July 2002

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Advanced Capacitive-Sensor Turbine- Blade-Monitoring System

An electronic system that includes a capacitive proximity sensor is under development as a prototype of instrumentation systems for real-time monitoring of vibrations of turbine blades and shafts. Because vibrations are caused by stresses that can induce fatigue and/or are sometimes...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
System Locates Buried Objects Marked by Electromagnetic Tags

A relatively inexpensive, lightweight, durable, easy-to-operate radio-frequency (RF) instrument has been developed, along with special electromagnetic tags, for use in detecting buried objects to which the tags are attached. Each tag comprises a dipole antenna (basically, two collinear...

Briefs : Materials
Flexible Piezoelectric Actuators

Flexible, compact, hermetically sealed piezoceramic actuators with robust electrical leads have been developed for use in actively controlling aerostructures to suppress noise, vibration, and flutter on experimental aircraft. An actuator of this type, denoted a Flex Patch, is meant to be placed in a strategic...

Briefs : Software
Software for Turbo Decoding on Digital Signal Processors

Software for decoding turbo codes that have been adopted as standard by the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems is being developed along with hardware built around integrated-circuit digital signal processors (DSPs) that execute the software. The software enables reliable...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Fiber-Optic Liquid-Level Sensors

Liquid-level-measuring systems based on fiber-optics are under development as compact, lightweight alternatives to systems based on float gauges and other conventional sensors. For liquids that pose explosion hazards, fiber-optic sensors are inherently safer because they do not include electrical connections...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Artificial Neural Networks for Organizing Sensor Webs

A scheme for organizing and controlling sensor webs is based on artificial neural networks. [Sensor webs were described in “Sensor Webs” (NPO-20616), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 23, No. 10 (October 1999), page 80. To recapitulate: Sensor webs are collections of sensor pods that could be...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Electroactive-Polymer Actuators With Selectable Deformations

Efforts are underway to develop compact, lightweight electro-mechanical actuators based on electroactive polymers (EAPs). An actuator of this type is denoted an electroactive-polymer actuator with selectable deformation (EAPAS). The basic building blocks of these actuators are...

Briefs : Software
Software for Automation of Real-Time Agents

Closed Loop Execution and Recovery (CLEaR) is an artificial-intelligence computer program under devel- opment designed for automated command sequence generation, execution, monitoring, and recovery. As a component of the Deep Space Network’s (DSN’s) prototype Common Automation Engine (CAE), CLEaR...

Briefs : Software
GUI Program for Planning Paths of Rovers

The Path Planning Graphical User Interface is a computer program that, as its name indi- cates, generates a graphical user interface (GUI) for software that plans paths for robotic vehicles (rovers) to be used in exploration of remote planets. This GUI program is designed for use in conjunction with the...

Briefs : Software
Software for Modeling Biochemical Reactions

Cellerator is a computer program that auto- matically generates and solves differential equations for complex sets of chemical reac- tions like those in living cells. Cellerator provides a mathematical and computational infra- structure for char- acterizing reaction pathways and the interactions...

Briefs : Information Technology
Software for Allocation and Scheduling of DSN Resources

The TMOD (Tele- communications and Mission Operations Directorate) Integrated Ground Resource Allocation and Sched- uling (TIGRAS) computer program provides an integrated computing environment for analysis, allocation, and scheduling of antennas and other ground resources of NASA’s Deep...

Briefs : Information Technology
Software Disseminates Lessons Learned on a Large Project

A computer program automates the process of collecting, storing, and disseminating information on lessons learned in a large, multi- disciplinary project in which multiple organizations par- ticipate. Developed for the International Space Station project, the program could also be used on...

Briefs : Information Technology
Software Recognizes Similar Patterns of Different Sizes

A computer program undergoing development detects patterns that may differ in size but are otherwise similar to a specified pattern. Con- ceived to enable the automated recognition of features in images of planets and asteroids acquired by exploratory spacecraft, the program can also be...

Briefs : Information Technology
Program Predicts Temperatures at Nodes of a Thermal Network

Node Prediction for Thermal Networks (NOPTHER) is a computer program that predicts steady-state temperatures at un- observed nodes of a thermal network, given noisy values of the temperatures measured at observed nodes. The program is based partly on modeling of the heat fluxes among...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Evolutionary Automated Synthesis of Electronic Circuits

A method of automated synthesis of analog and/or digital electronic circuits involves evolution, either in software simulations or in hard- ware, directly on integrated-circuit chips. “Evolution” is used here in a quasi-genetic sense, signifying the construction and testing of a...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Designing Reconfigurable Antennas Through Hardware Evolution

In a proposed method of designing a recon- figurable antenna, the design would be opt- imized through evolution in hardware. The proposed method would be a specific instance of an emerging general method of automated synthesis of electronic circuits in hardware. Other specific...

Briefs : Software
System Mimics an Avionic Multiplexer/Demultiplexer

The multiplexer/ demultiplexer (MDM) emulator is the first virtual machine that can emulate an avionic computer. New flight software can be easily “dropped in,” increasing operational flexibility. The MDM makes it possible to perform integration more quickly, reducing the need for additional...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
FPGA-Based Test Bench for Nonvolatile Electronic Memories

A test bench based on field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) has been developed to reduce the cost of testing nonvolatile memory circuits. Specifications for endurance testing of memories can require test times as long as weeks — often impractically long in the case of commercial memory...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Mechanisms for Reliable One-Time Deployment of Panels

Mechanisms denoted restraint/ release/deployment-initiation (RRDI) devices have been invented to enable the rapid, reliable, one-time deployment of panels that have been hinged together and stowed compactly by folding them together at the hinges. Although the RRDI devices were originally...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Apparatus for Friction Stir Welding of Pipes

