a material prototype that damps vibrations completely and specifically conducts certain frequencies.

The working model consists of a one-meter by one-centimeter aluminum plate that is one millimeter thick. The sheet-metal strip vibrates at different...

Handheld Camera Detects Nuclear Radiation

A handheld radiation camera developed by University of Michigan engineering researchers offers nuclear plant operators a faster way to find potentially dangerous hot spots and leaky fuel rods.

The new 'Polaris-H' detector lays a gamma-ray map over an image of a room, pinpointing radiation sources with...

Question of the Week
Will You Use A Speed-Reading App?

Spritz, a Boston-based software developer, claims that users of its technology can read up to 1,000 words per minute (wpm) via its new technology. At that rate, readers could finish a 300-page novel (like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, as the Huffington Post noted) in less than 90 minutes. The app,...

News : Energy
Using Lightning to Measure Health of Power Grids

When power switches or lightning create high voltage currents, power companies view it as a problem. These so-called natural transients have the power to destroy components and cause disturbances along the transmission line.

News : Nanotechnology
Low-Cost Paper Test Detects Cancer in Minutes

A simple, cheap, paper test has been developed that could improve cancer diagnosis rates and help people get treated earlier. The diagnostic, which works much like a pregnancy test, could reveal within minutes, based on a urine sample, whether a person has cancer. The technology relies on...

NASA Data Helps Growers During California's Drought

Following two consecutive years of drought conditions, 2014 is shaping up to be one of the driest years on record in California. Since 1982, the California Department of Water Resources (CDWR) has operated more than 140 monitoring stations that provide daily measurements of agricultural weather...

Researchers Mass-Manufacture Using Compostable Material

Researchers at Harvard's Wyss Institute have developed a method to carry out large-scale manufacturing of everyday objects — from cell phones to food containers and toys — using a fully degradable bioplastic isolated from shrimp shells. The objects exhibit many of the same properties as...

Proposed Device Harvests Energy from Earth's Infrared Emissions

Physicists at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) envision a device that would harvest energy from Earth’s infrared emissions into outer space.

The research team is proposing something akin to a photovoltaic solar panel. Instead of capturing incoming...

Question of the Week
Will Wearable Computing Improve Your Workouts?

A new technology called Moov wants to be your own personal trainer. A wearable fitness gadget, Moov analyzes an exerciser's form, offering real-time suggestions on how to improve workouts. The small, plastic disc attaches to a specfic body part that a wearer wants to analyze during a work: A...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Re-entry Vehicle Shape for Enhanced Performance

A vehicle entering the atmosphere of a planet will do so at hypersonic speeds and will need to decelerate and maneuver through that atmosphere while protecting its payload from excessive heating. As a consequence, the vehicle shape must be designed to provide optimal aerodynamic lift and drag...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Spacecraft Line-of- Sight Stabilization Using LWIR Earth Signature

Until the time of this reporting, when a space vehicle required a reference signal for inertial pointing, the choices were a signal beacon from an Earth location, the Earth radiance in the visible spectrum, or a star tracker. However, limitations can arise from using these...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Data Acquisition and Processing Software — DAPS

DAPS was designed to support the DAWN-AIR project participating in the Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes (GRIP) hurricane campaign. It controls the data acquisition system consisting of a scanner that directs the lidar beam, an inertial navigation system/GPS (INS/GPS) unit for...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Debris & Ice Mapping Analysis Tool — Database

The Debris & ICE Mapping Analysis Tool (DIMAT) system is a Web-based system that supports communication, data integration, data sharing, and problem definition/resolution through use of an integrated presentation framework for ice and debris description and analysis. It provides an integrated...

