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 : Materials
Dispersion of Carbon Nanotubes Into Polymer Matrices to Produce Unique Properties

The present invention addresses the effective dispersion of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) into polymer matrices. The nanocomposites are prepared using polymer matrices and exhibit a unique combination of properties, most notably, high retention of optical transparency in...

Briefs : Materials
Carbon Nanotube Growth Density Control

This method provides control over the growth density of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) on a relatively coarse scale, with density adjustment over several orders of magnitude, using an applied electrical field or voltage difference that is aligned substantially perpendicular to the substrate surface, which is...

Briefs : Materials
Pulsed Plasma Lubricator (PPL) Technology for the In Situ Replenishment of Dry Lubricants in Extreme Environments

NASA missions employing mobility systems and other moving mechanical assemblies for application on Mars, the Moon, and in deep space depend on the reliable operation of these assemblies and their tribological components. Wet...

Briefs : Materials
Long-Life, Hydrophilic, Antimicrobial Coating for Condensing Heat Exchangers

Future manned spacecraft and lunar or Mars outposts will need a condensing heat exchanger (CHX) to control humidity in the cabin atmosphere. Condensing surfaces must be hydrophilic to control condensate flow and ensure efficient operation in zero gravity, and biocidal...

Briefs : Materials
Opposed Pad Gecko Adhesive Gripper for On-Off Omnidirectional Anchoring/Gripping in Orbit

The idea of turning the stickiness of a material on and off is not an intuitive concept, yet this is exactly how geckos run up walls at speeds greater than 1 m/s and cling to ceilings made of glass. Transitioning this capability to spacecraft would...

Briefs : Materials
Complex Geometry Multi-Use Coatings for Abrasion Prevention, Wear Resistance, and Lunar Dust Removal

Two coatings are required to remove/repel lunar dust particles from the mechanism or surface that needs protection. One coating must be a conductor, and one must be a dielectric. Tungsten carbide (WC) and aluminum oxide...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Smart Core-Bit Probe (SCOPe)

Smart Core-Bit Probe (SCOPe) employs ruggedized MEMS-based sensors for real-time monitoring of sample core integrity (compositional or morphological changes) and drill health during sample acquisition. SCOPe enables comprehensive preliminary in situ measurements (both dynamic and static) during sample acquisition and...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Electrically Conductive, Failure-Resistant Tethers

Special electrically conductive, failure-resistant rope/wire combinations are being developed for use as electrodynamic spacecraft tethers. These or similar combinations could also prove useful on Earth in applications in which there are requirements for strong, reliable, lightweight tethers...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
ATHLETE Low-Gravity Testbed

A six-degrees-of-freedom (DOF) testbed was developed for evaluating microgravity and low-gravity proximity and contact operations, e.g. in the vicinity of a near Earth orbit, for simulation of proximity operations for a human mission to an asteroid. This is accomplished using an “inverted Stewart platform” where...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Acoustic Mechanical Feedthroughs for Producing Work Across a Structure

Electromagnetic motors can have problems when operating in extreme environments. In addition, if one needs to do mechanical work outside a structure, electrical feedthroughs are required to transport the electric power to drive the motor. Piezoelectric motors can be designed...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Life-Detecting Radar

A new device detects the heartbeat and respiration of victims trapped in rubble or disaster debris, and reduces the time required to initiate a rescue. Searchers would like to distinguish live victims from those who have died recently and to distinguish humans from animals. In addition to search and rescue, there are other...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
High-Energy Lithium Flow Cells With Sulfur Cathodes for Transportation Applications

Since the entry of lithium-ion rechargeable batteries into the market, considerable improvements have been made in their gravimetric and volumetric energy densities, especially compared to aqueous systems such as Pb-acid, Ni-Cd, and Ni-MH. Sulfur cathodes have...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Physical Causes of Extremely Low Geomagnetic Activity

An analysis of solar, solar wind, and geomagnetic data during the recent solar cycle minimum (2008) has recently been undertaken. It was discovered that the lowest value of the Ap index [this index is an averaged planetary A index based on data from a set of specific magnetometer stations] in...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Green PCB Removal From Sediment Systems (GPRSS)

John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida A number of NASA centers have used polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-containing materials that have subsequently ended up in surrounding sediment systems. Each center is evaluating remediation technologies that may have application to their environmental problems;...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Internalization of Non-Spherical Particles

This invention specifically relates to an interchangeable sleeve that encompasses a rotating, substantially cylindrical bioreactor. The sleeve supplies a time-varying electromagnetic force of from 0.05 to 0.5 gauss to the culture chamber of the bioreactor in order to increase cell growth and...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
System for Observing Dynamic Atmospheric Phenomena

Existing observing systems are inadequate to measure a variety of dynamic atmospheric processes. Ground-based or airborne systems do not observe over sufficiently large regions to capture the context or time history of many phenomena. Space-based systems do not observe a specific region over...

