Tech Briefs

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 : Robotics, Automation & Control
Morpheus Lander Vehicle Simulation/Vehicle Flight Software

The Morpheus simulation is a suite of software models that simulates the performance of a lander vehicle. The specific vehicle is a terrestrial lander used as a “vertical test bed” platform for developing technology, and proving hardware and software systems for use in space...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Risk-Aware Mars Rover Operation Tool with Autonomous Terrain Classifier and Path Planner

The greatest single source of risks for Mars rovers is terrain. These risks are currently managed by a labor-intensive process in which rover operators carefully examine the terrain and plan a path to avoid any potential hazards. This poses a challenge,...

Briefs : Aerospace
Robust, Optimal Subsonic Airfoil Shapes

This invention relates to the design of optimal shapes of airfoils, such as turbine blades, operating in subsonic flow regimes. An airfoil, such as a propeller blade or a turbine vane or blade (collectively referred to herein as an “airfoil”), may be used in a variety of environments, including...

Briefs : Aerospace
Merging and Spacing Software in the ACES Simulation

Merging and Spacing (M&S) in ACES is a software product written in the Java programming language that adds scheduling and management of flights into and out of an airport for the Airspace Concepts Evaluation System (ACES) simulation. ACES is a systems-level simulation that portrays NAS-wide...

Briefs : Aerospace
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Integration into the National Airspace System

NASA and other organizations have invested heavily in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) research. UAVs can be flown in the National Airspace System (NAS) today, but only with special permission from the Federal Aviation Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Integration into the National...

Briefs : Aerospace
Data Server for Real-Time Display Interface

The purpose of this software is to decouple display and data interface functions by developing a central data server. By using the centralized data server, flight displays can be easily transferred between simulators and research airplanes without having to reprogram flight display graphics. Therefore,...

Briefs : Aerospace
Aircraft Wing Flap Noise-Reducing Fins

Two different modifications have been developed for the edges of aircraft wing flaps to reduce noise. Reactive Orthotropic Lattice Diffuser (ROLD) is a modification that consists of a honeycomb-like, interconnected structure added to the region of the flap that experiences the highest degree of...

Briefs : Aerospace
Direct Multiple Shooting Optimization with Variable Problem Parameters

Solving complex trajectory problems optimally is of vital importance to the success of future aerospace programs. Trajectory optimization research has been divided into two main categories: indirect methods and direct methods. Both methodologies have been tested and...

Briefs : Aerospace
Constructing Composite Response Surfaces for Aircraft

The design of aerodynamic components of aircraft, such as wings or engines, involves a process of obtaining the optimal component shape that can deliver the desired level of component performance, subject to various constraints, e.g., total weight or cost. Aerodynamic design can be formulated...

Briefs : Communications
Mars Relay CubeSat

When NASA and other agencies send landers to Mars and other planets, they rely on existing orbiters to relay the data during the critical entry, descent, and landing (EDL) phase. The current orbiters are aging and there...

Briefs : Aerospace
Digitally Steered Phased Antenna Array for GPS Applications

GPS signals are sparse and weak at high altitudes above the GPS constellation; this includes GEO and HEO orbit regimes. Spacecraft operating here need a high-sensitivity receiver capable of acquiring and tracking these weak signals throughout their orbits. Most space GPS receivers are...

Briefs : Communications
Broadband Circularly Polarized Antenna Array for Mars Rover Direct-to-Earth Communications

Mars rovers and other landers typically use UHF relay to return their science and engineering data to Earth. Direct-To-Earth (DTE) communications are typically used for commanding. If future UHF relay capability becomes diminished, Mars landers may be...

Briefs : Communications
Robust, Low-Density Parity- Check Decoder Design to Mitigate Pulsed Radio Frequency Interference

Low-Density Parity-Check (LDPC) codes are a class of forward error correction (FEC) linear block codes that provide near-capacity performance for power-efficient communications. Optimum decoding requires accurate combining ratio estimation to scale...

Briefs : Information Technology
Ensemble

Success in mission operations relies on achieving consensus amongst a wide variety of personnel with diverse backgrounds and education. Previously, NASA missions relied on disparate tools with a variety of inconsistent interfaces. These tools greatly influence how members of the mission communicate with each other, increasing confusion...

Briefs : Information Technology
Fast Block Transforms on Large Binary Datasets in the Cloud Using Hadoop Streaming

A software framework on top of Hadoop Streaming enables both the processing of binary data in the cloud, and the freedom for the developer to implement his or her mapper and reducer programs in any language, rather than re-implementing existing solutions in Java,...

