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 : Sensors/Data Acquisition
RFID Waveguide, Antenna, and Cavity Sensors

Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags consist of an antenna and an integrated circuit. The antenna is typically the more costly of the two components, and, by far, the largest. As antenna size decreases, efficiency also decreases, and the read range is also reduced accordingly. Moreover, some...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Sensor Planning Service for Submitting Requests to Task the EO-1

A Web interface framework has been developed that implements the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) Sensor Planning Service (SPS) specification. The OGC defines the SPS to “provide information concerning content and encoding of the parameter data that has to be provided in order to...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Transparent and Ubiquitous Sensing Technology

Traditionally, sensor systems are considered independent systems that are separately designed, manufactured, and integrated into a target system such as an aircraft. In most cases, this is a complex and costly process including sensor design, installation, wiring, testing, and maintenance. The sensor...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Position Sensing and Formation Flying Using Optical Beacons

One way of imaging exoplanets around nearby stars is to use a starshade in conjunction with a space telescope. Typically, the starshade, which resembles a sunflower in outline, is ~ 30 meters in diameter. The starshade is flown about 50,000 km in front of the telescope, and when...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Multiple-Frequency-Band Software-Defined Radiometer

Remote sensing — the use of spacebased satellite technologies to obtain information on environmental variables — in combination with other types of data, can provide information on changes in the Earth’s surface and atmosphere that are critical for weather forecasting and responding to...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Ultra-High-Power W-Band/F-Band Schottky Diode-Based Frequency Multipliers

All-solid-state, room-temperature, multipixel, sub milli meter-wave re ceiv ers are in demand for efficient spatial mapping of a planet’s atmosphere composition and wind velocities for future NASA missions to Venus, Jupiter, and its moons. Roomtemperature operation based...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
FPGA Reconfiguration with Accelerated Bitstream Relocation

Partial bitstream relocation (PBR) on field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) is a technique to re-scale parallelism of accelerator architectures at run time and enhance fault tolerance. PBR techniques have focused on reading inactive bitstreams stored in memory, on-chip or off-chip,...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Real-Time LiDAR Signal Processing FPGA Modules

A scanning LiDAR, by its inherent nature, generates a great deal of raw digital data. To generate 3D imagery in real time, the data must be processed as quickly as possible. One method of discerning time-of-flight of a laser pulse for a LiDAR application is correlating a Gaussian pulse with a...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Advanced, Ultra-Low-Loss, High-Frequency Package Module

As electronic circuits approach submillimeter wavelength frequencies (300 GHz) and higher, the traditional low-loss method of packaging electronic circuits in waveguide modules for guiding the signal requires more attention. The reasons are that circuits at higher frequencies have lower...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Miniature, Multi-Functional, Self-Braking Vehicle

A novel, miniature, low-mass vehicle has been created that is driven by piezoelectric stacks and a resonance structure. Preliminary tests on similar mechanisms that are used to transmit electrical power across the wall showed efficiencies of the order of 90%. The transmitted mechanical power, and...

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...