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 : 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 : Software
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 : Software
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 : Information Technology
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 : Information Technology
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 : Software
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...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Large, High-Speed, Precision Optic Indexing Wheel

Optical indexing wheels, sometimes called “filter wheels,” are used to locate various optics or filters in a beam path to change the observational mode. Large wheels a half-meter in size or larger typically operate slowly, although the loss of a few seconds of time moving from one observation...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Web-Based Search Service to Support Imaging Spectrometer Instrument Operations

Imaging spectrometers yield rich and informative data products, but interpreting them demands time and expertise. There is a continual need for new algorithms and methods for rapid firstdraft analyses to assist analysts during instrument operations. Intelligent data...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Hermetic Phototube Housing

This innovation is a hermetically sealed case or very small chamber. A photomultiplier tube (PMT) is mounted inside the chamber. The circuit board is also installed inside the chamber with appropriate feedthroughs for signals. An adapter/floating mount called the phototube to light pipe system mount (PLPSM) allows the...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Design, Fabrication, and Test of WFIRST/AFTA GRISM Assembly

This work originated with the Wide Field InfraRed Survey Telescope (WFIRST) slitless spectrometer design (GRISM assembly), which attempted to follow the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) method of employing a singleelement GRISM as a slitless spectroscope. However, WFIRST’s field of view...

Briefs : Imaging
Spinal Ultrasound Just-in-Time Training Tool

Back pain and injury are recognized risks that can affect the well-being and performance of crewmembers during missions, as well as their long-term health. Spine elongation is a documented effect of microgravity, back pain is a common occurrence in early flight, and the post-flight incidence of spinal...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Wide-Spectrum Organic Mass Spectrometer Using Far-Ultraviolet Ionization

Two-step laser desorption/photoionization mass spectrometry (L2MS) represents a powerful tool for the organic analysis of astromaterials. The technique has high sensitivity and requires little to no sample preparation.

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
EADIN Lite Communication Network

The distributed engine controls (DEC) task seeks to investigate the capabilities of a distributed network for aircraft engine controls. Traditional aircraft engine control systems use analog systems to communicate with sensors and actuators. The ability to upgrade an engine after manufacture, by swapping out...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Iris DSN-Compatible, CubeSat-Compatible Transponder

No CubeSat-compatible, Deep Space Network (DSN)-compatible communications and navigation transponder exists at the time of this reporting. In order for CubeSats and other small spacecraft to go into deep space, a DSN-compatible capability is needed.

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Cockpit Avionics Upgrade Display Atlas, Generic Display Software, and Electronic Procedure System

Modern avionics permit user interfaces on spacecraft to be performed on computer screens instead of with physical controls. This saves a great deal of weight; however, it presents challenges with representing all the various controls and gauges as...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Multi-Frequency, THz Quantum Cascade Laser Source

Interest in the use of THz detectors outside the laboratory for space, atmospheric, and terrestrial applications has grown immensely in the past half-century. Of particular interest in recent years is the development of the quantum cascade laser (QCL) as a THz frequency source.

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Avionics/Electronics Box Rail Mount System

There is limited space available to install numerous avionics boxes with the caveat that each box is a line replacement unit (LRU). Access to enable the removal of the boxes is limited, and it is critical that no tools and/or loose parts exist to ensure that no damage is done to aft-located components....

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Semiconductor Nanomembrane-Based Flight Sensors and Arrays

There are two broad classes of methods for measuring skin friction (or wall shear): indirect and direct. The direct methods generally employ a movable element of the actual surface surrounded by a very small gap and connected to some type of flexure. One then measures the displacement of...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Dual I²C and SPI Slave Core for FPGA and ASIC Implementations

The I2C/SPI Verilog core consists of a combined register transfer logic (RTL) Verilog code for a general-purpose I2C and serial-to-parallel interface (SPI) slave for implementations targeting field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and application specific...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Automated Break-Out Box for Use with Low-Cost Spacecraft Integration and Test

Electrical checkout and testing is a critical part of the overall space integration and test flow. Verifying proper harness and connector signal interfaces is key to ensuring component health and overall system functionality. Break-out boxes (BOBs) are used to give...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Radiation-Hardened 10BASE-T Ethernet Physical Interface (PHY)

The EXPRESS Logistics Carrier (ELC) system was built by NASA Goddard for installation on the International Space Station (ISS). Four ELC systems are on ISS. Each ELC site includes two data nodes. The ELC requirements call for a radiation-hardened 10BASE-T Ethernet interface at each...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Radiation-Hardened, Quad 12-Bit Digital-to-Analog Converter ASIC

This radiation-hardened, compact, low-power, quad 12-bit digital-to-analog converter (DAC) application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) incorporates science-driven features based on applications in a realistic space environment such as threshold setting, current bias circuits,...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Use of Eccentric Bushings to Precision-Locate Multiple Parts on a Large Mating Structure

Cups/cones are being used to provide a shear load transfer capability on a large separation interface that uses multiple discreet retention and release (R&R) devices (such as frangible nuts, separation nuts, separation bolts, etc.). To both provide good...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Effective Packing of Large Panels via Scrolling and Origami Folding

There is a need for large mirrors that can be launched to various bodies in the solar system in a packed form and unfolded to provide the required dimensions. The solution to the need for foldable panels that can be made as mirrors or other structures including antennas, etc....

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Six-Degree-of-Freedom Control With Only Eight Thrusters

Typical spacecraft thruster configurations are often unable to provide full six-degree-of-freedom control and may have unwanted interaction between their attitude control and trajectory control functions, have undesirably high instantaneous electrical power demands, and use more thrusters...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Precise Direct Control of Pressure or Vacuum Using a Digitally Controlled Actuator

A closed/semi-open pressure or vacuum system uses an electric screw mechanical actuator that can be digitally controlled and monitored, and which receives feedback directly from an external or internal source. This innovation can adjust for media temperature...

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