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: Test & Measurement
Small-Volume Pressurized Sample Handling System

A method was developed for effective, efficient, non-destructive, in-situ sample processing. Pressure vessels are used for sample delivery and collection, a shaker is used to keep the particles suspended, a back pressure of argon gas is used to keep the system under pressure to regulate the flow,...

An advanced Lean-Direct-Injection (LDI) turbine engine combustor was developed. Named LDI-II, which stands for second-generation LDI, this technology has vastly improved and expanded the...

As powered flight expands to include electric propulsion technologies, aeronautics designers need to understand the electrical, aerodynamic, and structural...

The Hall effect thruster (HET) was designed for long-duration operation with gaseous iodine as the propellant. Iodine is an alternative to the state-of-the-art propellant xenon. Compared to xenon,...

Briefs: Propulsion
Burnable-Poison-Operated Reactor Using Gadolinium Loaded Alloy

The problem to be resolved in this work was the use of radial control drums as the sole active reactivity control system for nuclear thermal propulsion, which results in significant rocket performance changes during full-power operation. This can result in large inefficiencies in...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Airborne Elastic Backscatter and Raman Polychromator for Ash Detection

Volcanic ash is a significant hazard to aircraft engine and electronics. It has caused damage to unwary aircraft and disrupted air travel for thousands of travelers, costing millions of dollars. The small, jagged fragments of rocks, minerals, and volcanic glass that...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Intelligent Displacement Sensor Deployment Using MTConnect Protocol over Ethernet

Quality measurements for design validation and certification requirements sometimes require hundreds or thousands of sensors and actuators. Maintaining such a complex system is difficult, especially over an extended time period and inevitable personnel changes....

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Active Remote-Sensing Radiometer

Millimeter-wave (mm-wave) imaging techniques are already a popular solution for imaging through dust and fog. While mm-wave offers excellent penetration to dust when compared with infrared or optical sensing,...

Briefs: RF & Microwave Electronics
High-Data-Rate Platform to Capture and Analyze Raw Baseband Clock/Data

The Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) Testbed has a need to capture and analyze high-datarate (<2 Mbps required) baseband information sent over RF by the JPL Software-Defined Radio (SDR). An RF4425 front end, coupled with a MicroGate Synclink USB and custom C++...

Briefs: RF & Microwave Electronics
V-FASTR Radio Transient Classifier

The V-FASTR (VLBA Fast Transient Experiment) system was motivated by the desire to monitor the radio sky for interesting transient events. To be confident that no interesting extragalactic event is missed, every VFASTR candidate requires human review and evaluation. Candidates consist of pulsar pulses, spurious...

Briefs: RF & Microwave Electronics
Wideband, Dual-Polarized, Ultra-Low-Noise Focal Plane Array Feed for Active/Passive Microwave Remote Sensing

NASA missions utilize active, passive, or both, microwave sounders with a large reflector antenna as an important component. In most of these applications, design engineers have realized that desirable science requirements (spatial and...

Briefs: RF & Microwave Electronics
RF Source Modifications to Improve Performance of an Electronegative Plasma Thruster

In traditional gridded electrostatic ion thrusters, positively charged ions are generated from a plasma discharge of noble gas propellant and accelerated to provide thrust. A separate electron source, typically a neutralizer cathode that consumes propellant, is...

Briefs: RF & Microwave Electronics
Simple Impedance Matched Planar Microwave Blocking Filter

Thermal blocking filters find wide use in cryogenic applications ranging from quantum computing to ultra-low-noise detectors. They can be used to provide the environmental isolation between cooled devices and the warmer temperature supporting bias and readout circuitry. In particular,...

Briefs: RF & Microwave Electronics
Microwave Regenerative Sorbent-based Hydrogen Purifier (MRSHP)

The Microwave Regenerative Sorbent-based Hydrogen Purifier (MRSHP) is a unique microwave power-based technology demonstrator created for the purification of a hydrogen product stream produced by the Plasma Pyrolysis Assembly (PPA). The MRSHP prototype uses 2.45-GHz microwave power to...

