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
Constraint Force Equation (CFE) Solver for Multi-Body Dynamics and its Implementation in POST2

Existing aerospace flight trajectory programs simulate the motion of aerospace vehicles by modeling external forces and moments acting on each body, but lack provisions for determining reaction forces and moments exerted by one body on another through...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Cyclops: the Space Station Integrated Kinetic Launcher for Orbital Payload Systems (SSIKLOPS)

The Space Station Integrated Kinetic Launcher for Orbital Payload Systems (SSIKLOPS), also known as “Cyclops,” deployed the largest satellite ever from the International Space Station (ISS) on November 28, 2014. The satellite, SpinSat, a Naval...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Vacuum-Jacketed Cryogenic Flex-Through

A vacuum-jacketed, cryogenic flex hose was designed with an integrated flange to be able to pass through a vacuum chamber wall. This design increases the quality of the cryogenic fluid at the exit of the hose (i.e., more liquid, less vapor) by extending the hose vacuum-jacket through the chamber wall, where...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Normally-Closed Zero-Leak Valve with a Magnetostrictive Actuator

A hermetically sealed, normally closed (NC) zero-leak valve has been developed. Prior to actuation, the valve isolates the working fluid in the upstream volume from the downstream volume with a parent metal seal. The valve utilizes the magnetostrictive alloy Terfenol-D for...

Briefs : Energy
Scenario Power Load Analysis Tool (SPLAT) MagicDraw Plug-in

Power consumption during all phases of spacecraft flight is of great interest to the aerospace community. As a result, significant analysis effort is exerted by both system and electrical-domain engineers to understand the rates of electrical energy generation and consumption under many...

Briefs : Energy
Wideband, GaN MMIC, Distributed Amplifier-Based Microwave Power Module

Historically, the term microwave power module (MPM) has been associated with a small, fully integrated, self-contained radio frequency (RF) amplifier that combines both solid-state and microwave vacuum electronics technologies. Typically, the output power of these MPMs is on...

Briefs : Energy
Integrated Solar Array Power Management System

When solar cells are electrically connected to form solar arrays, they are organized into strings. Each string represents a specific number of cells connected in series to produce a specific voltage. The strings are then connected in parallel to add their currents to meet the array power...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
High-Energy-Density Solid-State Li-Ion Battery with Enhanced Safety

High-energy-density and safe rechargeable batteries are required for NASA’s future exploration missions. Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are attractive energy storage systems due to their relatively high energy and power densities. However, the unfavorable side reactions...

Briefs : Propulsion
An On-Demand Gas Generator for CubeSat or Low-Mass Propulsion Systems

There are difficulties related to storing enough gas to propel a CubeSat within an onboard tank. Currently, a CubeSat requiring a large volume of gas for extended propulsion (outside Earth orbit) would need to store liquefied gases that require heavy-bodied tanks that add...

Briefs : Propulsion
Suppression of Unwanted Noise and Howl in a Test Configuration Where Jet Exhaust is Discharged Into a Duct

This technology is based on a model-scale experiment simulating a test facility where an engine exhaust is discharged into a duct. Such a configuration sometimes encounters unwanted noise in the form of high-amplitude spectral levels in...

Briefs : Information Technology
Distributed, Fast, Intelligent Infrastructure Health Monitoring System

NASA needed an innovative solution to conduct system assessments of frameworks and to characterize subsystems of interest. This tool would be required to determine anomalies; examine their causes (root-cause analysis); make predictive statements (prognostics); provide...

Briefs : Information Technology
Net Radiation and Evapotranspiration (Rn/ET) Download Product Tools and Interfaces

This toolset automates downloads of global, multi-year Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and related data necessary for performing net radiation and evapotranspiration (Rn/ET) modeling, and provides an application programming interface (API)...

Briefs : Information Technology
Software Tools for Fault Management Technologies

Several key areas of improvement in effect design, development, verification, and validation of fault management processes have been identified in NASA’s Fault Management Handbook. The majority of these guidelines are focused on making the modeling tools more user friendly and reducing the...

Briefs : Information Technology
Tool to Analyze a Leaking Source of Saturated Ammonia

Containers of ammonia are used to supply cooling to different modules of the International Space Station. Each container has an attachment piece used to extract the ammonia. The attachment piece may allow ammonia to exit when not connected, and may also allow ammonia to exit to an outside...

Briefs : Information Technology
Mixed-Integer Convex Programming Algorithm for Constrained Attitude Guidance

A general problem in spaceflight since its beginning is attitude guidance: how to turn a spacecraft — also called a slew — so as to point science instruments at their targets. The slew must be done while avoiding pointing sensitive science instruments (e.g., a...

