Tech Briefs

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A comprehensive library of technical briefs from engineering experts at NASA and major government, university, and commercial laboratories covering all aspects of innovations in electronics, software, photonics, imaging, motion control, automation, sensors, test, materials, manufacturing, mechanical, and mechatronics.

Briefs: Physical Sciences

A generalized mathematical model has been devised for use in analyzing the pyrolysis of arbitrarily specified (but typical) biomass feedstocks at atmospheric pressure. The model...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Wheel Drive of Mars Rover

A brief report summarizes the design of the lightweight, high-torque wheel drive of a small robotic vehicle used to explore the surface of Mars. Planetary gearing was selected for compactness and high torque capability. The input stages were fitted with ball bearings to survive the cold (down to -100 °C) Martian...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

An improved motor controller provides a circuit that will allow a motor to run at full speed while traveling from point A to point B, and still be able to obtain the desired damping...

Briefs: Motion Control

The tunable external cavity diode laser is an important new tool used to evaluate and test the latest fiber-optic components and building blocks of modern telecommunications systems. A key factor...

Briefs: Materials

A technique of gentle, highly selective gas-phase etching of silicon has been devised to enable the fabrication of microelectromechanical devices integrated with electronic circuits. For...

Briefs: Materials

Thermal-insulation blankets developed for use aboard the space shuttle can be adapted to a racing car to protect the driver against excessive cockpit heating. [Also see an earlier article...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Signaling-and-Detection Scheme for Beacon Monitoring

A signaling-and-detection scheme has been proposed for use in conjunction with the remote-monitoring concept described in "Beacon Monitoring Would Reduce Interactions With Remote Systems" (NPO-19706), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 21, No. 5 (May 1997), page 54. To recapitulate: A remote system (a...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control

A prototype manipulator system that includes two different arms has been tentatively selected for use on a semiautonomous robotic vehicle called Rocky 7 (see figure). [A previous version of this...

Briefs: Physical Sciences

The Automated Window Inspection Device (AWID) is a prototype apparatus for computer-controlled, noncontact inspection of windows, with reproducible positioning and electronic recording of data on the...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics

A proposed electro-optical image-processing system would enable remote viewing of an object through a multimode optical fiber, as though the fiber were a conventional image-transmitting optic like a...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Rigid, guyed masts of a proposed type for supporting meteorological instruments would be designed to withstand considerably stronger winds than those conventionally used. The proposed fairings...

Briefs: Physical Sciences

A mathematical model of a special class of solid/fluid chemical reactions has been developed for use in analyzing the pyrolysis of particles of cellulose, wood, and similar biomass...

Briefs: Physical Sciences

A mathematical model has been developed for use in assessing the performances of direct-contact pyrolysis reactors used to convert particles of raw biomass materials (usually small...

Briefs: Physical Sciences

A highly sensitive micromachined accelerometer that is intended to be exposed to very small accelerations during operation incorporates features for protection against much larger...

Briefs: Information Technology
Software for Improving Operational Processes

The Schedule and Cost Risk Analysis Modeling System (SCRAM) computer program identifies important sources of schedule and cost risks in an operational process. The related Process Analysis and Improvement Support System (PASS) program assists in the overall analysis and improvement of an operational...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

An operator interface is undergoing development along with other subsystems of a robot that would assist in caring for elderly and disabled patients. This development has been initiated...

Briefs: Information Technology
Software for Planning in a Hierarchical Processing Environment

Decision-support software based on discrete-event simulation (DES) has been undergoing development for use in planning and scheduling work in the Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF) at Kennedy Space Center. The software is also suitable for adaptation to similar use in other facilities...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Evaluation of Droplet-Evaporation Models for Gas/Liquid Flow

A report presents an evaluation of eight mathematical models of the evaporation of liquid droplets — models that are used in the numerical simulation of a variety of gas/liquid flows, including cooling sprays, burning liquid-fuel sprays, fire-suppression sprays, and...

Briefs: Software
Program for Simulating Dynamics of Multibody Systems

The Dynamics Algorithms for Real-Time Simulation (DARTS) computer program solves the equations of motion of tree-topology, flexible, and/or multibody mechanical systems as diverse as molecules, mechanisms, robots, spacecraft, and ground vehicles. It has proven to be particularly useful for...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

Hybrid high-temperature-superconductor (HTS)/semiconductor planar oscillator circuits that operate at a frequency of 8.4 GHz have been developed. In the original intended application,...

Briefs: Information Technology
Work-Measurement and Methods-Analysis Studies of the OPF

Two reports describe early phases of continuing studies directed toward the selection and adaptation of industrial work-measurement and methods-analysis procedures for application to the Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF) at Kennedy Space Center. These studies were prompted by a need to...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics

High-speed communications, medical applications, and semiconductor processing would all benefit from a laser that can produce stable, high-repetition-rate pulses at 1.55 micrometers. One...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics

Modulated (as opposed to steady) light can be used in the optical transmission of power to remotely located sensor circuitry in a system like that described in the preceding...

Briefs: Physical Sciences

A method of correcting absolute-air-pressure measurements for small differences in the elevations of pressure taps and pressure transducers has been devised. The variation in air...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

A self-contained impact-type damper for a bellows-type face seals suppresses dynamic instability or chatter. In current practice, damping in a typical seal is accomplished through...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

The figure schematically illustrates a prototype general-purpose, microprocessor-based sensor and control system in which power, data, and control signals are transmitted via...

Briefs: Information Technology

The Kennedy Space Center Human Factors Event Evaluation Model is a model to facilitate long-term gathering and analysis of data to investigate the effects of human factors on the...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control

A small prototype robotic all-terrain vehicle features a unique drive and suspension system that affords capabilities for self righting, pose control, and enhanced maneuverability for...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics

An experimental study has been conducted to demonstrate the feasibility of using spectrally resolved Rayleigh scattering to nonintrusively measure the instantaneous properties of...

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