September 2015

Question of the Week
Will telemedicine improve health care delivery?

This week's Question: Telemedicine Services like American Well, a Boston, MA-based service, allow smartphone or Web users to have a video consultation with a physician. According to a July report by investment bank RBC Capital markets, telemedicine technology has the potential to save more than $40...

News : Propulsion
NASA Tests New Green Propellants for Satellites

To stay in the proper orbit, many satellites have thrusters – small rocket engines – that fire to change altitude or orientation in space. On Earth, where gravity dominates, five pounds of thrust, equivalent to 22 Newtons of force, may seem small, but in space, it doesn’t take much thrust to...

News : Software
Tool Nondestructively Characterizes Structural Materials as they Deform

Materials scientists are busy developing advanced materials, while also working to squeeze every bit of performance out of existing materials. This is particularly true in the aerospace industry, where small advantages in weight or extreme temperature tolerance quickly...

Who's Who : Materials
Kenneth O’Connor, Coatings Engineer, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD

Kenneth O’Connor has worked with NASA Goddard engineers to develop a nanotextured coating with hydrophobic properties. The technology minimizes dust, liquid, and ice accumulation on its surface, similar to a leaf on the lotus plant. See below for details on a...

News : Aerospace
NASA Tests New 'Twist' on Wing Design

Putting a literal and metaphorical twist on conventional designs, researchers at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center and Langley Research Center investigated a new aircraft aerodynamic wing scheme.

Question of the Week
Is AI good for management?

This week's Question: The Japanese electronics maker Hitachi Ltd. said it has developed a new artificial intelligence program that will enable robots to deliver instructions to employees based on analyses of big data and the workers’ routines. According to a Hitachi spokesperson, the AI program improved a warehouse...

News : Robotics, Automation & Control
Robots Provide 3D Map of England's Deepwater Canyons

Using a unique combination of marine robotics and ship-based measurements, the Southampton, UK-based National Oceanography Centre (NOC) produced a three-dimensional picture of submarine canyon habitats. The information captured in the new set of maps ranges in scale from the 200-km canyon...

News : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Fluidic Actuator Harnesses Instability to Trigger Movement

Soft machines and robots are becoming more and more functional, capable of moving, jumping, gripping an object, and even changing color. The elements responsible for their actuation motion are often soft, inflatable segments called fluidic actuators. These actuators require large amounts...

News : Manufacturing & Prototyping
New Approach Gives Robotic Grippers More Dexterity

Most robots on a factory floor are equipped with large pincers or claws to grab an object and place it somewhere else in an assembly line. Engineers at MIT have now hit upon a way to impart more dexterity to simple robotic grippers: using the environment as a helping hand. The team developed a...

News : Motion Control
Recycling Electric Motor Permanent Magnets

The latest generation of electric motors is increasingly being equipped with strong, multi-ton permanent magnets instead of a gearbox. The most powerful magnets are based on neodymium, iron, and boron. Dysprosium is also frequently contained. But while iron and boron are readily available, the supply of...

News : Robotics, Automation & Control
New Method Builds Microscopic Robots of Complex Shapes

Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego used an innovative 3D printing technology they developed to manufacture multipurpose fish-shaped microrobots that swim around efficiently in liquids, are chemically powered by hydrogen peroxide, and magnetically controlled.

News : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Fabrication Technique Cuts Cost of Aircraft Turbine Production

Compressor disks for aircraft turbines are milled from a single piece of material. During processing, the blades begin to vibrate. Now, a novel clamping system boosts vibration absorption for the blades by more than 400 times, and cuts manufacturing costs. The new clamping system...

News : Energy
Manufacturing Method Creates Organic Solar Cells With Improved Efficiency

New research findings contradict a fundamental assumption about the functioning of "organic" solar cells made of low-cost plastics, suggesting a new strategy for creating inexpensive solar technology. Because organic solar cells are flexible, they could find new...

News : Photonics/Optics
High-Definition 3D Lossless Imaging System

The imaging process is often affected by the field of view, wavefront aberration, ambient light, as well as the resolution of optical imaging system and detector. As a result, the image information of the object cannot be accurately transferred to the image plane, resulting in distortion, deviation, and...

News : Medical
Imaging Innovation Delivers Spatial and Spectral Info Simultaneously

Using physical chemistry methods to look at biology at the nanoscale, a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researcher invented a new technology to image single molecules with unprecedented spectral and spatial resolution, thus leading to the first “true-color”...

News : Photonics/Optics
Depth-Sensing Camera Captures 3D Information in Sunlight and Darkness

Depth-sensing cameras, such as Microsoft’s Kinect controller for video games, have become widely used 3-D sensors. Now, a new imaging technology addresses a major shortcoming of these cameras: the inability to work in bright light, especially sunlight. The key is to gather...

