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 : Lighting
Quantum Dot Light Enhancement Substrate

Acost-competitive solution for increasing the light extraction efficiency of organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) with efficient and stable color rendering index (CRI) for solid-state lighting (SSL) was developed and demonstrated. Solution processable quantum dot (QD) films were integrated into OLED...

Briefs : Lighting
Dark Red Luminescent Material for LEDs

The use of a material development method known as high-throughput experimentation (HTE), which allows for the screening of large composition areas of complex material systems, has led to the discovery of a dark red luminescent material for light-emitting diodes (LEDs). The new luminescent material can be...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Receiver Gain Modulation Circuit

A receiver gain modulation circuit (RGMC) was developed that modulates the power gain of the output of a radiometer receiver with a test signal. As the radiometer receiver switches between calibration noise references, the test signal is mixed with the calibrated noise and thus produces an ensemble set of...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
All-Solid-State 2.45-to-2.78-THz Source

Sources in the THz range are required in order for NASA to implement heterodyne instruments in this frequency range. The source that has been demonstrated here will be used for an instrument on the SOFIA platform as well as for upcoming astrophysics missions. There are currently no electronic sources in...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
CoNNeCT Baseband Processor Module

A document describes the CoNNeCT Baseband Processor Module (BPM) based on an updated processor, memory technology, and field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). The BPM was developed from a requirement to provide sufficient computing power and memory storage to conduct experiments for a Software Defined Radio...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
NEXUS Scalable and Distributed Next-Generation Avionics Bus for Space Missions

A paper discusses NEXUS, a common, next-generation avionics interconnect that is transparently compatible with wired, fiber-optic, and RF physical layers; provides a flexible, scalable, packet switched topology; is fault-tolerant with submicrosecond detection/recovery...

Briefs : Software
Space Environments Testbed

The Space Environments Testbed (SET) is a flight controller data system for the Common Carrier Assembly. The SET-1 flight software provides the command, telemetry, and experiment control to ground operators for the SET-1 mission. Modes of operation (see diagram) include:

Briefs : Software
Ndarts

Ndarts software provides algorithms for computing quantities associated with the dynamics of articulated, rigid-link, multibody systems. It is designed as a general- purpose dynamics library that can be used for the modeling of robotic platforms, space vehicles, molecular dynamics, and other such applications. The architecture and...

Briefs : Software
High-Performance 3D Articulated Robot Display

In the domain of telerobotic operations, the primary challenge facing the operator is to understand the state of the robotic platform. One key aspect of understanding the state is to visualize the physical location and configuration of the platform. As there is a wide variety of mobile robots, the...

Briefs : Software
'In Situ' Surface Characterization

Operation of in situ space assets, such as rovers and landers, requires operators to acquire a thorough understanding of the environment surrounding the spacecraft. The following programs help with that understanding by providing higherlevel information characterizing the surface, which is not immediately...

Briefs : Software
Athena

The Athena simulation software supports an analyst from DoD or other federal agency in making stability and reconstruction projections for operational analyses in areas like Iraq or Afghanistan. It encompasses the use of all elements of national power: diplomatic, information, military, and economic (DIME), and anticipates their effects...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Cryo-Etched Black Silicon for Use as Optical Black

Stray light reflected from the surface of imaging spectrometer components — in particular, the spectrometer slit — degrade the image quality. A technique has been developed for rapid, uniform, and cost-effective black silicon formation based on inductively coupled plasma (ICP) etching at...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Correcting Thermal Deformations in an Active Composite Reflector

Large, high-precision composite reflectors for future space missions are costly to manufacture, and heavy. An active composite reflector capable of adjusting shape in situ to maintain required tolerances can be lighter and cheaper to manufacture.

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Advanced CO₂ Removal and Reduction System

An advanced system for removing CO2 and H2O from cabin air, reducing the CO2, and returning the resulting O2 to the air is less massive than is a prior system that includes two assemblies — one for removal and one for reduction. Also, in this system, unlike...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Umbilical Deployment Device

The landing scheme for NASA’s next-generation Mars rover will encompass a novel landing technique (see figure). The rover will be lowered from a rocket-powered descent stage and then placed onto the surface while hanging from three bridles. Communication between the rover and descent stage will be maintained through...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Graph Theory Roots of Spatial Operators for Kinematics and Dynamics

Spatial operators have been used to analyze the dynamics of robotic multibody systems and to develop novel computational dynamics algorithms. Mass matrix factorization, inversion, diagonalization, and linearization are among several new insights obtained using such operators....

