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: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Reliability-Based Design Optimization of a Composite Airframe Component

A stochastic optimization methodology (SDO) has been developed to design air-frame structural components made of metallic and composite materials. The design method accommodates uncertainties in load, strength, and material properties that are defined by distribution...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Plasma Igniter for Reliable Ignition of Combustion in Rocket Engines

A plasma igniter has been developed for initiating combustion in liquid-propellant rocket engines. The device propels a hot, dense plasma jet, consisting of elemental fluorine and fluorine compounds, into the combustion chamber to ignite the cold propellant mixture. The igniter...

One of the major technical problems deep-space optical communication (DSOC) systems need to solve is the isolation of the optical terminal from vibrations produced by the spacecraft...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Wire Test Grip Fixture

Wire-testing issues, such as the gripping strains imposed on the wire, play a critical role in obtaining clean data. In a standard test frame fitted with flat wedge grips, the gripping action alone creates stresses on the wire specimen that cause the wire to fail at the grip location. When conventional wire grip fixtures...

A plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) growth technique has been developed where the choice of starting substrate was found to...

Briefs: Materials
Nanoparticle/Polymer Nanocomposite Bond Coat or Coating

This innovation addresses the problem of coatings (meant to reduce gas permeation) applied to polymer matrix composites spalling off in service due to incompatibility with the polymer matrix. A bond coat/coating has been created that uses chemically functionalized nanoparticles (either clay...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Cryogenic Caging for Science Instrumentation

A method has been developed for caging science instrumentation to protect from pyro-shock and EDL (entry, descent, and landing) acceleration damage. Caging can be achieved by immersing the instrument (or its critical parts) in a liquid and solidifying the liquid by cooling. After the launch shock...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Wide-Range Neutron Detector for Space Nuclear Applications

A digital, wide-range, neutron detection (WRND) system in a compact, VME form factor monitors neutron activity within the core of a nuclear reactor across the reactor’s entire operating range, from 1.0 n/cm2/s up to 1010 n/cm2/s. This allows for a...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
In Situ Guided Wave Structural Health Monitoring System

Aircraft engine rotating equipment operates at high temperatures and stresses. Noninvasive inspection of microcracks in those components poses a challenge for nondestructive evaluation. A low-cost, low-profile, high-temperature ultrasonic guided wave sensor was developed that detects cracks...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Multiplexed Energy Coupler for Rotating Equipment

A multiplexing antenna assembly can efficiently couple AC signal/energy into, or out of, rotating equipment. The unit only passes AC energy while blocking DC energy. Concentric tubes that are sliced into multiple pieces are assembled together so that, when a piece from an outer tube aligns well...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Attitude Estimation in Fractionated Spacecraft Cluster Systems

An attitude estimation was examined in fractioned free-flying spacecraft. Instead of a single, monolithic spacecraft, a fractionated free-flying spacecraft uses multiple spacecraft modules. These modules are connected only through wireless communication links and, potentially,...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Method and System for Temporal Filtering in Video Compression Systems

Three related innovations combine improved non-linear motion estimation, video coding, and video compression. The first system comprises a method in which side information is generated using an adaptive, non-linear motion model. This method enables extrapolating and...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Apparatus for Measuring Total Emissivity of Small, Low-Emissivity Samples

An apparatus was developed for measuring total emissivity of small, lightweight, low-emissivity samples at low temperatures. The entire apparatus fits inside a small laboratory cryostat. Sample installation and removal are relatively quick, allowing for faster testing.

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Active Flow Effectors for Noise and Separation Control

New flow effector technology for separation control and enhanced mixing is based upon shape memory alloy hybrid composite (SMAHC) technology. The technology allows for variable shape control of aircraft structures through actively deformable surfaces. The flow effectors are made by embedding...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
High-Sensitivity, Broad-Range Vacuum Gauge Using Nanotubes for Micromachined Cavities

A broad-range vacuum gauge has been created by suspending a single-walled carbon nanotube (SWNT) (metallic or semiconducting) in a Schottky diode format or in a bridge conductor format, between two electrically charged mesas. SWNTs are highly sensitive to...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Full Piezoelectric Multilayer-Stacked Hybrid Actuation/ Transduction Systems

The Stacked HYBATS (Hybrid Actuation/Transduction system) demonstrates significantly enhanced electromechanical performance by using the cooperative contributions of the electromechanical responses of multilayer, stacked negative strain components and positive strain...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Extracting Zero-Gravity Surface Figure of a Mirror

The technical innovation involves refinement of the classic optical technique of averaging surface measurements made in different orientations with respect to gravity, so the effects of gravity cancel in the averaged image. Particularly for large, thin mirrors subject to substantial deformation,...