News : Imaging
Object Recognition for Robots

SLAM, or simultaneous localization and mapping, enables mobile autonomous robots to map their environments and determine their locations. SLAM can be used to improve object-recognition systems, a vital component of future robots that have to manipulate the objects around them in arbitrary ways. A new system...

Question of the Week
Will virtual reality apps catch on?

This week's Question: After its acquisition of Oculus VR, the social network Facebook is working on a stand-alone video app that would support 360-degree, or "spherical" videos. CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who has called virtual reality the next "computing platform" after mobile devices, imagines that the Oculus...

News : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Researchers Print Glass Structures in 3D

A new system from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) creates strong, solid glass structures from computerized designs. The 3D-printing method allows researchers to construct optically transparent objects.

News : Data Acquisition
NASA’s Wi-Fi Reflector Chip Speeds Up Wearables

Whether you're tracking your steps, monitoring your health, or sending photos from a smart watch, you want the battery life of your wearable device to last as long as possible. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, is working on microchips for wearable devices that reflect...

News : Energy
Small, Modular Fusion Plant Brings Power Source Closer to Reality

Advances in magnet technology have enabled researchers at MIT to propose a new design for a practical compact tokamak fusion reactor — and it’s one that might be realized in as little as a decade, they say. The era of practical fusion power, which could offer a nearly...

News : Energy
New Technology Could Reduce Wind Energy Costs

Engineers from the University of Sheffield have developed a novel technique to predict when bearings inside wind turbines will fail, which could make wind energy cheaper. The method uses ultrasonic waves to measure the load transmitted through a ball bearing in a wind turbine. The stress on wind...

Question of the Week
Will an aquatic barrier clean up the ocean?

This week's Question: According to recent research from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, there are currently 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the world's oceans. The Ocean Cleanup, an organization seeking to rid waters of plastic waste, has plans to build a massive aquatic...

News : Test & Measurement
NASA Flight-Tests Sample Return Capsule

A prototype capsule that one day will return science experiments to Earth was tested by releasing it from a high-altitude balloon. Technology like this capsule could one day return biological samples and other small payloads from space in a relatively short time. The balloon was launched to an altitude of...

News : Medical
Paper-Based Test Quickly Diagnoses Ebola in Remote Areas

To facilitate diagnosis in remote, low-resource settings, researchers have developed a paper-based device that changes color, depending on whether the patient has Ebola, yellow fever, or dengue. The test takes minutes and does not need electricity to work.

News : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Design Tool Converts CAD Files into Visual Models

A new system from researchers at MIT and the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya in Israel automatically turns CAD files into visual models that users can modify in real time. Once the design meets the user’s specifications, he or she hits the print button to send it to a 3D printer.

News : Lighting
New Technology Can Expand LED Lighting

Highly efficient, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) could slash the world’s electricity consumption. They are already sold in stores, but more widespread adoption of the technology has been hindered by high costs due to limited availability of raw materials and difficulties in achieving acceptable light...

News : Energy
What Makes Quantum Dots Blink?

Quantum dots are nanoparticles of semiconductor that can be tuned to glow in a rainbow of colors. Since their discovery in the 1980s, these remarkable nanoparticles have held out tantalizing prospects for all kinds of new technologies, ranging from paint-on lighting materials and solar cells to quantum computer...

News : Lighting
Blue LEDs Could Provide Chemical-Free Food Preservation Technology

A team of scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has found that blue light emitting diodes (LEDs) have strong antibacterial effects on major foodborne pathogens, and are most effective when in cold temperatures (between 4°C and 15°C) and mildly acidic...

Wireless Occupancy Sensors

Dialight (Farmingdale, NJ) has unveiled its new wireless occupancy sensor, a battery-powered plug-and-play sensor designed to integrate seamlessly with any Dialight smart lighting system. Using Pyroelectric InfraRed (PIR) technology, each sensor can instantly switch a single light or a group of lights from off to on or...

Networked Lighting Controls

Hubbell Building Automation (Austin, TX) NXTM networked lighting controls now have added daylighting capability. The NXDS daylight sensor auto-configures with the NX Room Controller. The NXDS daylight sensor is designed for open loop operation, measuring natural light coming in through a window. It communicates with...

LED Driver

Innovations in Optics, Inc. (Woburn, MA) has introduced the Model 5000A-100 LED Driver/Controller for powering its patented and patent-pending High Power LED Light Engines. The 5000A-100 LED Driver provides constant current in continuous, pulsed or pulsed width modulation (PWM) modes. An embedded system adds network control with...

