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: Software
Galactic Cosmic Ray Event- Based Risk Model (GERM) Code

This software describes the transport and energy deposition of the passage of galactic cosmic rays in astronaut tissues during space travel, or heavy ion beams in patients in cancer therapy. Space radiation risk is a probability distribution, and time-dependent biological events must be...

Briefs: Software
Multi-User Space Link Extension (SLE) System

The Multi-User Space (MUS) Link Extension system, a software and data system, provides Space Link Extension (SLE) users with three space data transfer services in timely, complete, and offline modes as applicable according to standards defined by the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems...

Briefs: Information Technology
Control Software for Piezo Stepping Actuators

A control system has been developed for the Space Interferometer Mission (SIM) piezo stepping actuator. Piezo stepping actuators are novel because they offer extreme dynamic range (centimeter stroke with nanometer resolution) with power, thermal, mass, and volume advantages over existing motorized...

Briefs: Information Technology

The reliability of a gas or steam turbine is strongly dependent on the structural design of its blades. In land-based power generation units, turbine blades are connected to the turbine disk by...

Briefs: Information Technology
Mixed Integer Programming and Heuristic Scheduling for Space Communication

Optimal planning and scheduling for a communication network was created where the nodes within the network are communicating at the highest possible rates while meeting the mission requirements and operational constraints. The planning and scheduling problem was...

Briefs: Information Technology
Video Altimeter and Obstruction Detector for an Aircraft

Video-based altimetric and obstructiondetection systems for aircraft have been partially developed. The hardware of a system of this type includes a downward-looking video camera, a video digitizer, a Global Positioning System receiver or other means of measuring the aircraft velocity...

Briefs: Lighting

Amulti-university research team has used a new spectroscopic method to gain a key insight into how light is emitted from layered nanomaterials and other thin films. The technique, called...

Briefs: Lighting

Ateam of researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has shown that by bringing gold nanoparticles close to the dots and using a DNA template to control the...

Briefs: Physical Sciences

This work focused on developing, fabricating, and fully calibrating a flow-angle probe for aeronautics research by utilizing the latest...

Briefs: Medical
Nanoscale Surface Plasmonics Sensor With Nanofluidic Control

Conventional quantitative protein assays of bodily fluids typically involve multiple steps to obtain desired measurements. Such methods are not well suited for fast and accurate assay measurements in austere environments such as spaceflight and in the aftermath of disasters....

Briefs: Information Technology
Advanced Dispersed Fringe Sensing Algorithm for Coarse Phasing Segmented Mirror Telescopes

Segment mirror phasing, a critical step of segment mirror alignment, requires the ability to sense and correct the relative pistons between segments from up to a few hundred microns to a fraction of wavelength in order to bring the mirror system to its...

Briefs: Information Technology
Neural Network Back-Propagation Algorithm for Sensing Hypergols

Fast, continuous detection of a wide range of hazardous substances simultaneously is needed to achieve improved safety for personnel working with hypergolic fuels and oxidizers, as well as other hazardous substances, with a requirement for such detection systems to warn personnel...

Briefs: Medical
Bulk Moisture and Salinity Sensor

Measurement and feedback control of nutrient solutions in plant root zones is critical to the development of healthy plants in both terrestrial and reduced gravity environments. In addition to the water content, the amount of fertilizer in the nutrient solution is important to plant health. This typically...

Briefs: Software
Change-Based Satellite Monitoring Using Broad Coverage and Targetable Sensing

A generic software framework analyzes data from broad coverage sweeps or general larger areas of interest. Change detection methods are used to extract subsets of directed swath areas that intersect areas of change. These areas are prioritized and allocated to...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Circularly Polarized Microwave Antenna Element With Very Low Off-Axis Cross-Polarization

The goal of this work was to improve offaxis cross-polarization performance and ease of assembly of a circularly polarized microwave antenna element. To ease assembly, the initial design requirement of Hexweb support for the internal circuit part, as well as...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Flash Cracking Reactor for Waste Plastic Processing

Conversion of waste plastic to energy is a growing problem that is especially acute in space exploration applications. Moreover, utilization of heavy hydrocarbon resources (wastes, waxes, etc.) as fuels and chemicals will be a growing need in the future. Existing technologies require a...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Ultra-Low Heat- Leak, High- Temperature Superconducting Current Leads for Space Applications

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center has a need for current leads used in an adiabatic demagnetization refrigerator (ADR) for space applications. These leads must comply with stringent requirements such as a heat leak of approximately 100 μW or less while...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

The Autonomous Landing and Hazard Avoidance Technology (ALHAT) program is building a sensor that enables a spacecraft to evaluate autonomously a potential landing area to...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
An Automated Safeto- Mate (ASTM) Tester

Safe-to-mate testing is a common hardware safety practice where impedance measurements are made on unpowered hardware to verify isolation, continuity, or impedance between pins of an interface connector. Performing this on critical flight hardware under test and its associated GSE ensures minimal risk when...

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...

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