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 : Imaging
Partially Transparent Circular Mask to Suppress Narrowband Laser Light

The evolved Laser Interferometry Space Antenna (eLISA) is the implementation of the original Laser Interferometry Space Antenna (LISA) concept that will be proposed for the European Space Agency’s (ESA) L.3 Cosmic Visions opportunity. The eLISA observatory uses lasers to...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Large-Area, Polarization-Sensitive Bolometer for Multi-Mode Optics

Measurements of the cosmic micro wave background are a powerful probe of the early universe. Part-per-million fluctuations in the intensity of background trace the initial conditions of matter and energy shortly after the Big Bang, mapping the large-scale structure of spacetime....

Briefs : Imaging
A Novel Orbiting Cloud Imager System for IR/UV/X-Ray Bands

Typically, the cost of a spaceborne imaging system is driven by the size and mass of the primary aperture. Innovative solutions for imagers that are less complex and are lightweight are very desirable. Currently, telescopes such as JWST and ATLAST are very expensive and very complex.

Briefs : Materials
Multifunctional Ablative Thermal Protection System

NASA has developed a unique and robust multifunctional material called 3-Dimensional Multifunctional Ablative (3DMAT) Thermal Protection System (TPS) that meets both the structural and thermal performance needs for a lunar return mission and beyond. 3DMAT uses a game-changing woven technology...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Limboid Reconfigurable Robots for In-Space Assembly

Many future space vehicles, planetary bases, and mining operations will be too large and heavy to launch on a single rocket. Instead, component parts would need to be launched on multiple rockets and assembled in space. To enable versatile in-space assembly, a novel class of reconfigurable...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Cam Hand

A durable gripper tool was designed for use by RoboSimian robots intended for use in disaster scenarios that demand high-force, robust manipulation. The resulting Cam Hand fills a previously unaddressed niche that emphasizes grip strength and robustness over dexterity. The design uses a number of unique features to ensure high...

As CubeSats take on increased functionality, including larger solar arrays for increased power demands and large antennas for science and communications needs, the requirements for...

Briefs : Software
Predicting Magnetospheric Relativistic >1 MeV Electrons

There is an association between High-Intensity Long-Duration Continuous AE (HILDCAA) activity intervals and the acceleration of relativistic >1 MeV electrons in the magnetosphere. All of the HILDCAAs that occurred in solar cycle 23 (SC23) from 1995 to 2008 led to the acceleration of...

Briefs : Software
Optimal Prioritized Actuator Allocation

For formation flying, rendezvous and docking, and proximity operations with small bodies of the solar system, spacecraft require simultaneous translational and rotational agility. The necessary agility is generally provided by combinations of multiple small thrusters and torque-only actuators. To use these...

Briefs : Software
Terrain Model Registration

This technology is a method for registration of terrain models created using stereovision on a planetary rover. Most 3D model registration approaches use some variant of iterated closest point (ICP), which minimizes a norm based on the distances between corresponding points on an arbitrary 3D surface where closest...

Briefs : Software
Error Budget for Pointing at Surface Features From Close Range

Traditional error budgets that characterize pointing capability in terms of a single radial angle lack sufficient information to support analysis of pointing error in terms of distance along a nearby surface.

Briefs : Software
Traceable Automation with Remote Display and Interruptible Scheduler Version 1.04.0

Traceable Automation with Remote Display and Interruptible Scheduler (TARDIS) is a software set designed for use in ground operations. TARDIS is a multi-mission automation framework that supports seamless integration of manual and automatic processing. It was...

Briefs : Software
Java Pathfinder (JPF) Core System

The JPF Core System is a framework to analyze and verify Java bytecode programs. The major component of JPF core is an extensible and runtime-configurable virtual machine (VM) that can be customized with runtime components such as specific instruction sets and plug-ins to observe program execution. The JPF core...

Briefs : Software
Single Doppler Retrieval Toolkit (SingleDop)

Single-Doppler retrieval of low-level, two-dimensional winds is desired to compare ground radar wind retrievals to satellite scatterometer wind retrievals. This needs to be integrated within the growing collection of open-source radar tools maintained by the Python Atmospheric/Ocean Sciences (PyAOS)...

Briefs : Software
Computing Efficient Onboard Analysis and Re-Scheduling

Prior space missions have not routinely used onboard decision-making. The Autonomous Sciencecraft (ASE), flying onboard the Earth Observing One spacecraft, has been flying autonomous agent software for the past decade that enables it to analyze acquired imagery onboard, and use that analysis...

