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 : Electronics & Computers
Ultra-Wideband, Dual-Polarized, Beam- Steering P-Band Array Antenna

A dual-polarized, wide-bandwidth (200 MHz for one polarization, 100 MHz for the orthogonal polarization) antenna array at P-band was designed to be driven by NASA’s EcoSAR digital beam former. EcoSAR requires two wide P-band antenna arrays mounted on the wings of an aircraft,...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Centering a DDR Strobe in the Middle of a Data Packet

The Orion CEV Northstar ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) project required a DDR (double data rate) memory bus driver/receiver (DDR PHY block) to interface with external DDR memory. The DDR interface (JESD79C) is based on a source synchronous strobe (DQS\) that is sent along with...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Submerged AUV Charging Station

Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) are becoming increasingly important for military surveillance and mine detection. Most AUVs are battery powered and have limited lifetimes of a few days to a few weeks. This greatly limits the distance that AUVs can travel underwater. Using a series of submerged AUV charging...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Using a Commercial Ethernet PHY Device in a Radiation Environment

This work involved placing a commercial Ethernet PHY on its own power boundary, with limited current supply, and providing detection methods to determine when the device is not operating and when it needs either a reset or power-cycle. The device must be radiation- tested and free...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Habitat Demonstration Unit (HDU) Vertical Cylinder Habitat

NASA’s Constellation Architecture Team defined an outpost scenario optimized for intensive mobility that uses small, highly mobile pressurized rovers supported by portable habitat modules that can be carried between locations of interest on the lunar surface. A compact vertical...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Brushless Motors for In-Tank Fuel Pumps

Most automotive fuel systems use a Fuel Delivery Module (FDM) with components to filter and pump gasoline at a specified pressure and flow rate from the fuel tank to the engine. The FDM uses a reservoir assembly to maintain a fuel supply at the pump inlet and support components such as pressure regulators...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Origami-Inspired Folding of Thick, Rigid Panels

To achieve power of 250 kW or greater, a large compression ratio of stowed-to-deployed area is needed. Origami folding patterns were used to inspire the folding of a solar array to achieve synchronous deployment; however, origami models are generally created for near-zero-thickness material. Panel...

Briefs : Medical
A Novel Protocol for Decoating and Permeabilizing Bacterial Spores for Epifluorescent Microscopy

Based on previously reported procedures for permeabilizing vegetative bacterial cells, and numerous trial-and-error attempts with bacterial endospores, a protocol was developed for effectively permeabilizing bacterial spores, which facilitated the...

Briefs : Medical
Method and Apparatus for Automated Isolation of Nucleic Acids from Small Cell Samples

RNA isolation is a ubiquitous need, driven by current emphasis on micro-arrays and miniaturization. With commercial systems requiring 100,000 to 1,000,000 cells for successful isolation, there is a growing need for a small-footprint, easy-to-use device that can...

Briefs : Medical
Enabling Microliquid Chromatography by Microbead Packing of Microchannels

The microbead packing is the critical element required in the success of onchip microfabrication of critical microfluidic components for in-situ analysis and detection of chiral amino acids. In order for microliquid chromatography to occur, there must be a stationary phase...

Briefs : Medical
On-Command Force and Torque Impeding Devices (OC-FTID) Using ERF

Various machines have been developed to address the need for countermeasures of bone and muscle deterioration when humans operate over extended time in space. Even though these machines are in use, each of them has many limitations that need to be addressed in an effort to prepare...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Deployable Fresnel Rings

Deployable Fresnel rings (DFRs) significantly enhance the realizable gain of an antenna. This innovation is intended to be used in combination with another antenna element, as the DFR itself acts as a focusing or microwave lens element for a primary antenna. This method is completely passive, and is also completely...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Array Design Considerations for the Solar Probe Plus

The NASA Solar Probe Plus (SPP) mission will fly into the Sun’s corona, reaching as close as 9.86 solar radii from the center of the Sun. Power generation for the spacecraft will be provided by two solar array wings, which are being designed and built by JHU-APL and Emcore. SPP will get...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Transition-Edge Hot-Electron Microbolometers for Millimeter and Submillimeter Astrophysics

The millimeter and the submillimeter wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum hold a wealth of information about the evolution of the universe. In particular, cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation and its polarization carry the oldest information...

Briefs : Software
Spacecraft Trajectory Analysis and Mission Planning Simulation (STAMPS) Software

STAMPS simulates either three- or six-degree-of-freedom cases for all spacecraft flight phases using translated HAL flight software or generic GN&C models. Single or multiple trajectories can be simulated for use in optimization and dispersion analysis. It...

Briefs : Software
Cross Support Transfer Service (CSTS) Framework Library

Within the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS), there is an effort to standardize data transfer between ground stations and control centers. CCSDS plans to publish a collection of transfer services that will each address the transfer of a particular type of data (e.g.,...

