August 2013

On planetary surfaces, pressurized human habitable volumes will require a means to carry equipment around within the volume of the habitat, regardless of the...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Impact-Actuated Digging Tool for Lunar Excavation

NASA’s plans for a lunar outpost require extensive excavation. The Lunar Surface Systems Project Office projects that thousands of tons of lunar soil will need to be moved. Conventional excavators dig through soil by brute force, and depend upon their substantial weight to react to the forces...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Conical Seat Shut- Off Valve

A moveable valve for controlling flow of a pressurized working fluid was designed. This valve consists of a hollow, moveable floating piston pressed against a stationary solid seat, and can use the working fluid to seal the valve. This open/closed, novel valve is able to use metal-to-metal seats, without requiring...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Flexible Mechanical Conveyors for Regolith Extraction and Transport

A report describes flexible mechanical conveying systems for transporting fine cohesive regolith under microgravity and vacuum conditions. They are totally enclosed, virtually dust-free, and can include enough flexibility in the conveying path to enable an expanded range of...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Remote Memory Access Protocol Target Node Intellectual Property

The MagnetoSpheric Multiscale (MMS) mission had a requirement to use the Remote Memory Access Protocol (RMAP) over its SpaceWire network. At the time, no known intellectual property (IP) cores were available for purchase. Additionally, MMS preferred to implement the RMAP...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Minimal Power Latch for Single-Slope ADCs

Column-parallel analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) for imagers involve simultaneous operation of many ADCs. Single-slope ADCs are well adapted to this use because of their simplicity. Each ADC...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Soft Decision Analyzer

The Soft Decision Analyzer (SDA) is an instrument that combines hardware, firmware, and software to perform realtime closed-loop end-to-end statistical analysis of single- or dual- channel serial digital RF communications systems operating in very low signal-to-noise conditions. As an innovation, the unique SDA...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Distributed Prognostics and Health Management With a Wireless Network Architecture

A heterogeneous set of system components monitored by a varied suite of sensors and a particle-filtering (PF) framework, with the power and the flexibility to adapt to the different diagnostic and prognostic needs, has been developed. Both the diagnostic and...

The use of additive manufacturing technologies in aerospace applications has presented both opportunities and challenges. The ability to produce parts and...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Bismuth Passivation Technique for High-Resolution X-Ray Detectors

The Athena-plus team requires X-ray sensors with energy resolution of better than one part in 3,000 at 6 keV X-rays. While bismuth is an excellent material for high X-ray stopping power and low heat capacity (for large signal when an X-ray is stopped by the absorber), oxidation of...

Briefs: Materials
Microgravity Storage Vessels and Conveying- Line Feeders for Cohesive Regolith

Under microgravity, the usual methods of placing granular solids into, or extracting them from, containers or storage vessels will not function. Alternative methods are required to provide a motive force to move the material. New configurations for microgravity...

In a previous disclosure, the use of 60-NiTiNOL, an ordered intermetallic compound composed of 60 weight percent nickel and 40 weight percent titanium, was investigated as a material for advanced...

News
Custom-Made GPS Spoofing Device Coerces Superyacht Off Course

In June, a radio navigation research team from The University of Texas at Austin successfully coerced an $80 million, 213-foot yacht off its course using a custom-made GPS device.

Briefs: Materials
Cu-Cr-Nb-Zr Alloy for Rocket Engines and Other High-Heat- Flux Applications

Rocket-engine main combustion chamber liners are used to contain the burning of fuel and oxidizer and provide a stream of high-velocity gas for propulsion. The liners in engines such as the Space Shuttle Main Engine are regeneratively cooled by flowing fuel, e.g.,...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Atomic Force Microscope Mediated Chromatography

The atomic force microscope (AFM) is used to inject a sample, provide shear-driven liquid flow over a functionalized substrate, and detect separated components. This is demonstrated using lipophilic dyes and normal phase chromatography. A significant reduction in both size and separation time...

