High Field Superconducting Magnets

Applications include MRI machines, mass spectrometers, and particle accelerators.

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

This superconducting magnet developed at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center comprises a superconducting wire wound in adjacent turns about a mandrel to form the superconducting magnet; a thermally conductive potting material configured to fill interstices between the adjacent turns; and a voltage limiting device disposed across each end of the superconducting wire, and is configured to prevent a voltage excursion across the superconducting wire during quench of the superconducting magnet. The thermally conductive potting material and the superconducting wire provide a path for dissipation of heat.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Wiring, Wiring, Magnetic materials
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Distributed Diagnostics and Prognostics

The distributed health management architecture is comprised of a network of smart sensor devices.

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California

NASA has developed a method that prevents total system failure during emergencies, allowing parts of the system to continue to function, and making overall system recovery faster. A heterogeneous set of system components monitored by a varied suite of sensors and a health monitoring framework has been developed with the power and flexibility to adapt to different diagnostic and prognostic needs. Current state-of-the-art monitoring and health management systems are mostly centralized in nature, where all the processing is reliant on a single processor. This requires information to be sent and processed in one location. With increases in the volume of sensor data as well as the need for associated processing, traditional centralized systems tend to be somewhat ungainly; in particular, when faced with multi-tasking of computationally heavy algorithms. The distributed architecture is more efficient, allows for considerable flexibility in number and location of sensors placed, scales up well, and is more robust to sensor or processor failure.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, On-board diagnostics, On-board diagnostics (OBD), Architecture, On-board diagnostics, On-board diagnostics (OBD), Diagnostics, Prognostics, Vehicle health management
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Lens-Coupled Dielectric Waveguides

Small, lightweight, low-power interconnect solution with improved reliability and reduced packaging complexity.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has developed a low-loss dielectric waveguide that provides a simple, versatile, and flexible transmission medium. Dielectric waveguides — long, solid pieces of dielectric that confine electromagnetic waves — offer high bandwidth and low transmission loss compared to conventional metallic waveguides. Despite these advantages, practical use of these waveguides has been limited because a large fraction of signal power is lost at the state-of-the-art interconnects joining conventional metallic waveguides and dielectric waveguides. JPL’s interconnect solution uses lens coupling to reduce these losses by a factor of 10 or more, yielding a reliable, cost-effective alternative to conventional waveguides.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Waveguides, Waveguides
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Sampling and Control Circuit Board for an Inertial Measurement Unit

John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio

Scientists at NASA’s Glenn Re - search Center have developed a circuit board that serves as a control and sampling interface to an inertial measurement unit (IMU). The circuit board provides sampling and communication abilities that allow the IMU to be sampled at precise intervals. The data is minimally processed onboard and returned to a separate processor for inclusion in an overall system. The circuit board allows the normal overhead associated with IMU data collection to be performed outside of the system processor, freeing up time to run intensive algorithms in parallel. This Glenn technology consists of the circuit schematic, board layout, and microcontroller firmware for the IMU sampling and control circuit board.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Measurements, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Data acquisition and handling, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Data acquisition and handling
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Efficient Radiation Shielding Through Direct Metal Laser Sintering

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

Functional and parametric degradation of microcircuits due to total ionizing dose (TID) often poses serious obstacles to deployment of critical state-of-the-art (SOTA) technologies in NASA missions. Moreover, because device dielectrics in which such degradation occurs vary from one fabrication lot to the next, these effects must be reevaluated on a lot-by-lot basis. Often, the most effective mitigation against TID degradation is the addition of radiation shielding to the electronics box. Unfortunately, shielding materials can add significant amounts of mass to a system, particularly when vulnerable parts require shielding over 4π steradians. One method for reducing mass is to apply spot shielding located only on the critical components that require it. Reduced box- and/or spacecraft-level shielding will necessitate more complex spot shielding to protect the component from the omnidirectional radiation environment.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Metal finishing, Radiation protection, Lightweighting
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Polymer Nanofiber-Based Reversible Nano-Switch/Sensor Schottky Diode (nanoSSSD) Device

This microsensor has applications in biomedical devices, combustion engines, and detection/switching devices used in mass transit systems.

