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: Electronics & Computers
Vibration Damping Circuit Card Assembly

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center has developed a particle impact damper (NASA damper) that can be used in circuit card assemblies to reduce vibrations encountered during space vehicle launch. The damper, filled with high-density metallic beads, is attached to printed circuit boards (PCBs) and printed...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Development of a Metallic Bilayer Liftoff Mask

A large variety of cryogenic detectors need to be fabricated on thin dielectric membranes in order to have high signal-to-noise attributes. Unfortunately, many of the etching processes used to define the detectors can roughen or even completely dissolve the membranes. These types of membrane damage...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Residual Mode Filters

NASA has developed a unique control algorithm and synthesis method that uses a system’s output to modify control inputs to cause the system to track a reference model or a fixed value in the presence of unmodeled system dynamics, varying operating environments, and unpredictable disturbances. The unique feature of this...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Probabilistic Surface Characterization for Safe Landing Hazard Detection and Avoidance (HDA)

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has developed a probabilistic algorithm for hazard detection and avoidance (HDA) that robustly handles sensor noise. Conventional surface characterization methods use fixed hazard thresholds to determine hazardous...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Robot for Controlled Deposition of Multilayer Thin Film Structures

During deposition of thin film layers using shadow masking techniques, thin film layer structure morphology changes with respect to the position of the thin film layer and the shadow of the mask. Morphology changes in the thin film result in refractive index and density changes...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Walk and Roll Robot

In smooth terrain, the most efficient motion to traverse the terrain is rolling. However, when a wheeled vehicle encounters obstacles, it must circumvent them if possible or choose an alternate path. Legged vehicles can...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Human Grasp Assist Device with Exoskeleton

Researchers at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC), in collaboration with General Motors (GM), have designed and developed Robo-Glove, a wearable human grasp assist device, to help reduce the...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Electromagnetic Monitoring and Control of a Plurality of Nanosatellites

NASA has developed an innovative combination of a Magnetometer, low-powered ElectroMagnets, and Res onant Inductive Coupling (MEMRIC) to create and control relative positioning of nanosatellites within a cluster. This is a game-changing approach to enable distributed...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Elimination of Yaw Component of Gyroscope Propagation Error During Arm Activity in MSL

When updating attitude during arm motion, gyroscope propagation error soon becomes greater than the tilt being monitored. The solution is to add an accelerometer-only mode that can update attitude without using gyroscopes, and to add the ability to monitor...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Locomotion of Amorphous Surface Robots

NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed multiple ways for amorphous robots to autonomously move across a surface without needing conventional wheels or legs. Amorphous robots are useful in dusty...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Conduit Purging Device and Method

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center invites companies to license this dead-end welding device for use in the welding of tubing. This technology solves the problem of unacceptable welds in dead-end...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Multi-Spoked Wheel Assembly

NASA Glenn researchers have developed a spoked drive mechanism for robots and other vehicles that is capable of two rotational modes. This robust ground traction (drive) assembly for remotely controlled vehicles...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Nanotube-Based Device Cooling System

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are being studied for applications in high-strength/low-weight composites and other applications. Recent research on thermal dissipation materials for high-power electronic devices is generating a lot of interest in various industries. NASA has developed a method for cooling a device,...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
A Method for Accurate Load/Position Control of Rigidly Coupled Electromechanical Actuators

NASA has developed a technique designed to prevent cross-coupling in systems where two or more linear electro-mechanical actuators (EMA) are rigidly connected and are in danger of becoming cross-coupled. In such systems where the linked EMAs are commanded...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Ultralight Self-Deployable Solar Sails

Deployment of large structures such as solar sails relies typically upon electromechanical mechanisms, mechanically expandable or inflatable booms, launch restraints, controls, and other mechanisms that drastically increase the total mass, stowage volume, and areal density. The primary performance parameter...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Ultra-Compact Heat Rejection System

Radiator panels are the baseline heat rejection approach for most space systems. This approach is sound, but requires a large amount of surface area to radiate the anticipated heat load. The large panels require support structures to hold them in place and prevent damage. These structures impact mass and cost....

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Transformable and Reconfigurable Entry, Descent, and Landing Systems and Methods

The Adaptable, Deployable Entry Placement Technology (ADEPT) concept is a mechanically deployable, semi-rigid aeroshell entry system capable of achieving low ballistic coefficient during entry for planetary or Earth return missions. The decelerator system offers a...

Shape memory alloys (SMAs), sometimes known as “smart metals,” provide a lightweight, solid-state alternative to conventional actuators and switches, such as...

NASA has developed a class of low-density, flexible ablators that can be fabricated into heat-shields capable of being packaged, stowed, and deployed in space. The key characteristics of this new...

Briefs: Materials
Resistive Heating Method for TPS Property Measurements

A unique ultrasonic-based technique has been developed to measure temperature profiles in materials used in thermal protection systems (TPS). The technology requires measurements of the thermal expansion coefficient and the ultrasonic velocity for these materials as a function of temperature...

Briefs: Materials
Measuring Bond Site Concentration on the Intrinsic Aerogel Surface Through Chemisorption of Chlorosilanes

This work involves development of aerogel to be used as a passive absorption media — effectively a concentrator of trace organics — that can be detected by optical techniques. Such a trace organic detection scheme is very different from...

Briefs: Materials
Toughened Uni-piece Fibrous Reinforced Oxidation-Resistant Composite (TUFROC)

The Toughened Uni-piece Fibrous Reinforced Oxidation-Resistant Composite (TUFROC) allows for much more affordable and sustainable operations involving Space Launch Services and other systems that utilize Earth re-entry vehicles. TUFROC has an exposed surface design and...

Briefs: Materials
Effects of Postcure and Associated Design Allowables for M55J/RS-3C Polycyanate Composite

M55J/RS-3C resin composite structures on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) sunshield will concurrently maintain loads and be exposed to temperature extremes throughout the life of the observatory. Increasing the glass transition temperature (Tg) is...

Flaps can significantly alter wing aerodynamics for high lift generation. Conventional flaps are mainly deployed for takeoff and landing, but are not suitable for in-cruise flight. It is widely speculated...

Briefs: Aerospace
Conditionally Active Min-Max Limit Regulators

The control system in modern commercial aircraft engines is designed to operate the engine in a safe manner throughout its operating envelope. In order to utilize the existing safety margins more effectively, innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed a modification to current...

Community noise has been an ongoing problem for aircraft, and is projected to be a major concern in the future due to increased air traffic. NASA’s Advanced Air...

Briefs: Aerospace
The Integrated Minimum Drag Solution: New Wing Design Exponentially Increases Total Aircraft Efficiency

Innovators at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center are experimenting with a new wing design that removes adverse yaw and dramatically increases aircraft efficiency by reducing drag. The technology has the potential to significantly...

Briefs: Aerospace
X-Plane Communication Toolbox (XPC)

The X-Plane Connect Toolbox is an open-source research tool used to interact with the commercial flight simulator software X-Plane. XPC allows users to control aircraft and receive real-time state information from aircraft simulated in X-Plane using functions written in C, C++, Java, MathWorks’ MATLAB, or...

Briefs: Aerospace
Terminal Airspace Configuration Scheduler (TACS)

In the current National Airspace System (NAS), there are many airports that are capacity-limited during the busiest parts of the day, and air traffic is expected to increase substantially in the future. NASA and the FAA are looking toward technologies that improve the capacity and efficiency of...

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