July 2014

Articles: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Products of Tomorrow: July 2014

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...

Proportional-Integral-Derivative (PID) controllers are used in most automatic process control applications in industry today to regulate flow, temperature, pressure, level, and many other...

A recent conversation with engineers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston revealed that there’s often “a world of difference” between the standards for circuit...

Application Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Torque Sensors Provide Force Feedback for Robotic Applications
Torque sensing technology
ATI Industrial Automation
Apex, NC
919-772-0115
www.ati-ia.com

ATI Industrial Automation is developing multi-axis,...

Application Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Heat Pipe Assembly Passes NASA Hypersonic Tests
Embedded heat pipe assembly
Thermacore
Lancaster, PA
717-569-6551
www.thermacore.com

A Thermacore heat pipe assembly recently completed testing at the NASA Ames Arc...

Application Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Liquid Flow Sensor Launches into Space
LS16 liquid flow sensor
Sensirion
Westlake Village, CA
805-409-4900
www.sensirion.com

A liquid flow sensor from Sensirion will measure the impact of microgravity on the...

In the beginning, safety outweighed comfort in spacecraft designs for human space travel. Capsules like Gemini and Apollo were small, and most of the flight activities were performed...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Strobing to Mitigate Vibration for Display Legibility

This method mitigates the motion blur introduced when a display, and/or the operator reading it, is undergoing vibration (e.g. during the launch phase of spaceflight). If both the operator and the display are undergoing vibration, their respective impulses need not be in phase. This...

Typically, the cost of a space observatory is driven by the size and mass of the primary aperture. Generally, a monolithic aperture is much heavier and...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Image Processing Method To Determine Dust Optical Density

Image processing techniques for determining dust optical density in Apollo videos have been developed. The software generates histograms, and calculates the mean and standard deviation, which are then used to match dusty and clear images for the purpose of estimating an effective optical...

Briefs: Information Technology
Automatic Lunar Rock Detection and Mapping

Safe spacecraft landing on planetary and small body surfaces is of primary concern. Estimation of landing risk is a critical task when evaluating and certifying potential landing sites. Such analyses require the detection and mapping of all potential landing hazards such as rocks and boulders, craters,...

Briefs: Information Technology
Technique for Finding the Center of an Image of a Rising or Setting Sun Based on Simulated Images

A new JPL project requires that the center of the images of a rising or setting Sun be determined with certain accuracy — for example, within 1 km — when the Sun is observed from the International Space Station (ISS). This center-finding...

Low-temperature, contactless radio-frequency (RF) probing systems are necessary for characterizing sensors operating at liquid nitrogen...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Multi-Tone, High-Frequency Synthesizer for CubeSat-Borne Beacon Transmitter for Radio Wave Atmospheric Propagation Studies

This report presents the design, construction, and test results of a novel multitone, multi-band, high-frequency synthesizer for application in a space-borne (including a CubeSat) beacon transmitter for radio wave...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Dynamic Response Determination of an Electronic Printed Circuit Board

Most of today’s automotive electronic systems are composed of two major mechanical elements: an equipment chassis or enclosure, and a printed circuit board (PCB) assembly. The PCB is composed of laminated copper and FR-4 glass epoxy. These systems often operate in severe...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Wii Nunchuk Controller for ATHLETE Operations

The Arduino platform was used to develop an interface between two otherwise incompatible commercial devices in order to drive the ATHLETE (All-Terrain Hex-Limbed Extra-Terrestrial Explorer) rover over long distances. The Portable Operations Terminal consists of three distinct parts: a robot-mounted...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Full-Cell Evaluation/Screening Technique for New Battery Chemistries

A quick and cost-effective evaluation/screening technique for new battery chemistries was developed that integrates the individual advanced cell component in a full-cell format to identify the critical issues, such as cell component interaction and compatibility before...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Growth Method for Chalcongenide Phase-Change Nanostructures

Recently, one-dimensional (1-D) nanostructures, such as nanowires and nanotubes, have become the focal point of research in nanotechnology due to their fascinating properties. These properties are intrinsically associated with low dimensionality and small diameters, which may lead to...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
ELID Grinding of Large Aspheres

This work focused on a manufacturing process to produce silicon carbide optical surfaces with low mid-spatial surface errors. Mid-spatial frequency (MSF) and high-spatial frequency (HSF) surface errors in the grinding of fast aspheres are amplified in hard ceramics like silicon carbide due to cyclic tool wear...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Highly Aligned Electrospun Fibers and Mats

