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: Aerospace
Direct Multiple Shooting Optimization with Variable Problem Parameters

Solving complex trajectory problems optimally is of vital importance to the success of future aerospace programs. Trajectory optimization research has been divided into two main categories: indirect methods and direct methods. Both methodologies have been tested and...

Briefs: Aerospace
Constructing Composite Response Surfaces for Aircraft

The design of aerodynamic components of aircraft, such as wings or engines, involves a process of obtaining the optimal component shape that can deliver the desired level of component performance, subject to various constraints, e.g., total weight or cost. Aerodynamic design can be formulated...

Briefs: Communications

When NASA and other agencies send landers to Mars and other planets, they rely on existing orbiters to relay the data during the critical entry, descent, and landing (EDL) phase. The current orbiters are aging and there...

Briefs: Aerospace
Digitally Steered Phased Antenna Array for GPS Applications

GPS signals are sparse and weak at high altitudes above the GPS constellation; this includes GEO and HEO orbit regimes. Spacecraft operating here need a high-sensitivity receiver capable of acquiring and tracking these weak signals throughout their orbits. Most space GPS receivers are...

Briefs: Aerospace
Broadband Circularly Polarized Antenna Array for Mars Rover Direct-to-Earth Communications

Mars rovers and other landers typically use UHF relay to return their science and engineering data to Earth. Direct-To-Earth (DTE) communications are typically used for commanding. If future UHF relay capability becomes diminished, Mars landers may be...

Briefs: Aerospace
Robust, Low-Density Parity- Check Decoder Design to Mitigate Pulsed Radio Frequency Interference

Low-Density Parity-Check (LDPC) codes are a class of forward error correction (FEC) linear block codes that provide near-capacity performance for power-efficient communications. Optimum decoding requires accurate combining ratio estimation to scale...

Briefs: Software
Ensemble

Success in mission operations relies on achieving consensus amongst a wide variety of personnel with diverse backgrounds and education. Previously, NASA missions relied on disparate tools with a variety of inconsistent interfaces. These tools greatly influence how members of the mission communicate with each other, increasing confusion...

Briefs: Information Technology
Fast Block Transforms on Large Binary Datasets in the Cloud Using Hadoop Streaming

A software framework on top of Hadoop Streaming enables both the processing of binary data in the cloud, and the freedom for the developer to implement his or her mapper and reducer programs in any language, rather than re-implementing existing solutions in Java,...

Briefs: Information Technology
Mars Science Laboratory Frame Manager

One of the highly desired enhancements to the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) and Phoenix flight missions was the centralized coordinate transform database maintained onboard. Without the database, there are quite a few operations that require cumbersome, error-prone manual calculations on the ground such as...

Briefs: Software
SIVO-PyD: A Python Distribution for Scientific Computing Visualization

SIVO-PyD gathers and automatically installs (in various computing platforms) a collection of Python-related packages for scientific computing and visualization. All of the packages in distribution are accessible within the Python framework. The distribution is self-contained...

Briefs: Information Technology
Formal Validation of Model-Based Fault Management Design Solutions

Model-Based System Engineering is becoming widely adopted at JPL and in industry because model-centric systems introduce improved methods of system engineering. As systems with ever-increasing complexity are developed at JPL, model-centric engineering be comes essential for...

Briefs: Software
Development of Free Molecule Flow Equations from a Transient, Asymmetric Source

The analysis and simulation of gases expanding from sources such as rocket nozzles into vacuum, or the effects plumes from these sources create when they interact with solid surfaces, present a considerable challenge to the scientific and engineering communities. As...

Briefs: Information Technology
iPhone App to Facilitate Airborne Radar Operations

The Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR) is an Earth imaging radar that flies on a Gulf-Stream Jet. Its mission is to collect data for NASA scientists who are using Synthetic Aperture Radar to develop methods for monitoring changes in the Earth’s surface. As with many...

