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 : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Plasma Reduction of Lunar Regolith for In-Space Fabrication

The in situ production of vital gases and raw materials on the lunar surface is an integral part of NASA’s exploration vision. Development of processes for extraction of oxygen and metallics from the lunar regolith will be vital not only for life support on the lunar surface, but also...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Method for Determining Self-Reacting Friction Stir Weld Schedules

This invention establishes a process to define a viable self-reacting friction stir weld (SR-FSW) schedule (parameter settings) for a given material combination. The focus of this process results in a SR-FSW schedule that is insensitive to intentional changes or normal process...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Flexible, Lightweight Vacuum Shell for Load-Responsive Multilayer Insulation for High Thermal Performance

Better thermal insulation is needed to insulate cryogenic propellants used by NASA for launch vehicles, spacecraft, and orbiting fuel depots. In particular, cryotank insulation during in-air pre-launch and launch ascent stages currently uses...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Bulk Separation and Manipulation of Carbon Nanotubes by Type

The utility of this invention is to extract metals (semi-metals) or semiconductors from bulk nanotube samples. The bulk material is a mixture of the two. These materials can then be used to clone a particular type of nanotube, place a particular type in a device, generate smart...

Briefs : Materials
PICA-on-Edge

The current baseline ablator material for the Advanced Development Program (ADP) for the thermal protection system (TPS) of the Orion heat shield is phenolic impregnated carbon ablator (PICA). PICA is a low-density, low-strength material that must be isolated from mechanically and thermally induced deformations and strains of the...

Briefs : Materials
Layered Composite Thermal Insulation System for Non-Vacuum Applications

Ambient air insulation systems for low-temperature (sub-ambient) applications are difficult to achieve because of moisture ingress and environmental degradation, as well as thermal stress-cracking. Most currently accepted methods for externally applied outdoor environments...

Briefs : Materials
White, Electrically Dissipative Thermal Control Coating

A highly reflective, white conductive coating system was developed using various layered coatings to maximize the structural, electrical, and optical reflectance properties for spacecraft radiators. The top layer of the system contains a highly reflective white pigment within a dissipative...

Briefs : Materials
Ultra-High-Temperature Ceramic Composites with SiC Reinforcements

Future-generation materials for use on space transportation vehicles require substantial improvements in material properties, leading to increased reliability and safety, as well as intelligent design to allow for current materials to meet future needs. Ultra-high-temperature...

Briefs : Materials
Cathode Discharge Catalytic Systems for Hydrogen Recovery from Methane

In the process of recovery and regeneration of cabin atmosphere to supply oxygen to facilitate extended-duration manned missions, including expeditions to Mars or a return to the Moon, one of the byproducts of this reaction is waste methane, which is vented into space. This...

Briefs : Materials
Beneficiation of Planetary Regolith by Pneumatically Enhanced Tribocharging of Granular Material

Liberation of oxygen from the mineral ilmenite (FeTiO3), which may be found on the Moon, Mars, or asteroids, is inefficient due to the abundance of other minerals in the excavated regolith that are present but not needed during the...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Fourier Transform Spectrometer on Autonomous Self-Healing Hardware Platform

The autonomous self-healing (eDNA) hardware platform is a reconfigurable field-programmable gate-array (FPGA)-type platform developed by Technical University of Denmark (patent: WO/2010/060923). It is capable of autonomously reconfiguring itself in case a fault is...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Low-Temperature-Compatible Electronics for a Miniature Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrometer

Missions to Titan are severely limited in available mass and power because spacecraft have to travel over a billion miles to get there, consuming large masses of propellants. Thus low-mass, low-power instruments are a high priority need for Titan...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Ionospheric Delay Compensation Using a Scale Factor Based on an Altitude of a Receiver

GPS receivers must compensate for the delay a GPS signal experiences as it passes through the ionosphere in order to accurately determine the position of the receiver. Receivers limited to terrestrial operation may utilize the Klobuchar parameters transmitted...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Microelectronic Repair Techniques for Wafer-Level Integration

Wafer-level integration was employed to mount the microshutter array for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and the detector-read-out hybrid for TIRS (Thermal Infrared Sensor). In the case of the JWST substrate, two conductors (polysilicon and aluminum) separated by a silicon oxide...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Multi-Gigabit-Rate Radiation Hard Bus

