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 : Imaging
Processing Images of Craters for Spacecraft Navigation

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

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...

Briefs : Information Technology
Progressive Classification Using Support Vector Machines

Progressive Classification Using Support Vector MachinesAn algorithm for progressive classification of data, analogous to progressive rendering of images, makes it possible to compromise between speed and accuracy. This algorithm uses support vector machines (SVMs) to classify data. An SVM...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Cryogenic Chamber for Servo-Hydraulic Materials Testing

A compact cryogenic test chamber can be cooled to approximately 5 to 6 Kelvin for materials testing. The system includes a temperature controller and multiple sensors to measure specimen temperature at different locations. The testing chamber provides a fast and easy method to perform...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Multimodal Friction Ignition Tester

The multimodal friction ignition tester (MFIT) is a testbed for experiments on the thermal and mechanical effects of friction on material specimens in pressurized, oxygen-rich atmospheres. In simplest terms, a test involves recording sensory data while rubbing two specimens against each other at a controlled...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Rover Attitude and Pointing System Simulation Testbed

The MER (Mars Exploration Rover) Attitude and Pointing System Simulation Testbed Environment (RAPSSTER) provides a simulation platform used for the development and test of GNC (guidance, navigation, and control) flight algorithm designs for the Mars rovers, which was specifically tailored to...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Desktop Application Program To Simulate Cargo-Air-Drop Tests

The DSS Application is a computer program comprising a Windows version of the UNIX-based Decelerator System Simulation (DSS) coupled with an Excel front end. The DSS is an executable code that simulates the dynamics of air-dropped cargo from first motion in an aircraft through landing....

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Small-Bolt Torque-Tension Tester

Current torque-tension measurement techniques involve using load washers as the force measuring transducer. The disadvantage of load washers is that they are too large to be used with fasteners smaller than about size #8. The device described here measures the torque-tension relationship for fasteners as small as...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Apparatus Measures Thermal Conductance Through a Thin Sample From Cryogenic to Room Temperature

An apparatus allows the measurement of the thermal conductance across a thin sample clamped between metal plates, including thermal boundary resistances. It allows in-situ variation of the clamping force from zero to 30 lb (133.4 N), and variation of...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Simple Optoelectronic Feedback in Microwave Oscillators

A proposed method of stabilizing microwave and millimeter-wave oscillators calls for the use of feedback in optoelectronic delay lines characterized by high values of the resonance quality factor (Q). The method would extend the applicability of optoelectronic feedback beyond the previously...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Integrated Spacesuit Audio System Enhances Speech Quality and Reduces Noise

A new approach has been proposed for increasing astronaut comfort and speech capture. Currently, the special design of a spacesuit forms an extreme acoustic environment making it difficult to capture clear speech without compromising comfort. The current system, called...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Small X-Band Oscillator Antennas

A small, segmented microstrip patch antenna integrated with an X-band feedback oscillator on a high- permittivity substrate has been built and tested (see Figure 1). The oscillator antenna is powered by commercial solar photovoltaic cells mounted nearby or on the same substrate. This oscillator antenna is a...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Hardware Implementation of a Bilateral Subtraction Filter

A bilateral subtraction filter has been implemented as a hardware module in the form of a field-programmable gate array (FPGA). In general, a bilateral subtraction filter is a key subsystem of a high-quality stereoscopic machine vision system that utilizes images that are large and/or...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Lattice-Matched Semiconductor Layers on Single Crystalline Sapphire Substrate

SiGe is an important semiconductor alloy for high-speed field effect transistors (FETs), high-temperature thermoelectric devices, photovoltaic solar cells, and photon detectors. The growth of SiGe layer is difficult because SiGe alloys have different lattice constants...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Discrete Fourier Transform Analysis in a Complex Vector Space

Alternative computational strategies for the Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT) have been developed using analysis of geometric manifolds. This approach provides a general framework for performing DFT calculations, and suggests a more efficient implementation of the DFT for applications...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Self-Assembling, Flexible, Pre-Ceramic Composite Preforms

In this innovation, light weight, high temperature, compact aerospace structures with increased design options are made possible by using self-assembling, flexible, pre-ceramic composite materials. These materials are comprised of either ceramic or carbon fiber performs, which are...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Miniature Scroll Pumps Fabricated by LIGA

Miniature scroll pumps have been proposed as roughing pumps (low-vacuum pumps) for miniature scientific instruments (e.g., portable mass spectrometers and gas analyzers) that depend on vacuum. The larger scroll pumps used as roughing pumps in some older vacuum systems are fabricated by conventional...

