March 2015

News : Government
NASA Demonstrates Aircraft Electric Propulsion

NASA’s Leading Edge Asynchronous Propeller Technology (LEAPTech) project will test the premise that tighter propulsion-airframe integration, made possible with electric power, will deliver improved efficiency and safety, as well as environmental and economic benefits. NASA researchers will...

News : Software
Second, Smaller Rotor Increases Wind Turbine Efficiency

Large wind turbine blades disturb the wind, creating a wake behind them and reducing the energy harvest of any downwind turbines. A turbine sitting in the slipstream of another can lose 8 to 40 percent of its energy production, depending on conditions. By adding a smaller, secondary rotor...

News : Materials
Researchers Turn Packing Peanuts into Battery Parts

While setting up their new lab, Purdue University researchers ended up with piles of packing peanuts. Professor Vilas Pol suggested an environmentally friendly way to reuse the waste.

The team converted their lab's extra packing peanuts into high-performance carbon electrodes for rechargeable...

Question of the Week
Will self-driving cars be ready for the road this summer?

This week's Question: Last week, Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla, said that the electric car maker would introduce autonomous technology, an autopilot mode, by this summer; the technology will allow drivers to have their vehicles take control on major roads and highways. The CEO also...

News : Energy
Self-Powered Sensors Communicate Building Defects

Michigan State University researchers have developed a technology that allows sensing, communication, and diagnostic computing — all within the building material of a structure.

Using energy harvested from the structure itself, the "substrate computing" system features sensors that...

News : RF & Microwave Electronics
Quantum Radar Detects “Invisible” Objects

A prototype quantum radar has the potential to detect objects that are invisible to conventional systems. The new breed of radar is a hybrid system that uses quantum correlation between microwave and optical beams to detect objects of low reflectivity, such as cancer cells or aircraft, with a stealth...

News : Aerospace
Sound Waves Detect Aircraft Structural Defects

A system for using sound waves to spot potentially dangerous cracks in pipes, aircraft engines, and nuclear power plants has been developed by a University of Strathclyde researcher. A study found that transmitting different types of sound waves can help to detect structural defects more...

News : Semiconductors & ICs
New Solder for Semiconductors Creates Manufacturing Possibilities

A research team led by the University of Chicago has demonstrated how semiconductors can be soldered and still deliver good electronic performance. The team developed compounds of cadmium, lead, and bismuth that can be applied as a liquid or paste to join two pieces of a...

News : Transportation
Rubber Production Techniques Could Improve Tires, Reduce Pollution

People have been making rubber products, from elastic bands to tires, for centuries, but a key step in this process has remained a mystery. Scientists from the Kyoto Institute of Technology in Japan have described this elusive part of rubber production that could have major...

News : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Compact 3D Printer-Scanner is All-In-One Part Maker

Nanyang Technological University’s (NTU) start-up Blacksmith Group launched a compact 3D printer that can also scan items into digitized models. Named the Blacksmith Genesis, this user-friendly device allows users without much knowledge of 3D software to scan any item, then edit the digitized...

News : Imaging
New Method Generates High-Resolution, Moving Holograms in 3D

The 3D effect produced by stereoscopic glasses used to watch movies cannot provide perfect depth cues. Furthermore, it is not possible to move one’s head and observe that objects appear different from different angles — a real-life effect known as motion parallax. Researchers have...

News : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Rover Selfie Shows Key Mars Sites

A sweeping view of the "Pahrump Hills" outcrop on Mars, where NASA's Curiosity rover has been working for five months, surrounds the rover in Curiosity's latest self-portrait. The selfie is assembled from dozens of images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on the rover's robotic arm.


News : Imaging
Video Game Technology Helps Navigate Self-Driving Cars

A new software system developed at the University of Michigan uses video game technology to help solve one of the most daunting hurdles facing self-driving and automated cars: the high cost of the laser scanners they use to determine their location. The technology enables the cars to...

