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: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Method to Produce Copper Nanowires for Interconnect Applications

Copper replaced aluminum nearly two decades ago as interconnect material in integrated circuit manufacturing due to its better electrical conductivity. The size of the interconnect wire has been steadily decreasing as Moore’s law has been progressing through various feature size...

Briefs: Information Technology
Web Application: Ground Hardware Management Tool

An integrated ground support equipment (GSE) tracking and management tool is designed for tracking and managing GSE data used in support of KSC/Ground Systems Development and Operations (GSDO) planning and launch campaigns. This software (the Ground Hardware Management Tool, GHMT) will be fully...

Briefs: Information Technology

About 2.5 seconds after the launch of STS-114, the first Return to Flight launch after the Columbia accident, a large bird struck the external tank and fell into the exhaust plume. While this particular bird strike did not...

Briefs: Information Technology
Fully Implicit Ablation and Thermal Analysis Program, Version 3 (FIAT v3)

FIAT v3 simulates one-dimensional thermal energy transport through a multilayer stack of thermal protection materials, bonding materials, metallic or composite structures, air gaps, and/or insulations. The outer surface encounters aerothermal heating from hypersonic flow,...

Briefs: Information Technology
CFD Utility Software Library

Originating as the Aerodynamics Division Software Library of the 1980s and -90s, this software is a collection of more than 100 software applications, many of them for manipulating the grids and flow solutions associated with computational fluid dynamics (CFD). Underlying these applications are about 30 libraries...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Improved Detection of Kidney Stones Using S-mode Ultrasound

Ultrasound has been a useful tool in the detection of kidney stones. It is a low-cost solution that does not require ionizing radiation that would be harmful to vulnerable populations such as children and recurrent stone formers. However, it suffers from a broad range of sensitivity (78...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Vector Network Analyzer Calibration for Quasi-Optical Dual Ports

It is desirable to measure the electromagnetic properties of devices and materials in the millimeter part of the spectrum. For guided wave-based devices and materials (waveguides, coaxial devices), a vector network analyzer (VNA) is an excellent tool for this purpose since it...

Briefs: Test & Measurement

The measurement of structural properties of materials at cryogenic temperatures is a daunting task. The measurement of thin films at low temperatures...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Estimation of Algae Growth Stage, Growth Rate, and Lipid Content

This invention provides a method using light of different wavelengths to estimate freshwater and marine algae growth stage and algae growth rates as well as lipid content in standard media. Light absorption by the algae is measured for a specified light intensity in each of two or...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Isotopic Biomarkers for Rapid Assessment of Bone Mineral Balance in Biomedical Applications

Development of new treatments for metabolic bone disease, and evaluation of the effectiveness of existing therapies in individual patients, are severely hampered by the lack of any reliable tool for quickly measuring changes in bone mineral balance in...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Optically Modulated Miniature Magnetometer

The optically modulated miniature magnetometer (OMMM) is intended to replace two separate instruments (each with their respective mass and power allotments) that are commonly needed together for scientific studies of magnetic fields — a triaxial fluxgate vector magnetometer and an optically pumped...

Briefs: Imaging
Image Processing Software Environment (QuIP)

The QuIP interpreter is a software environment for QUick Image Processing that features an interactive scripting language designed to facilitate use by non-expert users through features such as context-sensitive automatic response completion. The package includes a number of script packages that...

Briefs: Imaging
CubeSat-Compatible, High-Resolution, Thermal Infrared Imager

A small, adaptable, and stable thermal imaging system was developed that can be flown on an aircraft, deployed on the International Space Station as an attached payload, launched on a ride-share as an entirely self-contained 3U CubeSat, flown on a small satellite, or be a co-manifested...

Briefs: Imaging

Frequency combs derived from optical microresonators are required to reach an octave in span. This is required for self-referencing a comb. Presently, the frequency...

