Tech Briefs

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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: Electronics & Computers
Wireless Chalcogenide Nanoionic-Based Radio- Frequency Switch

A new nonvolatile nanoionic switch is powered and controlled through wireless radio-frequency (RF) transmission. A thin layer of chalcogenide glass doped with a metal ion, such as silver, comprises the operational portion of the switch. For the switch to function, an oxidizable...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
DOT Transmit Module

The Deep Space Optical Terminal (DOT) transmit module demonstrates the DOT downlink signaling in a flight electronics assembly that can be qualified for deep space. The assembly has the capability to generate an electronic pulse-position modulation (PPM) waveform suitable for driving a laser assembly to produce the optical...

Briefs: Materials
Regenerable Sorbent for CO2 Removal

A durable, high-capacity regenerable sorbent can remove CO2 from the breathing loop under a Martian atmosphere. The system design allows nearambient temperature operation, needs only a small temperature swing, and sorbent regeneration takes place at or above 8 torr, eliminating the potential for...

Briefs: Materials
Li-Ion Electrolytes With Improved Safety and Tolerance to High-Voltage Systems

Given that lithium-ion (Li-ion) technology is the most viable rechargeable energy storage device for near-term applications, effort has been devoted to improving the safety characteristics of this system. Therefore, extensive effort has been devoted to developing...

Briefs: Materials
Composite Aerogel Multifoil Protective Shielding

New technologies are needed to survive the temperatures, radiation, and hypervelocity particles that exploration spacecraft encounter. Multilayer insulations (MLIs) have been used on many spacecraft as thermal insulation. Other materials and composites have been used as micrometeorite shielding or...

Briefs: Materials
Polymer-Reinforced, Non-Brittle, Lightweight Cryogenic Insulation

The primary application for cryogenic insulating foams will be fuel tank applications for fueling systems. It is crucial for this insulation to be incorporated into systems that survive vacuum and terrestrial environments. It is hypothesized that by forming an open-cell...

Briefs: Materials
Sprayable Aerogel Bead Compositions With High Shear Flow Resistance and High Thermal Insulation Value

A sprayable aerogel insulation has been developed that has good mechanical integrity and lower thermal conductivity than incumbent polyurethane spray-on foam insulation, at similar or lower areal densities, to prevent insulation cracking and...

Briefs: Materials
Controlled, Site-Specific Functionalization of Carbon Nanotubes With Diazonium Salts

This work uses existing technologies to prepare a crossbar architecture of nanotubes, wherein one nanotube is fixed to a substrate, and a second nanotube is suspended a finite distance above. Both nanotubes can be individually addressed electrically. Application...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Lexan Linear Shaped Charge Holder With Magnets and Backing Plate

A method was developed for cutting a fabric structural member in an inflatable module, without damaging the internal structure of the module, using linear shaped charge. Lexan and magnets are used in a charge holder to precisely position the linear shaped charge over the desired...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Future robotic exploration of near- Earth asteroids and the vertical and inverted rock walls of lava caves and cliff faces on Mars and other planetary bodies would require a method of gripping...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Waterless Clothes-Cleaning Machine

A waterless clothes-cleaning machine has been developed that removes loose particulates and deodorizes dirty laundry with regenerative chemical processes to make the clothes more comfortable to wear and have a fresher smell. This system was initially developed for use in zero-g, but could be altered for 1-g...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
An Active Heater Control Concept to Meet IXO Type Mirror Module Thermal-Structural Distortion Requirement

Flight mirror assemblies (FMAs) of large telescopes, such as the International X-ray Observatory (IXO), have very stringent thermal-structural distortion requirements. The spatial temperature gradient requirement within a FMA could be as...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Wind, Wave, and Tidal Energy Without Power Conditioning

Most present wind, wave, and tidal energy systems require expensive power conditioning systems that reduce overall efficiency. This new design eliminates power conditioning all, or nearly all, of the time.

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Integrated Electrical Wire Insulation Repair System

An integrated system tool will allow a technician to easily and quickly repair damaged high-performance electrical wire insulation in the field. Low-melt polyimides have been developed that can be processed into thin films that work well in the repair of damaged polyimide or fluoropolymer...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
LVGEMS Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry on Satellites

NASA’s investigations of the upper atmosphere and ionosphere require measurements of composition of the neutral air and ions. NASA is able to undertake these observations, but the instruments currently in use have their limitations. NASA has extended the scope of its research in the...

