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: Software
Design and Construction of Protograph-Based LDPC Codes

Writing (recording) to a storage device and reading from it can be considered as a noisy channel. A storage device such as magnetic recoding and optical recording can be modeled as a partial response channel. Partial-response techniques are a special case of precoding technique where the...

Briefs: Information Technology
Spitzer Integrated Resource Planning and Scheduling System (SIRPASS)

This decision support system provides an integrated platform for assessing the quality of Spitzer scheduling options. The application aids in scheduling instrument selection, assigns schedule times to specific observation requests, and generates stored sequence products...

Briefs: Information Technology
Tracking a Scene on Earth from Space Using the Adaptive Cross-Correlation Algorithm

A software program enables a user to track a scene or a spot on Earth from space (such as from the ISS) using an innovative algorithm. This robust and highly accurate software allows a scene to be tracked that can be not only the shifted version of a previous...

Briefs: Information Technology
Automated Scheduling of Personnel to Staff Operations for the Mars Science Laboratory

The task of producing Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) personnel schedules is daunting. Through automation, the labor and number of mistakes made are reduced when compared to the manual process. This software not only allows for common constraints to be expressed,...

Briefs: Information Technology
Area Coverage Path Planning Using Divided Grid-Graphs

Planning area coverage observations is a challenge in an architecture with a framing imager affixed to a bus that can be moved, and a mirror or other device that allows for small, but fast, observation of adjacent areas along the boresight of a telescope. The telescope boresight can slew...

Briefs: Information Technology
Shape Sensing Using Multicore Fiber Optic Cable and Parametric Curve Solutions

Apaper reports a method of converting distributed curvature measurements into a three-dimensional shape by combining elastic rod theory and differential geometry to arrive at a three-dimensional solution of the Frenet-Serret formulas. A new method of calculating the...

Briefs: Information Technology
Encoders and Decoders for the AR4JA LDPC Codes

Low-Density Parity-Check (LDPC) codes are the best error-correcting codes known for a wide variety of communications applications. The AR4JA code family encompasses encoders and decoders for nine error-correcting codes. These include Accumulate, Repeat-by-4, and Jagged Accumulate (AR4JA) codes...

Briefs: Information Technology
Explicitly Filtered Large Eddy Simulation for Prediction of a Conserved Scalar

The prediction of a conserved scalar is important in many fields of study. For example, in modeling of combustion processes, if a conserved scalar exists, the mathematical problem can be greatly simplified. Inert gases transported in mixtures of other gases are also...

Briefs: Software
Dictionary Management System

The Dictionary Management System (DMS) is a Web-based tool to develop and store a project command and telemetry dictionary. The dictionary defines a project’s flight/ground interface. In recent years, dictionaries have become very large, making it hard to maintain traditional methods of flat-file storage and manual...

Briefs: Information Technology
National Vulnerability Database (NVD) Query Tool

Currently, there are no programmatic methods to query the NIST National Vulnerability Database (NVD) without downloading the entire database in XML format, parsing the content, loading the resulting data into a self-hosted database, and then developing an interface for querying the content. This...

Position feedback sensors for hydraulic or pneumatic cylinders have used one of three traditional technologies: magnetostrictive, variable resistance, and variable inductance. As the...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Detection of Gases and Vapors Present at Low Concentrations

A nanostructure-based mechanism was developed for sensing the presence of, and estimating concentration values of, specified chemical components in a sample gas to which the mechanism is exposed, where the concentrations may be as low as five parts per billion. The mechanism receives a...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Broadband Photon-Counting Microwave Kinetic Inductance Detector

The planar Microwave Kinetic Inductance Detector (MKID) is very compact and allows a large number of detectors to be fabricated simultaneously and implemented in a focal plane of a telescope using a minimal number of wiring interfaces. In this detector, the incident power is guided...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Micro-LIDAR for Flow Velocimetry

A miniature light detection and ranging (LIDAR) velocimetry sensor has been developed to analyze high-velocity and boundary layer flows in real-world conditions. Using Rayleigh scattering, as opposed to the more common particle scattering, the patent-pending sensors provide multiple flow parameters without the...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Sensitive, Specific Molecular Detection of Single Bacteria Cells