Oxygen used for extravehicular activities (EVAs) must be free of contaminants because a difference in a few tenths of a percent of argon or nitrogen content can mean...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
CRUQS: A Miniature Fine Sun Sensor for Nanosatellites

A new miniature fine Sun sensor has been developed that uses a quadrant photodiode and housing to determine the Sun vector. Its size, mass, and power make it especially suited to small satellite applications, especially nanosatellites. Its accuracy is on the order of one arcminute, and it...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
On-Chip Microfluidic Components for In Situ Analysis, Separation, and Detection of Amino Acids

The Astrobiology Analytical Laboratory at GSFC has identified amino acids in meteorites and returned cometary samples by using liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (LCMS). These organic species are key markers...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Method of Separating Oxygen From Spacecraft Cabin Air to Enable Extravehicular Activities

Extravehicular activities (EVAs) require high-pressure, high-purity oxygen. Shuttle EVAs use oxygen that is stored and transported as a cryogenic fluid. EVAs on the International Space Station (ISS) presently use the Shuttle cryo O2, which is transported to...

Briefs: Information Technology
Sample Analysis at Mars Instrument Simulator

The Sample Analysis at Mars Instrument Simulator (SAMSIM) is a numerical model dedicated to plan and validate operations of the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument on the surface of Mars. The SAM instrument suite, currently operating on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), is an analytical...

Briefs: Information Technology
Access Control of Web- and Java-Based Applications

Cybersecurity has become a great concern as threats of service interruption, unauthorized access, stealing and altering of information, and spreading of viruses have become more prevalent and serious.

Briefs: Information Technology
Tool for Automated Retrieval of Generic Event Tracks (TARGET)

Methods have been developed to identify and track tornado-producing mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) automatically over the continental United States, in order to facilitate systematic studies of these powerful and often destructive events. Several data sources were combined to...

Briefs: Information Technology
Bilayer Protograph Codes for Half-Duplex Relay Channels

Direct to Earth return links are limited by the size and power of lander devices. A standard alternative is provided by a two-hops return link: a proximity link (from lander to orbiter relay) and a deep-space link (from orbiter relay to Earth). Although direct to Earth return links are...

Briefs: Information Technology
Influence of Computational Drop Representation in LES of a Droplet-Laden Mixing Layer

Multiphase turbulent flows are encountered in many practical applications including turbine engines or natural phenomena involving particle dispersion. Numerical computations of multiphase turbulent flows are important because they provide a cheaper alternative...

News
Heftier Unmanned Ground Vehicle Offers More Lifting, Hauling Strength

A small car can't pull a heavy trailer, and sports utility vehicles don't have a compact car's fuel efficiency. A perfect, one-size-fits-all vehicle doesn't exist, and the same goes for unmanned ground vehicles, known as UGVs.

Soldiers use UGVs – such as the 40-pound...

News
New Software Tool Tests Weapon Lethality Against Moving Targets

Military analysts now have a tool that brings together unprecedented modeling and simulation features to help them better choose or build weapons to overpower future threats. Such features allow military researchers to analyze, for example, how a grenade, artillery round or any...

News: Materials
Army Develops Stronger, Lighter Composite Materials

In the future, Army aircraft may be made of all composite materials, and the Prototype Integration Facility Advanced Composites Laboratory is ready. Part of the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center's (AMRDEC's) Engineering Directorate, the Prototype Integration...

Part 1 of this article, which appeared in the August 2013 issue of NASA Tech Briefs, dealt with ON-state characterization of high power semiconductors (link to...

As early as 25 years ago, industrial system integrators saw the great potential that the Windows operating system brought to PCs. They saw the possibility of using the...

Application Briefs: Motion Control
Couplings Synchronize Motion in Pipe Bending System

Pines Technology’s (Westlake, OH) Model 250 Heavy Duty CNC bender is a powerful automatic precision system for fast, repeatable bending of tube and pipe up to 10" in diameter. Providing...

The proliferation of electronic control and electronic power conversion into a variety of industries (e.g., energy generation, industrial motor drives and control,...

Application Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
NASA’s Next Rover Features 3D-Printed Parts

The Desert RATS (Research and Technology Studies) Space Exploration Rover has roamed the Arizona desert, maneuvering the terrain as the wind and temperatures swing from one extreme to another....