Intelligent Lighting System

The BrainLight series by EVT (Karlsruhe, Germany) is an intelligent lighting system that allows the user to control both color and brightness, as well as create and save individual lighting patterns. At present the BrainLight series consists of a back light (BrainLight QC) and a ring light (BrainLight R). The back...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Position Sensor Technology for Hydraulic Cylinder Feedback

Position feedback sensors for hydraulic or pneumatic cylinders have used one of three traditional technologies: magnetostrictive, variable resistance, and variable inductance. As the demand for increased control and functionality has increased, sensor-instrumented cylinders are becoming...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Detection of Gases and Vapors Present at Low Concentrations

A nanostructure-based mechanism was developed for sensing the presence of, and estimating concentration values of, specified chemical components in a sample gas to which the mechanism is exposed, where the concentrations may be as low as five parts per billion. The mechanism receives a...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Broadband Photon-Counting Microwave Kinetic Inductance Detector

The planar Microwave Kinetic Inductance Detector (MKID) is very compact and allows a large number of detectors to be fabricated simultaneously and implemented in a focal plane of a telescope using a minimal number of wiring interfaces. In this detector, the incident power is guided...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Micro-LIDAR for Flow Velocimetry

A miniature light detection and ranging (LIDAR) velocimetry sensor has been developed to analyze high-velocity and boundary layer flows in real-world conditions. Using Rayleigh scattering, as opposed to the more common particle scattering, the patent-pending sensors provide multiple flow parameters without the...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Sensitive, Specific Molecular Detection of Single Bacteria Cells

A unique amplification chemistry was developed that allows highly specific isothermal detection of bacteria, and presumably eukaryotic cells, at sub-single-cell sensitivities. This is based on the ability to detect rRNA (ribosomal RNA) rather than DNA, as is typical. The difference...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Optical Hotspot Conductive Fluid Flow Sensor

The Optical Hotspot Flow Sensor (OHFS) enables optical measurement of electrically conductive liquid metal flow rate by exploiting the electrically conductive nature of liquid metals or any other conductive fluid to enable thermal tagging of liquid flow in tubes (US Patent 7,409,875). It is well...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Low-Cost Backup RPOD System

Advanced Optical Systems, Inc. (AOS) developed a low-cost Rendezvous, Proximity Operations, and Docking (RPOD) system that has applications for the future NASA Orion vehicle. Docking operations between the space shuttle and the International Space Station (ISS) required the coordination of real-time sensor data...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Free-Space, Coupled, Multi- Element Detector for Deep Space Optical Communication

High-data-rate deep space optical communication (DSOC) links are desired by NASA and other space agencies to support future advanced science instruments, live high-definition (HD) video feeds, telepresence, and human exploration of Mars and beyond. Optical...

Briefs : Materials
Mechanical Carbon Materials for Aircraft Seal Applications

Modern mechanical carbon materials are being used in a wide variety of applications, including aircraft gear boxes, air turbine motor starters, and main shaft seals for both aircraft...

Briefs : Materials
Strong and Flexible Carbon Fiber Reinforced Phenolic Composites

A new class of phenolic and carbon-fiber-reinforced phenolic composites has been developed for thermal protection systems. The new materials have the advantage of being lightweight, strong, and tough, yet heat resistant and flexible. They retain excellent mechanical strength at high...

Briefs : Materials
Hybrid Laminate Composite for Harsh Environments and High-Performance Applications

A multi-functional composite laminate material has been developed for structural and thermal applications for use in durable cryogenic fuel tanks for transportation vehicles and/or in the construction of habitats. The technology focuses on aerogel and fiber...

Briefs : Materials
Surface-Modified Nanoparticles Made From High-Molecular-Weight Carboxylic Acids

An improved class of alumoxanes and a method of synthesizing them have been invented. Alumoxanes are aluminum oxy hydroxide particles that have been modified with compounds containing carboxylic acid groups. For typical applications in which alumoxanes are required...

Briefs : Materials
NASA PS400 High-Temperature Solid Lubricant Coating

NASA has an ongoing need for high-temperature solid lubricant coatings to reduce friction and wear in turbine engines, rocket engines, and other mechanical systems. Such lubricants must be thermally and chemically stable in air, vacuum, and reducing environments like hydrogen. Traditional...

Briefs : Materials
Triple Orthogonal Disk Polymer Discrete Space for Cryogenic Feedline Insulation

NASA vehicles using cryogenic propellants and systems need improved cryogenic storage and transfer, including insulation for cryogenic transfer/feed lines. Wrapped multi-layer insulation (WMLI) is an innovative, next-generation, high-performance multilayer insulation...

Briefs : Materials
Compliant Electrode and Composite Materials for Piezoelectric Wind and Mechanical Energy Conversion

Thin film, piezoelectric materials generate a small voltage whenever they are deformed, suggesting that they are suitable for tapping energy from freely available resources, such as the wind. Yet their low-energy production levels and lack of...

