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
Computer Software Configuration Item-Specific Flight Software Image Transfer Script Generator

A K-shell UNIX script enables the International Space Station (ISS) Flight Control Team (FCT) operators in NASA’s Mission Control Center (MCC) in Houston to transfer an entire or partial computer software configuration item (CSCI) from a flight...

Briefs : Materials
Optimizing a Laser Process for Making Carbon Nanotubes

A systematic experimental study has been performed to determine the effects of each of the operating conditions in a double-pulse laser ablation process that is used to produce single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs). The comprehensive data compiled in this study have been analyzed to...

Briefs : Materials
Thermogravimetric Analysis of Single-Wall Carbon Nanotubes

An improved protocol for thermo-gravimetric analysis (TGA) of samples of single-wall carbon nanotube (SWCNT) material has been developed to increase the degree of consistency among results so that meaningful comparisons can be made among different samples. This improved TGA protocol is...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Robotic Arm Comprising Two Bending Segments

The figure shows several aspects of an experimental robotic manipulator that includes a housing from which protrudes a tendril- or tentacle-like arm 1 cm thick and 1 m long. The arm consists of two collinear segments, each of which can be bent independently of the other, and the two segments can be...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Foil Gas Thrust Bearings for High-Speed Turbomachinery

A methodology has been developed for the design and construction of simple foil thrust bearings intended for parametric performance testing and low marginal costs, supporting continued development of oil-free turbomachinery. A bearing backing plate is first machined and surface-ground to...

Briefs : Information Technology
Efficient Bit-to-Symbol Likelihood Mappings

This innovation is an efficient algorithm designed to perform bit-to-symbol and symbol-to-bit likelihood mappings that represent a significant portion of the complexity of an error-correction code decoder for high-order constellations. Recent implementation of the algorithm in hardware has yielded an...

Briefs : Information Technology
Landmark Detection in Orbital Images Using Salience Histograms

NASA’s planetary missions have collected, and continue to collect, massive volumes of orbital imagery. The volume is such that it is difficult to manually review all of the data and determine its significance. As a result, images are indexed and searchable by location and date but...

Briefs : Information Technology
Capacity Maximizing Constellations

Some non-traditional signal constellations have been proposed for transmission of data over the Additive White Gaussian Noise (AWGN) channel using such channel-capacity-approaching codes as low-density parity-check (LDPC) or turbo codes. (As used here, “constellation” signifies, with respect to a...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Low-Friction, Low-Profile, High-Moment Two-Axis Joint

The two-axis joint is a mechanical device that provides two-degrees-of-freedom motion between connected components. A compact, moment-resistant, twoaxis joint is used to connect an electromechanical actuator to its driven structural members. Due to the requirements of the overall mechanism,...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Miniature Multi-Axis Mechanism for Hand Controllers

A hand controller provides up to three axes of motion, and all required feel characteristics (stiffness and breakout torques) located inside a hollow handle within the grip of the hand. This is achieved using a miniature gimbal mechanism that allows for independent motion about one, two, or...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Magnetostrictive Brake

A magnetostrictive brake has been designed as a more energy-efficient alternative to a magnetic fail-safe brake in a robot. (In the specific application, “fail-safe” signifies that the brake is normally engaged; that is, power must be supplied to allow free rotation.) The magnetic fail-safe brake must be supplied with...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Focusing Light Beams To Improve Atomic-Vapor Optical Buffers

Specially designed focusing of light beams has been proposed as a means of improving the performances of optical buffers based on cells containing hot atomic vapors (e.g., rubidium vapor). There is also a companion proposal to improve performance by use of incoherent optical pumping...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Digitally Enhanced Heterodyne Interferometry

Spurious interference limits the performance of many interferometric measurements. Digitally enhanced interferometry (DEI) improves measurement sensitivity by augmenting conventional heterodyne interferometry with pseudo-random noise (PRN) code phase modulation. DEI effectively changes the measurement...

Briefs : Information Technology
Processing Images of Craters for Spacecraft Navigation

A crater-detection algorithm has been conceived to enable automation of what, heretofore, have been manual processes for utilizing images of craters on a celestial body as landmarks for navigating a spacecraft flying near or landing on that body. The images are acquired by an electronic...

Briefs : Energy
Development of Advanced LED Phosphors by Spray-based Processes for Solid-State Lighting

Luminescent materials were developed using aerosol processes, for making improved LED devices for solid-state lighting. In essence this means improving white light emitting phosphor-based LEDs by improvement of the phosphor and phosphor layer.