Briefs: Imaging
NASA Vision Workbench (VWB)

VWB is a modular, extensible computer vision framework that supports tasks including automated science and engineering analysis, large satellite image processing, and 2D/3D environment reconstruction. The framework provides a rapid C++ development environment as well as a flexible, multi-platform system to deploy...

Briefs: Imaging
Flight Proving a Heliophysics Soft X-Ray Imager

The interaction between the solar wind and the Earth’s magneto - sphere results in “space weather.” To determine the true nature of the solar wind-magnetosphere interaction, scientists require global measurements of processes occurring at the bow shock, in the magnetosheath, and at the...

Briefs: Imaging
Intensity Interferometry Image Recovery

This software extends the well-known error-reduction Gerchberg-Saxton method to imaging of dark objects, assuming that such an object partially shadows a well-characterized thermal light source, while the shadow cannot be used for inferring the object’s shape. These assumptions are reasonable for a wide...

Briefs: Imaging
Cameras for All-Sky Meteor Surveillance (CAMS) Version 1.3

The CAMS system comprises a deployment of multiple narrow-field, low-light video cameras that completely covers the sky in a mosaic pattern from 30° elevation and above. Two or three such camera batteries separated by many kilometers allow for large atmospheric volume coverage, high...

Briefs: Imaging
Normalized Cross Correlation FPGA Implementation

A safe and precise landing system for Mars will match features seen in descent imagery against a map constructed from orbital imagery. The spacecraft attitude and altitude are known, but lateral position is known only poorly. From attitude and altitude, one can generate a mapping (homography) that...

Briefs: Imaging
Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis for Monitoring Hazards (ARIA-MH)

Space-based geodetic measurement techniques such as Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) and Continuous Global Positioning System (CGPS) are now critical elements in the toolset for monitoring earthquake-generating faults, volcanic eruptions, landslides, glacial...

Briefs: Imaging
Next-Generation Integrated Camera (NIC)

Design and fabrication of a modern, compact, highly modular, and extreme-environment-capable replacement have been proposed for the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) camera. This next-generation camera is based on a CMOS (complementary metal-oxidesemiconductor) imager rather than a CCD (charge-coupled device)...

Briefs: Imaging
Homography Warp Image FPGA Implementation

A landing system for Mars matches features seen in descent imagery against a map constructed from orbital imagery. The spacecraft attitude and altitude are known, but lateral position is known only poorly. From attitude and altitude, one can generate a mapping (homography) that allows the descent image...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

DC protection systems such as circuit breakers play a key enabling role for the DC power system in applications such as aviation, the power grid, and the like. Conventional...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Modular Propulsion and Deployment Electronics System

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) required an innovative and modular approach to the design and development of the electronics needed to control the propulsion and deployment components, as well as the electronics necessary to support safety inhibits for personnel and range requirements....

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
All-Organic Electroactive Device Fabricated with Single- Wall Carbon Nanotube Film Electrode

A novel, all-organic electroactive device system has been fabricated with a single-wall carbon nanotube (SWCNT) film used as an alternative electrode. This system was fabricated with LaRC-Electro Active Polymer (LaRC-EAP) active layer and the SWCNT films...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Purifying Hydrogen for a Life Support Process

NASA’s endeavor to further enable long-duration manned space exploration requires further closure of the oxygen loop of the life support system that is currently realized aboard the International Space Station. Currently, oxygen is recovered from crew-generated carbon dioxide via the use of a...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping

With the correct selection of composition, some bulk metallic glasses (BMGs) have been demonstrated that have excellent combinations of hardness, fracture...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Lunar Materials Handling System

A method was developed for transfer of lunar soil into and out of process equipment. The Lunar Materials Handling System (LMHS) conveys solids to a process vessel, provides a gas-tight seal, prevents seal contamination, and minimizes wear from abrasive particles. The LMHS increases equipment life and minimizes...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control

There are locations that are either too hazardous to land and gather data, or not practical to land. Also, data may need to be gathered from multiple (tens to hundreds) locations (sometimes at once). This...

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