Tech Briefs

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 : Information Technology
Secure Peer-to-Peer Networks for Scientific Information Sharing

The most common means of remote scientific collaboration today includes the trio of e-mail for electronic communication, FTP for file sharing, and personalized Web sites for dissemination of papers and research results. With the growth of broadband Internet, there has been a desire...

Briefs : Information Technology
High-Rate Data-Capture for an Airborne Lidar System

A high-rate data system was required to capture the data for an airborne lidar system. A data system was developed that achieved up to 22 million (64-bit) events per second sustained data rate (1408 million bits per second), as well as short bursts (

Briefs : Information Technology
Multiplexer/Demultiplexer Loading Tool (MDMLT)

The purpose of the MDMLT is to improve the reliability and speed of loading multiplexers/ demultiplexers (MDMs) in the Software Development and Integration Laboratory (SDIL) by automating the configuration management (CM) of the loads in the MDMs, automating the loading procedure, and providing the...

Briefs : Information Technology
Foam-on-Tile Damage Model

An impact model was developed to predict how three specific foam types would damage the Space Shuttle Orbiter insulating tiles. The inputs needed for the model are the foam type, the foam mass, the foam impact velocity, the foam impact incident angle, the type being impacted, and whether the tile is new or aged (has...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Instrument Package Manipulation Through the Generation and Use of an Attenuated-Fluent Gas Fold

This document discusses a technique that provides a means for suspending large, awkward loads, instrument packages, components, and machinery in a stable, controlled, and precise manner. In the baseplate of the test machine, a pattern of grooves and...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Multicolor Detectors for Ultrasensitive Long-Wave Imaging Cameras

A document describes a zeptobolometer for ultrasensitive, long-wavelength sensors. GSFC is developing pixels based on the zeptobolometer design that sense three THz wavelengths simultaneously.

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Electro-Optic Segment- Segment Sensors for Radio and Optical Telescopes

A document discusses an electro-optic sensor that consists of a collimator, attached to one segment, and a quad diode, attached to an adjacent segment. Relative segment-segment motion causes the beam from the collimator to move across the quad diode, thus generating a...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Optical Communications Receiver

Specialized mixed-signal (radio frequency and digital) hardware and processing techniques are employed to enable processing of the multi-GHz signal bandwidth, along with the instruction of an inter-symbol guard time (ISGT) to facilitate synchronization to the received pulse-position modulation (PPM) signal.

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Low-Noise, Large-Area Quad Photoreceivers Based on Low-Capacitance Quad Photodiodes

The Laser Interferometry Space Antenna’s (LISAs) scientific mission to detect gravity waves demands stringent noise limits on the system components, especially the large-area quad photoreceiver front end, for ultra-high-precision (≈10 pm/Hz1/2)...

Briefs : Information Technology
Wavefront Sensing Analysis of Grazing Incidence Optical Systems

Wavefront sensing is a process by which optical system errors are deduced from the aberrations in the image of an ideal source. The method has been used successfully in near-normal incidence, but not for grazing incidence systems. This innovation highlights the ability to examine...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
RxGen General Optical Model Prescription Generator

RxGen is a prescription generator for JPL’s in-house optical modeling software package called MACOS (Modeling and Analysis for Controlled Optical Systems), which is an expert optical analysis software package focusing on modeling optics on dynamic structures, deformable optics, and controlled...

Briefs : Lighting
Micro-Cavity Arrays

It was not too long ago that basic science lectures began with the three forms of matter: gases, liquids and solids—and somewhere along the line plasmas were occasionally added to the list. But to be precise, a plasma is an ionized gas; thus, a subset of the big three. But this subset has coexisted with the other forms...

Briefs : Lighting
Retail Merchandise Tracking System

Looking for an item in a large department store or mall can be like searching for a needle in a haystack, but that could change thanks to a hybrid location identification system that uses radio frequency transmitters and overhead LED lights, suggested by a team of researchers from Penn State and Hallym...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Optical Comb From a Whispering Gallery Mode Resonator for Spectroscopy and Astronomy Instruments Calibration

The most accurate astronomical data is available from space-based observations that are not impeded by the Earth’s atmosphere. Such measurements may require spectral samples taken as long as decades apart, with the 1 cm/s velocity...

Briefs : Software
Techniques for Down-Sampling a Measured Surface Height Map for Model Validation

This software allows one to down-sample a measured surface map for model validation, not only without introducing any re-sampling errors, but also eliminating the existing measurement noise and measurement errors.