News : Aerospace
New Technique “Despeckles” Views of Saturn’s Moon

During 10 years of discovery, NASA's Cassini spacecraft has pulled back the smoggy veil that obscures the surface of Titan, Saturn's largest moon. Thanks to a recently developed technique for handling noise in Cassini's radar images, these views now have a whole new look. The technique,...

Question of the Week
Will 2015 be the year that virtual reality goes mainstream?

This week's Question: New virtual reality technologies were revealed at this month's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, including the HTC Vive from game developer Valve Corporation and smartphone maker HTC. Vive uses lasers, sensors, and controllers to track motion in 3D...

News : Test & Measurement
Chameleon-Like Material Changes Color on Demand

Researchers from the University of California at Berkeley have created a thin, chameleon-like material that can be made to change color — on demand — by applying a minute amount of force.

The new material offers possibilities for display technologies, color-shifting camouflage, and sensors...

News : Robotics, Automation & Control
BeeRotor Robot Equipped with Insect-Like Eye

Biorobotics researchers at the Institut des Sciences du Mouvement (Aix Marseille University) have developed the BeeRotor, a tethered flying robot. The robot adjusts its speed and follows terrain without an accelerometer or the measurement of altitude.

Optic flow sensors, inspired by insect vision,...

Sensors Detect Icing Conditions to Help Protect Airplanes

When ice accumulates on the surface of an aircraft during flight, it distorts the smooth flow of air necessary to stay aloft. The result is a reduction in lift, which can lead to stalls and crashes. Icing conditions can vary wildly within the same airspace. That’s why scientists at...

Breathalyzer Could Identify Lung Cancer

Researchers have developed a fluorescence-based sensor device that can rapidly identify cancer-related volatile organic compounds found exclusively in the exhaled breath of some people with lung cancer. Their work demonstrates the potential of the device to be used as a breathalyzer for early lung cancer...

New Method Measures Steel Fracturing

Researchers have visualized on a microscopic level how certain steels fracture when extreme loads are applied to them. Scientists used a scanning electron microscope to obtain high-resolution images (around 10 nanometers).

The application of new techniques to characterize materials has made it possible...

Question of the Week
Will 'Bloon' rides catch on?

This week's Question: Zero2infinity, a Spanish company, plans to launch passengers to near space using technologies called "Bloons." A maximum of four passengers will join two pilots in the Bloon cabin, which will be chained to a balloon filled with inert helium. Once fully inflated, the balloon will pull the cabin...

Orion's Launch Abort System Motor Exceeds Expectations

NASA has tested the attitude control motor of the Orion Launch Abort System (LAS) to prove that its material can survive not only the intense temperatures, pressures, noise, and vibrations experienced during a launch emergency, but also 40 percent beyond. The LAS is being designed to bring a...

Energy-Harvesting Method Shows Promise for Mars Power Stations

Northumbria and Edinburgh Universities researchers have developed an innovative, new technique to harvest energy from carbon dioxide. The method may enable the creation of future power stations on the surface of Mars.

The research proposes a new kind of engine for producing energy...

Question of the Week
Are FAA drone rules too restrictive?

This week's Question: This month, the Federal Aviation Administration proposed long-awaited rules on the commercial use of small drones, requiring operators to be certified, fly only during daylight, and keep their aircraft in sight. The ruling, for now, prevents drones from being used for a range of possible...

Briefs : Data Acquisition
Multivariate Time Series Search Capability to Identify Complex Patterns in Large Datasets

There exist many datasets that can be viewed as multivariate time series, such as the daily high temperature at a locality, sensor recordings in diagnostic systems and scientific data, and music and video recordings. These time series reside in large...

