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 : 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...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Percussive Augmenter of Rotary Drills for Operation as a Rotary-Hammer Drill

A piezoelectrically actuated percussive bit augments rotary drills to form a rotary-hammering drill/sampler. The Percussive Augmenter of Rotary Drills (PARoD) bit has two key modalities: one with vibrating free-mass and one without. In the first modality, the bit is...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Non-Collinear Valve Actuator

Typical large aerospace valves use pneumatic actuators with large return springs to define a normal state. These springs are exclusively in line with the pneumatic actuator, and therefore are forced to have the same stroke and forces. These typical systems use either a large helical spring or a stack of Bellville...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Vibration and Thermal Cycling Apparatus for Cryogenic Tanks

Understanding thermal and mechanical behaviors and their inter-dependencies of complex tank systems is crucial to making proper design decisions. Low-maintenance, high-performance systems are becoming more important as global energy demands and efficiency requirements increase.

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Integrated Rate Isolation Sensor

Some vehicles use an internal measurement unit (IMU) system to determine the speed, acceleration, orientation, position, and/or direction of movement of the vehicle. Vehicles used for high-availability or life-critical systems may employ a fault-tolerant IMU design. Typically, such vehicles use three or more IMUs...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Mercury-Cadmium-Telluride Focal Plane Array for Warm Alignment of Imaging Spectroscopy Systems

A new technique allows a mercury-cadmium-telluride (MCT) focal plane array (FPA) to operate at room temperature. These results were obtained through experimentation by varying the integration time, frame rate, and bias levels to optimize the output...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Enhanced Auditory Alert Systems

Auditory warning systems for human interfaces are often designed around criteria that depend primarily upon signal loudness. It is well understood from the auditory literature that, by making an alert signal substantially louder than the measured background noise level, one can insure that an alert signal will be...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Carbon Monoxide Silicate Reduction System

Oxygen produced from lunar resources is a very desirable product to greatly reduce the mass lifted from the Earth’s surface in support of exploration activities. The ability to obtain high yields of oxygen from undifferentiated lunar soils enables planning for near-term piloted missions to the Moon....

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 : Robotics, Automation & 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 : Data Acquisition
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 : Information Technology
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...

Question of the Week
Would You Own a Robot Pet?