Briefs : Software
Flightspeed Integral Image Analysis Toolkit

The Flightspeed Integral Image Analysis Toolkit (FIIAT) is a C library that provides image analysis functions in a single, portable package. It provides basic low-level filtering, texture analysis, and subwindow descriptor for applications dealing with image interpretation and object recognition....

Briefs : Materials
Detecting Airborne Mercury by Use of Polymer/Carbon Films

Films made of certain polymer/carbon composites have been found to be potentially useful as sensing films for detecting airborne elemental mercury at concentrations on the order of tens of parts per billion or more. That is to say, when the polymer/carbon composite films are exposed to...

Briefs : Software
Work Coordination Engine

The Work Coordination Engine (WCE) is a Java application integrated into the Service Management Database(SMDB), which coordinates the dispatching and monitoring of a work order system. WCE de-queues work orders from SMDB and orchestrates the dispatching of work to a registered set of software worker applications...

Briefs : Software
Multi-Mission Automated Task Invocation Subsystem

Multi-Mission Automated Task Invocation Subsystem (MATIS) is software that establishes a distributed dataprocessing framework for automated generation of instrument data products from a spacecraft mission. Each mission may set up a set of MATIS servers for processing its data products. MATIS...

Briefs : Software
Autonomously Calibrating a Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer

A computer program autonomously manages the calibration of a quadrupole ion mass spectrometer intended for use in monitoring concentrations and changes in concentrations of organic chemicals in the cabin air of the International Space Station. The instrument parameters calibrated include...

Briefs : Software
Determining Spacecraft Reaction Wheel Friction Parameters

Software was developed to characterize the drag in each of the Cassini spacecraft’s Reaction Wheel Assemblies (RWAs) to determine the RWA friction parameters. This tool measures the drag torque of RWAs for not only the high spin rates (>250 RPM), but also the low spin rates...

Briefs : Materials
Composite Silica Aerogels Opacified With Titania

A further improvement has been made to reduce the high-temperature thermal conductivities of the aerogel-matrix composite materials described in “Improved Silica Aerogel Composite Materials” (NPO-44287), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 32, No. 9 (September 2008), page 50. Because the contribution of...

Briefs : Materials
Multiplexed Colorimetric Solid-Phase Extraction

Multiplexed colorimetric solid-phase extraction (MC-SPE) is an extension of colorimetric solid-phase extraction (CSPE) — an analytical platform that combines colorimetric reagents, solid phase extraction, and diffuse reflectance spectroscopy to quantify trace analytes in water. In C-SPE, analytes...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Rollerjaw Rock Crusher

The rollerjaw rock crusher melds the concepts of jaw crushing and roll crushing long employed in the mining and rock-crushing industries. Rollerjaw rock crushers have been proposed for inclusion in geological exploration missions on Mars, where they would be used to pulverize rock samples into powders in the tens of...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Pressure-Energized Seal Rings To Better Withstand Flows

Pressure-energized seal rings intended to withstand flows better than do conventional pressure-energized seal rings have been conceived. The concept applies, more specifically, to seal rings used on some valve stems, pistons, and the like. A conventional pressure-energized seal ring...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
NiF₂/NaF:CaF₂/Ca Solid-State High-Temperature Battery Cells

Experiments and theoretical study have demonstrated the promise of all-solid-state, high-temperature electrochemical battery cells based on NiF2 as the active cathode material, CaF2 doped with NaF as the electrolyte material, and Ca as the active anode...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Alternative Determination of Density of the Titan Atmosphere

An alternative has been developed to direct measurement for determining the density of the atmosphere of the Saturn moon Titan as a function of altitude. The basic idea is to deduce the density versus altitude from telemetric data indicative of the effects of aerodynamic torques on the...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Microwave Temperature Profiler Mounted in a Standard Airborne Research Canister

Many atmospheric research aircraft use a standard canister design to mount instruments, as this significantly facilitates their electrical and mechanical integration and thereby reduces cost. Based on more than 30 years of airborne science experience with the...

Briefs : Information Technology
Automated CFD for Generation of Airfoil Performance Tables

A method of automated computational fluid dynamics (CFD) has been invented for the generation of performance tables for an object subject to fluid flow. The method is applicable to the generation of tables that summarize the effects of two-dimensional flows about airfoils and that are in...