Application Briefs: Motion Control
Motors Power NASA’s Interactive Humanoid Tour Guide

RoboThespian is a programmable, interactive humanoid robot designed to communicate, interact, and entertain. First developed in 2006 by Cornish company Engineered Arts, RoboThespian...

Application Briefs: Test & Measurement
Data Management to Support Assembly and Integration of Orion

MEI Technologies is part of the ARES Technical Services Corp. team performing work at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston for the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) Program...

Articles: Green Design & Manufacturing
Water Treatment Technologies Inspire Healthy Beverages

At NASA’s Johnson Space Center in the mid-1990s, Mike Johnson assisted the scientists who were developing technology to convert urine into drinking water. The research conducted by the...

A system for degassing hydrogen uses silicon nitride ceramic rotors. The technology’s rotors stir molten aluminum and disperse the gas. By adding bubbles of an inert gas, hydrogen is drawn...

Techs for License
CV Number Enables Tunable Ball Valves

A ball valve for process systems has a field-adjustable CV number. The CV number allows the valve to be “tuned” for its system. The ball, controlled by an actuator, is moved 0–90 degrees. An adjustable V-port then adjusts the CV number.

Tech Needs
Bacteria Elimination from Hard Surfaces

Long-term care facilities are subject to outbreaks of Clostridium difficile (C. diff) bacteria that form a hard shell, enter a vegetative spore state, and are thus able to withstand conventional cleaning. An active ingredient or mechanical/ electronic means must minimize the threat of C. diff and its...

Tech Needs
Insulating Coating for a Ceramic Substrate

A client seeks an insulating coating for a ceramic substrate and a method of applying it. Electrical leakage from one side of the substrate to the other causes damage. A thin coating is preferred for the application, but the critical specification is the relative permittivity of the coating, which...

Podcasts
Chuck Taylor, Principal Investigator, NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA

Chuck Taylor is principal investigator of in-space propulsion and space power generation within the Game Changing Development Program. He is responsible for a portfolio of technologies, including large-scale solar electric propulsion systems.

Products: Robotics, Automation & Control
Instrumentation Valves

Brennan Industries (Cleveland, OH) offers a line of compression-end instrumentation valves available with single or double ferrule-style tube fittings. The NVB Series ball valves range in size from 1/8" to 3⁄4 " and...

Products: Robotics, Automation & Control
Linear Actuators

Exlar, a business group of Curtiss-Wright Controls (Chanhassen, MN), offers the K Series™ linear actuators with a 75-mm frame size. They combine roller screw technology in varying performance levels, and allow the use of...

Products: Motion Control
Motor Controller

Fairchild Semiconductor (San Jose, CA) has released the FCM8531 analog and digital integrated motor controller. The 3-phase, hybrid BLDC/PMSM controller offers two parallel processors — an advanced motor controller (AMC)...

Products: Motion Control
DC Brushed Motor

The RE 30 EB precious metal brushed motor from maxon precision motors (Fall River, MA) features a low startup voltage and a rated torque of 53 mNm. Other features include minimal highfrequency interference, ironless...

Products: Motion Control
Drive Module

ACS Motion Control (Eden Prairie, MN) offers SPiiPlusUDMlc compact EtherCAT dual/quad-axis drive for equipment utilizing small motors such as pick/place machines, tabletop motion platforms, and wide-format inspection/ assembly...

Products: Motion Control
Axis Calibrator

The XR20-W calibration system from Renishaw (Hoffman Estates, IL) wirelessly measures the angular position of rotary axes to within ±1 arc second for testing the accuracy of lathes, multi-axis ma chine tools, mill-turn...

Products: Motion Control
Motor Cables

HELUKABEL® (Elgin, IL) offers the TOPSERV® Hybrid PVC and TOPSERV® Hybrid PUR cables that allow machine end-users, OEM machine builders, and drive system manufacturers to combine the existing...