Briefs: Information Technology
Spherical Empirical Mode Decomposition

The spherical empirical mode decomposition algorithm is an adaptation in the spherical space of the 2D empirical mode decomposition in Euclidian space. This algorithm is a signal analysis method for any spherical data, such as orbital measurements. The two primary advantages of this innovation are the...

Briefs: Information Technology
Database Design for Storing Software Entity Metadata, User Identification, and License Terms

The NASA Space Telecommunications Radio System (STRS) specification cites a plan for an application repository, similar to an “app store,” but with a wide variety of licensing restrictions on access to different applications, and even different parts...

Briefs: Information Technology
Geometry Manipulation Protocol for CFD Applications, V1.0

Geometry Manipulation Protocol (GMP) is a library that serializes data types between XML and ANSI C data structures to support computational fluid dynamics (CFD) applications. This library currently provides a description of geometric configurations, general moving-body scenarios...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping

Manufacturers in the process industries need to adjust to smaller batches and different types of product in the same plant. Plants based on the “Lego principle”...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Electrochemically Enhanced Mechanical Polishing of Optics

Optical component fabrication using metals or ceramic materials involves many grinding and/or machining and polishing steps to achieve the proper form to the tolerances of imaging or photonic focusing instruments. These instruments range from infrared sensors, through visible and...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Expendable Cooling System for Venus Lander Concept

This innovation is a concept for a novel thermal architecture that would enable a day-long surface mission on Venus. A Venus lander mission could last much longer than a few hours on the surface of the planet by absorbing heat from the Venus environment, and from the electronics within the...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Rapid Quench Furnace for Processing Powder in an Inert Environment

Ongoing work in the development and characterization of sensory materials requires the development of shape memory alloy (SMA) powder or particles. These are embedded in structural material so that the progression of localized damage that occurs during fatigue crack growth will...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control

The Centaur 2 (C2) platform is a compact vehicle with four independently steered and actuated wheel pods, allowing the vehicle to pivot in place and tilt in two directions. It is designed to...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control

Deep space missions, like the ones going to outer planets and those that rely on solar photovoltaic power, need extremely large solar arrays to produce that power for...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping

Existing technologies [Loop Heat Pipe (LHP) and passive Thermal Control Valve (TCV)] are integrated and made to work together to provide a passive variable thermal link. The...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Low-Cost Solar-Simulated Radiometric Calibration Source

An integrating sphere is a spherical shell that has its internal wall coated with a highly reflective, diffuse scattering material. It typically includes both entrance and exit ports where illumination sources and light monitoring sensors are added to produce a well-known uniform light...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition

Future cryogenic far-infrared (IR) missions will require moderate-resolution far-IR spectrometers operating at the photon background limit. Full utilization of these facilities requires...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Nanosensors for Medical Diagnosis

Many diseases are accompanied by characteristic odors, and their recognition can provide diagnostic clues, guide the laboratory evaluation, and affect the choice of immediate therapy. The study of the chemical composition in human breath using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) has shown a correlation...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Passive Voice-Enabled RFID Devices

Radio-Frequency IDentification (RFID) is a technology that provides automatic identification of objects, and relies on storing and remotely retrieving data using devices called RFID tags or transponders. The RFID tag is an object that can be applied to and/or incorporated into a product, animal, or person for...

Briefs: Materials
Lightweight, Flexible, Energy-Manageable Polymer Nanocomposites

Solar energy has attracted keen attention because it is a unique, clean, and sustainable energy resource. It is also widely utilized as a power source in space exploration. A lightweight, durable, deployable, and highly efficient all polymer-based solar power panel was developed...

Briefs: Materials
Nanocomposites for Radiation Shielding

Currently, lead and lead-based materials are used to fabricate shields not only for X-rays, but also for other types of radiation. With the growing environmental concern about the toxicity of lead, and the high costs associated with transporting heavy lead-based shields in spacecraft, alternatives are...

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