John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio

NASA’s Glenn Research Center has developed a groundbreaking new microsensor that detects toxic gases and explosives in a variety of environments. Most devices can perform only a unidirectional sensing task, lacking a switching feature that would allow the device to return to baseline operation after the volatile species is removed or has dissipated. Glenn’s nano-Switch Sensor Schottky Diode (nanoSSSD) device consists of a thin film of graphene deposited on a specially prepared silicon wafer. Graphene’s two-dimensional properties make this technology both extremely sensitive to different gases and highly reliable in harsh, enclosed, or embedded conditions. The nanoSSSD can be connected to a visual and/or sound alarm that is autonomously triggered as the sensor detects a selected gas, and then is returned to its passive mode when the gas is no longer present. The innovation has applications in biomedical devices, combustion engines, and detection/switching devices used in mass transit systems.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Sensors and actuators, Switches, Sensors and actuators, Switches, Gases, Nanotechnology, Polymers
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Method of Fault Detection and Rerouting

The technology can be used in wiring for aerospace, marine, automotive, industrial, and smart grid applications.

John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida

NASA seeks partners interested in the commercial application of the In Situ Wire Damage Detection and Rerouting System (ISWDDRS). NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is soliciting licensees for this innovative technology. The ISWDDRS consists of a miniaturized inline connector containing self-monitoring electronics that use time domain reflectometry (TDR) to detect wire faults and determine fault type and fault location on powered electrical wiring. When a damaged or defective wire is identified, the system is capable of autonomously transferring electrical power and data connectivity to an alternate wire path. When used in conjunction with NASA’s wire constructions that use a conductive detection layer, the system is capable of detecting and limiting damage not only to the core conductor, but also to the insulation layer before the core conductor becomes compromised.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Failure analysis, Sensors and actuators, Wiring, Sensors and actuators, Wiring
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Metal Oxide Vertical Graphene Hybrid Supercapacitors

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California

NASA has developed a novel hybrid supercapacitor system utilizing vertical graphene as an electrode material grown directly on collector metals using a plasma enhanced chemical vapor de - position. Supercapacitors are an alternative to batteries for energy storage, offering high power density and rapid charging time. Nanomaterials such as carbon nanotubes and graphene offer high surface area and porosity to construct the electrodes. Vertical graphene grown directly on a collector metal substrate enables construction of a supercapacitor. The key to the hybrid supercapacitor technology is the growth of vertical graphene directly onto an inexpensive metal substrate without the use of bulk graphene, catalysts, or binders, resulting in increased power density. Adding the metal oxide or electrically conducting polymer to the vertical graphene adds redox (reduction and oxidation) capacitance, thus increasing the overall performance of the device.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Energy storage systems, Ultracapacitors and supercapacitors, Energy storage systems, Ultracapacitors and supercapacitors, Metals, Nanomaterials
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Reconfigurable Drive Current System

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) has developed compact, reconfigurable electronic devices to drive and control avionics instruments. Typical avionics systems function through centralized power distribution units (PDUs), which have complex, expensive, and time-consuming design, development, test, and evaluation (DDT&E) cycles. To increase efficiency and lower design and implementation costs, the Standardized Multipurpose Avionics with Reconfigurable Technology (SMART) has been developed, replacing the PDU and sensor signal conditioning functions. By replacing the PDU, the system is able to process commands and condition signals at the application site, thus lowering system load. SMART can also be reconfigured for new tasks without changing hardware. This means functions can be added or changed later in the DDT&E cycle and even during integration, helping to reduce cost and schedule impact while enabling responsiveness to changing application needs.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Avionics, Electronic control units, Avionics, Electronic control units, Maintainability and supportability
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System and Method for Transferring Telemetry Data Between a Ground Station and a Control Center

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) employs many advanced innovations developed at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and in collaboration with other organizations. The applications and benefits for these technologies are advantageous for many other industries as well. One of those technologies is the Space Link Extension Return Channel Frames (SLE-RCF) software library. This software library enables a mission control center to receive telemetry frames from a ground station. The technology implements the SLE-RCF protocol as defined by the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS). Software routines can be reused from mission to mission.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Electronics & Computers, Software, Communication protocols, Data exchange, Satellite communications, Telemetry, Communication protocols, Data exchange, Satellite communications, Telemetry
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