Briefs : Software
Mars Science Laboratory Second-Chance Flight Software

Mars lander spacecraft, beginning with Mars Pathfinder (MPF), have been designed to tolerate flight computer resets during the entry, descent, and landing (EDL) phase despite having only a single flight computer. This capability was enabled by a predictable, nondynamic EDL architecture. The...

Briefs : Software
Arbitrary Shape Deformation in CFD Design


is a commercially available software tool, based on an Arbitrary Shape Design (ASD), which allows the user to perform shape optimization for computational fluid dynamics (CFD) design. The developed software tool provides important advances in the state-of-the-art of automatic CFD shape...
Briefs : Software
Range Safety Flight Elevation Limit Calculation Software

This program was developed to fill a need within the Wallops Flight Facility workflow for automation of the development of vertical plan limit lines used by flight safety officers during the conduct of expendable launch vehicle missions.

Briefs : Information Technology
GPU Lossless Hyperspectral Data Compression System

Hyperspectral imaging systems onboard aircraft or spacecraft can acquire large amounts of data, putting a strain on limited downlink and storage resources. Onboard data compression can mitigate this problem but may require a system capable of a high throughput. In order to achieve a high...

Briefs : Information Technology
Calculation of Operations Efficiency Factors for Mars Surface Missions

For planning of Mars surface missions, to be operated on a sol-by-sol basis by a team on Earth (where a “sol” is a Martian day), activities are described in terms of “sol types” that are strung together to build a surface mission scenario. Some sol types require...

Briefs : Information Technology
Fuzzy Neuron: Method and Hardware Realization

Simple and effective learning functions and adaptive elements can be placed into small hardware systems to include instruments for space, bioimplantable devices, and stochastic observers.

Briefs : Information Technology
Frequency-Modulated, Continuous-Wave Laser Ranging Using Photon-Counting Detectors

Optical ranging is a problem of estimating the round-trip flight time of a phase- or amplitude-modulated optical beam that reflects off of a target. Frequency-modulated, continuous-wave (FMCW) ranging systems obtain this estimate by performing an interferometric...

Briefs : Information Technology
Robust, Optimal Subsonic Airfoil Shapes

A method has been developed to create an airfoil robust enough to operate satisfactorily in different environments. This method determines a robust, optimal, subsonic airfoil shape, beginning with an arbitrary initial airfoil shape, and imposes the necessary constraints on the design. Also, this method is...

Briefs : Information Technology
Temperature Dependences of Mechanisms Responsible for the Water-Vapor Continuum Absorption

The water-vapor continuum absorption plays an important role in the radiative balance in the Earth’s atmosphere. It has been experimentally shown that for ambient atmospheric conditions, the continuum absorption scales quadratically with the...

Briefs : Information Technology
Kalman Filter Input Processor for Boresight Calibration

Ka-band ranging provides the phase center (PC) to phase center range, which needs to be converted to the center of mass (CM) to center of mass range. Nominally, both PC and CM lie on the line connecting the spacecraft GRAIL A and GRAIL B. In this case, the conversion should be done simply...

Briefs : Information Technology
Organizing Compression of Hyperspectral Imagery to Allow Efficient Parallel Decompression

A family of schemes has been devised for organizing the output of an algorithm for predictive data compression of hyperspectral imagery so as to allow efficient parallelization in both the compressor and decompressor. In these schemes, the compressor...

Briefs : Information Technology
Protograph-Based Raptor-Like Codes

Theoretical analysis has long indicated that feedback improves the error exponent but not the capacity of point-to-point memoryless channels. The analytic and empirical results indicate that at short blocklength regime, practical rate-compatible punctured convolutional (RCPC) codes achieve low latency with...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
V-Assembly Dual-Head Efficiency Resonator (VADER) Laser Transmitter

A complete demonstration breadboard unit for advanced development as a high-TRL (technology readiness level) system has been constructed and characterized. Infusion of several new component technologies, such as ceramic:YAG material and high-power laser diode arrays (LDAs),...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Twin Head Efficient Oscillator Development for the ACE Multi- Beam Lidar and 3D-Winds

The Twin Head Efficient Oscillator (THEO) concept uses a pair of smaller, identical laser pump modules, oriented to remove asymmetrical thermo-optical effects typical in single-slab lasers such as HOMER (High Output Maximum Efficiency Resonator), MLA (Mercury...

Technology Leaders


On-Demand Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping

CNC Machining: How to Reduce Costs and Accelerate Production

Upcoming Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping

Testing and Inspecting 3D-Printed Parts

Upcoming Webinars: Photonics/Optics

Optical Coating Design

Upcoming Webinars: Aerospace

Advanced Quality Planning and Production Part Approval Process...

Upcoming Webinars: Electronics & Computers

How to Avoid PCB Re-spins when IC’s Change or are Obsoleted

On-Demand Webinars: Automotive

Non-Contact Strain and Displacements Measurements in the Automotive Industry