Briefs: RF & Microwave Electronics
Low-Power Wireless Body Area Network (WBAN) Communication System

NASA seeks semi-passive, RFIDenabled wearable tags for inventory tracking and astronaut body area network applications. Wearable sensor tags can be printed on astronaut clothing or suits, and are powered by printed thin film batteries and/or via energy harvesting. Energy is...

Briefs: RF & Microwave Electronics
RF System MATLAB Model Simulation Using a Variety of Data Sources

During the development of the Soil Moisture Active-Passive (SMAP) High-Power Amplifier (HPA), a power glitch was observed with the characteristic of producing small 0.1-0.3 dB jumps in power across temperature. In order to troubleshoot this glitch behavior, a nonlinear model that...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Lightweight, Reusable Payload Launch and Transportation Latch

This innovation addresses the problem of automatic engagement and disengagement of payloads from their transport vehicle when lifted by a crane or other material handling device. The prior state-of-the-art is in material handling devices that require personnel to activate the latch,...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Structural Assembly Incorporating Integral Thermal Heat Spreader for Cold Plate Cooling

In a structural cold plate, typically there is a structural member such as a honeycomb panel or a brazed sandwich assembly that provides the structural strength, and at least one cold plate that cools equipment attached to the structural member. The cold...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Advanced Magnetostrictive Regulator, Valve, and Force-to-Angle Sensor

Typical aerospace rocket engines use valves to control the flow and pressures of propellant and pressurants. These typical valves are designed to operate with a mechanical, electromechanical, or pneumatic operator. They all have at least one, and often multiple, penetrations...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Circular Cross-Section Blades for a Sampling Device

To date, there are solutions that can collect samples by being deployed from a distance from a low-gravity body or using a touch-and-go approach. To increase precision collection of samples...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Clamshell Sampler

The Clamshell mechanism, with one quick action, acquires and retains a sample from a small body surface while minimizing sampling energy. The sampler has two quarter-sphere buckets that are driven into the small body...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Shape Memory Alloy Rock Splitter

A working prototype of a non-explosive, static rock splitter for space exploration using shape memory alloys (SMAs) as the driving member also has terrestrial applications. The static, compact,...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Passive, Low-Insertion-Force/High-Retention-Force Cam Plug Design for Sample Tube Sample Caging

AMars “sample caching rover” mission designed to collect, document, and package samples for future collection and return to Earth was recommended as the highest-priority mission for 2013–2022 by the 2011 Planetary Decadal Survey. A key premise...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Design Support and Analysis Tool for Pyrotechnically Actuated Valves

This software predicts flow through the initiator of a Primer Chamber Assembly Valve. These valves exhibited a potential failure mode for specific operating conditions where dual simultaneous firings of the initiator occurred. The software tool was able to identify a fluid...

The Deployable Extra-Vehicular Activity Platform (DEVAP) is a staging platform for egress and ingress attached to a lunar, Mars, or planetary surface habitat...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Two-Phase Thermal Switch

There is a wide range of spacecraft thermal management applications that require variable conductance devices such as thermal switches. These switches are used to help maintain the heat source (electronics)...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
High-Bandwidth, Wide Field-of-View, Ultra-Sensitive, Radiation-Hardened, Short-Wave Infrared (SWIR) Receiver

Every LiDAR design faces the classic balancing act of signal versus noise. In order to maximize the range of a LiDAR, a receiver must amplify fractions of a micro-amp of photo current into a usable range for signal processing to occur,...

The proposed technology involves the sensitive detection of magnetic fields using the zero-field, spin-dependent...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Ethernet-to-HRDL Conversion Design

The International Space Station (ISS) uses a fiber optic High Rate Data Link (HRDL) standard for transferring data. ISS experiments, however, may prefer an Ethernet interface. This design allows ISS...

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Electric-Vehicle Transmission Development Priorities

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The Critical Role of Fiber Optic Temperature Sensors in Medical...

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Zinc Die Casting Concepts to Achieve Precision, Performance, and...

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Radar Measurements: Triggering, Analysis, and Generation

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Designing with Silicone for Space

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