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 : Robotics, Automation & Control
Re-entry Vehicle Shape for Enhanced Performance

A vehicle entering the atmosphere of a planet will do so at hypersonic speeds and will need to decelerate and maneuver through that atmosphere while protecting its payload from excessive heating. As a consequence, the vehicle shape must be designed to provide optimal aerodynamic lift and drag...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Spacecraft Line-of- Sight Stabilization Using LWIR Earth Signature

Until the time of this reporting, when a space vehicle required a reference signal for inertial pointing, the choices were a signal beacon from an Earth location, the Earth radiance in the visible spectrum, or a star tracker. However, limitations can arise from using these...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Data Acquisition and Processing Software — DAPS

DAPS was designed to support the DAWN-AIR project participating in the Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes (GRIP) hurricane campaign. It controls the data acquisition system consisting of a scanner that directs the lidar beam, an inertial navigation system/GPS (INS/GPS) unit for...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Debris & Ice Mapping Analysis Tool — Database

The Debris & ICE Mapping Analysis Tool (DIMAT) system is a Web-based system that supports communication, data integration, data sharing, and problem definition/resolution through use of an integrated presentation framework for ice and debris description and analysis. It provides an integrated...

Briefs : Information Technology
Data Fusion for Global Estimation of Forest Characteristics From Sparse Lidar Data

This lidar data fusion approach is based on associating samples from sparse lidar data with groups of region objects determined by a unique image segmentation approach, HSeg (Hierar - chical Segmentation). This segmentation approach, which was previously developed...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Transportable Instrumentation Package for In-Vehicle On-Road Data Acquisition

The study of driver behavior can provide a wealth of information that can be useful in the design of automobiles including active safety features and functions. There may be differences in driver behavior, as reflected in driver state, and these differences may be...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Virtual Testing of High Lift Systems

For aircraft system certification, a huge amount of testing is required to guarantee safe, robust, and error-free behavior under all operating and environmental conditions. Typically, these tests on the system level are performed on physical test benches (left, in figure) where all the relevant components...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Integrated PEMFC Flow Field Design for Gravity-Independent Passive Water Removal

A gravity-independent PEM (proton exchange membrane) fuel cell stack has been developed that will operate at high-pressure H2 and O2 conditions with the requirement for relatively modest H2 and O2 gas circulation. Until...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Metal-Assisted Fabrication of Biodegradable Porous Silicon Nanostructures

Porous silicon nanowires are fabricated by two-step, metal-assisted electroless chemical etching of p-type or n-type silicon wafers. This method, in combination with nanolithography or nanopatterning, can be applied to fabricate porous silicon nanostructures of different...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Post-Growth, In Situ Adhesion of Carbon Nanotubes to a Substrate for Robust CNT Cathodes

The field emission electron sources using carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are being targeted for low-power vacuum microelectronic applications for harshenvironment operation (high temperature, pressure, and corrosive atmosphere). While CNTs have demonstrated...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Thermal Mechanical Preparation of Glass Spheres

Samples of lunar regolith have included small glass spheres. Most literature has suggested the small spheres were formed by meteorite impacts. The resulting transformation of kinetic energy to thermal energy caused the lunar surface to melt. The process yielded glass spheres. Recreating a meteorite...

Briefs : Materials
Improving Material Property Measurement Using Multi- Camera Digital Image Correlation

The automotive industry faces growing pressure for more efficient vehicles. This pressure comes from many sources including government regulations, decreasing natural resources, and consumer demand. As the pressure begins to rise, automakers have a growing need...

Briefs : Materials
Mechanistic-Based Multiaxial- Stochastic-Strength Model for Transversely- Isotropic Brittle Materials

A methodology has been developed and the software written to predict the probability of failure of transversely isotropic (a type of anisotropy) materials under generalized thermomechanical loading. This methodology is mechanistic in that it is...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Dual-Leadframe Transient Liquid Phase Bonded Power Semiconductor Module Assembly and Bonding Process

A high-temperature-capable widebandgap semiconductor power module package, coupled with a new high-temperature- capable bonding process (with an optimized assembly and manufacturing process), has been developed that, together, can allow device...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Methods for Mitigating Space Radiation Effects, Fault Detection and Correction, and Processing Sensor Data

The Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA) architecture being developed for space applications requires that sensor data be autonomously sampled and transmitted to the system network. This transmission needs to occur on a predetermined, fixed...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Quad First Stage Processor: A Four-Channel Digitizer and Digital Beam-Forming Processor