Briefs : Information Technology
Data Fusion for Global Estimation of Forest Characteristics From Sparse Lidar Data

This lidar data fusion approach is based on associating samples from sparse lidar data with groups of region objects determined by a unique image segmentation approach, HSeg (Hierar - chical Segmentation). This segmentation approach, which was previously developed...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Transportable Instrumentation Package for In-Vehicle On-Road Data Acquisition

The study of driver behavior can provide a wealth of information that can be useful in the design of automobiles including active safety features and functions. There may be differences in driver behavior, as reflected in driver state, and these differences may be...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Virtual Testing of High Lift Systems

For aircraft system certification, a huge amount of testing is required to guarantee safe, robust, and error-free behavior under all operating and environmental conditions. Typically, these tests on the system level are performed on physical test benches (left, in figure) where all the relevant components...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Integrated PEMFC Flow Field Design for Gravity-Independent Passive Water Removal

A gravity-independent PEM (proton exchange membrane) fuel cell stack has been developed that will operate at high-pressure H2 and O2 conditions with the requirement for relatively modest H2 and O2 gas circulation. Until...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Metal-Assisted Fabrication of Biodegradable Porous Silicon Nanostructures

Porous silicon nanowires are fabricated by two-step, metal-assisted electroless chemical etching of p-type or n-type silicon wafers. This method, in combination with nanolithography or nanopatterning, can be applied to fabricate porous silicon nanostructures of different...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Post-Growth, In Situ Adhesion of Carbon Nanotubes to a Substrate for Robust CNT Cathodes

The field emission electron sources using carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are being targeted for low-power vacuum microelectronic applications for harshenvironment operation (high temperature, pressure, and corrosive atmosphere). While CNTs have demonstrated...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Thermal Mechanical Preparation of Glass Spheres

Samples of lunar regolith have included small glass spheres. Most literature has suggested the small spheres were formed by meteorite impacts. The resulting transformation of kinetic energy to thermal energy caused the lunar surface to melt. The process yielded glass spheres. Recreating a meteorite...

Briefs : Materials
Improving Material Property Measurement Using Multi- Camera Digital Image Correlation

The automotive industry faces growing pressure for more efficient vehicles. This pressure comes from many sources including government regulations, decreasing natural resources, and consumer demand. As the pressure begins to rise, automakers have a growing need...

Briefs : Materials
Mechanistic-Based Multiaxial- Stochastic-Strength Model for Transversely- Isotropic Brittle Materials

A methodology has been developed and the software written to predict the probability of failure of transversely isotropic (a type of anisotropy) materials under generalized thermomechanical loading. This methodology is mechanistic in that it is...

Application Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Video Routing System Upgrades Mission Control Center

PESA has announced the completion of a video routing system upgrade to NASA’s Mission Control Center (MCC) at the agency’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston. Lockheed Martin, a prime contractor for NASA, commissioned PESA to provide hardware and system training for its Cheetah Video...

Product of the Month: The APN Series Power Monitoring Sensor

NK Technologies, San Jose, CA, has introduced the APN Series power monitoring sensor that measures three phases of current and voltage, and computes 14 values necessary to track power usage in the RS-485 Modbus RTU format. The monitor uses current transformers to measure the amperes....

Articles : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Collaborative Platforms Aid Emergency Decision-Making

NASA runs and partners in many missions dedicated to monitoring the Earth, and the tools used in these missions continuously return data on everything from shifts in temperature, to cloud formation, to pollution levels over highways. The data are of great scientific value, but they also...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Dual-Leadframe Transient Liquid Phase Bonded Power Semiconductor Module Assembly and Bonding Process

A high-temperature-capable widebandgap semiconductor power module package, coupled with a new high-temperature- capable bonding process (with an optimized assembly and manufacturing process), has been developed that, together, can allow device...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Methods for Mitigating Space Radiation Effects, Fault Detection and Correction, and Processing Sensor Data

The Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA) architecture being developed for space applications requires that sensor data be autonomously sampled and transmitted to the system network. This transmission needs to occur on a predetermined, fixed...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Quad First Stage Processor: A Four-Channel Digitizer and Digital Beam-Forming Processor

A 4-channel digitizer was designed, built, and tested. The very large, complex board enables SweepSAR. The proposed Deformation, Eco-Systems, and Dynamics of Ice Radar (DESDynl-R) Lband SAR instrument employs multiple digital channels to optimize resolution...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Compact Ka-Band Antenna Feed with Double Circularly Polarized Capability

NASA has an interest in utilizing the Ka-band frequency allocation. One of the main reasons for migrating to Kaband is the need for higher frequency bandwidth to enable higher data rates. A dual circular polarized wideband antenna for Ka-band communications applications was...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
CubeSat Deployable Log Periodic Dipole Array