A unique amplification chemistry was developed that allows highly specific isothermal detection of bacteria, and presumably eukaryotic cells, at sub-single-cell sensitivities. This is based on the ability to detect rRNA (ribosomal RNA) rather than DNA, as is typical. The difference...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Optical Hotspot Conductive Fluid Flow Sensor

The Optical Hotspot Flow Sensor (OHFS) enables optical measurement of electrically conductive liquid metal flow rate by exploiting the electrically conductive nature of liquid metals or any other conductive fluid to enable thermal tagging of liquid flow in tubes (US Patent 7,409,875). It is well...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Low-Cost Backup RPOD System

Advanced Optical Systems, Inc. (AOS) developed a low-cost Rendezvous, Proximity Operations, and Docking (RPOD) system that has applications for the future NASA Orion vehicle. Docking operations between the space shuttle and the International Space Station (ISS) required the coordination of real-time sensor data...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Free-Space, Coupled, Multi- Element Detector for Deep Space Optical Communication

High-data-rate deep space optical communication (DSOC) links are desired by NASA and other space agencies to support future advanced science instruments, live high-definition (HD) video feeds, telepresence, and human exploration of Mars and beyond. Optical...

Modern mechanical carbon materials are being used in a wide variety of applications, including aircraft gear boxes, air turbine motor starters, and main shaft seals for both aircraft...

Briefs: Materials
Strong and Flexible Carbon Fiber Reinforced Phenolic Composites

A new class of phenolic and carbon-fiber-reinforced phenolic composites has been developed for thermal protection systems. The new materials have the advantage of being lightweight, strong, and tough, yet heat resistant and flexible. They retain excellent mechanical strength at high...

Briefs: Materials
Hybrid Laminate Composite for Harsh Environments and High-Performance Applications

A multi-functional composite laminate material has been developed for structural and thermal applications for use in durable cryogenic fuel tanks for transportation vehicles and/or in the construction of habitats. The technology focuses on aerogel and fiber...

Briefs: Materials
Surface-Modified Nanoparticles Made From High-Molecular-Weight Carboxylic Acids

An improved class of alumoxanes and a method of synthesizing them have been invented. Alumoxanes are aluminum oxy hydroxide particles that have been modified with compounds containing carboxylic acid groups. For typical applications in which alumoxanes are required...

Briefs: Materials
NASA PS400 High-Temperature Solid Lubricant Coating

NASA has an ongoing need for high-temperature solid lubricant coatings to reduce friction and wear in turbine engines, rocket engines, and other mechanical systems. Such lubricants must be thermally and chemically stable in air, vacuum, and reducing environments like hydrogen. Traditional...

NASA vehicles using cryogenic propellants and systems need improved cryogenic storage and transfer, including insulation for cryogenic transfer/feed lines....

Briefs: Materials
Compliant Electrode and Composite Materials for Piezoelectric Wind and Mechanical Energy Conversion

Thin film, piezoelectric materials generate a small voltage whenever they are deformed, suggesting that they are suitable for tapping energy from freely available resources, such as the wind. Yet their low-energy production levels and lack of...

Briefs: Materials
Development of a Novel, Regenerable Microlith Catalytic Reactor for CO2 Reduction via Bosch Process

Utilization of CO2 to produce life support consumables, such as water and oxygen, offers a potential advance for NASA’s cabin atmosphere revitalization system and in-situ resources utilization concepts for long-term manned space...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
3D Motor for Multi-Axis Attitude Control on SmallSats

Preliminary data was recently provided for a reaction sphere prototype on NASA’s zero-gravity parabolic flight vehicle. Gyroscope telemetry indicates that reaction spheres were...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Nanosatellite Launch Adapter System

NASA has developed a Nanosatellite Launch Adapter System (NLAS) that maximizes the efficiency of satellite launch missions. NLAS increases access to space while simplifying the integration process of miniature satellites, called nanosats or CubeSats, onto launch vehicles. While a complete NLAS consists of an...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
James Webb Space Telescope Microshutters Subsystem Project Thermal Chamber Ground Support Equipment Automated Control

An automated control system for the microshutter assembly (MSA) portion of the JWST MSS (James Webb Space Telescope Micro shutters Subsystem) was developed. This is a cryogenic device that operates at 35 K. Cooling down and...

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