Products: Motion Control
Linear Guide Rails

Sterling Instrument (New Hyde Park, NY) has introduced the S99GWRM40 and S99GWRM80 series linear guide rail systems. The sliding element is a specially formulated polymer material suited for hard-anodized aluminum rails....

Products: Robotics, Automation & Control
Integrated Motors and Drives

Schneider Electric Motion USA (Marlborough, CT) has introduced Lexium MDrive integrated motors and drives in two motor sizes, NEMA 23 & 34, and two product versions. The Pulse/Direction version is a motor and...

Products: Robotics, Automation & Control
Piston Pump

HAWE Hydraulics (Charlotte, NC) offers the V40M axial piston pump for open circuits in mobile machines. It has a displacement volume of 2.75 in3/rev, and its swash plate design allows for fine-tuning of the...

Products: Robotics, Automation & Control
Integrated Drives and Motors

Applied Motion Products (Watsonville, CA) has introduced the SWM24 IP65-rated integrated drives and motors. The system fuses a motion controller to a high-torque NEMA24 step motor. The entire package is...

Products: Motion Control
Gear Drives and Motors

Boston Gear and Bauer Gear Motor, Altra Industrial Motion companies (South Beloit, IL) announced the addition of inline models to the Series 2000 right angle helical gear drives and gearmotors. The Boston Gear Series...

Products: Robotics, Automation & Control
Encoder

Dynapar (Gurnee, IL) has announced the SLIM Tach ST56 encoder, a magnetic digital tachometer that provides position and velocity feedback from electric motors in both industrial and harshduty environments. The encoder also comes with...

Products: Motion Control
Linear Position Sensors

Vented versions of the CD 375 Series of miniature AC-operated LVDT position sensors are available from Macro Sensors (Pennsauken, NJ). The sensors withstand high pressures and temperatures in applications where space...

Products: Robotics, Automation & Control
Spring-Engaged Brakes

Nexen Group (Vadnais Heights, MN) has introduced the FMBS flange-mounted, spring-engaged safety brakes with high thermal capacity for NEMA C-Face motors and gear reducers. With continuous thermal dissipation, the brakes...

Products: Robotics, Automation & Control
Servo Drives

Technosoft (Neuchatel, Switzerland) has announced the iPOS3602 BX-CAN and iPOS3604 BXCAN closed-frame intelligent drives. Equipped with a CAN interface, the drives control rotary or linear brushless, DC brush, and step motors of...

Products: Motion Control
Electronic Valves

Clippard Instrument Laboratory (Cincinnati, OH) has introduced the Analytical Series electronic valves available in 2-way or 3-way, normally closed or fully ported. The “A-E” Series pneumatic valves utilize a patented...

Products: Motion Control
Dispensing Pump

Aalborg® Instruments (Orangeburg, NY) offers the TPV RP dispensing peristaltic pumps with adjustable RPM that can be timer-relay set to start dispensing liquids for a selected time period, and to stop dispensing...

Chuck Taylor is principal investigator of in-space propulsion and space power generation within the Game Changing Development Program. He is responsible for a...

News
NASA Fit Check Sets Stage for Orion Recovery Test

Engineers and technicians at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Langley Research Center in Virginia, and Lockheed Martin Space Operations in Denver, CO, prepared unique hardware that was used in a fit check of equipment that will recover Orion upon splashdown in the Pacific...

News
Sensor Helps Microphone Listen With Light

A sensor developed by scientists at SINTEF’s MiNaLab will help to make microphones hypersensitive. With technology of this sort, a microphone will be able to “see” where the sound comes from, pick up the voice of the person speaking, and filter out other sources of noise in the room.

The...

News
Controlling Robots With Your Thoughts

Angel Perez Garcia, a student at NTNU in Norway, uses the movements of his eyes, eyebrows, and other parts of his face to control a robot. "With my eyebrows, I can select which of the robot's joints I want to move," explains Angel. Facial grimaces generate major electrical activity (EEG signals) across our...

News
NASA Technologist Develops Automated Tool to Steer Spacecraft

A NASA technologist has developed a fully automated tool that gives mission planners a preliminary set of detailed directions for efficiently steering a spacecraft to hard-to-reach interplanetary destinations, such as Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, and most comets and asteroids.