Briefs: Information Technology
Visual SLAM Using Variance Grid Maps

An algorithm denoted “Gamma-SLAM” performs further processing, in real time, of preprocessed digitized images acquired by a stereoscopic pair of electronic cameras aboard an off-road robotic ground vehicle to build accurate maps of the terrain and determine the location of the vehicle with respect to the...

Briefs: Information Technology
Modeling Electromagnetic Scattering From Complex Inhomogeneous Objects

This software innovation is designed to develop a mathematical formulation to estimate the electromagnetic scattering characteristics of complex, inhomogeneous objects using the finite-element-method (FEM) and method-of-moments (MoM) concepts, as well as to develop a FORTRAN...

Briefs: Information Technology
Visual Object Recognition and Tracking of Tools

A method has been created to automatically build an algorithm off-line, using computer-aided design (CAD) models, and to apply this at runtime. The object type is discriminated, and the position and orientation are identified. This system can work with a single image and can provide improved...

Briefs: Information Technology
Predicting Spacecraft Trajectories by the WeavEncke Method

A combination of methods is proposed of predicting spacecraft trajectories that possibly include multiple maneuvers and/or perturbing accelerations, with greater speed, accuracy, and repeatability than were heretofore achievable. The combination is denoted the WeavEncke method because it...

Briefs: Information Technology
An Augmentation of G-Guidance Algorithms

The original G-Guidance algorithm provided an autonomous guidance and control policy for small-body proximity operations that took into account uncertainty and dynamics disturbances. However, there was a lack of robustness in regards to object proximity while in autonomous mode. The modified G-Guidance...

Briefs: Information Technology
Rapid Calculation of Spacecraft Trajectories Using Efficient Taylor Series Integration

A variable-order, variable-step Taylor series integration algorithm was implemented in NASA Glenn’s SNAP (Spacecraft N-body Analysis Program) code. SNAP is a high-fidelity trajectory propagation program that can propagate the trajectory of a spacecraft about...

Briefs: Information Technology
Comparison of Aircraft Icing Growth Assessment Software

A research project is underway to produce computer software that can accurately predict ice growth under any meteorological conditions for any aircraft surface. An extensive comparison of the results in a quantifiable manner against the database of ice shapes that have been generated in the...

Briefs: Information Technology
Efficient Kriging Algorithms

More efficient versions of an interpolation method, called kriging, have been introduced in order to reduce its traditionally high computational cost. Written in C++, these approaches were tested on both synthetic and real data.

Briefs: Information Technology
Estimation of Coriolis Force and Torque Acting on Ares-1

A document describes work on the origin of Coriolis force and estimating Coriolis force and torque applied to the Ares-1 vehicle during its ascent, based on an internal ballistics model for a multi-segmented solid rocket booster (SRB).

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Null Lens Assembly for X-Ray Mirror Segments

A document discusses a null lens assembly that allows laser interferometry of 60° slumped glass mirror segments used in x-ray mirrors. The assembly consists of four lenses in precise alignment to each other, with incorporated piezoelectric nanometer stepping actuators to position the lenses in six...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
High-Precision Pulse Generator

A document discusses a pulse generator with subnanosecond resolution implemented with a low-cost field-programmable gate array (FPGA) at low power levels. The method used exploits the fast carry chains of certain FPGAs. Prototypes have been built and tested in both Actel AX and Xilinx Virtex 4 technologies....

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Silicon-Germanium Voltage-Controlled Oscillator at 105 GHz

A group at UCLA, in collaboration with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has designed a voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO) created specifically for a compact, integrated, electronically tunable frequency generator useable for submillimeter-wave science instruments operating in extreme cold...

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