Briefs : Energy
Sliding Mode Pulsed Current Averaging IC Drivers for High-Brightness Light Emitting Diodes

Light Emitting Diode (LED) driver ICs associated with specific (uniquely operated) switching power supplies that optimize performance for High Brightness LEDs (HB-LEDs) have been developed. The LED drivers feature fewer external components and high power...

Briefs : Information Technology
Software Tool Integrating Data Flow Diagrams and Petri Nets

Data Flow Diagram – Petri Net (DFPN) is a software tool for analyzing other software to be developed. The full name of this program reflects its design, which combines the benefit of data-flow diagrams (which are typically favored by software analysts) with the power and precision of...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Adaptive Nulling for Interferometric Detection of Planets

An adaptive-nulling method has been proposed to augment the nulling-optical-interferometry method of detection of Earth-like planets around distant stars. The method is intended to reduce the cost of building and aligning the highly precise optical components and assemblies needed for...

Briefs : Information Technology
Reducing the Volume of NASA Earth-Science Data

A computer program reduces data generated by NASA Earth-science missions into representative clusters characterized by centroids and membership information, thereby reducing the large volume of data to a level more amenable to analysis. The program effects an autonomous data-reduction/clustering...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Reception of Multiple Telemetry Signals via One Dish Antenna

A microwave aeronautical-telemetry receiver system includes an antenna comprising a seven-element planar array of receiving feed horns centered at the focal point of a paraboloidal dish reflector that is nominally aimed at a single aircraft or at multiple aircraft flying in formation....

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Space-Qualified Traveling-Wave Tube

The L-3 Communications Electron Technologies, Inc. Model 999HA traveling-wave tube (TWT), was developed for use as a high-power microwave amplifier for high-rate transmission of data and video signals from deep space to Earth (see figure). The 999HA is a successor to the 999H — a non-space-qualified TWT...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Smart Power Supply for Battery-Powered Systems

A power supply for battery-powered systems has been designed with an embedded controller that is capable of monitoring and maintaining batteries, charging hardware, while maintaining output power. The power supply is primarily designed for rovers and other remote science and engineering vehicles,...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Parallel Processing of Broad-Band PPM Signals

A parallel-processing algorithm and a hardware architecture to implement the algorithm have been devised for timeslot synchronization in the reception of pulse-position-modulated (PPM) optical or radio signals. As in the cases of some prior algorithms and architectures for parallel, discrete-time,...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Inexpensive Implementation of Many Strain Gauges

It has been proposed to develop arrays of strain gauges as arrays of ordinary metal film resistors and associated electronic readout circuitry on printed-circuit boards or other suitable substrates. This proposal is a by-product of a development of instrumentation utilizing metal film resistors on...

Briefs : Software
Processing AIRS Scientific Data Through Level 3

The Atmospheric Infra-Red Sounder (AIRS) Science Processing System (SPS) is a collection of computer programs, known as product generation executives (PGEs). The AIRS SPS PGEs are used for processing measurements received from the AIRS suite of infrared and microwave instruments orbiting the Earth...

Briefs : Software
Web-Based Requesting and Scheduling Use of Facilities

Automated User’s Training Operations Facility Utilization Request (AutoFUR) is prototype software that administers a Web-based system for requesting and allocating facilities and equipment for astronaut-training classes in conjunction with scheduling the classes. AutoFUR also has potential...

Briefs : Information Technology
AutoGen Version 5.0

Version 5.0 of the AutoGen software has been released. Previous versions, variously denoted “Autogen” and “autogen,” were reported in two articles: “Automated Sequence Generation Process and Software” (NPO-30746), Software Tech Briefs (Special Supplement to NASA Tech Briefs), September 2007, page 30, and...

Briefs : Information Technology
Time-Tag Generation Script

Time-Tag Generation Script (TTaGS) is an application program, written in the AWK scripting language, for generating commands for aiming one Ku-band antenna and two S-band antennas for communicating with spacecraft. TTaGS saves between 2 and 4 person-hours per every 24 hours by automating the repetitious process of...

Briefs : Information Technology
Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer Product File Readers

TES Product File Reader software extracts data from publicly available Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES) HDF (Hierarchical Data Format) product data files using publicly available format specifications for scientific analysis in IDL (interactive data language). In this innovation,...

Briefs : Information Technology
Reporting Differences Between Spacecraft Sequence Files

A suite of computer programs, called “seq diff suite,” reports differences between the products of other computer programs involved in the generation of sequences of commands for spacecraft. These products consist of files of several types: replacement sequence of events (RSOE), DSN...