Briefs : Software
NGDCS Linux Application for Imaging-Spectrometer Data Acquisition and Display

A simple method of controlling recording and display of imaging spectrometer data in (airborne) flight was needed. Existing commercial packages were overly complicated, and sometimes difficult to operate in a bouncing plane. The software also was required to keep up...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Kepler Community Data Analysis Tools

A series of scripts stitch together existing open-source Python modules for the purpose of displaying, cleaning, and measuring photometric properties within public Kepler data. The intent of these tools is to provide convenience to the Kepler science community, and to increase cost efficiency for the project....

Briefs : Data Acquisition
Detection of Carried and Dropped Objects in Surveillance Video

DARPA’s Mind’s Eye Program aims to develop a smart camera surveillance system that can autonomously monitor a scene and report back human-readable text descriptions of activities that occur in the video. An important aspect is whether objects are brought into the scene, exchanged...

Briefs : Software
Signal Processing Software for Remote Vital Sign Monitoring

This software provides the processing for a non-contact system that remotely estimates the heart rate and respiration rate of individuals as they carry on daily activities, and also enables detection of heart and respiration rate through walls.

Briefs : Information Technology
Visualization of fMRI Network Data

Functional connections within the brain can be revealed through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which shows simultaneous activations of blood flow in the brain during response tests. However, fMRI specialists currently do not have a tool for visualizing the complex data that comes from fMRI scans....

Briefs : Software
Viewpoints Software for Visualization of Multivariate Data

Viewpoints software allows interactive visualization of multi-variate data using a variety of standard techniques. The software is built exclusively from high-performance, cross-platform, open-source, standards-compliant languages, libraries, and components. The techniques included...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Controlling Fast Acquisition Hardware to Pre-Position a Satellite to Constrain Baseband Searches

When adapting GPS sensor technology from an aviation environment to a space environment, the search window for a satellite’s frequency and code phase is greatly increased. This problem is also magnified when multiple antennas are used. A new...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Self-Diagnostic Accelerometer Field Programmable Gate Array

The development of the self-diagnostic accelerometer (SDA) is important to both reducing the in-flight shutdowns (IFSD) rate — and hence reducing the rate at which this component failure type can put an aircraft in jeopardy — and also as a critical enabling technology for future...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Capacitively Coupled, High-Voltage Current Sensing for Extreme Environments

Wide-temperature and extreme-environment electronics are crucial to future missions. These missions will not have the weight and power budget for heavy harnesses and large, inefficient warm boxes. In addition, extreme-environment electronics, by their inherent nature,...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
E-Textile Interconnect

E-textiles have shown great promise within the microwave and antenna community to provide a low-mass, highly conformal option that integrates extremely well with fabric-based microwave devices and antenna platforms, but often not as well with more conventional devices.

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Optical Fiber for Solar Cells

Polymeric and inorganic semiconductors offer relatively high quantum efficiencies, and are much less expensive and versatile to fabricate than non-amorphous silicon wafers. An optical fiber and cladding can be designed and fabricated to confine light for transport within ultraviolet and near-infrared media, using...

Briefs : Energy
Pumped Subsea Energy Storage

A local energy source is desired for near-shore and offshore applications. Gas generators, diesel generators, and long-length submerged power cables tend to be expensive. A proposed solution is to use offshore wind with some type of energy storage mechanism for up to 1 GW-h. Energy storage in batteries is too...

Briefs : Materials
Carbon Nanotube Tower-Based Supercapacitor

A new technology to create electrochemical double-layer supercapacitors is provided using carbon nanotubes as electrodes of the storage medium. This invention allows efficient transport between the capacitor electrodes through the porous nature of the nanotubes, and has a low interface resistance...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Hands-Free Control Interfaces for an Extravehicular Jetpack

To enable the human mobility necessary to effectively explore near-Earth asteroids and deep space effectively, a new extravehicular activity (EVA) jetpack is under development. The new design leverages knowledge and experience gained from the current astronaut rescue device, the...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Artificial Immune System-Based Approach for Air Combat Maneuvering

A high level of autonomy is desired for future unmanned combat systems because lethality and survivability can be improved with much less communication bandwidth than would be necessary for preprogrammed or remotely operated systems. However, there are a number of technical...