Question of the Week
Is an "Exercise Pill" a Good Idea?

This month, researchers at the Scripps Institute in Florida found that mice injected with a protein called REV-ERB underwent physiological changes usually associated with exercise, including increased metabolic rates and weight loss. The scientists suggested that we are therefore closer than ever before to...

News
Researchers Produce 'Electronic Ink'

University of Minnesota engineers have discovered novel technology for producing "electronic ink." The specialized type of ink is made from non-toxic, nanometer-sized crystals of silicon.

News
Bio-Inspired Coating Toughens Glass

A new transparent, bio-inspired coating makes ordinary glass tough, self-cleaning, and incredibly slippery. Researchers created the glass honeycomb-like structure with craters, coating it with a Teflon-like chemical that binds to the honeycomb cells to form a stable liquid film. The film repels droplets of...

News
Researchers Create Devices from Water-Based Hydrogels

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new technique for creating devices out of a water-based hydrogel material that can be patterned, folded, and used to manipulate objects. The technique holds promise for use in “soft robotics” and biomedical...

News: Robotics, Automation & Control
Station Astronauts Remotely Control Planetary Rover From Space

Just as remotely operated vehicles help humans explore the depths of the ocean from above, NASA has begun studying how a similar approach may one day help astronauts explore other worlds. NASA tested the Surface Telerobotics exploration concept, in which an astronaut in an orbiting...

News
Silent Underwater Propulsion System Resembles Octopus

Octopods, also known as octopuses or squid, are considered to be the most intelligent invertebrates. While they generally move along the ocean floor with their eight arms, they flee by swimming head-first, in line with the principles of propulsion.

News
Simulations Aid Study of Earthquake Dampers for Structures

Researchers have demonstrated the reliability and efficiency of "real-time hybrid simulation" for testing a type of powerful damping system that might be installed in buildings and bridges to reduce structural damage and injuries during earthquakes.

News
Big Battery Could Make The Power Grid Smarter

Research conducted with a large new battery could help make the Northwest's and the nation's electric system smarter and more efficient.

Portland General Electric's 5-megawatt, lithium-ion energy storage system is part of PGE's contribution to the Battelle-led Pacific Northwest Smart Grid...

News
Scientists Spy On Lithium Ions

Lithium ion batteries are at the energetic heart of almost all things tech, from cell phones to tablets to electric vehicles. That’s because they are a proven technology, light, long-lasting and powerful. But they aren’t perfect.

Question of the Week
Would You Trust a Robot to Draw Your Blood?

As medical technology advances, doctors are increasingly being assisted by robots. Tele-operated machinery like the Da Vinci system, for example, helps surgeons perform a variety of surgeries. One of the latest technologies, Veebot, is a robot phlebotomist that uses infrared light, a camera, and...

News
Self-Healing Solar Cells Mimic Nature

To understand how solar cells heal themselves, look no further than the nearest tree leaf or the back of your hand.

News
NASA 'Fire Towers' Watch for Wildfires

For more than a decade, instruments on Terra and Aqua, two of NASA’s flagship Earth-observing satellites, have scanned the surface of our planet for fires. An instrument on both satellites, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), has revolutionized what scientists know about fire’s...

News
Researchers Create Super-Strength Materials from Shock Waves

Using shock waves similar to those generated by meteorites striking the Earth, researchers at Purdue University have developed new super-strength materials.

News: Energy
All-Solid Sulfur-Based Battery Outperforms Lithium-Ion Technology

Scientists at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have designed and tested an all-solid lithium-sulfur battery with approximately four times the energy density of conventional lithium-ion technologies that power today's electronics. The ORNL battery design,...

News
Optically Levitated, Glowing Diamonds for Nanoscale Research

University of Rochester researchers have measured for the first time light emitted by photoluminescence from a nanodiamond levitating in free space. The researchers used a laser to trap nanodiamonds in space and then, using another laser, caused the diamonds to emit light at given...

