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 : Software
MPST Software: MoonKommand

This software automatically processes Sally Ride Science (SRS) delivered MoonKAM camera control files (ccf) into uplink products for the GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B spacecraft as part of an education and public outreach (EPO) extension to the Grail Mission. Once properly validated and deemed safe for execution onboard the...

Briefs : Lighting
NASA Tests LED Lights in Plant Growth Experiments for Deep Space Missions

What kind of food will astronauts eat and what is the best way to grow it during deep space exploration missions? A group of plant biologists is seeking the answers as it works on one of NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) Habitation Projects at Kennedy Space...

Briefs : Lighting
Measurement Advance Using LEDs Could Speed Innovation in Solar Devices

A new versatile measurement system devised by researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) accurately and quickly measures the electric power output of solar energy devices, capabilities useful to researchers and manufacturers working to develop...

Briefs : Lighting
LED Technology Holds Most Promise To Save Energy and the Environment

Today's light-emitting diode light bulbs have a slight environmental edge over compact fluorescent lamps, and that gap is expected to grow significantly as technology and manufacturing methods improve in the next five years. So says a recent report from the Department of...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Low-Power Architecture for an Optical Life Gas Analyzer

Analog and digital electronic control architecture has been combined with an operating methodology for an optical trace gas sensor platform that allows very low power consumption while providing four independent gas measurements in essentially real time, as well as a user interface and...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Detection of Chemical Precursors of Explosives

Certain selected chemicals associated with terrorist activities are too unstable to be prepared in final form. These chemicals are often prepared as precursor components, to be combined at a time immediately preceding the detonation. One example is a liquid explosive, which usually requires an...

Briefs : Information Technology
Rugged, Portable, Real-Time Optical Gaseous Analyzer for Hydrogen Fluoride

Hydrogen fluoride (HF) is a primary evolved combustion product of fluorinated and perfluorinated hydrocarbons. HF is produced during combustion by the presence of impurities and hydrogen-containing polymers including polyimides. This effect is especially dangerous in...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
A Probabilistic Mass Estimation Algorithm for a Novel 7-Channel Capacitive Sample Verification Sensor

A document describes an algorithm created to estimate the mass placed on a sample verification sensor (SVS) designed for lunar or planetary robotic sample return missions. A novel SVS measures the capacitance between a rigid bottom plate and an...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Detecting Methane From Leaking Pipelines and as Greenhouse Gas in the Atmosphere

Laser remote sensing measurements of trace gases from orbit can provide unprecedented information about important planetary science and answer critical questions about planetary atmospheres. Methane (CH4) is the second most important anthropogenically...

Briefs : Information Technology
Onboard Sensor Data Qualification in Human-Rated Launch Vehicles

The avionics system software for human-rated launch vehicles requires an implementation approach that is robust to failures, especially the failure of sensors used to monitor vehicle conditions that might result in an abort determination. Sensor measurements provide the basis for...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Fabrication of Single Crystal MgO Capsules

A method has been developed for machining MgO crystal blocks into forms for containing metallic and silicate liquids at temperatures up to 2,400 ºC, and pressures up to at least 320 kilobars. Possible custom shapes include tubes, rods, insulators, capsules, and guides. Key differences in this...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Mars Aqueous Processing System

The goal of the Mars Aqueous Processing System (MAPS) is to establish a flexible process that generates multiple products that are useful for human habitation. Selectively extracting useful components into an aqueous solution, and then sequentially recovering individual constituents, can obtain a suite of refined...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Inflatable Hangar for Assembly of Large Structures in Space

The NASA Human Space Flight program is interested in projects where humans, beyond low-Earth orbit (LEO), can make an important and unique contribution that cannot be reasonably accomplished purely by robotic means, and is commensurate with the effort and cost associated with human...

Briefs : Materials
Tools to Prepare Aluminum Surfaces for Bonding

Bonding to aluminum can be a difficult task. Many engineers will search for a single and simple remedy in the form of a low-temperature adhesive for making structural joints without welding. A number of manufacturers offer adhesives intended to get the job done. VHB foam tapes have also been studied...

Briefs : Materials
Hybrid Filter Membrane

Cabin environmental control is an important issue for a successful Moon mission. Due to the unique environment of the Moon, lunar dust control is one of the main problems that significantly diminishes the air quality inside spacecraft cabins. Therefore, this innovation was motivated by NASA’s need to minimize the...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Design for the Structure and the Mechanics of Moballs

The moball is envisioned to be a round, self-powered, and wind-driven multifunctioning sensor used in the Gone with the Wind ON-Mars (GOWON) [http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/ marsconcepts2012/pdf/4238.pdf]: A Wind-Driven Networked System of Mobile sensors on Mars. The moballs would have...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Cascading Tesla Oscillating Flow Diode for Stirling Engine Gas Bearings

Replacing the mechanical check-valve in a Stirling engine with a micromachined, non-moving-part flow diode eliminates moving parts and reduces the risk of microparticle clogging.