Briefs: Physical Sciences

The Space Shuttle Orbiter windows were damaged both by micrometeor impacts and by handling, and required careful inspection before they could be reused. The launch commit...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Per-Pixel, Dual-Counter Scheme for Optical Communications

Free space optical communications links from deep space are projected to fulfill future NASA communication requirements for 2020 and beyond. Accurate laser-beam pointing is required to achieve high data rates at low power levels. For the highest pointing accuracy, a laser beacon...

Briefs: Information Technology
Certification-Based Process Analysis

Space mission architects are often challenged with knowing which investment in technology infusion will have the highest return. Certification-based analysis (CBA) gives architects and technologists a means to communicate the risks and advantages of infusing technologies at various points in a process....

Briefs: Information Technology
Surface Navigation Using Optimized Waypoints and Particle Swarm Optimization

The design priority for manned space exploration missions is almost always placed on human safety. Proposed manned surface exploration tasks (lunar, asteroid sample returns, Mars) have the possibility of astronauts traveling several kilometers away from a home base....

Briefs: Information Technology
Smart-Divert Powered Descent Guidance to Avoid the Backshell Landing Dispersion Ellipse

A smart-divert capability has been added into the Powered Descent Guidance (PDG) software originally developed for Mars pinpoint and precision landing. The smart-divert algorithm accounts for the landing dispersions of the entry backshell, which separates...

Briefs: Information Technology
Adaptive Sampling of Spatiotemporal Phenomena With Optimization Criteria

This work was designed to find a way to optimally (or near optimally) sample spatiotemporal phenomena based on limited sensing capability, and to create a model that can be run to estimate uncertainties, as well as to estimate covariances. The goal was to maximize (or...

Briefs: Information Technology
Estimating Foreign-Object- Debris Density From Photogrammetry Data

Within the first few seconds after launch of STS-124, debris traveling vertically near the vehicle was captured on two 16-mm film cameras surrounding the launch pad. One particular piece of debris caught the attention of engineers investigating the release of the flame trench...

Briefs: Information Technology
Building a 2.5D Digital Elevation Model From 2D Imagery

When projecting imagery into a georeferenced coordinate frame, one needs to have some model of the geographical region that is being projected to. This model can sometimes be a simple geometrical curve, such as an ellipse or even a plane. However, to obtain accurate projections, one needs...

Briefs: Information Technology
Eyes on the Earth 3D

Eyes on the Earth 3D software gives scientists, and the general public, a realtime, 3D interactive means of accurately viewing the real-time locations, speed, and values of recently collected data from several of NASA’s Earth Observing Satellites using a standard Web browser (climate.nasa.gov/eyes). Anyone with Web access...

Briefs: Information Technology
Target Trailing With Safe Navigation for Maritime Autonomous Surface Vehicles

This software implements a motion-planning module for a maritime autonomous surface vehicle (ASV). The module trails a given target while also avoiding static and dynamic surface hazards. When surface hazards are other moving boats, the motion planner must apply...

Briefs: Software
Adams-Based Rover Terramechanics and Mobility Simulator — ARTEMIS

The Mars Exploration Rovers (MERs), Spirit and Opportunity, far exceeded their original drive distance expectations and have traveled, at the time of this reporting, a combined 29 kilometers across the surface of Mars. The Rover Sequencing and Visualization Program (RSVP), the...

Briefs: Software
ISTP CDF Skeleton Editor

Basic Common Data Format (CDF) tools (e.g., cdfedit) provide no specific support for creating International Solar-Terrestrial Physics/Space Physics Data Facility (ISTP/SPDF) standard files. While it is possible for someone who is familiar with the ISTP/SPDF metadata guidelines to create compliant files using just the...

Briefs: Software
Uplink Summary Generator (ULSGEN) Version 1.0

The Uplink Summary Generator (ULSGEN) provides a convenient means of gathering together a set of uplink related files, parsing and analyzing these files, and producing a summary of their contents, which may then be electronically signed by one or more reviewers to verify the commands. Spacecraft...

Briefs: Information Technology
Robotics On-Board Trainer (ROBoT)

ROBoT is an on-orbit version of the ground-based Dynamics Skills Trainer (DST) that astronauts use for training on a frequent basis. This software consists of two primary software groups. The first series of components is responsible for displaying the graphical scenes. The remaining components are responsible...

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