Briefs : Information Technology
Rule-Based Analytic Asset Management for Space Exploration Systems (RAMSES)

Human space systems, such as the International Space Station (ISS) and future planned missions to the lunar surface and beyond, require the crew’s ability to locate and manage the physical resources that are required for use to achieve mission objectives. However, the...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Design for Improving the Flatness of Solar Sails

This work describes a discontinuous or segmented mirror whose overall flatness is less dependent on the limited tension that can be supplied by the booms. A solar sail is a large, nominally flat sheet of extremely thin reflectorized film rigidly attached to a spacecraft, enabling propulsion via...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Reactionless Drive Tube Sampling Device and Deployment Method

A sampling device and a deployment method were developed that allow collection of a predefined sample volume from up to a predefined depth, precise sampling site selection, and low impact on the deploying spacecraft. This device is accelerated toward the sampled body, penetrates the...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Nozzle Heat Flux Gauge

This innovation is a tungsten-rhenium gauge that can be placed into an aft exit cone of a rocket motor. It will measure heat flux with time for the full duration of the RSRM (reusable solid rocket motor) nozzle environment with equal response time.

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Rotary-Hammer Core Sample Acquisition Tool

NASA is developing technologies to enable in situ analysis and sample acquisition from planetary bodies. Missions to these diverse locations require autonomous, highly customizable, reliable tools. A tool capable of core generation, capture, and transfer, and customizable for different missions, would...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Fabrication of Single-Mode, Distributed-Feedback, Interband Cascade Lasers

Type-II interband cascade lasers (ICLs) based on the GaSb material system represent an enabling technology for laser absorption spectroscopy in the 3-to-5-μm wavelength range. Instruments operating in this spectral regime can precisely match strong absorption lines of...

Briefs : Materials
Developing Ceramic-Like Bulk Metallic Glass Gears

This invention describes systems and methods for implementing bulk metallic glass-based (BMG) macroscale gears with high wear resistance.

This invention creates bulk metallic glasses (BMGs) with selected mechanical properties that are very similar to ceramics, such as high strength and...

Briefs : Information Technology
Post-Flight Analysis Statistical Heating (PFlASH)

This software tool automates the statistical analysis of heating indicators for a family of trajectories. It allows for quick and clear relative comparison of the trajectories by concisely and meaningfully reducing an arbitrarily large set of body point heating into single values that are used to...

Briefs : Information Technology
Magnetic Sensitivity of a Ka-Band Isolator Measured Using the GRAIL Testbed

The magnetic sensitivity of a Ka-band isolator’s output phase is measured at 7 × 10–4 deg/G level. This high degree of precision is enabled by the sensitive phase measuring capabilities of a testbed built to mimic NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior...

Briefs : Software
Open-Source, Platform-Neutral BLAS Library

New hybrid computing systems consist of a multicore CPU (central processing unit) and one or more massively parallel accelerator devices, such as GPUs (graphics processing units). Effectively utilizing these systems involves using all of the available computational resources, which may be difficult to...

Briefs : Software
JPL Unified Methodology Process (JUMP)

JPL Unified Methodology Process (JUMP) is an effort to establish a common frame of reference across OCIO (Office of Chief Information Officer) and EBIS (Enterprise Business Information Services Division). The iterative approach to project management is more powerful and efficient, enables better reviews,...

Briefs : Information Technology
Automated Evaluation Software (AES) Web Application

The Automated Evaluation Software Web application was created using Java Enterprise technologies, which provided capabilities for dynamic report generation and Microsoft output. The Tomcat Application server makes the application robust, fast, and reliable. HTML 4.0 was used to create the user...

Briefs : Software
A RESTful Web Service Connector for Phoenix Analysis Server

Engineering design models are normally developed using specific modeling tools such as Excel, Matlab, Maple, and Mathematica. It is difficult to connect various models written in different modeling environments and produce results without extensive effort. Phoenix ModelCenter is a...

