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 : Software
MATLAB Stability and Control Toolbox Trim and Static Stability Module

MATLAB Stability and Control Toolbox (MASCOT) utilizes geometric, aerodynamic, and inertial inputs to calculate air vehicle stability in a variety of critical flight conditions. The code is based on fundamental, non-linear equations of motion and is able to translate results...

Briefs : Software
Patched Conic Trajectory Code

PatCon code was developed to help mission designers run trade studies on launch and arrival times for any given planet. Initially developed in Fortran, the required inputs included launch date, arrival date, and other orbital parameters of the launch planet and arrival planets at the given dates. These parameters...

Briefs : Software
Ring Image Analyzer

Ring Image Analyzer software analyzes images to recognize elliptical patterns. It determines the ellipse parameters (axes ratio, centroid coordinate, tilt angle). The program attempts to recognize elliptical fringes (e.g., Newton Rings) on a photograph and determine their centroid position, the short-to-long-axis ratio, and...

Briefs : Software
SureTrak Probability of Impact Display

The SureTrak Probability of Impact Display software was developed for use during rocket launch operations. The software displays probability of impact information for each ship near the hazardous area during the time immediately preceding the launch of an unguided vehicle.

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Implementation of a Non-Metallic Barrier in an Electric Motor

Electric motors that run in pure oxygen must be sealed, or “canned,” for safety reasons to prevent the oxygen from entering into the electrical portion of the motor. The current canning process involves designing a metallic barrier around the rotor to provide the separation. This...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
MicroProbe Small Unmanned Aerial System

The MicroProbe unmanned aerial system (UAS) concept incorporates twin electric motors mounted on the vehicle wing, thus enabling an aerodynamically and environmentally clean nose area for atmospheric sensors. A payload bay is also incorporated in the fuselage to accommodate remote sensing instruments.

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator Heat Exchangers for the Mars Science Laboratory Rover

The addition of the Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG) to the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Rover requires an advanced thermal control system that is able to both recover and reject the waste heat from the MMRTG as...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Uniform Dust Distributor for Testing Radiative Emittance of Dust-Coated Surfaces

This apparatus distributes dust (typical of the Martian surface) in a uniform fashion on the surface of multiple samples simultaneously. The primary innovation is that the amount of dust deposited on the multiple surfaces can be controlled by the time that the...

Briefs : Materials
Highly Stable and Active Catalyst for Sabatier Reactions

Highly active Ru/TiO2 catalysts for Sabatier reaction have been developed. The catalysts have shown to be stable under repeated shutting down/startup conditions. When the Ru/TiO2 catalyst is coated on the engineered substrate FeCrAlY felt, activity enhancement is more...

Briefs : Materials
Better Proton-Conducting Polymers for Fuel-Cell Membranes

Polyoxyphenylene triazole sulfonic acid has been proposed as a basis for development of improved proton-conducting polymeric materials for solidelectrolyte membranes in hydrogen/air fuel cells. Heretofore, the proton-conducting membrane materials of choice have been exemplified by a...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
SOFIA Closed- and Open-Door Aerodynamic Analyses

Work to evaluate the aerodynamic characteristics and the cavity acoustic environment of the SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) airplane has been completed. The airplane has been evaluated in its closed-door configuration, as well as several open-door configurations (see...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Ultra-Miniature Lidar Scanner for Launch Range Data Collection

The most critical component in lidar is its laser scanner, which delivers pulsed or CW laser to target with desirable field of view (FOV). Most existing lidars use a rotating or oscillating mirror for scanning, resulting in several drawbacks.

Briefs : Physical Sciences
CCD Camera Lens Interface for Real-Time Theodolite Alignment

Theodolites are a common instrument in the testing, alignment, and building of various systems ranging from a single optical component to an entire instrument. They provide a precise way to measure horizontal and vertical angles. They can be used to align multiple objects in a desired...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Peregrine 100-km Sounding Rocket Project

The Peregrine Sounding Rocket Program is a joint basic research program of NASA Ames Research Center, NASA Wallops, Stanford University, and the Space Propulsion Group, Inc. (SPG). The goal is to determine the applicability of this technology to a small launch system. The approach is to design, build, and...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Sonic Thermometer for High-Altitude Balloons

The sonic thermometer is a specialized application of well-known sonic anemometer technology. Adaptations have been made to the circuit, including the addition of supporting sensors, which enable its use in the high-altitude environment and in non-air gas mixtures.