A modified electrospinning apparatus has been created for spinning highly aligned polymer fibers. Fiber placement, orientation, and porosity are difficult to control using conventional electrospinning apparatus. Conventional electrospinning creates randomly oriented fibers that are well suited to...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Compact Regenerative Blower

The regenerative blower provides air flow through structures or systems that have relatively high flow resistance. Specifically, the regenerative blower was designed to provide a flow of ventilation gas through a spacesuit and its portable life support system (PLSS). Since the ventilation gas is primarily oxygen, fire...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Shape-Memory-Alloy-Based Launch Lock

Most NASA missions require the use of a launch lock for securing moving components during the launch or securing the payload before release. A launch lock is used to prevent unwanted motion and secure the...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Rotary Microspine Technology

Mobility for small, man-portable reconnaissance robots in the past has been limited with regard to obstacles like curbs, stairs, and vertical walls. A previous innovation overcame these obstacles by introducing...

A piezoelectrically actuated percussive bit augments rotary drills to form a rotary-hammering drill/sampler. The Percussive Augmenter of Rotary Drills (PARoD) bit...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Non-Collinear Valve Actuator

Typical large aerospace valves use pneumatic actuators with large return springs to define a normal state. These springs are exclusively in line with the pneumatic actuator, and therefore are forced to have the same stroke and forces. These typical systems use either a large helical spring or a stack of Bellville...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Vibration and Thermal Cycling Apparatus for Cryogenic Tanks

Understanding thermal and mechanical behaviors and their inter-dependencies of complex tank systems is crucial to making proper design decisions. Low-maintenance, high-performance systems are becoming more important as global energy demands and efficiency requirements increase.

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Integrated Rate Isolation Sensor

Some vehicles use an internal measurement unit (IMU) system to determine the speed, acceleration, orientation, position, and/or direction of movement of the vehicle. Vehicles used for high-availability or life-critical systems may employ a fault-tolerant IMU design. Typically, such vehicles use three or more IMUs...

A new technique allows a mercury-cadmium-telluride (MCT) focal plane array (FPA) to operate at room temperature. These results were obtained...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Enhanced Auditory Alert Systems

Auditory warning systems for human interfaces are often designed around criteria that depend primarily upon signal loudness. It is well understood from the auditory literature that, by making an alert signal substantially louder than the measured background noise level, one can insure that an alert signal will be...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Carbon Monoxide Silicate Reduction System

Oxygen produced from lunar resources is a very desirable product to greatly reduce the mass lifted from the Earth’s surface in support of exploration activities. The ability to obtain high yields of oxygen from undifferentiated lunar soils enables planning for near-term piloted missions to the Moon....

Briefs: Information Technology
Modeling Lunar Surface Systems Concepts of Operations

The goal of this work was to model lunar surface systems using a declarative planning system (ASPEN — Activity Scheduling/Planning Environment), provide a parameterizable Excel document to aid in the model generation, and deliver both Mac and PC versions. An adaptation of Microsoft Excel...

Briefs: Information Technology
Portable Distributed Scripts (PoDS)

“Portable Distributed Scripts” (PoDS) is a Python application that allows users to execute serial independent tasks concurrently across nodes on multicore clusters. The package consists of a set of scripts working together through a simple text-based interface. A user only needs to provide minimal...

Briefs: Information Technology
Slot-Sampled Optical PPM Demodulation

In order to demodulate an optical PPM signal, the receiver must align its slot clock to that of the received waveform to count the number of arrivals within each slot. The large bandwidth expansion factor of PPM, M/log2(M) requires a prohibitively large sample rate when a fixed sample clock N...

Briefs: Information Technology
Small-Object Detection via Fast Discrete Curvelet Transform

The detection of distant objects in an image is relevant to applications in defense, security, and robotics. Successfully detecting objects of interest has been a common problem with respect to intelligent computer vision. Automatic target recognition (ATR) systems have been formulated...

Techs for License
DBD Device Offers Transdermal Medicine Delivery
DBD Innovations

Iontophoresis is a well-researched technique for delivering medicines and cosmetic agents through the skin. Current techniques, however, are inefficient, and existing devices are often expensive, bulky, and awkward. A Dielectric Barrier Discharge Iontophoresis (DBDI) solution...

StarOne Group

The Drop-Top™, a container closure and delivery system, features an internal, multi-cavity design that stores up to three separate doses of ingredients,...

Tech Needs
Extended-Wear Patches for Skin Hydration

Moisturizers and active ingredients must be held against human skin in a patch format. To enhance uptake, a new material needs to be designed for extended wear from 1-10 hours. Comfort and physical flexibility are two chief requirements. Ideally, the patch will also reduce the appearance of wrinkles....