A concept was developed for a multi-gigabit-rate, radiation-hardened (RH) bus that would support open-system architecture and provide a cost-effective, high-speed interconnect. This concept is based on Advanced Science and Novel Technology Company’s SerDes system, which supports a variety of interfaces,...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Hovercraft Landing System

A concept for recovering reusable spacecraft or capsules, or reusable rocket boosters, has them land on an airbag-based, cushioned platform positioned on a highly maneuverable hovercraft. This landing method would have performance advantages over conventional approaches to reusability by placing most of the landing...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Novel Catalytic Reactor System for CO2 Reduction via Sabatier Process

A novel, short-contact-time Microlith Sabatier reactor system for CO2 reduction offers a significant advance in support of manned spaceflight. Compared to the current and prospective alternatives (including microchannels), the reactor is much smaller and lighter,...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Technology for a Comet Sample Return Mission Version 2

A standoff sample collection system would be capable of quickly obtaining a sample from environments as varied as comets, asteroids, and permanently shadowed craters on the Moon from vehicles ranging from traditional planetary spacecraft to platforms such as hovering rotorcraft or balloons...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Nitrous Oxide Ethane-Ethylene Engine

The Nitrous Oxide Ethylene-Ethane (NEE) engine uses nitrous oxide as an autogenously pressurizing oxidizer, and a mixture of ethane and ethylene is used in the same manner as fuel. Initially, the ethane and ethylene mixture has the same vapor pressure as the nitrous oxide. By using the autogenous...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Method for Improved Gun-Drilled Cold Plate Fabrication and Inspection

A method was developed for obtaining proper fluid distribution through parallel gun-drilled passages and for being able to inspect the actual drilled passages to guarantee that the designed minimum wall thickness is not violated. This invention uses one feature that addresses...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Powder Handling Device for Analytical Instruments

A new technology provides for automated sample handling and movement of coarse-grained powder or other solid materials to enable analysis by a robotic or totally automated computer system. Currently, many analytical instruments require a powder sample to control the shape and/or volume of the...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Improved Light Injection and Detection Methods for fNIRS Headgear for Use in Avionics and Astronautics

Measuring hemoglobin concentration changes in the brain with functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) is a promising technique for monitoring cognitive state to optimize human performance during both aviation and space operations. The...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
A High-Cross-Polarization-Isolation, Multi-Frequency Antenna for Cloud and Precipitation Research

The Global Precipitation Mission (GPM) has an immediate need for a matched-beam Ku-band/Ka-band antenna system that can be used as a component of a ground validation radar. Retrieval techniques based on both polarization and differential absorption...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
External Magnetic Field Reduction Technique for Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generator

Linear alternators coupled to Stirling power converters are promising candidates for high-efficiency heat-to-electricity power conversion in space. Presently, the external magnetic field emissions of such converters may exceed the allowed emission limits for...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Advanced P-Band Spaceborne Radar System

Low-cost, flexible spaceborne radar architectures are needed to provide critical data for Earth and science applications. An instrument concept was developed for an advanced spaceborne radar system that can measure terrestrial biomass (woody mass per unit area), ecosystem structure (height and density),...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Global Fire Detection Constellation

Wildfires that start in backcountry areas sometimes burn for hours before being detected and reported. Satellites offer a vantage point from which infrared sensors can detect fires. Individual satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) offer infrequent overpasses, making the delay from ignition to detection...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Compact Solid-State Entangled Photon Source

In the fields of quantum information, quantum optics, quantum cryptography, and quantum communications, there is a need to generate entangled photon pairs. The entangled photon pairs are described by an inseparable wave equation such that if a measurement is performed on one photon, its twin’s photon...

Briefs : Information Technology
Interface Validation for Distributed Software Systems

As a result of performing IV&V (Independent Verification and Validation) on Space Station software, a number of interface faults were found during integrated testing or actual software deployment. Faults found at this late phase of the software development lifecycle are very expensive to...

Briefs : Information Technology
Simple, Scalable, Script-Based Science Processing Archive

Simple, Scalable, Script-based, Science Processing (S4P) Archive (S4PA) is a disk-based data-archiving system for remote sensing data. It is based on the data-driven framework of S4P. The system is used for new data transfer, data preprocessing, metadata generation, and data archival. The...

Briefs : Information Technology
A Model-Driven Science Data Product Registration Service

The Planetary Data System (PDS) has undertaken an effort to overhaul the PDS data architecture (e.g., data model, data structures, data dictionary, etc.) and deploy a software system (online data services, distributed data catalog, etc.) that fully embraces the PDS federation as an...