Tech Briefs

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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
NASA Tensegrity Robotics Toolkit (NTRT)

Tensegrity robots have many unique properties useful for robots intended to operate in natural settings, yet the exploration of how to build and control such robots is just beginning. Many of their positive qualities, such as multipath force distribution, compliance, and their oscillatory nature, also make...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
RoboSimian Software System from the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals

A software architecture to allow semi-autonomous mobile manipulation of highly dexterous robots under degraded communications was developed to enable remote operation of a mobile manipulation robot as a first responder in a disaster-response scenario. The software architecture...

Briefs: Aerospace
Station/Orbiter Multibody Berthing/Docking Analysis Tool (SOMBAT)

The main objective of this work was to develop a high-fidelity, nonlinear simulation of complex flexible structures with active control systems. A multibody system can consist of several flexible articulating components. The system can also have multiple control systems. The main...

Briefs: Aerospace
Flight Deck Predicted Weather Display and Decision Support Interface

This innovation is a suite of three methods built into a prototype flight deck navigation display interface that supports the display of predicted weather and weather avoidance decision-making. Currently, the interface uses weather objects derived from various convective...

Briefs: Aerospace
Timed Injection of Simulation Data via Redundant Network Ports in Time Triggered Ethernet (TTE) Systems

Vehicle-scale integration and test requires closed-loop simulation using full-scale avionics systems or even entire vehicles. Incorporation of simulation data into real systems is problematic because real system sensors report the real...

Briefs: Aerospace
Method of Performing Computational Aeroelastic Analyses

When designing aerodynamic structures, it is important to understand if, and under what aerodynamic conditions, the structure will be stable and unstable. This is especially true if a structure is inherently flexible, such as a wing, where unstable response leads to oscillations of the...

Briefs: Aerospace
Graphical Acoustic Liner Design and Analysis Tool

The Interactive Liner Impedance Analysis and Design (ILIAD) tool is a software package used to design the composite surface impedance of an acoustic liner using resonant channels. ILIAD’s graphical user interface allows the acoustic channel geometry to be drawn in the liner volume while the...

Briefs: Aerospace
Open Vehicle Sketch Pad

The conceptual aircraft designer is faced with a dilemma on how to strike the best balance between productivity and fidelity. Attempts have been made to use computer-aided design packages to fill this void, but their cost and steep learning curve have made them unwieldy at best. Open Vehicle Sketch Pad (OpenVSP.org) has...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Thermal Spraying of Coatings Using Resonant Pulsed Combustion

Thermal spray coating is not a new process. There are different techniques utilized that depend on the objective function of the coating, the environment to which the coated piece will be subjected, and the coating material used. In any application, quality is ultimately measured by...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Plasma Treatments to Assist Fluid Manipulation in Microgravity

A recent innovation has made manipulation of hazardous laboratory reagents in microgravity easier, thus enabling even more scientific research to be performed on the International Space Station (ISS). Prior to this innovation, moving fluids from container to container was performed...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping

For many years, stencil printing has been the standard method of depositing solder paste on surface mount assembly printed circuit boards (PCBs). It has provided a durable method of applying solder...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
In-Situ Mixing, Degassing, Decavitation, and Extrusion Modules for Fused Deposition Modeling 3D Printers

Additively manufactured 3D articles of certain high-temperature polymer composites such as ULTEM 1000 reinforced with chopped carbon fibers and printed by current state-of-the-art Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) printers, suffer significantly...

Briefs: Information Technology
DRAT: A Distributed Release Audit Tool

DRAT software overcomes limitations inherent in the Apache Release Audit Tool (RAT), and also brings code auditing and open-source license analysis into the realm of Big Data by using scalable, open-source Apache technologies. Distributed RAT (DRAT) leverages Apache Tika to automatically detect and classify...

Briefs: Information Technology
Graphical Input-Output Visualization Tool for DAVE-ML Models

Adopters of the AIAA/ANSI Standard S119, “Flight Dynamics Model Exchange Standard,” are required to deal with models encoded using DAVE-ML, an XML grammar. While examining the model via a text editor, the ability to visualize nonlinear mappings between input and output signals is...