Briefs : Materials
Development of a Novel, Regenerable Microlith Catalytic Reactor for CO2 Reduction via Bosch Process

Utilization of CO2 to produce life support consumables, such as water and oxygen, offers a potential advance for NASA’s cabin atmosphere revitalization system and in-situ resources utilization concepts for long-term manned space...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
3D Motor for Multi-Axis Attitude Control on SmallSats

Preliminary data was recently provided for a reaction sphere prototype on NASA’s zero-gravity parabolic flight vehicle. Gyroscope telemetry indicates that reaction spheres were successfully commanded at 10- to 20-ms pulses during a handful of parabolas in each flight. This is the first...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Nanosatellite Launch Adapter System

NASA has developed a Nanosatellite Launch Adapter System (NLAS) that maximizes the efficiency of satellite launch missions. NLAS increases access to space while simplifying the integration process of miniature satellites, called nanosats or CubeSats, onto launch vehicles. While a complete NLAS consists of an...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
James Webb Space Telescope Microshutters Subsystem Project Thermal Chamber Ground Support Equipment Automated Control

An automated control system for the microshutter assembly (MSA) portion of the JWST MSS (James Webb Space Telescope Micro shutters Subsystem) was developed. This is a cryogenic device that operates at 35 K. Cooling down and...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Visual Environment for Remote Virtual Exploration (VERVE) v2

VERVE is a 3D visualization system that provides situational awareness, science analysis tools, and data understanding capabilities for robotics researchers and exploration science operations. VERVE includes telemetry views that show remote system status, and can be extended to support...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Optimal Alarm System Design and Implementation

An optimal alarm system can robustly predict a level-crossing event that is specified over a fixed prediction horizon. The code contained in this package provides the tools necessary to design an optimal alarm system for a simple stationary linear dynamic system driven by white Gaussian noise.

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Mars Science Laboratory Flight Software for Autonomous Drilling

One of the goals of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission is to collect powderized samples from the interior of rocks and deliver them to onboard science instruments. This goal is achieved using the algorithms and software that control the drill hardware to produce a system that...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Morpheus Lander Vehicle Simulation/Vehicle Flight Software

The Morpheus simulation is a suite of software models that simulates the performance of a lander vehicle. The specific vehicle is a terrestrial lander used as a “vertical test bed” platform for developing technology, and proving hardware and software systems for use in space...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Risk-Aware Mars Rover Operation Tool with Autonomous Terrain Classifier and Path Planner

The greatest single source of risks for Mars rovers is terrain. These risks are currently managed by a labor-intensive process in which rover operators carefully examine the terrain and plan a path to avoid any potential hazards. This poses a challenge,...

Briefs : Aerospace
Robust, Optimal Subsonic Airfoil Shapes

This invention relates to the design of optimal shapes of airfoils, such as turbine blades, operating in subsonic flow regimes. An airfoil, such as a propeller blade or a turbine vane or blade (collectively referred to herein as an “airfoil”), may be used in a variety of environments, including...

Briefs : Aerospace
Merging and Spacing Software in the ACES Simulation

Merging and Spacing (M&S) in ACES is a software product written in the Java programming language that adds scheduling and management of flights into and out of an airport for the Airspace Concepts Evaluation System (ACES) simulation. ACES is a systems-level simulation that portrays NAS-wide...

Briefs : Aerospace
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Integration into the National Airspace System

NASA and other organizations have invested heavily in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) research. UAVs can be flown in the National Airspace System (NAS) today, but only with special permission from the Federal Aviation Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Integration into the National...

Briefs : Aerospace
Data Server for Real-Time Display Interface

The purpose of this software is to decouple display and data interface functions by developing a central data server. By using the centralized data server, flight displays can be easily transferred between simulators and research airplanes without having to reprogram flight display graphics. Therefore,...

Briefs : Aerospace
Aircraft Wing Flap Noise-Reducing Fins

Two different modifications have been developed for the edges of aircraft wing flaps to reduce noise. Reactive Orthotropic Lattice Diffuser (ROLD) is a modification that consists of a honeycomb-like, interconnected structure added to the region of the flap that experiences the highest degree of...

Briefs : Aerospace
Direct Multiple Shooting Optimization with Variable Problem Parameters

Solving complex trajectory problems optimally is of vital importance to the success of future aerospace programs. Trajectory optimization research has been divided into two main categories: indirect methods and direct methods. Both methodologies have been tested and...

Briefs : Aerospace
Constructing Composite Response Surfaces for Aircraft

The design of aerodynamic components of aircraft, such as wings or engines, involves a process of obtaining the optimal component shape that can deliver the desired level of component performance, subject to various constraints, e.g., total weight or cost. Aerodynamic design can be formulated...

Briefs : Communications
Mars Relay CubeSat

When NASA and other agencies send landers to Mars and other planets, they rely on existing orbiters to relay the data during the critical entry, descent, and landing (EDL) phase. The current orbiters are aging and there...

Briefs : Communications
Digitally Steered Phased Antenna Array for GPS Applications

GPS signals are sparse and weak at high altitudes above the GPS constellation; this includes GEO and HEO orbit regimes. Spacecraft operating here need a high-sensitivity receiver capable of acquiring and tracking these weak signals throughout their orbits. Most space GPS receivers are...

