July 1999

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Pistol-Grip Torque-Measuring Power Tool

The figure shows one aspect of the exterior appearance of a pistol-grip torque-measuring power tool. The tool is a self-contained, computer controlled, 3/8-in. (~9.5-mm) drive pistol-grip style tool. The tool is intended for use in assembly operations in which application of precise torques to fasteners is...

Briefs : Materials
Separating Ethanol From Water Via Differential Miscibility

The differential miscibility of castor oil in ethanol and water would be exploited to separate ethanol from water, according to a proposal. Burning the separated ethanol would produce more energy than would be consumed in the separation process. In contrast, the separation of a small...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Seven-Element Circularly Polarized Patch Antenna

A seven-element microstrip patch antenna is designed to operate with circular polarization and high gain at a frequency of 2.2875 GHz. The antenna was developed in the early 1990s as a potential replacement for a helical antenna aboard the Advanced Tracking and Data Relay Satellite. Recently, the...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Camera Images Hydrogen Fires in Three Wavelength Bands

A special-purpose multispectral video camera has been designed to provide an enhanced capability for viewing hydrogen fires. Hydrogen fires do not emit sufficient visible light to be seen by the unaided human eye, but they do emit strongly at other wavelengths — especially in the infrared...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
MMIC Converters for K- and Ka-Band Communications

Monolithic microwave integrated-circuit (MMIC) frequency converters have been developed for use in satellite- and ground-based communications (see figure) at frequencies from about 18 to about 30 GHz. These and similar converters can be expected to exert significant effects on the sizes, costs,...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Mars Ascent Propulsion System

A report presents an overview of continuing efforts to develop an advanced propulsion system for a spacecraft that would ascend from Mars to bring samples to Earth. The system is required to be smaller and to weigh and cost less, in comparison with a conventionally designed system of equal capability. The...

Briefs : Materials
Fabricating Diamond Membranes Using Reactive-Ion Etching

A process for the fabrication of a polycrystalline diamond membrane involves chemical vapor deposition (CVD) of diamond onto a silicon substrate, followed by conventional photolithography and subsequent reactive-ion etching to remove part of the substrate (see figure). This process is an...

Briefs : Medical
Portable Device for Chemical Fixation of a Biological Sample

The Kennedy Space Center (KSC) fixation tube is a device for chemical fixation of a biological sample. It is mechanically resilient, small, and easy to use, and is thus well suited to use in the field as well as in the laboratory. Because typical chemical fixatives are extremely...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Low-Current Cathodic Protection of Metal

A proposed extension of the impressed-current method of cathodic protection of metal against corrosion in wet environments would reduce the current and power needed. The proposal involves (1) the application of a special multilayer coat to the metal part to be protected and (2) the use of a small dc...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Development of Gear Technology and Theory of Gearing

A NASA Reference Publication discusses gear technology from mathematical and historical perspectives. Following a preface containing historical and philosophical observations, the first of three chapters presents mathematical details of the theory of gearing, including recent developments...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Integrated Environmental Monitoring System for Clean Rooms

A system of electronic monitoring equipment under central computer control records and displays the readouts of environmental-quality instrumentation in clean rooms in the Space Station Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center. The instruments include airborne-particle counters,...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Improved Successive-Approximation ADCs With Charge Balancing

Improved successive-approximation analog-to-digital converter (ADC) circuits are undergoing development for eventual incorporation into focal-plane arrays of photodetectors. These circuits are derived from, and offer advantages over, the ones described in "Successive-Approximation...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Series-Connected Boost Regulators

A series-connected boost regulator (SCBR) is, as its name suggests, an electronic circuit for boosting a power-supply voltage to a higher and regulated value. The distinguishing feature of an SCBR is an interconnection topology in which one utilizes the input/output dc-isolating quality of a dc-to-dc converter....