Tech Needs
Monitoring Battery Health in Solar-Charged Systems

In solar-powered, battery-run systems, each unit’s battery stores electricity generated by the solar panel during the day and provides electricity to a load when required. The systems currently are networked, but no method is in place to determine or report battery health. A client seeks ways...

The iQ-200™ instrument from Advanced Thermal Solutions, Norwood, MA, measures the temperatures of solid materials and surrounding air, while also tracking air velocity and air pressure. Measurements are...

Features: Photonics/Optics
CCD and CMOS Sensors
What's best for your application?

How does one select the best HD video camera and imaging sensor for professional video in applications such as life sciences, surgical imaging, microscopy, industrial imaging, and...

Application Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Laser Scribing of Photovoltaic Materials

Solar technologies use the sun’s energy to provide heat, light, hot water, electricity, and even cooling, for homes, businesses, and industry. Despite sunlight’s significant potential for...

Products: Photonics/Optics
Product of the Month: Hyperspectral Imager

SPECIM Spectral Imaging Ltd. (Oulu, Finland) has released AisaIBIS, a robust and very high spectral resolution hyperspectral imager for ground and airborne measurement of sun induced fluorescence...

Products: Photonics/Optics
Pulsed Laser Diodes

Laser Components Canada (Hudson, NH) has set a new world record with its pulsed laser diodes at 905 nm. Peak power levels of up to 650W emitted from a small TO-18 housing and are available on a standard basis. These PLDs...

Products: Photonics/Optics
Miniature Full Feature HD/SDI 1080p Camera

Viewbits (San Diego, CA), the industrial cameras division of Computer Modules, Inc., are now shipping the GNAT 1080p 60™, their new mini 1080p HD camera that supports 60 frames per second. The 2.1...

Products: Photonics/Optics
Liquid Crystal Thermography System

The new ethermVIEW™ liquid crystal thermographic analysis system from Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc. (Norwood, MA) provides optical temperature measurements of active PCBs and components. The ethermVIEW...

Products: Photonics/Optics
2 MP HDTV Format Cameras

Camera manufacturer Basler (Ahrensburg, Germany) has expanded its ace camera family to include monochrome and color models in full HD format. The acA1920-25 cameras deliver speeds of 25 fps at 2 MP resolution (1920...

Products: Photonics/Optics
Image Processing Software

The EyeVision image processing software by EVT (Karlsruhe, Germany) now also supports the liquid lens by Opto-Tune. With the new driving module this is easier than ever because even in the case of different...

Products: Photonics/Optics
Multi-layer Thickness Measurement System

Saelig Company, Inc. (Fairport, NY) has announced the OptiGauge MLS™, a patented non-contact thickness measurement system that is non-destructive and since it is self-calibrating, it leaves no...

Since World War II, sea mines have damaged or sunk four times more U.S. Navy ships than all other means of attack combined, according to a Navy report on mine warfare. New sonar research...

Teleportation, a long-standing staple in the world of science fiction, has become a reality for scientists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory in terms of battlefield data...

A biological detection technology developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists can detect bacterial pathogens in the wounds of U.S. soldiers that have...

News: Robotics, Automation & Control
Students Design Robotic Gardeners for Deep Space

Graduate students from the University of Colorado Boulder are designing robots to work in a deep-space habitat, tending gardens and growing food for astronaut explorers.

The team's entry in the eXploration HABitat (X-Hab) Academic Innovation Challenge is called "Plants Anywhere: Plants Growing...

News: Transportation
Inspired by Nature, Researchers Build a Tougher Metal

Drawing inspiration from the structure of bones and bamboo, researchers have gradually changed the internal structure of metals to make stronger, tougher materials. The new metals can be customized for a wide variety of applications — from body armor to automobile parts.

The...

News: Robotics, Automation & Control
New Drones Ensure Ideal Photographic Lighting Positions

Researchers at MIT and Cornell University will provide photographers with squadrons of small, light-equipped autonomous robots that automatically assume the right positions for photographic lighting.

With the new system, the photographer indicates the direction from which the rim light...

News: Electronics & Computers
Nano-Pixels Promise Flexible, High-Res Displays

A new discovery will make it possible to create pixels just a few hundred nanometers across. The "nano-pixels" could pave the way for extremely high-resolution and low-energy thin, flexible displays for applications such as 'smart' glasses, synthetic retinas, and foldable screens.

Oxford...

Scientists at USC have developed a water-based organic battery that is long-lasting, and built from cheap, eco-friendly components. The new battery — which uses no metals or toxic...