Briefs : Software
libSPRITE

libSPRITE is a set of software libraries used in the development of software applications. The libraries provide components for encoding engineering units, math functions, a task scheduler built on top of pthreads, a publish/subscribe data distribution system, and a Lua scripting language interface.

Briefs : Software
Tool for Rapid Analysis of Monte Carlo (TRAM) Simulation Data

Spacecraft design is inherently difficult due to the complexity of the systems involved and the expense of testing hardware in a realistic environment. The number and cost of flight tests can be reduced by performing extensive simulation and analysis studies to understand vehicle...

Briefs : Software
Object-Oriented FITS File Interface for MATLAB

The ability to read complicated Flexible Image Transport System (FITS) files in MATLAB was required for analyzing data from the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) cryovac test campaign for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) project.

This software was written to fill that specific need,...

Briefs : Software
Space Station Research Explorer

The Space Station Research Explorer provides current information on International Space Station (ISS) experiments, facilities, and research results through video, photos, interactive media, and in-depth descriptions on iOS and Android devices.

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Integrated Circuit for Radio Astronomy Correlators Supporting Large Arrays of Antennas

Radio telescopes that employ arrays of many antennas are in operation, and ever-larger ones are being designed and proposed. Signals from the antennas are combined by cross-correlation. While the cost of most components of the telescope is proportional to the...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Fabrication of Silicon-Leg Isolated Bi-Cr Thermopiles

The objective of this innovation was to develop a methodology of fabricating thermopile detectors using standard semiconductor fabrication techniques. The goal was to develop a fabrication process that minimized the roughening of the Si legs during patterning of the metallic couples, and to...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Current Source Logic Gate

High-temperature electronic integrated circuits have been demonstrated in silicon carbide (SiC) depletion mode MESFETs. This process is only capable of producing depletion mode n-channel MESFET transistors. With only this type of transistor, designing a logic gate is a challenge. A previous logic gate design that can be...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Design of Double Layer Rectenna Array for Fault Isolation of Schottky Diode in Operation Beyond V-Band Frequencies

Microwave power transmission using rectenna technology has attracted a strong interest in conjunction with wireless electric power delivery to infrastructure and subjects located at a remote place. A typical rectenna, which is a...

Briefs : Materials
Hierarchical Support for Nanocatalysts

This work focused on enhancing catalyst activity and durability by developing a method to control size, dispersion, and exposure. Existing nanocatalysts are typically fabricated in bulk or powder form. There are monolithic catalysts, but they rely on meso-porous materials as supports. Bulk nanocatalysts...

Briefs : Materials
Control of Carbon Nanotube Density and Tower Height in an Array

Use of arrays of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) as an intermediary for transport of electrical particles (e.g., electrons) and/or transport of thermal energy from one body to another has grown. For example, a CNT array may be used for dissipation of thermal energy or accumulated electrical...

Briefs : Materials
In-Situ Chemical Analysis of Material Surfaces

In order to understand whether the ablation laser would cause chemical reactions within the trapped organic molecules during resonant laser ablation of water ice containing organic molecules, a two-layer approach was devised. The first layer consisted of D2O ice containing organics that...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Ratcheting Threaded Tapered Collet for use in Planetary Sample Caching Systems

Aridged retention interface is necessary to secure planetary sample tubes within a caching system for use in future sample return missions. The assumed retention interface requirements are as follows: the interface shall maintain sample integrity at large deceleration...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Planetary Ice Mining by Down-Hole Energy Injection

Ice has been discovered on Mars and is present in the permanently shadowed craters on the Moon and on many asteroids. The ice is usually buried beneath an overburden of regolith. Evidence indicates this overburden may be a meter deep in some locations for the Moon; for Mars, it varies with...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Laser Architecture and Atomic Filter for Daytime Measurements Using Spaceborne Sodium Lidar

A satellite-borne sodium lidar will provide key measurements that elucidate the complex relation between the chemistry and dynamics of the Earth’s mesosphere, and thus provide a thorough understanding of the composition and dynamics of this region. The...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Rangefinder for Measuring Volume of Cryogenic or Caustic Turbulent Fluids

Specific impulse (ISP), or simply impulse (change in momentum) per unit amount of propellant consumed, is a measure of rocket and jet engine efficiency. The amount of propellant, or in the case of engine testing at the Stennis Space Center (SSC), cryogen consumed during...

Question of the Week
Will Cooling Coatings Catch On?

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3D Printed Metals Are Not All the Same