The antenna is composed of two main deployable structural components that help it achieve the large packing factor necessary to fit within the small volume of the CubeSat. The primary component of the antenna array is a tension stiffened truss, which is preloaded using a large tape spring. The truss...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Protective Sleeve for a Pyrotechnic Reefing Line

A metallic sleeve provides protection and guidance for the actuating lanyard pull of a parachute system reefing line cutter. This device ensures that the reefing line cutter is not damaged during packing or deployment. In addition, the device ensures that the actuating lanyard that initiates the...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Metabolic Heat Regenerated Temperature Swing Adsorption

Two fundamental problems facing the development of a portable system to sustain life on extraterrestrial surfaces are (1) heat rejection and (2) rejection of metabolically produced CO2 to an environment with a ppCO2 of 0.4 to 0.9 kPa as is present on Mars. Portable...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Variable Camber Aerodynamic Control Surfaces and Active Wing Shaping Control

A new concept of aircraft aerodynamic control surfaces has been developed in connection with another new concept of active wing shaping control for reducing aircraft drag that will result in less fuel burn. The first concept is referred to as a variable camber...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
NanoRacks-Scale MEMS Gas Chromatograph System

In order to study atmospheric or evolved gases, it is highly advantageous for an instrument (e.g. mass spectrometer (MS), thermal conductivity detector (TCD)) to simplify the gas stream with a front-end gas chromatograph (GC). When used for planetary missions, highperformance GCs have to satisfy the...

Briefs : Software
360° Visual Detection and Object Tracking on an Autonomous Surface Vehicle

This software addresses the problem of an autonomous vehicle patrolling a region for objects of interest using multiple cameras. The system must identify and track the objects over time and localize their positions in the world. It implements an autonomous perception and...

Briefs : Software
Simulation of Charge Carrier Mobility in Conducting Polymers

Electric conduction in polymers is one of the key elements in avoiding catastrophic internal electrostatic discharge in dielectrics during space missions. This software package enables the simulation of carrier mobility for any given site concentration, which is a material design...

Briefs : Software
Observational Data Formatter Using CMOR for CMIP5

The current software has been developed to work on NASA instrument datasets, an upgrade over similar software that only worked on datasets from climate model output. NASA is attempting to reformat satellite data to fit the specific and highly detailed data format and metadata requirements for...

Briefs : Information Technology
Examination and A Priori Analysis of a Direct Numerical Simulation Database for High-Pressure Turbulent Flows

A previously created direct numerical simulation (DNS) database of mixing of species under supercritical pressure has been examined and analyzed for the purpose of understanding the modeling requirements in the context of large eddy...

Briefs : Information Technology
Propellant Loading Physics Model for Fault Detection Isolation and Recovery

A Fault Detection, Isolation and Recovery (FDIR) system needs some internal concept of how the monitored system operates. This “operating concept” needs mathematical logic to represent the cause and effect relationship between constituent components of the system,...

Briefs : Information Technology
Probabilistic Guidance for Swarms of Autonomous Agents

Available guidance approaches for large numbers (i.e., swarms) of artificial agents are currently very limited. Swarms in nature (e.g., bees, birds, ants) typically contain hundreds to thousands of agents. The problem is how to mimic nature, and develop guidance laws for artificial (manmade)...

Briefs : Information Technology
Future Air-Traffic Management Concepts Evaluation Tool

In the United States, as many as 7,000 commercial and private aircraft may be in the air simultaneously at any given time and date, and the total number of commercial flights in a given 24-hour period generally exceeds 50,000. To maintain the safety and efficiency of air travel, this...

Briefs : Imaging
Reducing Drift in Stereo Visual Odometry

Visual odometry (VO) refers to the estimation of vehicle motion using onboard cameras. A common mode of operation utilizes stereovision to tri angulate a set of image features, track these over time, and infer vehicle motion by computing the apparent point cloud motion with respect to the cameras. It has...

Briefs : Imaging
Resource-Constrained Application of Support Vector Machines to Imagery

Machine learning techniques have shown considerable promise for automating common visual inspection tasks. For example, Support Vector Machine (SVM) classifiers that have been learned from labeled training data deliver strong detection performance both for finding human faces...

