Tech Briefs

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 : Software
Analytical Methodology to Predict the Radiometric Emissivity of a Parabolic Mesh Reflector

The demands for high-sensitivity and high-resolution radiometry have recently led the science community to examine the use of large deployable mesh reflectors, which have heretofore only been used in telecommunications applications.

Briefs : Software
Detection and Characterization of Recurring Slope Lineae

Recurring Slope Lineae (RSL) are low-albedo features that appear and disappear seasonally on Martian slopes. They provide distinct surface markers that are thought to result from the activity of subsurface water. Reliable characterizations of RSL activity are needed to test this...

Briefs : Software
Streams: A Hyper-Responsive Telemetry Interaction Tool on the Web

JPL Operations Engineers (Operators) need to interact with their telemetry to assess the health of and successfully operate a spacecraft or rover. Operators must analyze the immediate data for health and understand the current state of these complex systems, but they also must be...

Briefs : Software
Auto-Coding Flight Software Hybrid Controllers Synthesized from Formal Specifications

The technique of synthesizing state-machine-based hybrid controller flight software (FSW) from formal specifications is demonstrated utilizing two simple controller examples (i.e. a simple thermostat and a simple autonomous vehicle). Formal requirements for...

Briefs : Information Technology
Active Learning System for iPTF Candidate Classification

The Intermediate Palomar Transient Factory (iPTF) is a visible-spectrum astronomy survey aimed at detecting “transient” events such as supernovae. Every night, a telescope at the Palomar observatory collects images of various regions of the sky and compares them to a set of reference...

Briefs : Information Technology
Cobra: an Extendable Tool for Interactive Code Analysis

Source code analysis typically requires the use of expensive and difficult-to-configure tools that support only a predefined set of standard checks. In some cases, it is possible to add customized checks, but doing so can be laborious and requires a deep understanding of each tool’s...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Low-Power-Consumption, Single-Mode Quantum Cascade Lasers Fabricated Without Epitaxial Regrowth

Quantum cascade (QC) lasers employ intersubband electronic transitions in semiconductor quantum well structures to generate emission at specific engineered wavelengths. QC devices have been particularly successful as mid-infrared emitters in the 4- to...

Briefs : Information Technology
Common Workflow Service: A Standards-Based Process Management System

As mission operations grow in scale and complexity, there is a prevailing need for automating operational processes to increase efficiency, mitigate risks, and reduce operational costs. The need for automating operational processes has produced a few disparate automation...

Briefs : Aerospace
Optimum Strategies for Selecting Descent Flight-Path Angles

Efficient and safe arrival operations under challenging traffic conditions are a key objective for air transportation modernization efforts taking place throughout the world. However, trajectory predictability issues often prevent Air Traffic Control (ATC) from allowing continuous...

Briefs : Aerospace
Unmanned Aerial Systems Traffic Management

NASA has developed a traffic management system for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs) to maintain safe and efficient UAS operations. This novel technology enables the growth in civilian applications of UAS operations at lower altitudes by developing a UAS Traffic Management (UTM) system. There are a number...

Briefs : Aerospace
System and Method for Dynamic Aeroelastic Control

Innovators at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center are developing a collection of algorithms that can accurately determine the structural state of an aircraft. This work is in response to new airframe designs that save weight — and thereby improve fuel efficiency — by removing stiffness...

Briefs : Aerospace
Active Aircraft Pylon Noise Control System

This technology is a new type of aircraft pylon design for noise control. A pylon connects the engine to the airframe of an aircraft. This design uses air passing through the pylon to actively disrupt the jet engine exhaust stream after it exits the engine, disrupting and redistributing the axial and...

Briefs : Aerospace
Supporting Test Aircraft with Lift Airbags

Innovators at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center have developed a method of using aircraft lift airbags to support test aircraft during wing strain gage load calibration. In calibration testing, a set of known loads is applied to the wing, and the loads and strain gage responses are then...

Briefs : Aerospace
Enhanced Aircraft State Display for Improved Situation Awareness of Flight Envelope Limitations

In the case of an aircraft system failure such as control surface or engine failure, an aircraft’s flight envelope may change. Notifying the pilots of these changes may improve situational awareness and, hence, increase flight safety because pilots...

Briefs : Aerospace
Film Cooled Surface

Turbine film cooling flows typically are subject to jet detachment and reduced cooling effectiveness for high blowing rates. Current concepts to improve jet attachment involve impractical or overly complex hole designs due to manufacturing or durability constraints. Novel film cooling concepts from NASA’s Glenn Research...

