New findings from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) provide the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars. Using an imaging spectrometer...

As NASA missions to Mars progress, spacecraft will require larger heat shields to protect against the extreme heat of entering a planet's atmosphere and decelerating at a safe...

MIT’s Netra, a plastic, binocular-like headset attaches in the front to a smartphone. Users peer through the headset at the phone’s display. Patterns, such as...

Question of the Week
Will Robot Taxis Take the Streets by 2020?

This week's Question: Japan’s cabinet office and the Tokyo-based Robot Taxi Inc. said they will start experimenting with an unmanned taxi service beginning in 2016. The transportation will be offered for approximately 50 people in Southern Tokyo, with the autonomous car bringing users from their homes...

INSIDER: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Researchers Weld the Un-Weldable

Despite recent advances in materials design, alternative metals still pose a challenge to manufacturers in practice. Many are considered un-weldable by traditional means, in part because high heat and re-solidification weaken the metals.

Engineers at The Ohio State University have developed a new welding...

Question of the Week
Will virtual air-traffic control replace traditional towers?

This week’s Question: On Oct. 1, Colorado’s Fort Collins-Loveland airport was approved as the first testing ground for the Federal Aviation Administration’s own virtual air-traffic control tower system. Through a system of computers, cameras, and recording devices, human...

Briefs: Materials
Using Paraffin Phase Change Material to Make Optical Communication-Type Payloads Thermally Self-Sufficient for Operation in Orion Crew Module

The Orion Crew Module has a pressurized cabin of approximately 20 m3 in volume. There are a number of cold plates within the Crew Module for thermal management. An optical communication type of payload...

Briefs: Materials
Aerogel-Filled Foam Core Insulation for Cryogenic Propellant Storage

Current cryogenic insulation materials suffer from various drawbacks including high cost and weight, lack of structural or load-bearing capability, fabrication complexity, and property anisotropy. A need clearly exists for lightweight thermal insulation that is isotropic and...

Briefs: Materials
Multifunctional B/C Fiber Composites for Radiation Shielding

A versatile, novel, multifunctional hybrid structural composite of a high-hydrogen epoxy matrix (UN-10) coupled with boron and carbon fibers (IM-7) has been developed. Prototype laminates of 18×18 in. (≈46×46 cm), with the nominal areal density of 0.35 g/cm2, were...

Briefs: Materials
Smart MMOD Thermal Blanket

This innovation provides for significantly improved protection from micrometeoroid and orbital debris (MMOD) particles, and reliably determines the location, depth, and extent of MMOD impact damage.

Briefs: Materials
Using Black Polyimide/Kevlar as a Metering Structure Multi-Layer Insulation (MLI)

Metering structures of remote sensing instruments often have large openings or access holes. Shear panels that are X-shaped, such as those proposed for the Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER), generally consist of C-channels and L-brackets to...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Dynamic Weather Routes (DWR)

Convective weather systems, i.e., thunderstorms, are the leading cause of flight delay in U.S. airspace. Airline dispatchers must file their flight plans 1 to 2 hours before takeoff, and are often required to...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
ATMS Antenna Beam Analysis Software

The Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS) Antenna Beam Analysis Software uses a suite of test data to calculate the ATMS instrument beam pointing, and secondarily, the polarization state, in the coordinates of the onboard optical cube. The software uses measurement inputs of RF radiation pattern...

Most instruments under development rely on a traditional computer or laptop, LabVIEW software, and data acquisition (DAQ) components (which interface between the instrument and...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
GRAVITE Incinerator

Government Resource for Algorithm Verification, Independent Test, and Evaluation (GRAVITE) system is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) system, developed and deployed by Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) Ground Project to support Calibration and Validation (Cal/Val), Data Quality Monitoring, and...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
GRAVITE Distribution

Government Resource for Algorithm Verification, Independent Test, and Evaluation (GRAVITE) system is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) system, developed and deployed by Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) Ground Project to support Calibration and Validation (Cal/Val), Data Quality Monitoring, and...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
GRAVITE Planner

Government Resource for Algorithm Verification, Independent Test, and Evaluation (GRAVITE) system is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) system, developed and deployed by Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) Ground Project to support Calibration and Validation (Cal/Val), Data Quality Monitoring, and Algorithm...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
GRAVITE Upload Tool

Government Resource for Algorithm Verification, Independent Test, and Evaluation (GRAVITE) system is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) system, developed and deployed by Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) Ground Project to support Calibration and Validation (Cal/Val), Data Quality Monitoring, and...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
SMAP SDS Science Processing and Data Management System

The Science Processing and Data Management (SPDM) system’s primary functions are to control and monitor science processes and data products for Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) Science Data System (SDS). SPDM adapts the Apache/OODT Framework 0.3 as the basic infrastructure. Although the...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Hyperlinked Overview of Piloted Evaluations (HOPE) Web- Based Data Archive

The Hyperlinked Overview of Piloted Evaluations (HOPE) application provides an interface for users to enter data on pilots, metrics, configurations, tasks, and data collection sessions, as well as descriptive information for each item and the experiment as a whole. As...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
GRAVITE Database

Government Resource for Algorithm Verification, Independent Test, and Evaluation (GRAVITE) system is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) system, developed and deployed by Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) Ground Project to support Calibration and Validation (Cal/Val), Data Quality Monitoring, and Algorithm...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
GRAVITE Monitor

Government Resource for Algorithm Verification, Independent Test, and Evaluation (GRAVITE) system is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Ad - ministration (NOAA) system, developed and deployed by Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) Ground Project to support Calibration and Validation (Cal/Val), Data Quality Monitoring, and...

An algorithm for analyzing wave reflections and time-of-flight ultrasonic pulse-echo data has been developed for monitoring the health of steam...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Satellite Situation Update

Satellite Situation Update (SSUP) software shows the current locations of a selected set of orbiting spacecraft, along with each satellite’s ground track and/or orbit shape. SSUP is intended as a real-time display, showing multiple spacecraft, that is suitable for a large wall monitor meant to be in public spaces for...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Autonomous Micro Aerial Vehicle Flight Using Optical Flow and Inertial Cues

Micro aerial vehicles (MAVs) are agile and have unstable flight dynamics. They require a failsafe method to be navigated through areas even without GPS coverage. The approach of this work is to use only the feature matches between two consecutive images, i.e. optical...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Universal Robotically Operated Leave-Behind Gripper

This universal robotically operated leavebehind gripper allows robotic (or extravehicular activity — EVA) attachment capability of any object at eight existing types of attachments at the International Space Station (ISS). It enables expansion of external stowage and payload sites to include...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
DshellCommon Simulation Framework

DshellCommon software has been developed for specifying and executing generic multibody system simulations. This innovation helps the user create and execute simulations for mechanisms, vehicles, spacecraft, or other systems by making it easier to write simulation “run scripts” for systems that vary from...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Neutrally Buoyant Tank Inspection and Cleaning Robot

Huge savings in cost and inspection times (as well as improved safety) could be obtained by performing in-service inspection of tank floors and walls with robotic devices. This would have a reduced environmental impact and meet EPA and state regulations.

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Visualization and Introspection for Teleoperation of Robotic Systems

The Space Exploration and Analysis Simulations (SEAS) project at JPL performs analysis of advanced mission and system concepts on behalf of NASA. One of the concepts being explored involves operation of robotic rovers on the Moon from a remote operator station located either at...

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