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 : Software
Toolbox for Modeling and Analysis of Thermodynamic Systems (T-MATS)

T-MATS is an open-source Simulink library for use in modeling and simulation of thermodynamic systems. It provides a user friendly graphical MATLAB/Simulink-compatible toolbox along with tools to increase ease of model creation. It also includes a generic nonlinear solver that...

Briefs : Information Technology
Advanced Numerical Tools for Design and Analysis of In-Space Valve and Feed Systems

A high-fidelity numerical simulation software (CRUNCH CFD®) predicts the transient performance of flight valve designs, provides design support by supplementing current empirical rules, and diagnoses system anomalies. Currently, transient analysis of...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Method for Visualization of Analog Signals

In this innovation, a method makes use of a new technique for describing analog information based on the roots of polynomial functions of infinite degree. Monotonic analog signals are transformed into characters that are fused into a two-dimensional composite visualization of the generating signal...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Time-Multiplexed Pipelined FFT Implementation

A fast Fourier transform (FFT) was developed as part of the Soil-Moisture Active/Passive (SMAP) project. The FFT was created on 16-bit data arriving at a rate of 48 MHz to run on a resource-constrained, space-grade field programmable gate array (FPGA).

Briefs : Software
Method for Authorizing Critical Effector Commands in a Space-Based Integrated Modular Avionics System

An Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA) architecture provides a common platform for software partitions with shared processing and input/output (I/O) resources. A key feature of the IMA architecture is I/O partitioning. An IMA system will prevent...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Fully Configurable Interrupt Controller

An interrupt is a signal in an interrupt controller (IC) that pulses to indicate an event or error. The IC is responsible for processing multiple internal interrupts and making these interrupts available to a host computer via a data bus or external output pins. Since there exist numerous interrupts, a...

Briefs : Software
Using a Multicast File Transfer Protocol to Update the Firmware of Multiple Embedded Devices Simultaneously

Smart sensors for measuring temperature and pressure have been developed as part of the Advanced Ground Systems Maintenance (AGSM) project. The sensors have flash memory for storing firmware, calibration data, and configuration...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Model of Radiation Effects on Electronics (MREE)

An updated software model has been developed for predicting the single-event effect (SEE) rates in circuit designs as they are being designed. This tool will be used for estimating the frequency of the various SEEs, such as logic upsets and circuit latch-up. It may also be used to estimate the...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Development of an Analytical Parameterized Linear Lateral Dynamic Model for an Aerobot Airship

Saturn’s moon Titan is of high interest for in situ study due to its many intriguing features. This moon has a dense atmosphere; rough, icy terrain; and low surface winds that make it the ideal place to send a controlled aerial robotic platform, such...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Algorithm Enhancements to Powered Descent Guidance Software

The Powered Descent Guidance (PDG) software provides a computationally efficient guidance algorithm for powered descent that ensures satisfaction of the governing dynamics, along with adherence to physical control and state constraints, such as avoid the surface, limit thrust magnitude...

Briefs : Software
Using Describing Functions for Aeroservoelastic Models with Free-Play

Aerodynamic control surfaces, with excessive free-play, can cause limit cycle oscillations (LCO), a sustained vibration of constant amplitude. The LCO is caused by a combination of aeroservoelastic effects and free-play. If the amplitude is sufficiently large, it can impact...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Design Environment for Multi-Fidelity and Multi-Disciplinary Components

Many of the most challenging aspects of propulsion system development are related to the prediction of interacting effects among fluid loads, thermal loads, and structural deflection. A typical design practice might ignore the interaction between the physical phenomena where...

Briefs : Software
Shipping Foam Designer Software

An easy-to-use design tool was developed in response to a large number of documented cases of critical (flight and ground) hardware failing after experiencing drops during commercial shipment. By entering the mass of the hardware to be protected, and the drop height, the software helps the user select the type and...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Evolutionary Mission Trajectory Generator

The Evolutionary Mission Trajectory Generator (EMTG) is a global trajectory optimization tool for designing interplanetary missions that perform multiple flybys and either low-thrust or high-thrust propulsive maneuvers on the way to destinations in the solar system. Some targets, such as Mars and Venus,...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Visual International Space Station Configuration Viewing Tool

Communicating the current International Space Station (ISS) configuration and also potential ISS configurations is a necessity during ISS trade studies and Ops Con development. Often, multiple configuration options will need to be communicated. Doing so without a means of displaying...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Two-Equation Turbulence Models for Application to Internal Flow Through Pneumatic Valves

Predicting turbulent flowfield and pressure drop in complex internal flows, such as valves, pumps, and turbines, is of great interest in many areas of technology. Accurate prediction of three-dimensional (3D) flowfield in complex devices is critically...