A proposed apparatus would effect friction stir welding (FSW) along a circumferential path to join two pipes. The apparatus is denoted an “orbital FSW system” because the circumferential motion of the FSW head would be similar to the motions of welding heads in commercial orbital fusion welding...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Automated System for Fluid and Electrical Connections

The Smart Umbilical Mating System (SUMS) is an automated, three-degreeof- freedom, scalable system for quickly mating, demating, and/or remating ganged umbilicals. SUMS connects electrical and fluid paths between spacecraft and ground support equipment whether liftoff or side mount for NON...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Lithographic Fabrication of Mesoscale Electromagnet Coils

A partly lithographic method of fabrication is being developed to enable the economical mass production of mesoscale electrically conductive coils for miniature electro- magnets, solenoids, electric motors, and the like. This or a similar method is needed to overcome the limitations of...

Briefs : Materials
Using Dry Ice as a Coolant for Cutting Tools

Particles of dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide) entrained in gas flows would be used during machining to cool cutting tools and workpieces, according to a proposal. Solid carbon dioxide particles that impinge on a tool and workpiece would absorb heat generated in the cutting process. The absorbed heat...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Automated Apparatus for Welding to Seal Pyrotechnic Devices

An automated, remotely controllable apparatus has been developed for resistance welding for hermetic sealing of pyrotechnic devices, as a substitute for special-purpose welding equipment that is no longer commercially available. Hermetic sealing of a pyrotechnic device involves a...

Briefs : Medical
Improved Technique for Detecting Endospores via Luminescence

A technique for detecting bacterial endospores via luminescence affords a sensitivity much greater than that of a prior luminescence-based technique from which it is derived. The advantage of luminescence-based detection is that the entire preparation-and-detection process takes only...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Correlation Spectrometers for Detecting Fires in Aircraft

Compact, lightweight, sensitive correlation spectrometers for detecting gaseous byproducts of the onset of fire are under development. These spectrometers would be installed in aircraft, where early detection of fire could enable crews to respond with timely fire-suppression actions....

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Advanced Hardware and Software for Monitoring Contamination

An instrumentation system measures the concentrations of three principal contaminants (nonvolatile residue, hydrocarbon vapor, and particle fallout) in real time. The system includes a computer running special-purpose application software that makes it possible to connect the system...

Briefs : Information Technology
A Bit-Wise Adaptable Entropy Coding Technique

A recently invented coding technique for data compression is based on recursive interleaving of variable-to-variable-length binary source codes. The technique can be used as a key component in data compressors for a wide variety of data types, including image, video, audio, and text data.

Briefs : Software
Web Site Provides Enhanced Facility- Management Database

The Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) Facilities Functional Review web site provides dynamic electronic publication of select portions of MSFC’s facility-management database. This is a user-friendly site that provides a comprehensive view of all relevant facility and program...

Briefs : Information Technology
Software for Internet Collaboration on Mars Rover Operations

A report provides additional information about two major sub- systems of the software system described in “Software for Ground Operations for a Prototype Mars Rover” (NPO-21235), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 25, No. 11 (November 2001), page 46. The software system was designed for, and...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Deep-Space Ranging Using Pseudonoise Codes

A report discusses aspects of a ranging system in which the distance between the Earth and a spacecraft is determined from the difference between the phases of (1) modulation on a radio signal trans- mitted to the spacecraft and (2) a replica of the modulation transmitted back to Earth by a transponder...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Sonic-Boom Tests of Model of a Supersonic Business Jet Plane

A report discusses wind-tunnel tests of a scale model of a con- ceptual two-engine jet airplane designed to carry 10 passengers, have a range of 4,000 miles (≈6,400 km), cruise at a mach number of 2.0, and generate a low sonic boom [char- acterized by a shock overpressure of ≤ 0.5...

Briefs : Medical
Use of Mechanical Event Simulation Software for Bio-Mechanical Eye Research

This report examines the simulation of eye move- ment and resulting stresses with mech- anical event simulation software to research retinal detachments, a condition that affects 25,000 people annually. The set-up of the bio- mechanical finite element model of the eye,...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Optimization of Synthetic Jet Actuators

A report presents a study oriented toward optimization of synthetic jet actuators. [A syn- thetic jet actuator is a fluidic control device that partly resembles a loudspeaker. It typically comprises a piezo- electric actuator/ diaphragm situated in a cavity, facing an orifice or nozzle at the opposite end...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Multiple-Beam System for Fast Raman Spectrometry

A developmental instrumentation system rapidly acquires full Raman spectra of gas molecules. The system is based on the principle of multiplex coherent antistokes Raman spectroscopy (CARS) and incorporates improvements over prior multiplex CARS systems. Among the potential applications for systems...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Laser-Induced Shock Waves Would Lyse Cells for Analysis

According to a proposal, laser-induced acoustic shock waves would be used to lyse cells as needed for biomolecular investigations, including, for example, diagnosis of diseases, pregnancy tests, analyses of genetic molecular structures, and general analyses of cell chemistry. Heretofore, it...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Profile Refractometry for Measuring the Soret Effect

Profile refractometry is a laser-based technique for measuring the index of refraction of a fluid as a function of time and position in a fluid. The technique was developed for use in quantifying the Soret effect in a binary fluid subject to an applied thermal gradient. (The Soret effect is...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Synthesis of Optical Pulses Using Brillouin Amplification

A technique for Fourier synthesis of optical pulses involves radio-frequency (RF) phase modulation of laser beams, Brillouin selective amplification of modulation sidebands, and, finally, generation of pulses through coherent superposition of (and thus interference among) the sidebands....