Briefs : Software
Weekly Status Reporting & Approval Application Revision 2

The Weekly Status Reporting & Approval Application is a Web application that enables organizations to gather weekly or monthly (periodically) statuses electronically from all employees using a time-based process. Users input their status, which may include uploaded images, into...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
CoolSPICE: SPICE Simulator for Cryogenic Electronics

Accurate assessment of circuits at cold temperatures is extremely difficult due to lack of models and tools that can simulate circuit behavior at cryogenic temperatures. A library of cryogenic temperature models was built, as well as a circuit simulator that can use those models and simulate...

Briefs : Software
Telescience Resource Kit, Release 3

Release 3 of the Telescience Resource Kit (TReK) has become available. TReK 3 is a suite of application programs that can be used to monitor and control a payload aboard the International Space Station. TReK provides both local ground support system services and an interface to utilize remote services provided...

Briefs : Software
Software Tools for Fault Management Technologies

The ability to detect, diagnose, and respond to faults and anomalies in a timely fashion is a major concern in space missions. Fault Management (FM) primarily concerns operational mitigations of spacecraft failures. Qualtech Systems worked towards development of software tools for facilitating FM...

Briefs : Information Technology
Atmospheric Turbulence Modeling for Aero Vehicles

Atmospheric turbulences are fractional order, and because of that, it is difficult to simulate these disturbances. Past models fall short in providing sufficiently accurate simulation of atmospheric turbulence, especially at high altitudes, for control designs of high-speed atmospheric vehicles....

Briefs : Information Technology
Autonomic Quiescence

Biologically inspired autonomous and autonomic systems (AAS) are essentially about creating self-directed and self-managing systems based on metaphors such as that of the autonomic nervous system. Agent technologies have been identified as a key enabler for engineering autonomy and autonomicity in systems, both in terms of...

Briefs : Information Technology
Optimization of OT-MACH Filter Generation for Target Recognition

An automatic Optimum Trade-Off Maximum Average Correlation Height (OT-MACH) filter generator for use in a gray-scale optical correlator (GOC) has been developed for improved target detection. While the OT-MACH filter has been shown to be an optimal filter for target detection,...

Briefs : Information Technology
A Decision Support Tool to Assess Upper-Level Winds for Space Launch

An Excel-based graphical user interface (GUI) was developed for the 45th Weather Squadron (45 WS) Launch Weather Officers (LWOs), allowing them to assess numerical weather prediction model forecasts of upper-level winds and compare the forecasts to observations from Cape...

Briefs : Information Technology
Change Detection in Orbital Images Using Relative Landmark Graphs

Traditional methods for change detection involve the pixel-wise registration of two images and a subsequent differencing operation that highlights any changes at the individual pixel level. These methods have two limitations: (1) they are computationally expensive, and (2) they...

Briefs : Information Technology
Heavy-Alkane Oxidation Kinetic-Mechanism Reduction

Oxidation chemical reactions of many practical fuels encompass thousands of species. When simulating complex turbulent reactive flows, it is impossible to account for the time and spatial evolution of all these species given current and foreseeable-future computer memory and time. This...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Covariance Analysis of Astrometric Alignment Estimation Architectures for Precision Dual-Spacecraft Formation Flying

A paper highlights analysis of proposed navigation systems and architectures for achieving precise dual-spacecraft astrometric alignment. The dynamics of dual-spacecraft relative motion, within a restricted n-body problem...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Porous Media Jacket for Use in Regeneratively Cooled Rocket Engines

A paper describes a method for regeneratively cooling worst-case gas-phase thrusters using porous media integrated into a regenerative cooling jacket. The enhanced surface area in the jacket compensates for the much lower effective heat transfer coefficients of gases as compared...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Automated Purgatoid Identification

An algorithm was developed that automatically processes images captured by the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to identify and locate the presence of purgatoids in monochrome images.

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Interplanetary CubeSats

A report describes upgraded CubeSat satellite elements for the interplanetary environment, with solar sail propulsion and the interplanetary superhighway for navigation and maneuvering. They can host small, capable instruments and optical telecommunications on a mission to map the composition of a sequence of near-Earth...

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