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 : Physical Sciences
Intensity-Calibrated Hydrogen Flame Spectrum

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) uses large quantities of liquid hydrogen and has expended significant effort in the development, testing, installation, and maintenance of hydrogen fire detectors based on ultraviolet, near-infrared, mid-infrared, and/or far-infrared flame...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Exciting and Detecting Electromagnetic Energy in a High-Temperature Microwave Cavity

There is a need to perform accurate, high-temperature, complex dielectric constant measurements at microwave frequencies on materials, such as those on the surface of Venus (surface temperature 460 °C). One approach is to excite and detect a TE10n...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Hollow aErothermal Ablation and Temperature (HEAT) Sensor for Tracking Isotherm Through TPS Material

The Hollow aErothermal Ablation and Temperature (HEAT) sensor is a multifunction sensor designed to track an isotherm by making an independent transient measurement at a defined location in the sensor that is equal to the temperature at which its...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Hydrogen Measurement in a Cryogen Flow Stream Reduces Waste of Helium

The purpose of this research was to develop an improved method for measuring hydrogen concentrations in a cryogen flow stream to minimize helium waste during the purge process. Currently, this type of measurement is performed manually with a sniffer, and involves obtaining...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Noncontact DC and AC Magnetostrictive Current Sensor

At the time of this reporting, there have been no effective methods of monitoring current in conductors in space without breaking the circuit or making contact with the conductor. In space, reliability rules all designs, and breaking a circuit to insert a sensor to monitor current would reduce...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Method and Apparatus for Determining Propellant Mass in Microgravity by Capacitance Measurements

Propellant mass gauging in microgravity has posed a challenge for decades. Various methods have been applied, including ultrasonic, capacitance probes, point level sensors, thermal detectors (thermistors, thermocouples, etc.), Michelson...

Briefs : Information Technology
Computer Modeling for Generation of Synthetic Radio Reflection-Transmission Tomography (RRTT) Data

Numerical algorithms capable of generating synthetic radio tomography data (reflection transmission data) for asteroids, comets, and other near-Earth orbits (NEOs) were developed. Future missions to main asteroid belt objects, NEOs, and other small...

Briefs : Information Technology
Designing Planning Information for Automation into PRL

Automation and autonomy are key elements in realizing the vision for space exploration. The NASA Exploration Technology Development Program (ETDP) has been developing several core autonomy capabilities, one of which is called a procedure representation language (PRL). PRL can be...

Briefs : Information Technology
The OCO-2 Level 2 Retrieval Algorithm

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) strives for trace gas observations with unprecedented accuracy and precision. This requires a retrieval algorithm with many major improvements over existing retrieval software in the representation of the transfer of solar radiation through the atmosphere and instrument,...

Briefs : Information Technology
Ionospheric Slant TEC Analysis Using GNSS-Based Estimation (IonoSTAGE)

As signals emitted by global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) propagate toward users on or near the surface of the Earth, they experience delay due to the presence of charged particles in the ionosphere. Currently, ionospheric delay is the largest source of GNSS...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Preparation, Planning, and Concept Demo of a Technique to Find ≈7-to-10-m Near Earth Asteroids

A paper describes a new technique designed to increase significantly the sensitivity for finding and tracking small, dim, and fast-moving near Earth asteroids (NEAs). The technique relies on a combined use of a novel data processing approach and a...

Briefs : Information Technology
Implementation of a Terrain Radiometric Correction for UAVSAR

A paper discusses a calibration method suited to correct variations of UAVSAR (unmanned aerial vehicle synthetic aperture radar) backscatter with topography. To use radar backscatter to estimate forest biomass on terrain with slopes, it is necessary to remove the effect of topography....

Briefs : Information Technology
Picoradian Staring Astrometry Using a Simple Staring Telescope

A document describes solutions to problems of astrometry at the microarc-second (picoradian) level using a simple staring telescope. The problems include field-dependent beam-walk on the telescope’s mirrors, pixel position irregularity and distortion over time, non-flat intra-pixel...

Briefs : Information Technology
Missing Value Imputation in Astronomical Time-Series Data

A document describes a solution to missing flux values in time-domain optical and radio astronomical survey data that form “light curves.” The technique incorporates a priori astronomical knowledge into a missing value imputation technique. It is assumed that missing values in...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Strobing to Mitigate Vibration for Display Legibility

This method mitigates the motion blur introduced when a display, and/or the operator reading it, is undergoing vibration (e.g. during the launch phase of spaceflight). If both the operator and the display are undergoing vibration, their respective impulses need not be in phase. This...