Briefs : Aerospace
Broadband Circularly Polarized Antenna Array for Mars Rover Direct-to-Earth Communications

Mars rovers and other landers typically use UHF relay to return their science and engineering data to Earth. Direct-To-Earth (DTE) communications are typically used for commanding. If future UHF relay capability becomes diminished, Mars landers may be...

Briefs : Aerospace
Robust, Low-Density Parity- Check Decoder Design to Mitigate Pulsed Radio Frequency Interference

Low-Density Parity-Check (LDPC) codes are a class of forward error correction (FEC) linear block codes that provide near-capacity performance for power-efficient communications. Optimum decoding requires accurate combining ratio estimation to scale...

Briefs : Software

Success in mission operations relies on achieving consensus amongst a wide variety of personnel with diverse backgrounds and education. Previously, NASA missions relied on disparate tools with a variety of inconsistent interfaces. These tools greatly influence how members of the mission communicate with each other, increasing confusion...

Briefs : Information Technology
Fast Block Transforms on Large Binary Datasets in the Cloud Using Hadoop Streaming

A software framework on top of Hadoop Streaming enables both the processing of binary data in the cloud, and the freedom for the developer to implement his or her mapper and reducer programs in any language, rather than re-implementing existing solutions in Java,...

Briefs : Information Technology
Mars Science Laboratory Frame Manager

One of the highly desired enhancements to the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) and Phoenix flight missions was the centralized coordinate transform database maintained onboard. Without the database, there are quite a few operations that require cumbersome, error-prone manual calculations on the ground such as...

Briefs : Information Technology
SIVO-PyD: A Python Distribution for Scientific Computing Visualization

SIVO-PyD gathers and automatically installs (in various computing platforms) a collection of Python-related packages for scientific computing and visualization. All of the packages in distribution are accessible within the Python framework. The distribution is self-contained...

Briefs : Information Technology
Formal Validation of Model-Based Fault Management Design Solutions

Model-Based System Engineering is becoming widely adopted at JPL and in industry because model-centric systems introduce improved methods of system engineering. As systems with ever-increasing complexity are developed at JPL, model-centric engineering be comes essential for...

Briefs : Information Technology
Development of Free Molecule Flow Equations from a Transient, Asymmetric Source

The analysis and simulation of gases expanding from sources such as rocket nozzles into vacuum, or the effects plumes from these sources create when they interact with solid surfaces, present a considerable challenge to the scientific and engineering communities. As...

Briefs : Information Technology
iPhone App to Facilitate Airborne Radar Operations

The Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR) is an Earth imaging radar that flies on a Gulf-Stream Jet. Its mission is to collect data for NASA scientists who are using Synthetic Aperture Radar to develop methods for monitoring changes in the Earth’s surface. As with many...

Briefs : Information Technology
Spherical Empirical Mode Decomposition

The spherical empirical mode decomposition algorithm is an adaptation in the spherical space of the 2D empirical mode decomposition in Euclidian space. This algorithm is a signal analysis method for any spherical data, such as orbital measurements. The two primary advantages of this innovation are the...

Briefs : Information Technology
Database Design for Storing Software Entity Metadata, User Identification, and License Terms

The NASA Space Telecommunications Radio System (STRS) specification cites a plan for an application repository, similar to an “app store,” but with a wide variety of licensing restrictions on access to different applications, and even different parts...

Briefs : Information Technology
Geometry Manipulation Protocol for CFD Applications, V1.0

Geometry Manipulation Protocol (GMP) is a library that serializes data types between XML and ANSI C data structures to support computational fluid dynamics (CFD) applications. This library currently provides a description of geometric configurations, general moving-body scenarios...

Articles : Aerospace
Products of Tomorrow: September 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
Collaborative Robots Transform Traditional Assembly

Few production arenas are changing as quickly as small parts assembly. The electronics industry, in particular, has seen demand skyrocket past the supply of skilled labor. As conventional assembly methods diminish in value, manufacturers are finding it strategically and economically imperative...

Application Briefs : Aerospace
Computer and Displays Help Control and Maneuver Crew Transportation System
Space-qualified boards and subsystems
Aitech Defense Systems
Chatsworth, CA

The Boeing Company selected Aitech Defense Systems to provide space-grade products and services to support the...

Application Briefs : Aerospace
CubeSat Launches With 3D-Printed Components
Windform XT 2.0 3D printing material
Mooresville, NC

A team of students from the University of Kentucky and Morehead State University developed the KySat-2 project, a 1U CubeSat that launched into orbit as part of NASA’s ElaNa...

Spinoff : Transportation
Flight Controller Software Protects Lightweight, Flexible Aircraft

NASA Technology

Since its founding in 1958, NASA has made profound contributions to aviation, including advancing our understanding of flight mechanics—the study of forces that affect aircraft in flight—and devising ways to improve aircraft performance.

Articles : Photonics/Optics
Using a Wide-Band Tunable Laser for Optical Filter Measurements

The concept of dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) in fiber optic communication networks gained traction when optical amplifiers became available. Able to amplify an entire wavelength grid at once, they removed the need to first demultiplex, then convert every channel to...