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Mirror Metrology Using Nano-Probe Supports

Thin, lightweight mirrors are needed for future x-ray space telescopes in order to increase x-ray collecting area while maintaining a reduced mass and volume capable of being launched on existing rockets. However, it is very difficult to determine the undistorted shape of such thin mirrors because the...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Automated Lab-on-a-Chip Electrophoresis System

Capillary electrophoresis is an analytical technique that can be used to detect and quantify extremely small amounts of various biological molecules. In the search for biochemical traces of life on other planets, part of this search involves an examination of amino acids, which are the building...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Multi-Component, Multi-Point Interferometric Rayleigh/Mie Doppler Velocimeter

An interferometric Rayleigh scattering system was developed to enable the measurement of multiple, orthogonal velocity components at several points within very-high-speed or high-temperature flows. The velocity of a gaseous flow can be optically measured by sending...

Briefs : Information Technology
Real-Time Flight Envelope Monitoring System

The objective of this effort was to show that real-time aircraft control-surface hinge-moment information could be used to provide a robust and reliable prediction of vehicle performance and control authority degradation. For a given airfoil section with a control surface — be it a wing with an...

Briefs : Software
Nemesis Autonomous Test System

A generalized framework has been developed for systems validation that can be applied to both traditional and autonomous systems. The framework consists of an automated test case generation and execution system called Nemesis that rapidly and thoroughly identifies flaws or vulnerabilities within a system. By...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Glovebox for GeoLab Subsystem in HDU1-PEM

The GeoLab glovebox was designed to enable the preliminary examination, by astronauts, of geological samples collected from the surface of another planetary body. The collected information would then aid scientists in making decisions about sample curation and prioritization for return to Earth for...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Modified Process Reduces Porosity When Soldering in Reduced Gravity Environments

A modified process yields lower levels of internal porosity for solder joints produced in reduced-gravity environments. The process incorporates both alternative materials and a modified procedure. The process provides the necessary cleaning action to enable...

Briefs : Materials
Three Dimensionally Interlinked, Dense, Solid Form of Single-Walled CNT Ropes

A 3D networked, dense form of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNT) has been made through isotropic shrinking of a gel-like SWNT-water paste by very slow evaporation. Approximately 35 g of Raw HiPco nanotubes were cleaned by the method of soft baking (250 °C for 15...

Briefs : Materials
Flexible Plug Repair for Shuttle Wing Leading Edge

In response to the Columbia Accident Investigation Board report, a plug repair kit has been developed to enable astronauts to repair the space shuttle’s wing leading edge (WLE) during orbit. The plug repair kit consists of several 17.78-cm-diameter carbon/ silicon carbide (C/SiC) cover plates...

Briefs : Materials
Use of Functionalized Carbon Nanotubes for Covalent Attachment of Nanotubes to Silicon

The purpose of the invention is to covalently attach functionalized carbon nanotubes to silicon. This step allows for the introduction of carbon nanotubes onto all manner of silicon surfaces, and thereby introduction of carbon nanotubes covalently into...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Magnetic Interface for Segmented Mirror Assembly

Newly developed magnetic devices are used to create an interface between adjacent mirror segments so that once assembled, aligned, and phased, the multiple segments will behave functionally equivalent to a monolithic aperture mirror. One embodiment might be a kinematic interface that is reversible...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Axel Robotic Platform for Crater and Extreme Terrain Exploration

To be able to conduct science investigations on highly sloped and challenging terrains, it is necessary to deploy science payloads to such locations and collect and process in situ samples. A tethered robotic platform has been developed that is capable of exploring very challenging...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Transpiration-Cooled Spacecraft-Insulation-Repair Fasteners

Transpiration-cooled fasteners are proposed that operate like an open-loop heat pipe (self-tapping screws, bolts, and spikes) for use in on-orbit repair of thermal-insulation of a space shuttle or other spacecraft. By limiting the temperature rise of such a fastener and of the adjacent...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Site Tamper and Material Plow Tool — STAMP

A non-actuated tool has been developed for preparing regolith for in situ measurement by smoothing uneven surfaces and excavating fresher subsurface material for planetary exploration. The STAMP tool contains two tools to prepare regolith for in situ measurement: a tamper to smooth uneven surfaces,...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Fluorescence-Based Sensor for Monitoring Activation of Lunar Dust

This sensor unit is designed to determine the level of activation of lunar dust or simulant particles using a fluorescent technique. Activation of the surface of a lunar soil sample (for instance, through grinding) should produce a freshly fractured surface. When these reactive...

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