Briefs : Software
Mars Science Laboratory Frame Manager

One of the highly desired enhancements to the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) and Phoenix flight missions was the centralized coordinate transform database maintained onboard. Without the database, there are quite a few operations that require cumbersome, error-prone manual calculations on the ground such as...

Briefs : Information Technology
SIVO-PyD: A Python Distribution for Scientific Computing Visualization

SIVO-PyD gathers and automatically installs (in various computing platforms) a collection of Python-related packages for scientific computing and visualization. All of the packages in distribution are accessible within the Python framework. The distribution is self-contained...

Briefs : Software
Formal Validation of Model-Based Fault Management Design Solutions

Model-Based System Engineering is becoming widely adopted at JPL and in industry because model-centric systems introduce improved methods of system engineering. As systems with ever-increasing complexity are developed at JPL, model-centric engineering be comes essential for...

Briefs : Software
Development of Free Molecule Flow Equations from a Transient, Asymmetric Source

The analysis and simulation of gases expanding from sources such as rocket nozzles into vacuum, or the effects plumes from these sources create when they interact with solid surfaces, present a considerable challenge to the scientific and engineering communities. As...

Briefs : Information Technology
iPhone App to Facilitate Airborne Radar Operations

The Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR) is an Earth imaging radar that flies on a Gulf-Stream Jet. Its mission is to collect data for NASA scientists who are using Synthetic Aperture Radar to develop methods for monitoring changes in the Earth’s surface. As with many...

Briefs : Information Technology
Spherical Empirical Mode Decomposition

The spherical empirical mode decomposition algorithm is an adaptation in the spherical space of the 2D empirical mode decomposition in Euclidian space. This algorithm is a signal analysis method for any spherical data, such as orbital measurements. The two primary advantages of this innovation are the...

Briefs : Software
Database Design for Storing Software Entity Metadata, User Identification, and License Terms

The NASA Space Telecommunications Radio System (STRS) specification cites a plan for an application repository, similar to an “app store,” but with a wide variety of licensing restrictions on access to different applications, and even different parts...

Briefs : Information Technology
Geometry Manipulation Protocol for CFD Applications, V1.0

Geometry Manipulation Protocol (GMP) is a library that serializes data types between XML and ANSI C data structures to support computational fluid dynamics (CFD) applications. This library currently provides a description of geometric configurations, general moving-body scenarios...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Design and Engineering of Process Plants Based on the “Lego Principle”

Manufacturers in the process industries need to adjust to smaller batches and different types of product in the same plant. Plants based on the “Lego principle” are designed and engineered precisely to the respective task, whether for the production of a specific...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Electrochemically Enhanced Mechanical Polishing of Optics

Optical component fabrication using metals or ceramic materials involves many grinding and/or machining and polishing steps to achieve the proper form to the tolerances of imaging or photonic focusing instruments. These instruments range from infrared sensors, through visible and...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Expendable Cooling System for Venus Lander Concept

This innovation is a concept for a novel thermal architecture that would enable a day-long surface mission on Venus. A Venus lander mission could last much longer than a few hours on the surface of the planet by absorbing heat from the Venus environment, and from the electronics within the...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Rapid Quench Furnace for Processing Powder in an Inert Environment

Ongoing work in the development and characterization of sensory materials requires the development of shape memory alloy (SMA) powder or particles. These are embedded in structural material so that the progression of localized damage that occurs during fatigue crack growth will...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Field Excavator with Embedded Force Measurement

The Centaur 2 (C2) platform is a compact vehicle with four independently steered and actuated wheel pods, allowing the vehicle to pivot in place and tilt in two directions. It is designed to interface with and carry the anthropomorphic robot torso of Robonaut 2. There are two nearly identical...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Very Low Thermal Power Waste Heat Recovery System for Deep Space Missions

Deep space missions, like the ones going to outer planets and those that rely on solar photovoltaic power, need extremely large solar arrays to produce that power for their operations because the solar intensity is so low at those locations. Hence, there was a need for a...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Loop Heat Pipe with Thermal Control Valve for Variable Thermal Link

Existing technologies [Loop Heat Pipe (LHP) and passive Thermal Control Valve (TCV)] are integrated and made to work together to provide a passive variable thermal link. The result is a novel LHP with passive TCV that was developed to provide variable heat rejection (turn-down)...

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