Briefs : Information Technology
Explanation Capabilities for Behavior-Based Robot Control

A recent study that evaluated issues associated with remote interaction with an autonomous vehicle within the framework of grounding found that missing contextual information led to uncertainty in the interpretation of collected data, and so introduced errors into the command logic of the...

Briefs : Information Technology
Shape and Color Features for Object Recognition Search

A bio-inspired shape feature of an object of interest emulates the integration of the saccadic eye movement and horizontal layer in vertebrate retina for object recognition search where a single object can be used one at a time. The optimal computational model for shape-extraction-based...

Briefs : Information Technology
A DNA-Inspired Encryption Methodology for Secure, Mobile Ad Hoc Networks

Users are pushing for greater physical mobility with their network and Internet access. Mobile ad hoc networks (MANET) can provide an efficient mobile network architecture, but security is a key concern. The figure summarizes differences in the state of network security for...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Corner-Cube Retroreflector Instrument for Advanced Lunar Laser Ranging

A paper describes how, based on a structural-thermal-optical-performance analysis, it has been determined that a single, large, hollow corner cube (170-mm outer diameter) with custom dihedral angles offers a return signal comparable to the Apollo 11 and 14 solid-corner-cube...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Electrospray Collection of Lunar Dust

A report describes ElectroSpray Ionization based Electrostatic Pre cip itation (ESIEP) for collecting lunar dust particles. While some HEPA filtration processes may remove a higher fraction (>99.9 percent) of the particles, the high efficiency may not be appropriate from an overall system standpoint,...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Fabrication of a Kilopixel Array of Superconducting Microcalorimeters With Microstripline Wiring

A document describes the fabrication of a two-dimensional microcalorimeter array that uses microstrip wiring and integrated heat sinking to enable use of high-performance pixel designs at kilo - pixel scales (32×32). Each pixel is the...

Briefs : Information Technology
Spacecraft Attitude Tracking and Maneuver Using Combined Magnetic Actuators

A paper describes attitude-control algorithms using the combination of magnetic actuators with reaction wheel assemblies (RWAs) or other types of actuators such as thrusters. The combination of magnetic actuators with one or two RWAs aligned with different body axis...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Coherent Detector for Near-Angle Scattering and Polarization Characterization of Telescope Mirror Coatings

A report discusses the difficulty of measuring scattering properties of coated mirrors extremely close to the specular reflection peak. A prototype Optical Hetero - dyne Near-angle Scatterometer (OHNS) was developed. Light from a...

Briefs : Materials
Thin, Absorbent Skin Adhesive

An aging population and accompanying demand for wound dressing and stoma care technologies that provide better treatment than conventional techniques have prompted the medical adhesives industry to produce a new generation of product solutions. One recently proven technology is a highly breathable formulation with...

Briefs : Medical
Quality Control Method for a Micro-Nano-Channel Microfabricated Device

A variety of silicon-fabricated devices is used in medical applications such as drug and cell delivery, and DNA and protein separation and analysis. In applications such as drug delivery from implantable devices, the silicon device structure must have superior precision. In...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Controlling Heat Curing Adhesive Processes Using Infrared Spot Curing

Adhesives are often used as the joining compound between substrates in the medical device industry. Typical applications for adhesives include tube-to-connector bonding, steel-cannula-to-hub bonding, and any other joining process. Adhesives work particularly well in the...

Briefs : Medical
Precise Chemical Etching Method for Diamond Crystal Components

A new method developed at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) offers a precise way to engineer microscopic cuts in a diamond surface, yielding potential benefits in both measurement and technological fields.*

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
High-Speed Digital Interferometry

Digitally enhanced heterodyne interferometry (DI) is a laser metrology technique employing pseudo-random noise (PRN) codes phase-modulated onto an optical carrier. Combined with heterodyne interferometry, the PRN code is used to select individual signals, returning the inherent interferometric sensitivity...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Integrated Optics Achromatic Nuller for Stellar Interferometry

This innovation will replace a beam combiner, a phase shifter, and a mode conditioner, thus simplifying the system design and alignment, and saving weight and space in future missions. This nuller is a dielectric-waveguidebased, four-port asymmetric coupler. Its nulling performance...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Near-Infrared Photon-Counting Camera for High-Sensitivity Observations

The dark current of a transferred-electron photocathode with an InGaAs absorber, responsive over the 0.9-to-1.7-μm range, must be reduced to an ultralow level suitable for low signal spectral astrophysical measurements by lowering the temperature of the sensor incorporating...

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