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Spacesuit Soft Upper Torso Sizing Systems

The passive sizing system consists of a series of low-profile pulleys attached to the front and back of the shoulder bearings on a spacesuit soft upper torso (SUT), textile cord or stainless steel cable, and a modified commercial ratchet mechanism. The cord/cable is routed through the pulleys and...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Space Mirror Alignment System

An optical alignment mirror mechanism (AMM) has been developed with angular positioning accuracy of ±0.2 arcsec. This requires the mirror’s linear positioning actuators to have positioning resolutions of ±112 nm to enable the mirror to meet the angular tip/tilt accuracy requirement. Demonstrated capabilities are...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Thermionic Power Cell To Harness Heat Energies for Geothermal Applications

A unit thermionic power cell (TPC) concept has been developed that converts natural heat found in high-temperature environments (460 to 700 ºC) into electrical power for in situ instruments and electronics. Thermionic emission of electrons occurs when an emitter filament...

Briefs : Medical
Radiation Protection Using Single-Wall Carbon Nanotube Derivatives

This invention is a means of radiation protection, or cellular oxidative stress mitigation, via a sequence of quenching radical species using nano-engineered scaffolds, specifically single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) and their derivatives. The material can be used as a means of...

Briefs : Medical
PMA-PhyloChip DNA Microarray To Elucidate Viable Microbial Community Structure

Since the Viking missions in the mid- 1970s, traditional culture-based methods have been used for microbial enumeration by various NASA programs. Viable microbes are of particular concern for spacecraft cleanliness, for forward contamination of extraterrestrial bodies...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Lidar Luminance Quantizer

This innovation addresses challenges in lidar imaging, particularly with the detection scheme and the shapes of the detected signals. Ideally, the echoed pulse widths should be extremely narrow to resolve fine detail at high event rates. However, narrow pulses require wideband detection circuitry with increased power...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Distributed Capacitive Sensor for Sample Mass Measurement

Previous robotic sample return missions lacked in situ sample verification/quantity measurement instruments. Therefore, the outcome of the mission remained unclear until spacecraft return. In situ sample verification systems such as this Distributed Capacitive (DisC) sensor would enable...

Briefs : Information Technology
Framework for Integrating Science Data Processing Algorithms Into Process Control Systems

A software framework called PCS Task Wrapper is responsible for standardizing the setup, process initiation, execution, and file management tasks surrounding the execution of science data algorithms, which are referred to by NASA as Product Generation...

Briefs : Information Technology
Base Flow Model Validation

A method was developed of obtaining propulsive base flow data in both hot and cold jet environments, at Mach numbers and altitude of relevance to NASA launcher designs. The base flow data was used to perform computational fluid dynamics (CFD) turbulence model assessments of base flow predictive capabilities in order to...

Briefs : Information Technology
Time Synchronization and Distribution Mechanisms for Space Networks

This work discusses research on the problems of synchronizing and distributing time information between spacecraft based on the Network Time Protocol (NTP), where NTP is a standard time synchronization protocol widely used in the terrestrial network. The Proximity-1 Space Link...

Briefs : Information Technology
Minimum Landing Error Powered- Descent Guidance for Planetary Missions

An algorithm improves the accuracy with which a lander can be delivered to the surface of Mars. The main idea behind this innovation is the use of a “lossless convexification,” which converts an otherwise non-convex constraint related to thruster throttling to a convex...

Briefs : Information Technology
Local Estimators for Spacecraft Formation Flying

A formation estimation architecture for formation flying builds upon the local information exchange among multiple local estimators. Spacecraft formation flying involves the coordination of states among multiple spacecraft through relative sensing, inter-spacecraft communication, and control. Most...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Reflective Occultation Mask for Evaluation of Occulter Designs for Planet Finding

Advanced formation flying occulter designs utilize a large occulter mask flying in formation with an imaging telescope to block and null starlight to allow imaging of faint planets in exosolar systems. A paper describes the utilization of subscale reflective...

Briefs : Materials
Molecular Adsorber Coating

A document discusses a zeolite-based sprayable molecular adsorber coating that has been developed to alleviate the size and weight issues of current ceramic puck-based technology, while providing a configuration that more projects can use to protect against degradation from outgassed materials within a spacecraft,...

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