Products : Aerospace
Product of the Month: September 2015

CD-adapco, Melville, NY, has released STAR-CCM+® v10.04 simulation software that features a new finite element-based Solid Stress Solver, enabling both computational solid mechanics and computational fluid dynamics from a single, integrated environment. The new release also includes the Adjoint Solver for...

Application Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Implementing Color Machine Vision Inspection Systems

Color provides critical information that can improve the reliability of many machine vision inspection applications and make it possible to inspect many products that cannot be inspected in grayscale. Typical examples include ensuring that a tan rather than a taupe automotive interior...

Photonics Tech Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Product of the Month: Combiner Block™

The new APC Combiner Block™ from American Photonics Co. (Sarasota, FL) replaces the first turning mirror in many CO2 laser machines to add three new capabilities: a visible alignment laser, a Half Collimator™, and precision alignment capabilities. The visible alignment laser adds the ability...

Products : Photonics/Optics
Quantum Cascade Laser Driver

Electronic noise from quantum cascade laser drivers has long limited the detection threshold of chemical sensors. That may no longer be a problem. Wavelength Electronics (Bozeman, MT) has introduced the QCL LAB family of instruments that couples an intuitive touchscreen display with low-noise drive electronics that...

Products : Photonics/Optics
Silicon Avalanche Photodiode Module

Excelitas Technologies Corp. (Waltham, MA) recently launched the new HeliX™ Silicon Avalanche Photodiode (Si APD) Module, employing its leading-edge Si APD detectors to deliver enhanced performance including high responsivity, broadband photon absorption (400- 1100nm), wide dynamic range and linearity, and...

Products : Photonics/Optics
Universal Fluorescence Illumination System

The new Lumen 1600-LED from Prior Scientific (Rockland, MA) is the latest product in Prior’s expanding microscopy illumination product line. The Lumen 1600-LED offers individual control for 16 selectable wavelengths. With its unique 16 selectable LED wavelengths, the Lumen 1600-LED is compatible with...

Products : Photonics/Optics
Machine Vision Software

To meet the demands of automated visual inspections in the electronics assembly process, EVT (Karlsruhe, Germany) has developed the “ChipControl” command set for its EyeVision image processing software. ChipControl specifically focuses on areas such as inspecting for bent electrical contacts, the presence of the...

Photonics Tech Briefs : Photonics/Optics
High-Speed Streaming Camera

AOS Technologies (Baden, Switzerland) has introduced the PROMON SCOPE G2, a portable high-speed streaming camera system that helps technicians quickly isolate problems to get ailing equipment back up and running. Featuring a recording rate of 3,000 images per second, ultra-slow-motion playback, and a built-in battery,...

Photonics Tech Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Digital Binoculars

Ricoh Americas Corporation (Malvern, PA) recently unveiled the RICOH NV-10A digital binoculars, which for the first time can penetrate fog, smoke, rain, and sand to provide a crisp, clear image even at night. The RICOH NV-10A enhanced binoculars enable marine, military, rescue, firefighting, law enforcement, homeland security,...

Products : Photonics/Optics
UV Laser

Spectra-Physics® (Santa Clara, CA), a Newport company, has introduced Talon 355-20, a high UV output power addition to its Talon family of Q-switched diode-pumped solidstate (DPSS) lasers. The new laser delivers >20 W UV power, wide-repetition-rate range of 0 to 500 kHz, and excellent beam profile and stability.

Motion Control and Automation Technology : Robotics, Automation & Control
Choosing the Right Drive Technology

Although there are a number of variations of drive technologies for motion applications, there are a few that are used for the majority of systems being built today. These most common drives do take a bit of understanding before applying.

Motion Control and Automation Technology : Motion Control
Reasons for Turning to Slotless DC Motor Technology

When first introduced, brushless DC motors, despite their many advantages, were cast as a costly alternative to brush-commutated motors, and were typically only specified for low-power applications where long life was the primary desired requirement. Without the mechanical brush-commutator...

Motion Control and Automation Technology : Motion Control
Motion Solutions for Electric Expansion Valves

Expansion valves are flow-restricting devices present in any refrigeration system. The valve needle remains open during steady state of operation. The size of the opening, or position of the needle, is related to the pressure and temperature of the evaporator. When set and controlled properly, an...

Application Briefs : Motion Control
Hamburg Airport Relies on Drive Technology to Keep Bags Moving

Hamburg Airport in Germany handles nine million pieces of baggage every year. For the baggage handling staff, the reliability of the conveyor system and the prevention of faults are the highest priorities. The breakdown of even a single component of the system would result in a...