News
Ambient Backscatter Technique Lets Wireless Devices Go Battery-Free

University of Washington engineers have created a new communication technique, called ambient backscatter, that takes advantage of ambient TV and cellular transmissions. Two devices communicate with each other by detecting, harnessing, and reflecting the existing RF signals to...

News
Researchers Create Transistors without Semiconductors

For decades, electronic devices have been getting smaller, and smaller, and smaller. It’s now possible — even routine — to place millions of transistors on a single silicon chip.But transistors based on semiconductors can only get so small. “At the rate the current technology is...

News
New Communication System: Wireless Devices Go Battery-Free

University of Washington engineers have created a new wireless communication system that allows devices to interact with each other without relying on batteries or wires for power.

News
New Array Measures Vibrations Across Skin

In the near future, a buzz in your belt or a pulse from your jacket may give you instructions on how to navigate your surroundings. Think of it as tactile Morse code – vibrations from a wearable, GPS-linked device that tell you to turn right or left, or stop, depending on the pattern of pulses you...

Question of the Week
Is a Hyperloop on the Way?

Last week, entrepreneur Elon Musk unveiled a transportation concept that he said could whisk passengers the nearly 400 miles between Los Angeles and San Francisco in 30 minutes. The theoretical Hyperloop would consist of carlike capsules traveling at more than 700 mph through enclosed tubes. The capsules, which would...

News
Researchers Teleport Information by Electronic Circuit

Physicists at ETH Zurich have for the first time successfully teleported information in a solid state system. The researchers used a device similar to a conventional computer chip.

News: Energy
Rechargeable Battery Design Improves Energy Storage

MIT researchers have engineered a new rechargeable flow battery that does not rely on expensive membranes to generate and store electricity. The device, they say, may one day enable cheaper, large-scale energy storage.

News
Astronomers Obtain Close-Up View of the Drama of Starbirth

Young stars are violent objects — ejecting material at speeds as high as one million kilometers per hour. When this material crashes into the surrounding gas it glows, creating what is called a Herbig-Haro object.

News
Army Collaboration Leads to New Rocket Propulsion Technology

A team of Army researchers developed a new gel-propellant engine called the vortex engine. Michael Nusca Ph.D., a researcher in Army Research Laboratory’s Propulsion Science Branch at Aberdeen Proving Ground, explained the new technology.

News
New Tests Cool Turbine Blades and Improve Engines

Iowa State University’s Hui Hu and Blake Johnsonare developing new technologies to accurately test and improve engine cooling strategies. Their current focus is to improve the turbine blades spun by the engine’s exhaust. Those blades at the back of the engine drive front blades that force...

News
Assembling Big Structures Out of Small, Interlocking Composite Components

MIT researchers have developed a lightweight structure whose tiny blocks can be snapped together much like the bricks of a child’s construction toy. The new material, the researchers say, could revolutionize the assembly of airplanes, spacecraft, and even larger...

Question of the Week
Are 'Virtual Receptionists' a Good Idea?

The London borough of Brent is using a virtual receptionist, or hologram, to greet visitors in its new civic center. The hologram responds to questions about locations in the building, such as where to register births or where to head to apply for a marriage certificate. The virtual employee will be...

News
Telescope Mirror Offers Sharpest Photos of Night Sky

Astronomers at the University of Arizona, the Arcetri Observatory near Florence, Italy, and the Carnegie Observatory have developed a new type of camera that allows scientists to take sharper images of the night sky than ever before, and in visible light. Using a telescope mirror that...

News
NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission: A Conceptual Animation

NASA has released this conceptual animation depicting the agency's planned mission to find, capture, redirect, and study a near-Earth asteroid.

News
Smallest-Ever Autopilot for Micro Aerial Vehicles

Researchers at the Netherlands' Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) have designed, built, and tested what they say is the world's smallest autopilot for small unmanned aircraft.

Pico Technology, Tyler, TX, has introduced the PicoScope 5000 Series flexible-resolution oscilloscopes that use reconfigurable ADC technology to offer a choice of resolutions from 8 to 16 bits...

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