Briefs : Aerospace
Aeronautical Data Link and Radar Simulator (ADRS)

Air traffic management research needs to adequately address all players, including flight crews, air traffic controllers/managers, and airline dispatchers. Interactions between the different stakeholders are crucial elements for the viability of a given concept. A simulation capable of addressing...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
A Versatile Three-Dimensional Printing Approach

NASA has developed a versatile method and associated apparatus for constructing and using a conductive filament in various applications of 3D printing. It uses an attractive polymer formulation, which exhibits low melting temperature even when combined with conductive material, as the printing...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Puncture-Healing Thermoplastic Resin Carbon-Fiber Reinforced Composites

NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed carbon fiber reinforced composites with self-healing properties. The initiation and propagation of damage to carbon composites, such as in aircraft structural components, results in component failure. Typical structural repairs...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Improved Impact Toughness and Heat Treatment for Cast Aluminum

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center researchers have developed a new, stronger aluminum alloy, ideal for cast aluminum products that have powder or paint-baked thermal coatings. With advanced mechanical properties, the NASA-427 alloy shows greater tensile strength and increased...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Dynamically Variable Spot Size Laser System

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center developed the handheld laser torch, designed for welding and brazing metals, to repair hard-to-reach Space Shuttle engine nozzles. It incorporates various manual controls and changing lenses to allow the operator to adjust the laser’s power output in real time....

Briefs : Materials
Adaptive Thermal Management System

NASA seeks to license the Adaptive Thermal Management System (ATMS) for use in commercial applications. Developed at the John F. Kennedy Space Center, the ATMS provides a way to regulate heat transfer and enable thermal management between two opposing surfaces in either direction. The system has the capability...

Briefs : Materials
Method of Bonding Dissimilar Materials

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has developed a new method for bonding dissimilar materials using an elastic adhesive to permit the bond to withstand variations in temperature and pressure. Specifically, NASA uses this method to provide a >98% specular finish on composite materials that is proven...

Briefs : Materials
Nanoencapsulated Aerogels Produced by Monomer Vapor Deposition and Polymerization

The Johnson Space Center researched methods to coat aerogel insulation in order to make it better able to withstand vibration, mechanical compression and flexure, and other environmental damage. This NASA-developed nanoencapsulated aerogel technology is a method...

Briefs : Materials
Insulative Carbon Fiber Systems for Aerospace Applications

New insulative carbon-fiber composite systems have been developed for use in structural and thermal applications for the aerospace vehicle interface. The sandwich-type composite structure, including carbon fiber and aerogel blanket materials, is based on the previously disclosed family...

Briefs : Medical
Method and Apparatus for Performance Optimization Through Physical Perturbation of Task Elements

NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed ZONE, an innovative method for improving athletes’ responses to stress, anxiety, and loss of concentration during competition. In the training environment, when the user successfully attains an optimal...

Briefs : Medical
Portable Medical Diagnosis Instrument

NASA has developed a novel technology strategy called “The NASA Analyzer” that would provide comprehensive in-flight medical diagnostic capability in a compact, handheld device for human deep-space missions such as Mars. Key features of the technology include the ability to handle multiple sample types...

Briefs : Medical
Methods and Systems for Non-Invasive Treatment of Tissue Using High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound Therapy

Minimally invasive and non-invasive therapeutic ultrasound treatments can be used to ablate, necrotize, and/or otherwise damage tissue. High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), for example, is used to thermally or mechanically damage tissue....

Briefs : Information Technology
NEQAIR v14.x Non-Equilibrium Radiative Transport and Spectra Program

There is a need to calculate the radiative heating rate at the surface of a vehicle entering any atmosphere, (e.g., Earth, Saturn, Titan, Mars, Venus etc). NEQAIR simulates the actual chemical and physical actions and reactions of the gaseous species in high-temperature shock...

Briefs : Information Technology
Systems Engineering Education and Development (SEED) Web Application

This application serves as Web-based management of the Systems Engi - neering Education and Development (SEED) program, and enables the SEED Program Manager to track and manage the applications and assignments. In the past, the handling of the applications and assignments was...

Briefs : Information Technology
Hammer 1.0

Many software applications have scripting needs including those based on the Goddard Mission Services Evolution Center (GMSEC) framework. In GMSEC, a user may want to automate the actions to take when a sequence of events occurs. Ideally, the scripting solution should allow the use of a familiar programming language and avoid...

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