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 : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Dual-Compartment Inflatable Suitlock

A paper discusses a dual-compartment inflatable suitlock (DCIS) for Extra-vehicular Activity (EVA) that will allow for dust control, suit maintenance, and efficient EVA egress/ingress. The expandable (inflatable technologies) aspect of the design will allow the unit to stow in a compact package for...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Techniques for Solution-Assisted Optical Contacting

A document discusses a “solutionassisted contacting” technique for optical contacting. An optic of surface flatness Lambda/20 was successfully contacted with one of “moderate” surface quality, or Lambda/4. Optics used were both ultra-low expansion (ULE) glass (Lambda/4 and Lambda/20)...

Briefs : Materials
Large-Strain Transparent Magnetoactive Polymer Nanocomposites

A document discusses polymer nanocomposite superparamagnetic actuators that were prepared by the addition of organically modified superparamagnetic nanoparticles to the polymer matrix. The nanocomposite films exhibited large deformations under a magnetostatic field with a low loading...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Thermodynamic Vent System for an On-Orbit Cryogenic Reaction Control Engine

A report discusses a cryogenic reaction control system (RCS) that integrates a Joule-Thompson (JT) device (expansion valve) and thermodynamic vent system (TVS) with a cryogenic distribution system to allow fine control of the propellant quality (subcooled liquid) during...

Briefs : Information Technology
Time Distribution Using SpaceWire in the SCaN Testbed on ISS

A paper describes an approach for timekeeping and time transfer among the devices on the CoNNeCT project’s SCaN Testbed. It also describes how the clocks may be synchronized with an external time reference; e.g., time tags from the International Space Station (ISS) or RF signals...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Method of Bonding Optical Elements With Near-Zero Displacement

The International X-ray Project seeks to build an x-ray telescope using thousands of pieces of thin and flexible glass mirror segments. Each mirror segment must be bonded into a housing in nearly perfect optical alignment without distortion. Forces greater than 0.001 Newton, or...

Photonics Tech Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Optical Phase Recovery and Locking in a PPM Laser Communication Link

Free-space optical communication holds great promise for future space missions requiring high data rates. For data communication in deep space, the current architecture employs pulse position modulation (PPM). In this scheme, the light is transmitted and detected as pulses...

Photonics Tech Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Reliable Optical Pump Architecture for Highly Coherent Lasers Used in Space Metrology Applications

The design and initial demonstration of a laser pump module (LPM) incorporating single-mode, grating-stabilized 808- nm diode lasers and a low-loss, high-port-count optical combiner are completed. The purpose of the developed LPM is to reliably...

Photonics Tech Briefs : Physical Sciences
Method to Enhance the Operation of an Optical Inspection Instrument Using Spatial Light Modulators

For many aspheric and freeform optical components, existing interferometric solutions require a custom computer-generated hologram (CGH) to characterize the part. The overall objective of this research is to develop hardware and a procedure to...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
High-Speed Edge-Detecting Line Scan Smart Camera

A high-speed edge-detecting line scan smart camera was developed. The camera is designed to operate as a component in a NASA Glenn Research Center developed inlet shock detection system. The inlet shock is detected by projecting a laser sheet through the airflow. The shock within the airflow is...

Photonics Tech Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Downsampling Photodetector Array With Windowing

In a photon counting detector array, each pixel in the array produces an electrical pulse when an incident photon on that pixel is detected. Detection and demodulation of an optical communication signal that modulated the intensity of the optical signal requires counting the number of photon...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Optical Communications Channel Combiner

NASA has identified deep-space optical communications links as an integral part of a unified space communication network in order to provide data rates in excess of 100 Mb/s. The distances and limited power inherent in a deep-space optical downlink necessitate the use of photon-counting detectors and a...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Development of Thermal Infrared Sensor To Supplement Operational Land Imager

The thermal infrared sensor (TIRS) is a quantum well infrared photodetector (QWIP)-based instrument intended to supplement the Operational Land Imager (OLI) for the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM). The TIRS instrument is a far-infrared imager operating in the...

Briefs : Lighting
Full-Scale, Self-Emissive, Blue and Green Microdisplays Based on Micro-LED Arrays

These displays could play crucial roles in ultra-portable products such as next-generation pico-projectors and in emerging fields such as biophotonics and optogenetics.