Articles : Imaging
LED Illumination in Simulation and Training

Since its inception, projection has been the dominant technology for displaying large, high-resolution images. Over the years, projectors have evolved to keep pace with advances in computer graphics and video sources, following the trends toward ever higher resolutions and ever larger screens.

Articles : Imaging
Measuring Motion with Imaging Software

High-speed photography is as much of an engineering tool as an oscilloscope, spectrum analyzer, or logic analyzer. The photographic technique enables us to visualize and analyze motion, especially motion that is too fast for the human eye or conventional cameras to perceive.

Application Briefs : Imaging
Frame Grabber Deployed in Robomotive Humanoid Robot

Robomotive and other humanoid robots equipped with 3D vision sensors are playing an increasing role in industrial automation, including in smaller binpicking set-ups where parts are constantly changing.

Briefs : Imaging
Reducing Drift in Stereo Visual Odometry

Visual odometry (VO) refers to the estimation of vehicle motion using onboard cameras. A common mode of operation utilizes stereovision to tri angulate a set of image features, track these over time, and infer vehicle motion by computing the apparent point cloud motion with respect to the cameras. It has...

Briefs : Imaging
Technique for Finding Retro-Reflectors in Flash LIDAR Imagery

Orbital rendezvous and docking of two spacecraft is a topic of continued interest to NASA. For crewed missions, it is frequently the case that the target is cooperative (i.e., is equipped with some sort of navigation aid). If one of the relative navigation instruments is a Flash...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Novel Hemispherical Dynamic Camera for EVAs

A novel optical design for imaging systems is able to achieve an ultra-wide field of view (UW-FOV) of up to 208°. The design uses an integrated optical design (IOD). The UW-FOV optics design reduces the wasted pixels by 49% when compared against the baseline fisheye lens. The IOD approach results in a...

Features : Photonics/Optics
Demystifying Spectroscopy

Spectroscopy techniques date back to Isaac Newton’s first studies of light and today provide researchers with a better understanding of what happens at the atomic and molecular level when matter interacts with light. Advances in electro-optics, high-speed array detectors, inexpensive optical fibers and powerful...

Application Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Hyperspectral Imaging What is it? How does it work?

Hyperspectral imaging has grown increasingly popular over the past ten years in military, industrial, and scientific arenas. The ability to precisely characterize the color of a viewed item, whether a camouflaged vehicle, a bruise on an arm or on fruit, or a wide swath of vegetation, allows the...

Products : Photonics/Optics
White Light Measurement Solution

Hexagon Metrology (North Kingston, RI) has released WLS qFLASH, a compact white light solution (WLS), a non-contact, stereo vision system used to quickly capture 3D measurements on the shop floor. The portable solution creates reports and digitizes acquired data on the spot for analysis or direct CAD...

Products : Photonics/Optics
Optical Coatings

L-3 Applied Optics Center (Dallas, TX), part of L-3 Communications, Warrior Systems, recently coated thirteen large optical elements for a major national telescope. The largest of the elements was over 27 inches in diameter and weighed over 300 pounds. The anti-reflective and highly reflective thin film optical coatings...

Products : Photonics/Optics
Spectral Test Station

The new McPherson (Chelmsford, MA) 310STS has efficient grazing incidence optics with light sources that work between one and 120 nanometers. Sources include electron impact solid anode type for SXR and windowless hollow cathode for lower EUV energies. The sources fit conveniently to the scanning entrance slit of a one...

Products : Photonics/Optics
CCD Cameras

Raptor Photonics (Co Antrim, Northern Ireland) has launched a new range of CCD cameras for fluorescence applications. Based on the new breed of Sony sensors, developed using Sony ExView HAD II sensor technology, (ICX674, ICX694, ICX814) these cameras offer a choice of resolutions (2.8MP, 6MP and 9MP) and are available in both mono...

Products : Photonics/Optics
Photoelectric Laser Distance Sensors

photoelectric sensor offering to include OPT series short and long range distance sensors. Available with either Class 1 or Class 2 laser options, the distance sensors are constructed with rectangular plastic housings and fitted with an M12 quick-disconnect.

Question of the Week
Would You Ride in a Flying Car?