Washington State University has developed a wireless network on a computer chip that could reduce energy consumption at huge data farms by as much as 20 percent. The wireless multicore chip...

Chemists have synthesized a new material that could show the way forward to state-of-the-art lithium-sulfur batteries for electric cars. The industry is currently placing most of...

Question of the Week
Will The Popularity Of Drones Carry Major Risks?

New York City police have reported a growing number of incidents involving wayward drones. A crew member of an NYPD helicopter, for example, recently had to change its course after spotting a flying object headed in its direction. Some police are concerned that the increasing popularity of drones...

News: Aerospace
Engineers Use Resin Inks, 3D Printing to Build Lightweight Cellular Composites

Like other manufactured products that use sandwich panel construction to achieve a combination of light weight and strength, turbine blades contain carefully arrayed strips of balsa wood from Ecuador, which provides 95 percent of the world’s supply.

As turbine...

News: Aerospace
NASA’s High-Flying Laser Altimeter Measures Summer Sea Ice

When NASA launches the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2, or ICESat-2, in 2017, it will measure Earth’s elevation by sending out pulses of green laser light and timing how long it takes individual photons to bounce off Earth’s surface and return. The number and patterns of...

Blog
The Road to Lightweight Vehicles

With a steady rise in fuel prices and increasing restrictions on emissions, automakers face difficult challenges as they are forced to find ways of making their cars lighter and more fuel-efficient. One way to achieve this goal is to incorporate strong, lightweight, and durable composite materials to replace...

By fusing together the concepts of active fiber sensors and high-temperature fiber sensors, a team of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh has created an...

NASA completed a near-space test flight of NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), developed to evaluate new landing technologies for future Mars missions....

A study by researchers at the University of Minnesota using snow during a Minnesota blizzard is giving researchers new insight into the airflow around large wind turbines. This research...

News: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Heat-Sensing Camera Reveals Map of Mars Surface

A heat-sensing camera designed at Arizona State University has provided data to create the most detailed global map yet made of Martian surface properties.

The map uses data from the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS), a nine-band visual and infrared camera on NASA’s Mars Odyssey...

Washington State University researchers have developed the first fuel cell that can directly convert fuels, such as jet fuel or gasoline, to electricity, providing a dramatically more...

Two of Georgia Tech's software-defined, electronically reconfigurable Agile Aperture Antennas (A3) were demonstrated in an aircraft during flight tests. The low-power...

NASA has selected three winning designs solicited to address the technological limitations of the uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) currently used to track and collect data on hurricanes....

Question of the Week
Are Driverless Car Concerns Overblown?

According to a newly released FBI report, the driverless cars of the future could aid criminals by introducing the potential for “multitasking.” The report also said that the cars themselves could be turned into “lethal weapons” by evildoers. The report, however, also stated that the autonomous...

Dr. Keith Gendreau is the principal investigator of the upcoming Neutron star Interior Composition ExploreR (NICER) mission. He was the 2011 Innovator of...

News: Energy
Spongelike Structure Converts Solar Energy into Steam

A new material structure developed at MIT generates steam by soaking up the sun.

The structure — a layer of graphite flakes and an underlying carbon foam — is a porous, insulating material structure that floats on water. When sunlight hits the structure’s surface, it creates a hotspot...

News: Communications
Astronauts to Test Free-Flying Robotic 'Smart SPHERES'

Three bowling ball-size free-flying Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) have been flying inside the International Space Station since 2006. These satellites provide a test bed for development and research, each having its own power, propulsion,...

News: Photonics/Optics
Researchers Build 'Invisible' Materials with Light

Metamaterials have a wide range of potential applications, including sensing and improving military stealth technology. Before cloaking devices can become reality on a larger scale, however, researchers must determine how to make the right materials at the nanoscale. Using light is now shown to...

Question of the Week
Will Adaptable Furniture Achieve Mainstream Acceptance?

Roombots self-configurable robotics which can merge with materials to create adaptable furniture for the home and office. The lab will initially use the intelligent furniture to assist the elderly and those with reduced mobility. The team then plans to improve the human-robot interactions...

Carnegie Mellon University researchers have developed techniques for combining the views of 480 video cameras mounted in a two-story geodesic dome to perform large-scale 3D motion...

News: Motion Control
Pumping Efficiency Into Electric Motors

University of Adelaide (Australia) researchers are using new magnetic materials to develop revolutionary electrical motors and generators that promise significant energy savings. They have used the new motors to develop patented highly efficient water pump systems with potential widespread application.

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