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 : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Pulse-Echo Probe Mounting Fixture for Blind Alignment on Pipes

The probe and its mounting fixture are critical parts of the health monitoring of steam pipes. A high-temperature, piezoelectric transducer generates and receives ultrasonic waves, and the probe has to transmit the wave normal to the pipe surface. The mounting fixture is designed to...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Zero-Gravity Mobile Robot Using ON/OFF Adhesive Pads and Inchworm Mechanism

Inspection of the International Space Station and other manmade objects in space is difficult because of the microgravity environment. Robots are a promising approach to accomplish these inspection tasks and later repairs, but must be able to maneuver across the...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Passive Mechanism for Maintaining Tension at a Spool to Within a Given Window

During any winding or unwinding action, a tether may experience unexpected changes in tension. For example, the load being wound could become stuck and stop moving, causing the tension in the line to suddenly become extremely high. Alternatively, the load could slip,...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Aluminum Gas Tungsten Arc Orbital Tube Welding

JPL has been hand-welding aluminum tubing for decades in support of flight programs and ground support equipment, including thermal plates and shrouds. This hand-welding process is time-consuming, cumbersome, difficult, and unreliable in terms of repeatability and success, which leads to leaks,...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Contact State Estimation for Multi-Finger Robot Hands Using Particle Filters

A method, using a particle filter, has been created for identifying the location, orientation, and shape of an object that a robot hand touches. An appropriate motion model has been defined that characterizes the motion of the robot hand as it moves relative to an...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Tendon-Driven Finger, Wrist, and Thumb Actuation System

The Robonaut 2 (R2) Dexterous Robot is the result of an effort to build a two-armed, ten-fingered humanoid robot torso capable of assembly work. This invention concerns a multi-fingered hand, and is composed of several parts. One is a tendon-driven, four-link, four-degree-of-freedom robotic...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Visual-Aided Inertial Navigation for Computationally Constrained Aerial Vehicles

Micro aerial vehicles (MAVs) are lightweight, highly dynamic vehicles with limited payload, sensing, and computation capabilities. There is significant interest to automate MAVs for military surveillance, reconnaissance, and search-and-rescue missions. The current...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Robotic Surgical Devices, Systems, and Related Methods

Various advancements have been made in the development of miniature in vivo surgical robots. These robots are designed to perform Laparoendo scopic Single-Site Surgery (LESS). After being inserted through a single incision, these robots can perform surgical procedures in a dexterous...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Ship Classification Using Gnostic Fields

There are many applications for Autonomous Seaborne Vessels (ASVs). The seaborne cargo shipping industry moves over 9 billion tons of cargo per year, is worth $375 billion, and is responsible for 90 percent of world trade. Autonomous cargo ships could reduce the operating expenses of cargo ships by 44%....

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Tension-Stiffened and Tendon-Actuated Space Manipulators

The Space Shuttle Remote Manipulator System (SRMS) and Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) have proven the benefit of long-reach manipulators, with the reach of both manipulators in the l5-18-m class. Manipulators with greater reach provide many benefits. The SRMS’s limited...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
NASA Tensegrity Robotics Toolkit (NTRT) v1

Tensegrity robots have many unique properties useful for robots intended to operate in natural settings, yet the exploration of how to build and control such robots is just beginning. Many of their positive qualities, such as multipath force distribution, compliance, and their oscillatory nature, also...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
RoboSimian Software System from the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals

A software architecture to allow semi-autonomous mobile manipulation of highly dexterous robots under degraded communications was developed to enable remote operation of a mobile manipulation robot as a first responder in a disaster-response scenario. The software architecture...

Briefs : Aerospace
Station/Orbiter Multibody Berthing/Docking Analysis Tool (SOMBAT)

The main objective of this work was to develop a high-fidelity, nonlinear simulation of complex flexible structures with active control systems. A multibody system can consist of several flexible articulating components. The system can also have multiple control systems. The main...

Briefs : Aerospace
Flight Deck Predicted Weather Display and Decision Support Interface

This innovation is a suite of three methods built into a prototype flight deck navigation display interface that supports the display of predicted weather and weather avoidance decision-making. Currently, the interface uses weather objects derived from various convective...

Briefs : Aerospace
Timed Injection of Simulation Data via Redundant Network Ports in Time Triggered Ethernet (TTE) Systems

Vehicle-scale integration and test requires closed-loop simulation using full-scale avionics systems or even entire vehicles. Incorporation of simulation data into real systems is problematic because real system sensors report the real...

