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
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 : Photonics/Optics
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...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Planetary Polarization Nephelometer

Aerosols in planetary atmospheres have a significant impact on the energy balance of the planets, yet are often poorly characterized. An in situ instrument was developed that would provide more diagnostic information on the nature of aerosols it encountered if deployed on a planetary descent probe. Previous...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
GaSb-Based Diode Lasers for Remote Detection of Carbon Dioxide

Monolithic ridge-waveguide GaSbbased diode lasers were fabricated with a second-order, laterally etched Bragg grating to generate single-mode emission from InGaAsSb/AlGaAsSb multiquantum- well structures. In this design, the monolithic Type-I GaSb-based diode lasers use grating...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Optical Tunable-Based Transmitter for Multiple High-Frequency Bands

The purpose of this innovation is to be able to deliver, individually or simultaneously, multiple microwave high-frequency bands including, but not limited to, L (1.5 GHz), C (7 GHz), X (8.4 GHz), Ku (14.5 GHz), Ka (32 GHz), and Q (38 GHz) frequencies at high data rates and with...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
A High-Repetition-Rate Seeded Optical Fiber Amplifier (SOFiA) for the LIST Mission and Next-Generation Satellite Laser Ranging

A document describes a fiber/solid-state hybrid seeded regenerative amplifier capable of achieving high output energy with tunable pulse widths for satellite laser ranging (SLR) applications. The diode-pumped solid-state...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Microwave Kinetic Inductance Detector With Selective Polarization Coupling

A conventional low-noise detector requires a technique to both absorb incident power and convert it to an electrical signal at cryogenic temperatures. This innovation combines low-noise detector and readout functionality into one device while maintaining high absorption,...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Flexible Microstrip Circuits for Superconducting Electronics

Flexible circuits with superconducting wiring atop polyimide thin films are being studied to connect large numbers of wires between stages in cryogenic apparatus with low heat load. The feasibility of a full microstrip process, consisting of two layers of superconducting material...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
High-Temperature, Distributed Control Using Custom CMOS ASICs

Four application specific integrated circuits (ASICs) that provide sensing, actuation, and power conversion capabilities for distributed control in a high-temperature (over 200 °C) environment were developed. The four ASICs are combined with a digital signal processor (DSP) to create...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Use of Highly Integrated Components in the Design of Small Gasoline Engine Controllers

As small gasoline engines evolve to use more sophisticated electronic engine controls, new challenges will face the smallengine manufacturers, including constraints in size and cost, as well as having to meet new emission and fuel efficiency standards driven...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Scatter-Reducing Sounding Filtration Using a Genetic Algorithm and Mean Monthly Standard Deviation

Retrieval algorithms like that used by the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO)-2 mission generate massive quantities of data of varying quality and reliability. A computationally efficient, simple method of labeling problematic datapoints or...

Briefs : Software
CFD Extraction Tool for TecPlot From DPLR Solutions

This invention is a TecPlot macro of a computer program in the TecPlot programming language that processes data from DPLR solutions in TecPlot format. DPLR (Data-Parallel Line Relaxation) is a NASA computational fluid dynamics (CFD) code, and TecPlot is a commercial CFD post-processing tool....

Briefs : Medical
RECOVIR Software for Identifying Viruses

Most single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) viruses mutate rapidly to generate a large number of strains with highly divergent capsid sequences. Determining the capsid residues or nucleotides that uniquely characterize these strains is critical in understanding the strain diversity of these viruses. RECOVIR (an...

Briefs : Software
Enhanced Contact Graph Routing (ECGR) MACHETE Simulation Model

Contact Graph Routing (CGR) for Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) space-based networks makes use of the predictable nature of node contacts to make real-time routing decisions given unpredictable traffic patterns. The contact graph will have been disseminated to all nodes...

Briefs : Software
Orbital Debris Engineering Model (ORDEM) v.3

A model of the manmade orbital debris environment is required by spacecraft designers, mission planners, and others in order to understand and mitigate the effects of the environment on their spacecraft or systems. A manmade environment is dynamic, and can be altered significantly by intent (e.g., the...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Hermetic Seal Designs for Sample Return Sample Tubes

Prototypes have been developed of potential hermetic sample sealing techniques for encapsulating samples in a ≈1-cm-diameter thin-walled sample tube that are compatible with IMSAH (Integrated Mars Sample Acquisition and Handling) architecture. Techniques include a heat-activated, finned,...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Thermo-Mechanical Methodology for Stabilizing Shape Memory Alloy Response

This innovation is capable of significantly reducing the amount of time required to stabilize the strain-temperature response of a shape memory alloy (SMA). Unlike traditional stabilization processes that take days to weeks to achieve stabilized response, this innovation...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Silicon Alignment Pins: An Easy Way To Realize a Wafer-to-Wafer Alignment

Submillimeter heterodyne instruments play a critical role in addressing fundamental questions regarding the evolution of galaxies as well as being a crucial tool in planetary science. To make these instruments compatible with small platforms, especially for the study of...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Temperature Considerations When Specifying LVDT Linear Position Sensors

The LVDT linear position sensor can operate successfully over a wide range of temperatures, depending upon its design and the application in which it is operating. While the output of the LVDT linear position sensor is not immune to temperature variation, proper design and...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Electric Machine With Boosted Inductance to Stabilize Current Control

High-powered motors typically have very low resistance and inductance (R and L) in their windings. This makes the pulse-width modulated (PWM) control of the current very difficult, especially when the bus voltage (V) is high. These R and L values are dictated by the motor...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Positive-Buoyancy Rover for Under Ice Mobility

A buoyant rover has been developed to traverse the underside of ice-covered lakes and seas. The rover operates at the ice/water interface and permits direct observation and measurement of processes affecting freeze- over and thaw events in lake and marine environments. Operating along the 2- D...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
International Space Station- Based Electromagnetic Launcher for Space Science Payloads

A method was developed of lowering the cost of planetary exploration missions by using an electromagnetic propulsion/launcher, rather than a chemical-fueled rocket for propulsion. An electromagnetic launcher (EML) based at the International Space Station (ISS)...

Technology Leaders