Products : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Products of Tomorrow: March 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 : Test & Measurement
Smart-Grid-Ready Instrumentation

The term “smart grid” is an umbrella term used to refer to new technologies that aim to address today’s electrical power grid challenges. At a high level, these technologies address challenges associated with grid reliability and reactive maintenance, renewables integration, and disturbance detection. One...

Application Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
System Concept Studies Will Aid NASA in Asteroid Redirect Mission
SSL 1300 commercial satellite bus
Space Systems/Loral
Palo Alto, CA

NASA continues to advance the journey to Mars through progress on the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), which will test a number of new capabilities...

Application Briefs : Test & Measurement
Data Recorders Prepare Orion for Splashdown Test
Data recorders and software
Diversified Technical Systems (DTS)
Seal Beach, CA

It’s no simple task to travel 3,600 miles into space, blaze back through Earth’s atmosphere at 20,000 mph with temperatures approaching 4,000 °F, and...

NASA Technology

NASA has sent more than a few robotic missions into space, but it never loses sight of its goal to enable human exploration of the cosmos. A core component of...

Products : Test & Measurement
Product of the Month: March 2015

Instron, Norwood, MA, introduced the AVE 2 strain measurement system that conforms to testing standards such as ISO 527, ASTM D3039, and ASTM D638. The video extensometer utilizes patented measurement technology, and adapts to the normal fluctuations of indoor environmental conditions. It can be adapted to any...

Articles : Materials
Researcher Spotlight: Atom­Thick Material Offers 2D Imaging Possibilities

Rice University scientists have developed a two-­dimensional, atom­-thick, light-­sensitive material called CIS, a single­-layer matrix of copper, indium, and selenium atoms. Sidong Lei, a graduate student, also built a prototype — a three-­pixel charge­-coupled...

Articles : Imaging
Synthetic Vision Systems Improve Pilots' Situational Awareness

Visual Flight Rules (VFR) define a minimum of clear weather conditions under which a pilot can operate an aircraft using visual cues, such as the horizon and buildings. Under VFR, a pilot is expected to “see and avoid” obstacles and aircraft, and essentially only needs to see out...

Application Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
3D Vision System Aids 560-Mile Piloted Drive

Audi completed a long-distance test drive of its Audi A7 Sportback semi-autonomous concept vehicle, finishing the journey at the International CES 2015 consumer electronics show in Las Vegas. The “piloted driving” — Audi’s take on combining autonomous driving with individual control — began...

Products : Imaging
CMOS Smart Camera

VC F series intelligent cameras from Vision Components (Ettlingen, Germany) provide a 4 x 1 GHz computing power. Equipped with a programmable GPU, the systems use the VC Linux operating system. The cameras feature either one or two remote 1/1.8" CMOS sensors connected by a 30 mm or 80 mm cable; the two-sensor version is also...

Products : Imaging
Thermal Camera

FLIR Systems (Wilsonville, OR) has announced the release of the GF343 optical gas imaging camera. The device detects and visualizes carbon dioxide (CO2) leaks, while equipment is still online in the course of normal operations. Using a cooled Indium Antimonide (InSb) detector, the FLIR GF343 provides 320 × 240...

Products : Imaging
CMOS Camera

Allied Vision Technologies (Stadtroda, Germany) offers three new Mako camera models. The Mako G-030, featuring the CMOSIS CMV300 CMOS sensor, delivers VGA resolution at frame rates up to 300 fps. The Mako G-050 contains Sony’s ICX693 CCD sensor, offering 0.5 Megapixels at 71.2 fps. The Mako G-095, with Sony’s ICX692 CCD, includes...

Products : Imaging
USB 3.0 Camera

New 10 MP industrial cameras from The Imaging Source (Charlotte, NC/Bremen, Germany) ship with the Aptina MT9J003 sensor and a USB 3.0 interface. The industrial housing includes a C/CS lens mount and I/Os. More than 10 image resolutions between VGA and 10 MP can be selected with a maximum frame rate of 7 fps at 10 MP, 30 fps at...