Briefs : Information Technology
A Robust, Real-Time Collaboration Technology for Decision Support using Common Operating Picture (COP) Environments

StormCenter Communications, Inc. software takes advantage of cloud computing solutions to solve the growing need for real-time collaboration when accessing a Common Operating Picture (COP) from any device without having to give up...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Autonomous Flight Termination System Reference Design Hardware

The current range ground-based infrastructure is extremely costly to operate and maintain. NASA has developed an Autonomous Flight Termination System (AFTS) that is an independent, self-contained subsystem mounted onboard a launch vehicle. The AFTS reference system eliminates the...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
RoboSimian: Software Algorithms for a Mobile Manipulation Quadruped Robot

RoboSimian, a statically stable quadrupedal robot capable of both dexterous manipulation and versatile mobility in difficult terrain, was built to compete in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Robotics Challenge, a competitive effort to develop hardware...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Robot Task Commander with Extensible Programming Environment

As robotic systems are expected to perform complex tasks, system developers require tools for application programming that are more advanced than the current state of the art. Robot application programs need to allow the system to respond to different, and possibly unforeseen,...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Multi-Spacecraft Autonomous Positioning System/Network-Based Navigation

Current deep spacecraft rely heavily on ground-based navigation and tracking for state measurement. The requirement for long ground navigation passes, coupled with analysis support, produces a large latency for updating a vehicle’s state. As the current infrastructure...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Heading Versus Tilt Chart for Assessing HGA Occlusion and Flop Risk in MSL Operations

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) high-gain antenna (HGA) sits low on the deck, leaving the sky occluded in many directions by other parts of the rover. Each drive must end with the rover at a heading where the Earth will be unoccluded during the next HGA...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Rapid Forest Triage by Sub-Canopy Micro Air Vehicles

Today, tree distribution maps can only be generated manually in a very time-consuming process, and real-time microclimate mapping of a large 3D volume under tree canopy is not possible. A prototype small quadrotor unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) system was developed that is able to maneuver in...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Insertable, Miniature, In-Vivo Surgical Robot with Embedded Control

This innovation is a miniature, in-vivo surgical robot that is able to be inserted into the peritoneal cavity under insufflation. It is designed to perform Laparoendoscopic Single-Site Surgery (LESS). This robotic device is capable of direct visualization of the surgical...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
CMOS-Compatible Ohmic Contact RF MEMS Switch

Radio frequency (RF) microelectromechanical system (MEMS) switches have advantages over their solid-state counterparts. However, ohmic contact MEMS devices face several significant limitations, preventing entry into the mass market. These limitations are cost, reliability, packaging, and...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Miller-Jogging for Synthesizer Lock Algorithm Extension

The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) has developed a wide range of CMOS (complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor) phase lock loop (PLL) chips with self-healing/self-calibration capabilities, allowing them to adapt, on the fly, to changes in temperature and other environment...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Deployable Antenna Circuit Board Material Design and Fabrication Process

The Integrated Solar Array and Reflectarray (ISARA) antenna requires a rugged circuit board material that will meet the following requirements: (1) remains sufficiently flat over the required operating temperature range with solar cells mounted, and under full solar...

Briefs : Communications
Mini-Stamp as a Micro-Display for At-a-Glance Subsystem Information for DSN Links

Operators of the Deep Space Network (DSN) attend to numerous tasks with the overall goal of providing continuous support for the world’s deep space missions. This high-stakes operations environment requires operators to understand the state of the DSN and predict...

Briefs : Communications
Command and Data Handling for the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission

The Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission is the fourth mission of the Solar Terrestrial Probes (STP) program. The MMS mission, consisting of four identically instrumented spacecraft, will use Earth’s magnetosphere as a laboratory to study magnetic reconnection, a...

Briefs : Communications
Ka-Band Parabolic Deployable Antenna (KaPDA)

CubeSats provide the ability to conduct relatively inexpensive space missions. Over the past several years, technology and launch opportunities for CubeSats have exploded, enabling a wide variety of missions. However, as instruments become more complex and CubeSats travel deeper into space, data...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Pyrotechnically Actuated Gas Generator Using Aqueous Methanol

The largest supersonic parachute ever developed is one of the test articles on the Supersonic Flight Dynamics Test (SFDT) vehicle of the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) project. The typical method for deploying a supersonic parachute from an entry vehicle, by firing it from...

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