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Pressure Dome for High-Pressure Electrolyzer

A high-strength, low-weight pressure vessel dome was designed specifically to house a high-pressure [2,000 psi (≈13.8 MPa)] electrolyzer. In operation, the dome is filled with an inert gas pressurized to roughly 100 psi (≈690 kPa) above the high, balanced pressure product oxygen and hydrogen gas...

Briefs : Medical
Wideband Single-Crystal Transducer for Bone Characterization

The microgravity conditions of space travel result in unique physiological demands on the human body. In particular, the absence of the continual mechanical stresses on the skeletal system that are present on Earth cause the bones to decalcify. Trabecular structure decreases in...

Briefs : Medical
Extreme Ionizing-Radiation-Resistant Bacterium

There is a growing concern that desiccation and extreme radiation-resistant, non-spore-forming microorganisms associated with spacecraft surfaces can withstand space environmental conditions and subsequent proliferation on another solar body. Such forward contamination would jeopardize future life...

Briefs : Medical
Fluorescence-Activated Cell Sorting of Live Versus Dead Bacterial Cells and Spores

This innovation is a coupled fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) and fluorescent staining technology for purifying (removing cells from sampling matrices), separating (based on size, density, morphology, and live versus dead), and concentrating cells...

Briefs : Medical
Nonhazardous Urine Pretreatment Method

A method combines solid phase acidification with two non-toxic biocides to prevent ammonia volatilization and microbial proliferation. The safe, nonoxidizing biocide combination consists of a quaternary amine and a food preservative. This combination has exhibited excellent stabilization of both acidified...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Ka-Band Waveguide Three-Way Serial Combiner for MMIC Amplifiers

In this innovation, the three-way combiner consists internally of two branchline hybrids that are connected in series by a short length of waveguide. Each branch-line hybrid is designed to combine input signals that are in phase with an amplitude ratio of two. The combiner is...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Low-Gain Circularly Polarized Antenna With Torus-Shaped Pattern

The Juno mission to Jupiter requires an antenna with a torus-shaped antenna pattern with approximately 6 dBic gain and circular polarization over the Deep Space Network (DSN) 7-GHz transmit frequency and the 8-GHz receive frequency. Given the large distances that accumulate en-route...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Laser-Ranging Transponders for Science Investigations of the Moon and Mars

An active laser was developed ranging in real-time with two terminals, emulating interplanetary distances, and with submillimeter accuracy. In order to overcome the limitations to ranging accuracy from jitters and delay drifts within the transponders, architecture was...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Structural Health Monitoring With Fiber Bragg Grating and Piezo Arrays

Structural health monitoring (SHM) is one of the most important tools available for the maintenance, safety, and integrity of aerospace structural systems. Lightweight, electromagnetic-interference- immune, fiber-optic sensor-based SHM will play an increasing role in more...

Briefs : Software
Stereo and IMU-Assisted Visual Odometry for Small Robots

This software performs two functions: (1) taking stereo image pairs as input, it computes stereo disparity maps from them by cross-correlation to achieve 3D (three-dimensional) perception; (2) taking a sequence of stereo image pairs as input, it tracks features in the image sequence to...

Briefs : Software
Global Swath and Gridded Data Tiling

This software generates cylindrically projected tiles of swath-based or gridded satellite data for the purpose of dynamically generating high-resolution global images covering various time periods, scaling ranges, and colors called “tiles.” It reconstructs a global image given a set of tiles covering a...

Briefs : Software
GOES-R: Satellite Insight

GOES-R: Satellite Insight seeks to bring awareness of the GOES-R (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite — R Series) satellite currently in development to an audience of all ages on the emerging medium of mobile games. The iPhone app (Satellite Insight) was created for the GOES-R Program. The app describes...

Briefs : Software
Aquarius iPhone Application

The Office of the CIO at JPL has developed an iPhone application for the Aquarius/SAC-D mission. The application includes specific information about the science and purpose of the Aquarius satellite and also features daily mission news updates pulled from sources at Goddard Space Flight Center as well as Twitter. The...

Question of the Week
Will Cooling Coatings Catch On?

Webcasts

Upcoming Webinars: Software

Using Simulation to Design Robust Adhesively Bonded Structures

Upcoming Webinars: Automotive

Electric-Vehicle Transmission Development and Simulation

Upcoming Webinars: Energy

Thermal Management Crisis: Knowing Your Passive Solution Options

Upcoming Webinars: Internet of Things

IoT’s Role in Today’s Transportation Systems

On-Demand Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping

Testing and Inspecting 3D-Printed Parts

On-Demand Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping

3D Printed Metals Are Not All the Same