A 4-channel digitizer was designed, built, and tested. The very large, complex board enables SweepSAR. The proposed Deformation, Eco-Systems, and Dynamics of Ice Radar (DESDynl-R) Lband SAR instrument employs multiple digital channels to optimize resolution...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Compact Ka-Band Antenna Feed with Double Circularly Polarized Capability

NASA has an interest in utilizing the Ka-band frequency allocation. One of the main reasons for migrating to Kaband is the need for higher frequency bandwidth to enable higher data rates. A dual circular polarized wideband antenna for Ka-band communications applications was...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
CubeSat Deployable Log Periodic Dipole Array

The antenna is composed of two main deployable structural components that help it achieve the large packing factor necessary to fit within the small volume of the CubeSat. The primary component of the antenna array is a tension stiffened truss, which is preloaded using a large tape spring. The truss...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Protective Sleeve for a Pyrotechnic Reefing Line

A metallic sleeve provides protection and guidance for the actuating lanyard pull of a parachute system reefing line cutter. This device ensures that the reefing line cutter is not damaged during packing or deployment. In addition, the device ensures that the actuating lanyard that initiates the...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Metabolic Heat Regenerated Temperature Swing Adsorption

Two fundamental problems facing the development of a portable system to sustain life on extraterrestrial surfaces are (1) heat rejection and (2) rejection of metabolically produced CO2 to an environment with a ppCO2 of 0.4 to 0.9 kPa as is present on Mars. Portable...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Variable Camber Aerodynamic Control Surfaces and Active Wing Shaping Control

A new concept of aircraft aerodynamic control surfaces has been developed in connection with another new concept of active wing shaping control for reducing aircraft drag that will result in less fuel burn. The first concept is referred to as a variable camber...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
NanoRacks-Scale MEMS Gas Chromatograph System

In order to study atmospheric or evolved gases, it is highly advantageous for an instrument (e.g. mass spectrometer (MS), thermal conductivity detector (TCD)) to simplify the gas stream with a front-end gas chromatograph (GC). When used for planetary missions, highperformance GCs have to satisfy the...

Briefs : Software
360° Visual Detection and Object Tracking on an Autonomous Surface Vehicle

This software addresses the problem of an autonomous vehicle patrolling a region for objects of interest using multiple cameras. The system must identify and track the objects over time and localize their positions in the world. It implements an autonomous perception and...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Simulation of Charge Carrier Mobility in Conducting Polymers

Electric conduction in polymers is one of the key elements in avoiding catastrophic internal electrostatic discharge in dielectrics during space missions. This software package enables the simulation of carrier mobility for any given site concentration, which is a material design...

Briefs : Software
Observational Data Formatter Using CMOR for CMIP5

The current software has been developed to work on NASA instrument datasets, an upgrade over similar software that only worked on datasets from climate model output. NASA is attempting to reformat satellite data to fit the specific and highly detailed data format and metadata requirements for...

Briefs : Information Technology
Examination and A Priori Analysis of a Direct Numerical Simulation Database for High-Pressure Turbulent Flows

A previously created direct numerical simulation (DNS) database of mixing of species under supercritical pressure has been examined and analyzed for the purpose of understanding the modeling requirements in the context of large eddy...

Briefs : Information Technology
Propellant Loading Physics Model for Fault Detection Isolation and Recovery

A Fault Detection, Isolation and Recovery (FDIR) system needs some internal concept of how the monitored system operates. This “operating concept” needs mathematical logic to represent the cause and effect relationship between constituent components of the system,...

Briefs : Information Technology
Probabilistic Guidance for Swarms of Autonomous Agents

Available guidance approaches for large numbers (i.e., swarms) of artificial agents are currently very limited. Swarms in nature (e.g., bees, birds, ants) typically contain hundreds to thousands of agents. The problem is how to mimic nature, and develop guidance laws for artificial (manmade)...

Briefs : Information Technology
Future Air-Traffic Management Concepts Evaluation Tool

In the United States, as many as 7,000 commercial and private aircraft may be in the air simultaneously at any given time and date, and the total number of commercial flights in a given 24-hour period generally exceeds 50,000. To maintain the safety and efficiency of air travel, this...

Briefs : Imaging
Reducing Drift in Stereo Visual Odometry

Visual odometry (VO) refers to the estimation of vehicle motion using onboard cameras. A common mode of operation utilizes stereovision to tri angulate a set of image features, track these over time, and infer vehicle motion by computing the apparent point cloud motion with respect to the cameras. It has...

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