Products : Imaging
CMOS Camera

Thunderbolt™ technology cameras from Ximea (Münster, Germany) feature sensors from Sony (IMX174) and CMOSIS (CMV20000). The cameras provide direct access to computer memory at 10 and 20 Gbit/s respectively.

Products : Imaging
High-Speed Camera

Vision Research (Wayne, NJ) has introduced the Phantom® Miro® C-Series. The 73 × 73 × 72 mm cameras withstand shocks of 170G and vibration of 17 grms. Comprising two models, the Phantom Miro C210J and C210, the Miro C-Series includes a 12-bit, ½-inch CMOS sensor, which captures images at a maximum...

Products : Imaging
Vision Sensors

Baumer (Southington, CT) has expanded its VeriSens XC series vision sensor portfolio to include models capable of color identification and inspection. Color FEX, a new, intelligent feature for setup of 3D color identification and definition, automatically identifies and visualizes object colors in 3D as color spheres. The...

Products : Imaging
Thermal Camera

Sierra-Olympic Technologies (Hood River, OR) has introduced the Viento 640 thermal imaging camera. The imager features a 640 × 480 × 17 μm uncooled vanadium oxide FPA in a 30 Hz or 9 Hz version. Customers are not required to buy custom connectors and crimpers to interface to Viento.

Features : Test & Measurement
The Hubble Space Telescope

On April 24, 1990, something happened that forever altered mankind’s view of the universe. It was on that day that the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was launched into space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.

Articles : Imaging
Interview with Jim Odom, Hubble Project Manager 1983-1986

Jim Odom served as project manager on the Hubble Space Telescope from 1983 to 1986. As the world celebrates Hubble’s 25th anniversary, Mr. Odom shared some of his experiences on the project.

Articles : Semiconductors & ICs
Hubble Spinoffs: Space Age Technology for the Masses

Over the last 25 years, some of the sophisticated technology developed for the HST has been successfully spun off and commercialized to improve life on Earth.

Features : Photonics/Optics
Customizing Visual 3D Optical Coatings

There are many ways to coat an optic and optimize the coating for a specific application, some more interesting than others. But any thin film coating process requires raw materials, coating capabilities, deposition chamber(s), coating software, a spectrophotometer, and an efficient production system that...

Application Briefs : Software
3D Volumetric Display Technology

The United States government spends a lot of money on its defense programs, investing in the training and technology necessary to arm and prepare the most advanced fighting force on the planet. The price tag for these efforts reached $581 billion in 20141 as various branches of defense continued to...

Who's Who
Carolyn Parcheta, NASA Postdoctoral Fellow, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA

A geologist by training, Carolyn Parcheta had an idea in July of 2013 to develop a robot that explores and measures the shape of volcanic fissures. She worked with engineering teams at JPL to develop the VolcanoBot. In May 2014, the robot explored Mauna Ulu on...

Carolyn Parcheta, NASA Postdoctoral Fellow, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA

A geologist by training, Carolyn Parcheta had an idea in July of 2013 to develop a robot that explores and measures the shape of volcanic fissures. She worked with engineering teams at JPL to develop the VolcanoBot. In May 2014, the robot explored Mauna Ulu on...


On-Demand Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping

Heavy-Duty Engine Design for a Transitioning Market

Upcoming Webinars: Photonics/Optics

High-Powered Directed Energy Laser Projects: Destroy the Target,...

Upcoming Webinars: Photonics/Optics

Optical Coating Design

Upcoming Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping

Rapid Decompression and Sealed Containers: Why Choose Magnet...

Upcoming Webinars: Motion Control

Advantages of Smart Servo Steppers vs. Smart Brushless Servos

Upcoming Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping

Large Cable, Large Problems: Considerations for Innovation