Motion Control and Automation Technology : Robotics, Automation & Control
Brushless Electric Motor

maxon precision motors (Fall River, MA) offers the EC-4pole 30 brushless DC motor that features two pole pairs, and provides a nominal torque of 106 mNm and an output of 150 W. It has a hermetically sealed rotor to withstand more than 1,000 autoclave cycles. The motor is equipped with the ironless maxon winding. The...

Motion Control and Automation Technology : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Variable Frequency Drive

Mitsubishi Electric Automation (Vernon Hills, IL) introduces the F800 Series variable frequency drive (VFD) for precise motor speed control. The low-voltage motor is designed to improve efficiency of air movement through HVAC systems. It controls and supports multiple motor types, including AC induction and permanent...

Motion Control and Automation Technology : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Conveyor Drive

The NORD Screw Conveyor Package from NORD Gear Corp. (Waunakee, WI) offers closely stepped speed reduction ratios and a directly coupled gearmotor or NEMA C-face input design that eliminates the need for top motor mounts, pulleys, belts, or guards. Screw conveyor drive options feature a UNICASE™ reducer housing, Quadrilip™...

Motion Control and Automation Technology : Robotics, Automation & Control
Motor Brakes

X-Small motor brakes from Warner Electric (South Beloit, IL) are spring-set holding brakes for applications in industries such as aerospace and medical equipment. The electrically released brakes are designed for engaged/disengaged holding applications such as seat adjustment on airplanes, but can provide a low-cycle-rate stopping...

Motion Control and Automation Technology : Robotics, Automation & Control
Stage System

The OptiScanTMIII system from Prior Scientific (Rockland, MA) is a stage and focus system for routine microscopy procedures requiring high precision. It offers full control in the X, Y, and Z axes via compatibility with OptiScan motorized stages for both inverted and upright microscopes, and Prior’s non-encoded focus motors and FB...

Products : Manufacturing & Prototyping
BLDC Motor

Nanotec (Feldkirchen, Germany) introduced the DB80 BLDC motor that features a rated speed of 3000 rpm and a rated voltage of 48 V. The 8-pin motor is suited for applications that require a high degree of efficiency, such as service robotics or automated guided vehicle systems. The motor has a flange size of 80 × 80 mm and is...

Motion Control and Automation Technology : Robotics, Automation & Control
Stepper Motor

Lin Engineering (Morgan Hill, CA) releases the Xtreme Torque E5718 stepper motor with enhanced technology to reduce stalling, skipped steps, and provide efficient torque. The enhanced design allows users to stay within the same frame size and take advantage of increased torque normally available in larger frame sizes. The motor has...

Motion Control and Automation Technology : Robotics, Automation & Control
Brush DC Motors

PITTMAN® Motors, a business unit of AMETEK Precision Motion Control (Harleysville, PA), has introduced the DC032A Series of brush DC motors. The high-torque-density motors are designed in a rectangular package suitable for portable equipment and power tools. The motor body cross-section measures 25 × 32 mm. They are available...

Motion Control and Automation Technology : Robotics, Automation & Control

Aerotech’s PlanarDLA integrated, open-frame stages from Aerotech (Pittsburgh, PA) are suited for applications ranging from two-sided LED wafer processing where high dynamics and micrometer-level straightness are required, to quasi-static optical metrology where high accuracy and precise geometric performance are necessary. The XY design...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Power Chuck

SMW Autoblok (Wheeling, IL) introduced the BIG BORE® BB-EXL-SC2G front-end spring clamp power chuck featuring a jaw stroke of 1.5 inches, as well as increased safety monitoring. It utilizes spring clamping and pneumatic unclamping with lower air consumption. It has a step mode for partial opening and clamping when shimming. As a...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Drive Software

ADVANCED Motion Controls (Camarillo, CA) offers DriveWare® 7.3 (DW7.3) that streamlines and simplifies setup and configuration of DigiFlex Performance digital servo drives. The color-coded organization of the Drive Status screen helps quickly identify events and faults, while the integrated help browser automatically highlights...

Products : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Brushless DC Motor

BEI Kimco Magnetics (Vista, CA) introduced the DII15-60-200A High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) brushless DC (BLDC) motor developed specifically to withstand harsh conditions found in the oil exploration Industry. The robust design also makes it suitable for other applications found in severe environments. The 1.5" diameter...

Products : Motion Control
Servo Motor Brakes

Nexen Group (Vadnais Heights, MN) offers Eclipse Servo Motor Brakes that consume no energy when the brake is disengaged. It is spring-engaged/air-released (no electric coil) to keep the brake cool until it is needed. The brakes mount to the shaft end of servomotors up to 20 horsepower, including NEMA 23, 34, and 42 frame...

Products : Manufacturing & Prototyping
AC Drive

Vacon (Milwaukee, WI) introduced the NXC drive, an enclosed, variable-speed AC drive for high-power applications. It is available in NEMA 1 and NEMA 12 variations for applications in pumps and fans, extruders, main propulsion and bow thrusters, conveyers and crushers, feeders and mixes, winches, compressors, test benches, static power...