Texas Tech University and III-N Technology, Inc., Lubbock, TX,
Briefs : Lighting
Controlling the Composition and Structure of Nanowires for LED Applications

Nanowires — microscopic fibers that can be “grown” in a lab — have a variety of potential applications, including LEDs and sensors. A team of MIT researchers has found a way of precisely controlling the width and composition of these tiny strands as they grow,...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Gas Composition Sensing Using Carbon Nanotube Arrays

This innovation is a lightweight, small sensor for inert gases that consumes a relatively small amount of power and provides measurements that are as accurate as conventional approaches. The sensing approach is based on generating an electrical discharge and measuring the specific gas...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Computational Ghost Imaging for Remote Sensing

This work relates to the generic problem of remote active imaging; that is, a source illuminates a target of interest and a receiver collects the scattered light off the target to obtain an image. Conventional imaging systems consist of an imaging lens and a high-resolution detector array [e.g., a...

Briefs : Software
Dispersed Fringe Sensing Analysis — DFSA

Dispersed Fringe Sensing (DFS) is a technique for measuring and phasing segmented telescope mirrors using a dispersed broadband light image. DFS is capable of breaking the monochromatic light ambiguity, measuring ab solute piston errors between segments of large segmented primary mirrors to tens of...

Briefs : Information Technology
Model-Based Method for Sensor Validation

Fault detection, diagnosis, and prognosis are essential tasks in the operation of autonomous spacecraft, instruments, and in situ platforms. One of NASA’s key mission requirements is robust state estimation. Sensing, using a wide range of sensors and sensor fusion approaches, plays a central role in...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Indium Tin Oxide Resistor-Based Nitric Oxide Microsensors

A sensitive resistor-based NO microsensor, with a wide detection range and a low detection limit, has been developed. Semiconductor microfabrication techniques were used to create a sensor that has a simple, robust structure with a sensing area of 1.10 × 0.99 mm. A Pt interdigitated...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Sensor for Boundary Shear Stress in Fluid Flow

The formation of scour patterns at bridge piers is driven by the forces at the boundary of the water flow. In most experimental scour studies, indirect processes have been applied to estimate the shear stress using measured velocity profiles. The estimations are based on theoretical models and...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Qualification of Engineering Camera for Long-Duration Deep Space Missions

Qualification and verification of advanced electronic packaging and interconnect technologies, and various other types of hardware elements for the Mars Exploration Rover’s Spirit and Opportunity (MER)/Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) flight projects, has been performed to...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Remotely Powered Reconfigurable Receiver for Extreme Environment Sensing Platforms

Wireless sensors connected in a local network offer revolutionary exploration capabilities, but the current solutions do not work in extreme environments of low temperatures (200K) and low to moderate radiation levels (

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Bump Bonding Using Metal-Coated Carbon Nanotubes

Bump bonding hybridization techniques use arrays of indium bumps to electrically and mechanically join two chips together. Surface-tension issues limit bump sizes to roughly as wide as they are high. Pitches are limited to 50 microns with bumps only 8–14 microns high on each wafer. A new process...

Briefs : Software
'In Situ' Mosaic Brightness Correction

In situ missions typically have pointable, mast-mounted cameras, which are capable of taking panoramic mosaics comprised of many individual frames. These frames are mosaicked together. While the mosaic software applies radiometric correction to the images, in many cases brightness/contrast seams still exist...

Briefs : Software
Simplex GPS and InSAR Inversion Software

Changes in the shape of the Earth’s surface can be routinely measured with precisions better than centimeters. Processes below the surface often drive these changes and as a result, investigators require models with inversion methods to characterize the sources. Simplex inverts any combination of GPS...

Briefs : Software
Virtual Machine Language 2.1

VML (Virtual Machine Language) is an advanced computing environment that allows spacecraft to operate using mechanisms ranging from simple, timeoriented sequencing to advanced, multicomponent reactive systems.

Briefs : Software
Multi-Scale Three- Dimensional Variational Data Assimilation System for Coastal Ocean Prediction

A multi-scale three-dimensional variational data assimilation system (MS-3DVAR) has been formulated and the associated software system has been developed for improving high-resolution coastal ocean prediction. This system helps improve coastal ocean...

Briefs : Software
Pandora Operation and Analysis Software

Pandora Operation and Analysis Software controls the Pandora Sun- and sky-pointing optical head and built-in filter wheels (neutral density, UV bandpass, polarization filters, and opaque). The software also controls the attached spectrometer exposure time and thermoelectric cooler to maintain the...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Processing of Nanosensors Using a Sacrificial Template Approach

A new microsensor fabrication approach has been demonstrated based upon the use of nanostructures as templates. The fundamental idea is that existing nanostructures, such as carbon nanotubes or biological structures, have a material structure that can be used advantageously in order...