Briefs : Imaging
Imaging Space System Architectures Using a Granular Medium as a Primary Concentrator

Typically, the cost of a space observatory is driven by the size and mass of the primary aperture. Generally, a monolithic aperture is much heavier and complex to fabricate (hence, more costly) than an aperture of the same size but composed of much smaller...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Image Processing Method To Determine Dust Optical Density

Image processing techniques for determining dust optical density in Apollo videos have been developed. The software generates histograms, and calculates the mean and standard deviation, which are then used to match dusty and clear images for the purpose of estimating an effective optical...

Briefs : Information Technology
Automatic Lunar Rock Detection and Mapping

Safe spacecraft landing on planetary and small body surfaces is of primary concern. Estimation of landing risk is a critical task when evaluating and certifying potential landing sites. Such analyses require the detection and mapping of all potential landing hazards such as rocks and boulders, craters,...

Briefs : Information Technology
Technique for Finding the Center of an Image of a Rising or Setting Sun Based on Simulated Images

A new JPL project requires that the center of the images of a rising or setting Sun be determined with certain accuracy — for example, within 1 km — when the Sun is observed from the International Space Station (ISS). This center-finding...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
High/Low-Temperature Contactless RF Probes for Characterizing Microwave Integrated Circuits and Devices

Low-temperature, contactless radio-frequency (RF) probing systems are necessary for characterizing sensors operating at liquid nitrogen or helium temperatures, and based on superconducting materials. The design and operation of the contactless...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Multi-Tone, High-Frequency Synthesizer for CubeSat-Borne Beacon Transmitter for Radio Wave Atmospheric Propagation Studies

This report presents the design, construction, and test results of a novel multitone, multi-band, high-frequency synthesizer for application in a space-borne (including a CubeSat) beacon transmitter for radio wave...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Dynamic Response Determination of an Electronic Printed Circuit Board

Most of today’s automotive electronic systems are composed of two major mechanical elements: an equipment chassis or enclosure, and a printed circuit board (PCB) assembly. The PCB is composed of laminated copper and FR-4 glass epoxy. These systems often operate in severe...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Wii Nunchuk Controller for ATHLETE Operations

The Arduino platform was used to develop an interface between two otherwise incompatible commercial devices in order to drive the ATHLETE (All-Terrain Hex-Limbed Extra-Terrestrial Explorer) rover over long distances. The Portable Operations Terminal consists of three distinct parts: a robot-mounted...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Full-Cell Evaluation/Screening Technique for New Battery Chemistries

A quick and cost-effective evaluation/screening technique for new battery chemistries was developed that integrates the individual advanced cell component in a full-cell format to identify the critical issues, such as cell component interaction and compatibility before...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Growth Method for Chalcongenide Phase-Change Nanostructures

Recently, one-dimensional (1-D) nanostructures, such as nanowires and nanotubes, have become the focal point of research in nanotechnology due to their fascinating properties. These properties are intrinsically associated with low dimensionality and small diameters, which may lead to...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
ELID Grinding of Large Aspheres

This work focused on a manufacturing process to produce silicon carbide optical surfaces with low mid-spatial surface errors. Mid-spatial frequency (MSF) and high-spatial frequency (HSF) surface errors in the grinding of fast aspheres are amplified in hard ceramics like silicon carbide due to cyclic tool wear...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Highly Aligned Electrospun Fibers and Mats

A modified electrospinning apparatus has been created for spinning highly aligned polymer fibers. Fiber placement, orientation, and porosity are difficult to control using conventional electrospinning apparatus. Conventional electrospinning creates randomly oriented fibers that are well suited to...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Compact Regenerative Blower

The regenerative blower provides air flow through structures or systems that have relatively high flow resistance. Specifically, the regenerative blower was designed to provide a flow of ventilation gas through a spacesuit and its portable life support system (PLSS). Since the ventilation gas is primarily oxygen, fire...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Shape-Memory-Alloy-Based Launch Lock

Most NASA missions require the use of a launch lock for securing moving components during the launch or securing the payload before release. A launch lock is used to prevent unwanted motion and secure the controlled components. The current launch locks are based on pyrotechnic, electromechanical or...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Rotary Microspine Technology

Mobility for small, man-portable reconnaissance robots in the past has been limited with regard to obstacles like curbs, stairs, and vertical walls. A previous innovation overcame these obstacles by introducing rotary microspines — sharp hooks supported by elastic elements on a wheel. In this innovation, the work...