Motion Control and Automation Technology : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Rotary Assembly Unit

The SCHUNK SRU-mini- Speed rotary unit from SCHUNK (Morrisville, NC) is available in two model sizes and provides swivel times from 0.27s. If lightweight parts are handled with the unit, more than 4,000 cycles per hour can be achieved. Model size 10 achieves swivel times of 0.27s, and up to 3,600 cycles per hour is possible....

Features : Imaging
Analyst Roundtable: Machine Vision Moves Beyond Manufacturing

Imaging technology is playing an increasingly important role, for traditional industry sectors like manufacturing as well as emerging segments outside of the factory. Companies are looking to automate their operations. Lower costs have enabled customers to use camera-based...

Imaging Technology : Imaging
‘Ralph’ Camera Shows Pluto in Color

Thanks to a camera affectionately known as “Ralph,” NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has delivered stunning natural-color images of Pluto and its moons.

Imaging Technology : Imaging
Area-Scan Camera

The Basler beat area-scan camera from Basler (Ahrensburg, Germany/ Exton, PA) features 12 MP of resolution, progressive scan, and global shutter technology. Using the Camera Link interface, the cameras process 62 frames per second. Possible applications include measurement and identification; semiconductor and electronics...

Imaging Technology : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Area-Scan Camera

The SAPPHIRE S-25A70/CXP area-scan camera from Adimec (Eindhoven, the Netherlands/Stoneham, MA) is equipped with the CoaXPress V1.1 Quad interface (4 x CXP-6). CoaXPress CXP-6 Quad offers a peak transfer rate of 2 Gigapixels/s. Data transmission between the camera and frame grabber occurs at up to 25 Gbits/s (4 x 6.25 Gbits/s)....

Products : Manufacturing & Prototyping
CMOS Camera

The Imaging Source (Bremen, Germany/Charlotte, NC) has announced industrial cameras with the Sony Full HD WDR Sensor IMX236. The cameras are available as GigE (PoE) and USB 3 versions in monochrome and color. Other features include integrated WDR (Wide Dynamic Range) and a resolution from VGA to Full HD. The maximum frames-per-second...

Imaging Technology : Manufacturing & Prototyping
High-Speed Camera

Photron (San Diego, CA) has released the FASTCAM Mini WX 50 camera. The device provides up to 750 frames per second at full four-megapixel resolution; 1080 HD performance is achieved at 1,500 frames per second. The 120 x 120 x 99-mm Mini WX 50 weighs 3.5 lbs and features 12-bit ADC. Memory options range from 4 GB to 8 GB, and...

Imaging Technology : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Infrared Camera

The Goldeye G-008 SWIR camera from Allied Vision Technologies (Stadtroda, Germany/Exton, PA) is fitted with a QVGA InGaAs sensor (320 x 256 pixels, 30 μm pixel size), making the camera sensitive in the short wave infrared spectrum ranging from 900 to 1,700 nm. The imager delivers 346 frames per second at full resolution. The...

Imaging Technology : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Thermal Imaging Cameras

FLIR Systems (Wilsonville, OR) has added the K2 and K65 to its K-Series of thermal imaging cameras. The new additions provide firefighters with the capability to see through smoke, locate and rescue victims, identify hot spots, navigate, and stay better oriented during response missions. Powered by FLIR’s Lepton®...

Imaging Technology : Manufacturing & Prototyping
High-Speed Camera

With an exposure time of 200 ps, the OptoPIC camera from Optronis (Kehl, Germany) captures images of objects with rapidly changing light emission. The exposure has a repetition rate of 70 to 110 MHz. The programmable delay allows for shots to be taken automatically at various intervals in order to record a sequence of images...

Imaging Technology : Imaging
USB 3.0 Camera

Point Grey (Richmond, BC, Canada) has announced the addition of a new 1.3 MP global shutter CMOS to its Chameleon3® set of USB3 Vision™ cameras. The Chameleon3 CM3-U3-13Y3 models are based on color and monochrome versions of the ON Semiconductor PYTHON1300, a ½" global shutter CMOS sensor featuring 1280 x 1024 image...

Products : Manufacturing & Prototyping
USB 3.0 Camera

PixeLINK® (Ottawa, ON, Canada) has added two 2.3 megapixel global shutter CMOS models to its USB3 Vision camera set. The PL-D752 and the PL-D792 cameras feature the IMX174 and IMX249 CMOS sensors. The PL-D752, built using the IMX174 sensor, will be offered in both 10-bit and 12-bit versions and provide speed of 164 frames per...

Products : Imaging
CMOS Camera

JAI (Shanghai, China/San Jose, CA) has introduced the GO-2400-PGE, an industrial camera featuring Sony’s IMX174, a 2.35-megapixel global shutter CMOS imager. The camera offers a maximum resolution of 1936 x 1216 pixels, while running at 48.8 frames per second over a GigE Vision interface. Power can be provided via the GigE Vision...

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