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 : Information Technology
Modeling Lunar Surface Systems Concepts of Operations

The goal of this work was to model lunar surface systems using a declarative planning system (ASPEN — Activity Scheduling/Planning Environment), provide a parameterizable Excel document to aid in the model generation, and deliver both Mac and PC versions. An adaptation of Microsoft Excel...

Briefs : Information Technology
Portable Distributed Scripts (PoDS)

“Portable Distributed Scripts” (PoDS) is a Python application that allows users to execute serial independent tasks concurrently across nodes on multicore clusters. The package consists of a set of scripts working together through a simple text-based interface. A user only needs to provide minimal...

Briefs : Information Technology
Slot-Sampled Optical PPM Demodulation

In order to demodulate an optical PPM signal, the receiver must align its slot clock to that of the received waveform to count the number of arrivals within each slot. The large bandwidth expansion factor of PPM, M/log2(M) requires a prohibitively large sample rate when a fixed sample clock N...

Briefs : Information Technology
Small-Object Detection via Fast Discrete Curvelet Transform

The detection of distant objects in an image is relevant to applications in defense, security, and robotics. Successfully detecting objects of interest has been a common problem with respect to intelligent computer vision. Automatic target recognition (ATR) systems have been formulated...

Briefs : Motion Control
Probe Positioning System for Antenna Range

In situ measurements of antenna patterns on rovers in a simulated terrain are difficult to make with conventional antenna range techniques. The desired pattern data covers a hemisphere above the antenna of interest, which is close to the ground. This is incompatible with traditional measurements that...

Briefs : Motion Control
Fluidic Actuators with No Moving Parts

Two new fluidic actuator designs were developed to control fluid flow in ways that will ultimately result in improved system performance and fuel efficiency in to improve the aerodynamic performance of a variety of vehicles. These flow control actuators, often referred to as fluidic oscillators or sweeping...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Real-Time Minimization of Tracking Error for Aircraft Systems

In many cases when an aircraft/spacecraft vehicle encounters a failure (such as a jammed control or loss of a part), there are still enough redundant actuation mechanisms to safely maneuver the vehicle. However, most pilots/autonomous systems are unable to adapt to the altered...

Briefs : Information Technology
Detecting an Extreme Minority Class in Hyperspectral Data Using Machine Learning

Orbital remote sensing provides a powerful way to efficiently survey targets for features of interest in inaccessible regions of the Earth as well as on other planets. One such feature of astrobiological relevance is the presence of surface sulfur deposits, which...

Briefs : Information Technology
KSC Spaceport Weather Data Archive

The Spaceport Weather Data Archive provides a fully searchable database of weather data gathered at Kennedy Space Center and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Weather data includes wind, temperature, and humidity data from a surface meteorological tower network; upper air soundings from both weather...

Briefs : Data Acquisition
Visualizing Acquisition, Processing, and Network Statistics Through Database Queries

Given a date range, the UAVSAR MySQL database is queried to evaluate data acquisition, processing status, and network performance, and uses the Google Charts API to dynamically return images of pie and bar charts to visualize processing and network statistics....

Briefs : Software
Simulating Data Flow via Multiple Secure Connections

A software simulator was developed to simulate data flow from the Interface Data Processing Segment (IDPS) to the Science Data Segment (SDS) for the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) via multiple Secure FTP (sftp) connections. The simulator is a multi-threaded Java program that handles the...

Briefs : Data Acquisition
Systems and Services for Near-Real-Time Web Access to NPP Data

The recently launched Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (SNPP) satellite, operated by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA), is providing multispectral global observations over the next several years to support a broad array of research and...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
CCSDS Telemetry Decoder VHDL Core

A flexible Telemetry Decoder Core (TDC) has been designed to decode Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS) encoded telemetry data. The TDC can be used to eliminate costly ground support equipment by placing the telemetry decoding functions in an inexpensive, commercially available field...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Thermal Response of a High-Power Switch to Short Pulses

Semiconductor switch modules composed of Super Gate Turn-Off Thyristors (SGTOs) have been evaluated. The switches are intended to handle kiloamplevel currents and may dissipate peak powers measured in megawatts. Recent experiments measured the response of a switch module composed of eight...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Solar Panel and System Design to Reduce Heating and Optimize Corridors for Lower-Risk Planetary Aerobraking

This innovation presents a spacecraft aerobraking approach that reduces heating and optimizes corridors, which reduces overall risk. This is accomplished by combining solar panel aspect ratio and edge features with simple spacecraft...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Low-Cost, Very Large Diamond-Turned Metal Mirror

This innovation is a method for fabricating a low-cost, lightweight, large-aperture mirror by constructing only the mirror substrate by electroforming on a master form machined from plastic foam. Electroformed tubes of the same NiP alloy are installed in the foam mirror substrate master....