Briefs : Aerospace
Method of Performing Computational Aeroelastic Analyses

When designing aerodynamic structures, it is important to understand if, and under what aerodynamic conditions, the structure will be stable and unstable. This is especially true if a structure is inherently flexible, such as a wing, where unstable response leads to oscillations of the...

Briefs : Aerospace
Graphical Acoustic Liner Design and Analysis Tool

The Interactive Liner Impedance Analysis and Design (ILIAD) tool is a software package used to design the composite surface impedance of an acoustic liner using resonant channels. ILIAD’s graphical user interface allows the acoustic channel geometry to be drawn in the liner volume while the...

Briefs : Aerospace
Open Vehicle Sketch Pad

The conceptual aircraft designer is faced with a dilemma on how to strike the best balance between productivity and fidelity. Attempts have been made to use computer-aided design packages to fill this void, but their cost and steep learning curve have made them unwieldy at best. Open Vehicle Sketch Pad (OpenVSP.org) has...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Thermal Spraying of Coatings Using Resonant Pulsed Combustion

Thermal spray coating is not a new process. There are different techniques utilized that depend on the objective function of the coating, the environment to which the coated piece will be subjected, and the coating material used. In any application, quality is ultimately measured by...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Plasma Treatments to Assist Fluid Manipulation in Microgravity

A recent innovation has made manipulation of hazardous laboratory reagents in microgravity easier, thus enabling even more scientific research to be performed on the International Space Station (ISS). Prior to this innovation, moving fluids from container to container was performed...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Stencil-less Jet Printing for PCB Assembly

For many years, stencil printing has been the standard method of depositing solder paste on surface mount assembly printed circuit boards (PCBs). It has provided a durable method of applying solder paste, but there were always difficulties that significantly slowed down a change from one product to...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
In-Situ Mixing, Degassing, Decavitation, and Extrusion Modules for Fused Deposition Modeling 3D Printers

Additively manufactured 3D articles of certain high-temperature polymer composites such as ULTEM 1000 reinforced with chopped carbon fibers and printed by current state-of-the-art Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) printers, suffer significantly...

Briefs : Information Technology
DRAT: A Distributed Release Audit Tool

DRAT software overcomes limitations inherent in the Apache Release Audit Tool (RAT), and also brings code auditing and open-source license analysis into the realm of Big Data by using scalable, open-source Apache technologies. Distributed RAT (DRAT) leverages Apache Tika to automatically detect and classify...

Briefs : Information Technology
Graphical Input-Output Visualization Tool for DAVE-ML Models

Adopters of the AIAA/ANSI Standard S119, “Flight Dynamics Model Exchange Standard,” are required to deal with models encoded using DAVE-ML, an XML grammar. While examining the model via a text editor, the ability to visualize nonlinear mappings between input and output signals is...

Briefs : Software
Synchronization and Visualization of Arbitrary Streams (SAVORS)

The purpose of SAVORS is to supercharge the command-line tools already used by administrators with powerful visualizations that help them understand the output much more rapidly and with far greater scalability across systems. SAVORS not only supports the output of existing...

Briefs : Information Technology
Using a Moderate Ionospheric Storm Detector to Improve WAAS Availability

The Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) broadcasts information that allows users to bound the positioning error that arises from ionospheric delay of signals emitted by Global Positioning System satellites. A critical objective of WAAS is to make ionospheric grid delays...

Briefs : Software
JLAB Tracking Tool (JTRAK)

The JLAB Tracking Tool (JTRAK) is a Web-enabled database tool designed to automate the tracking of James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Integrated Ground Support System (IGSS) and Integrated Test Support System (ITSS) configured items. These configured items consist of IGSS and ITSS equipment and materials; hardware and...

Briefs : Information Technology
Orbital Mechanics Simulation Program for Educational Outreach

AJava software program was developed that provides a solar system simulation, demonstrating the application of calculus to understanding and modeling how the real universe operates. The program can be modified by the user to study various changes in physical properties, and software...

Briefs : Imaging
Thermal Cycle Qualification of Radiated Solar Arrays for 50 to 133 K Temperatures in Vacuum

Solar arrays (radiated or non-radiated) and other technologies are candidate materials for projects in JPL. Some of the projects need to qualify these potential technologies to cryogenic extreme temperatures (from 133 to 50 K or lower). Those technologies...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Downhole Regolith Interrogation with Helium-Assisted Drill and Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy

It is of great interest to the scientific community to have the ability to analyze drilled boreholes in situ on the surfaces of the Moon and Mars. The goal of this work was to design and fabricate a Downhole Regolith Interrogation with...