Tech Briefs

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 : Physical Sciences
Inventions Utilizing Microfluidics and Colloidal Particles

Several related inventions pertain to families of devices that utilize microfluidics and/or colloidal particles to obtain useful physical effects. The families of devices can be summarized as follows:

Briefs : Physical Sciences
RuO₂ Thermometer for Ultra-Low Temperatures

A small, high-resolution, low-power thermometer has been developed for use in ultra-low temperatures that uses multiple RuO₂ chip resistors. The use of commercially available thick-film RuO₂ chip resistors for measuring cryogenic temperatures is well known due to their low cost, long-term...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Ultra-Compact, High-Resolution LADAR System for 3D Imaging

An eye-safe LADAR system weighs under 500 grams and has range resolution of 1 mm at 10 m. This laser uses an adjustable, tiny microelectromechanical system (MEMS) mirror that was made in SiWave to sweep laser frequency. The size of the laser device is small (70×50×13 mm). The LADAR...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Dual-Channel Multi-Purpose Telescope

A dual-channel telescope allows for a wide-field telescope design with a good, narrow field channel of fewer surfaces for shorter-wavelength or planet-finding applications. The design starts with a Korsch three-mirror-anastigmat (TMA) telescope that meets the mission criteria for image quality over a wide...

Briefs : Information Technology
Algorithm for Computing Particle/Surface Interactions

An algorithm has been devised for predicting the behaviors of sparsely spatially distributed particles impinging on a solid surface in a rarefied atmosphere. Under the stated conditions, prior particle-transport models in which (1) dense distributions of particles are treated as continuum...

Briefs : Information Technology
Safety and Quality Training Simulator

A portable system of electromechanical and electronic hardware and documentation has been developed as an automated means of instructing technicians in matters of safety and quality. The system enables elimination of most of the administrative tasks associated with traditional training. Customized,...

Briefs : Information Technology
Rover Slip Validation and Prediction Algorithm

A physical-based simulation has been developed for the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission that applies a slope-induced wheel-slippage to the rover location estimator. Using the digital elevation map from the stereo images, the computational method resolves the quasi-dynamic equations of motion...

Briefs : Information Technology
Supply-Chain Optimization Template

The Supply-Chain Optimization Tem - plate (SCOT) is an instructional guide for identifying, evaluating, and optimizing (including re-engineering) aerospace-oriented supply chains. The SCOT was derived from the Supply Chain Council’s Supply-Chain Operations Reference (SCC SCOR) Model, which is more generic and...

Briefs : Information Technology
Quickly Approximating the Distance Between Two Objects

A method of quickly approximating the distance between two objects (one smaller, regarded as a point; the other larger and complexly shaped) has been devised for use in computationally simulating motions of the objects for the purpose of planning the motions to prevent collisions. The method...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Cryogenic Pupil Alignment Test Architecture for Aberrated Pupil Images

A document describes cryogenic test architecture for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) integrated science instrument module (ISIM). The ISIM element primarily consists of a mechanical metering structure, three science instruments, and a fine guidance sensor. One of the...

Briefs : Information Technology
Thermal Transport Model for Heat Sink Design

A document discusses the development of a finite element model for describing thermal transport through microcalorimeter arrays in order to assist in heat-sinking design. A fabricated multiabsorber transition edge sensor (PoST) was designed in order to reduce device wiring density by a factor of four.

Briefs : Information Technology
Adaptive Morphological Feature-Based Object Classifier for a Color Imaging System

Utilizing a Compact Color Microscope Imaging System (CCMIS), a unique algorithm has been developed that combines human intelligence along with machine vision techniques to produce an autonomous microscope tool for biomedical, industrial, and space applications....

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Objective Lens Optimized for Wavefront Delivery, Pupil Imaging, and Pupil Ghosting

An interferometer objective lens (or diverger) may be used to transform a collimated beam into a diverging or converging beam. A typical objective lens is optimized to deliver a diffraction-limited beam to an optic or optical system under test. Often, imaging...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
CMOS Camera Array With Onboard Memory

A compact CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) camera system has been developed with high resolution (1.3 Megapixels), a USB (universal serial bus) 2.0 interface, and an onboard memory. A compact design of a 2×4 in. (≈5×10 cm) multilayer PCB (printed circuit board) was designed that contains...

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...

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