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Very-High-Load-Capacity Air Bearing Spindle for Large Diamond Turning Machines

Large-load-capacity oil hydrostatic bearings generate prohibitive amounts of heat in large sizes when run at speeds useful for diamond turning of optical components. The viscosity of air is more than three orders of magnitude less than the thinnest oil; therefore, the...

Briefs : Materials
Elevated-Temperature, Highly Emissive Coating for Energy Dissipation of Large Surfaces

This coating demonstrates high emittance above 80% or better at broad wavelengths within the infrared spectrum. It has shown to have an extremely stable emittance at lower wavelengths within the infrared (IR) spectrum, where energy dissipation is critical at...

Briefs : Materials
Catalyst for Treatment and Control of Post-Combustion Emissions

Emissions from fossil-fuel combustion contribute significantly to smog, acid rain, and global warming problems, and are subject to stringent environmental regulations. These regulations are expected to become more stringent as state and regional authorities become more involved in...

Briefs : Materials
Thermally Activated Crack Healing Mechanism for Metallic Materials

A thermally activated healing mechanism is proposed and experimentally validated to mitigate crack propagation damage in metallic materials. The protected structure is coated with a thin metallic film of a low-melting-temperature healing agent. To heal or mitigate crack damage,...

Briefs : Materials
Subsurface Imaging of Nanocomposites

A nondestructive method that is based on modified atomic force ultrasonic microscopy (AFUM) methods has been developed for characterizing nanomaterials. The technology allows imaging and quantifying of material properties at the surface and subsurface levels. The technology reveals the orientation of...

Briefs : Materials
Self-Healing Glass Sealants for Solid Oxide Fuel Cells and Electrolyzer Cells

A solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) is an electrochemical device that converts chemical energy into electrical power. A solid oxide electrolyzer cell (SOEC) operates in a reverse mode of SOFC, and produces O2 and H2 gases. SOFCs are being developed for...

Briefs : Materials
Micromachined Thermopile Arrays with Novel Thermo-electric Materials

Future missions to outer planets will have stringent limits on payload mass. Thermal imaging instruments to map planetary surfaces will be part of those payloads, and, consequently, will have to be compact and low mass. For thermal instruments, another key requirement will be...

Briefs : Materials
Low-Cost, High-Performance MMOD Shielding

High-performance micro-meteoroid and orbital debris (MMOD) shielding can be constructed from low-cost, off-the-shelf materials. The advantage in using this innovation is in achieving considerable reduction in both cost and mass of the shielding necessary to protect spacecraft from hypervelocity MMOD...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Head-Mounted Display Latency Measurement Rig

The device and method are used to quantify end-to-end latency of head- or helmet-mounted display with head tracking systems in a laboratory or in situ. All commercial or custom head-mounted display systems that track the user’s head for the purpose of virtual or augmented reality applications...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Workspace-Safe Operation of a Force- or Impedance-Controlled Robot

Precise motion control of a robot by controlling its various robotic manipulators may be organized by the required level of task specification. The levels include object-level control, which describes the ability to control the behavior of an object held in a single or a...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Cryogenic Mixing Pump with No Moving Parts

Refueling spacecraft in space offers tremendous benefits for increased payload capacity and reduced launch cost, but the problem of thermal stratification in long-term storage tanks presents a key challenge. To meet this challenge, a reliable, compact, lightweight, and efficient cryogenic mixing pump...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Seal Design Feature for Redundancy Verification

NASA has requirements for redundant seals to protect human-occupied cabin atmospheres, as well as fluid and gas systems in space vehicles exposed to the harsh environments. Comparable requirements have been passed down to the International Space Station (ISS) Program, and are now levied on the...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Dexterous Humanoid Robot

A humanoid robot has been created that includes a torso, a pair of arms, a neck, and a head. The torso extends along a primary axis and presents a pair of shoulders. The pair of arms movably extends from the shoulders. Each of the arms is fully jointed. The neck movably extends from the torso along the primary axis, and...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Tethered Vehicle Control and Tracking System

This innovation can control the flight of a tethered vehicle, in an airborne wind energy (AWE) generation system, through the use of a pan-tilt platform and a visible spectrum digital camera, combined with tracking and control software running on a standard PC.

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