Briefs : Software
Multi-Species Turbulent Mixing Under Supercritical-Pressure Conditions

A model describing supercritical-pressure, multi-species turbulent mixing has been developed to simulate situations prevailing in diesel, gas turbine, and HCCI (homogeneous charge compression ignition) engines. It is also a situation occurring in atmospheric planetary...

Briefs : Software
A Model of Reduced Oxidation Kinetics Using Constituents and Species

Elementary-reaction chemical kinetics of hydrocarbon oxidation consists of hundreds to thousands of species and thousands of reactions. As such, it is impossible to use it in models and codes involving turbulence because computations are unfeasible due to lack of memory and...

Briefs : Software
Determining Radiation Shielding Capability of the Earth’s Atmosphere from FAA Radiation Data

The FAA, using its CARI-6 program, provides galactic cosmic radiation dosage rates for any location on the Earth from ground up to 60,000 ft (≈18,300 m). One way to protect astronauts from galactic cosmic radiation (GCR) on a Mars mission is to use...

Briefs : Software
Integrated Space Weather Analysis System (iSWA)

The iSWA system is a Web-based dissemination framework for NASA-relevant space weather information that combines forecasts based on the most advanced space weather models with concurrent space environment information. A key design driver for the iSWA system is to generate and present vast amounts...

Briefs : Software
Automatic Localization of MSL Rover Mosaics in HiRISE Imagery

Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) surface operations require precise and accurate knowledge of rover position. A key means of establishing/verifying position is to match ortho-rectified mosaics from the MSL onboard cameras to orbital data. Manual localization by matching mosaics to HiRISE...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
SAM/MSL Terrestrial Background Spectral Library

The SAM/MSL Terrestrial Background Spectral Library is one of the tools developed for identifying known terrestrial background for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) mission. The SAM instrument suite can detect trace elements in the ppb range and therefore requires a...

Briefs : Software
Efficient Spectral Endmember Detection Onboard Spacecraft

Spaceflight and planetary exploration place severe constraints on the available bandwidth for downlinking large hyperspectral images. Communications with spacecraft often occur intermittently, so mission-relevant hyperspectral data must wait for analysis on the ground before it can inform...

Briefs : Software
Ray Tracing Model and Software for a Focused IR Lamp Heating System

When the space shuttle’s external tank (ET) was being filled with the cryogenic fuel components LOX and LH2, moisture from the surrounding atmosphere could condense onto the ET’s sprayed-on foam insulation (SOFI). This condensation could drip onto components, such as the LOX...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Using the Web Sockets Full-Duplex Communication Channel to Display Real-Time Sensor Data via Standard Web Browser

Web Sockets is a network full-duplex communication channel that allows Javascript programs embedded in Web pages to establish connections to applications running on the server that provided the Web pages. Two-way communication is...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Earth Now Mobile Phone App

A mobile device application created by NASA visualizes recent global climate data from Earth science satellites, including air temperature, sea surface salinity, carbon monoxide, ozone, and water vapor, as well as gravity and sea level variations. This app is an Open GL simple 3D object viewer for the Apple IOS and...

Briefs : Software
PACIFIC: Process Algebra Capture of Intent from Information Content

Mixed-initiative teams of robots and humans working side-by-side in close proximity to each other need to be capable of reasoning about the actions and activities of each other within a mission context. This capability requires the robotic agents to have a sense of self, and...

Briefs : Software
Analytical Expression of Elevation-Dependent Relative Air Mass for Atmospheric Extinction Simulations

This software enables one to calculate elevation-dependent relative air mass. When imaging a setting or rising Sun on the ground or from space, the shape and the intensity distribution of a captured image are affected by the following three...

Briefs : Software
Quantification of Trace Chemicals Using the Vehicle Cabin Atmosphere Monitor

A software program analyzes data measured by the Vehicle Cabin Atmosphere Monitor (VCAM) and quantifies the concentrations of trace chemicals detected by VCAM. The software contains a unique way to quantify the signal measured by VCAM, to establish the concentration...

Briefs : Software
Improved Math Model for Multiphoto Measurement Systems

The bundle adjustment, or more specifically, the colinearity math model it is based on, is undisputedly the most accurate method to perform 3D scene reconstruction from multiple images. It has been the gold standard since first developed in 1957–1959. The limitations of the method have...

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