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
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...

Briefs: Communications
Heterogeneous Spacecraft Networks

Heterogeneous Spacecraft Networks (HSNs) are network environments in which spacecraft from different missions and institutions can communicate with each other at a low cost and with low impact on overall system resources. The technology of heterogeneous wireless networks has yet to be extended to space networks,...

NASA has developed a new technology for space optical communications, including communications from the Earth to spacecraft in Earth orbit and in deep space, such as at the Moon and Mars. The...

Briefs: Communications
Hybrid Loop Element Design for Enhanced High-Frequency Reflector/Reflectarray Performance

The purpose of this invention is to provide a novel, low-loss, dual-band reflectarray element design that is transparent and low-loss across one frequency band (Ka-band in the initial application), and provides the phasing and beam collimation capability...

Briefs: Communications
Using a Power Grid as an Extremely Large Antenna for Geophysical Imaging

Geomagnetic storms drive geomagnetically induced currents (GICs) in high-voltage power transmission systems. GICs thus carry information about the near-space environment conditions. The U.S. high-voltage power transmission system was used as an extremely large antenna to...

Briefs: Medical
A Simplified Production of Organic Compounds Containing High Enantiomer Excesses

NASA has developed a novel approach for producing sugars and sugar acids enriched with one of the two enantiomers of individual compounds. This approach can also be adapted for other compounds, such as amino acids. All objects, including chemical compounds, have...

Briefs: Medical
Generation of High-Pressure Oxygen Via Electrochemical Pumping in a Multi-Stage Electrolysis Stack

Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed a method for producing pure high-pressure oxygen via an electrochemical pumping process through a solid oxide electrolysis (SOE) cell stack. Glenn’s device can either concentrate the...

Researchers at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC), in collaboration with General Motors and Oceaneering, have designed a state-of-the-art, highly dexterous, humanoid robot called Robonaut 2...

Briefs: Medical
Rapid Polymer Sequencer

Solid-state nanopore-based analysis of nucleic acid polymers is revolutionary. No other technique can determine information content in single molecules of genetic material at speeds of 1 subunit per microsecond. Since individual molecules are counted, the output is intrinsically quantitative. The nanopore approach is more...

NASA’s Langley Research Center engineers have developed a new software package for more facile computational fluid dynamics. The software’s fast user run time, robustness, and...

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