Briefs: Software
Synchronization and Visualization of Arbitrary Streams (SAVORS)

The purpose of SAVORS is to supercharge the command-line tools already used by administrators with powerful visualizations that help them understand the output much more rapidly and with far greater scalability across systems. SAVORS not only supports the output of existing...

Briefs: Information Technology
Using a Moderate Ionospheric Storm Detector to Improve WAAS Availability

The Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) broadcasts information that allows users to bound the positioning error that arises from ionospheric delay of signals emitted by Global Positioning System satellites. A critical objective of WAAS is to make ionospheric grid delays...

Briefs: Information Technology
JLAB Tracking Tool (JTRAK)

The JLAB Tracking Tool (JTRAK) is a Web-enabled database tool designed to automate the tracking of James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Integrated Ground Support System (IGSS) and Integrated Test Support System (ITSS) configured items. These configured items consist of IGSS and ITSS equipment and materials; hardware and...

Briefs: Information Technology
Orbital Mechanics Simulation Program for Educational Outreach

AJava software program was developed that provides a solar system simulation, demonstrating the application of calculus to understanding and modeling how the real universe operates. The program can be modified by the user to study various changes in physical properties, and software...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Thermal Cycle Qualification of Radiated Solar Arrays for 50 to 133 K Temperatures in Vacuum

Solar arrays (radiated or non-radiated) and other technologies are candidate materials for projects in JPL. Some of the projects need to qualify these potential technologies to cryogenic extreme temperatures (from 133 to 50 K or lower). Those technologies...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Downhole Regolith Interrogation with Helium-Assisted Drill and Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy

It is of great interest to the scientific community to have the ability to analyze drilled boreholes in situ on the surfaces of the Moon and Mars. The goal of this work was to design and fabricate a Downhole Regolith Interrogation with...

Briefs: Imaging

Optical indexing wheels, sometimes called “filter wheels,” are used to locate various optics or filters in a beam path to change the observational mode. Large wheels a half-meter in size...

Briefs: Imaging
Web-Based Search Service to Support Imaging Spectrometer Instrument Operations

Imaging spectrometers yield rich and informative data products, but interpreting them demands time and expertise. There is a continual need for new algorithms and methods for rapid firstdraft analyses to assist analysts during instrument operations. Intelligent data...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Hermetic Phototube Housing

This innovation is a hermetically sealed case or very small chamber. A photomultiplier tube (PMT) is mounted inside the chamber. The circuit board is also installed inside the chamber with appropriate feedthroughs for signals. An adapter/floating mount called the phototube to light pipe system mount (PLPSM) allows the...

Briefs: Imaging
Design, Fabrication, and Test of WFIRST/AFTA GRISM Assembly

This work originated with the Wide Field InfraRed Survey Telescope (WFIRST) slitless spectrometer design (GRISM assembly), which attempted to follow the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) method of employing a singleelement GRISM as a slitless spectroscope. However, WFIRST’s field of view...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Spinal Ultrasound Just-in-Time Training Tool

Back pain and injury are recognized risks that can affect the well-being and performance of crewmembers during missions, as well as their long-term health. Spine elongation is a documented effect of microgravity, back pain is a common occurrence in early flight, and the post-flight incidence of spinal...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Wide-Spectrum Organic Mass Spectrometer Using Far-Ultraviolet Ionization

Two-step laser desorption/photoionization mass spectrometry (L2MS) represents a powerful tool for the organic analysis of astromaterials. The technique has high sensitivity and requires little to no sample preparation.

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

The distributed engine controls (DEC) task seeks to investigate the capabilities of a distributed network for aircraft engine controls. Traditional aircraft engine control systems use analog systems to...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Iris DSN-Compatible, CubeSat-Compatible Transponder

No CubeSat-compatible, Deep Space Network (DSN)-compatible communications and navigation transponder exists at the time of this reporting. In order for CubeSats and other small spacecraft to go into deep space, a DSN-compatible capability is needed.

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

Modern avionics permit user interfaces on spacecraft to be performed on computer screens instead of with physical controls. This saves a great...

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