Briefs : Medical
Wicks for Initiating Hydroponic Growth

A material developed for space suits has been found useful in a completely different application: making wicks to support seedlings and to carry water and nutrients to them during the initial stages of hydroponic growth. A modified version of the wick material may also prove useful in wick-based...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Redundant Fiber-Optic Transceivers for Remote Testing

Redundant fiber-optic transceivers have been incorporated into the High Speed Data Acquisition System (HSDAS) at Stennis Space Center, where they are used to communicate data acquired by remotely located instrumentation during tests of spacecraft engines. These and similar transceivers could...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
A Solid-State Alternative to the Vacuum Photomultiplier Tube

There are a number of important OEM photonic applications based on the detection of low incident light levels, including flow cytometry, PET (positron emission tomography) imaging, and applied spectroscopy. In flow cytometry, a blood sample is first treated with fluorescently labeled...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Improved Q-Switch Drivers

Improved circuits that generate high-voltage pulses for driv-ing Q-switched lasers have been devised. To extract maximum energy from a laser cavity in the form of consistent laser pulses, the Q-switch pulses must rise rapidly so that the Q-switch is fully open before each laser pulse occurs. The Q-switch drivers placed...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Durability Studies on the F-15B Flight-Test Fixture

NASA's F-15B #836 is a two-seat version of the F-15, which is a high-performance, supersonic, all-weather fighter airplane. The F-15B is used as a test-bed aircraft for a wide variety of flight experiments. In support of this use, a flight-test fixture (FTF) (see Figure 1) was developed to...

Briefs : Materials
Separating Ethanol From Water Via Differential Solubility

The differential solubility of sulfur in ethanol and water could be exploited to separate ethanol from water. The energy that could be produced by burning the separated ethanol would be more than that required in the separation process. In contrast, the separation of a small amount of...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Suspension Devices for Vibration Testing of Structures

Space structures in general experience free-free vibrational boundary conditions that are not readily replicable on the ground. To conduct vibration tests of such structures on Earth, special devices must be used to support the weight of the structures without introducing any constraining...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Apparatus for Testing Vacuum Torsional Dampers

A laboratory apparatus called a "vacuum damper investigation and performance evaluation robot" ("V-DIAPER") affords capabilities for vacuum dynamic testing of torsional dampers. The apparatus was developed for original use in testing torsional dampers (rotary viscous dampers) that are destined to...

Briefs : Software
Automating Work-Time and Attendance Recording on an Intranet

The OMNI time and attendance system is a workstation software system for automated, centralized recording of work time and attendance, and for flexible scheduling of work by employees in an organization. The OMNI system makes it unnecessary to perform the time-consuming and...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Determining Superconductor Inhomogeneity at Room Temperature

A technique for determining inhomogeneities in a specimen of a high-critical-temperature superconductor involves scanning a small eddy-current probe over a flat surface of the specimen at room temperature while monitoring the inductance of the probe. In contrast, older techniques for...

Briefs : Materials
Metal-Surfaced Ceramic Insulating Blankets

Flexible thermal-insulation blankets made of ceramic fibers can be protected against weather and handling by attaching thin metal face sheets. In applications in which the blankets are exposed to gas flows, the face sheets also afford protection against flow-induced stresses and help reduce aerodynamic...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Corrugated Quantum-Well Infrared Photodetector Arrays

Corrugated quantum-well infrared photodetector (C-QWIPs) arrays are sensitive and high-resolution thermal imaging devices. They are not only suitable for a wide range of conventional military, scientific, and commercial applications but also offer new imaging capabilities, such as remote...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Rapid Thermal-Cycle Life Testing of Thin Films

An automated heating/cooling laboratory apparatus enables the accelerated thermal-cycle life testing of thin-film samples and other small material samples. In the original application for which the apparatus was constructed, the thin-film samples are candidates for use as components of...

Briefs : Information Technology
Documents on Flight Software for the SAMPEX Spacecraft

A collection of four documents contains information on various aspects of the flight software of the Solar Anomalous and Magnetospheric Particle Explorer (SAMPEX) spacecraft. The first document is part of a longer paper that presents design requirements for the software; the information in...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
NASA Developing Crew-Return Vehicle

Up a creek without a paddle? Not if you're an International Space Station astronaut with a CRV. That's short for Crew Return Vehicle, and it's being developed following an innovative approach in the X-38 program. The CRV will perform three specific roles:

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New Developments in Catheter Shaft Components – Part 2