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: Electronics & Computers
K-Band Traveling-Wave Tube Amplifier

A new space-qualified, high-power, high-efficiency, K-band traveling-wave tube amplifier (TWTA), shown in the figure, will provide high-rate, high-capacity, direct-to-Earth communications for science data...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Sideband-Separating, Millimeter-Wave Heterodyne Receiver

Researchers have demonstrated a sub-millimeter-wave spectrometer that combines extremely broad bandwidth with extremely high sensitivity and spectral resolution to enable future spacecraft to measure the composition of the Earth’s troposphere in three dimensions many times per day at...

A simplified load-following control scheme has been proposed for a fuel cell power system. The scheme could be used to control devices that are important parts of a fuel cell system...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Loosely Coupled GPS-Aided Inertial Navigation System for Range Safety

The Autonomous Flight Safety System (AFSS) aims to replace the human element of range safety operations, as well as reduce reliance on expensive, downrange assets for launches of expendable launch vehicles (ELVs). The system consists of multiple navigation sensors and flight...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Modified Phasemeter for a Heterodyne Laser Interferometer

Modifications have been made in the design of instruments of the type described in “Digital Averaging Phasemeter for Heterodyne Interferometry” (NPO-30866), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 28, No. 9 (September 2004), page 6a. To recapitulate: A phasemeter of this type measures the difference...

An improved design concept for coaxial propellant injectors for a rocket engine (or perhaps for a non-rocket combustion chamber) offers advantages of greater robustness, less...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Adaptable Diffraction Gratings With Wavefront Transformation

Diffraction gratings are optical components with regular patterns of grooves, which angularly disperse incoming light by wavelength. Traditional diffraction gratings have static planar, concave, or convex surfaces. However, if they could be made so that they can change the surface...

Briefs: Software
Natural-Language Parser for PBEM

A computer program called “Hunter” accepts, as input, a colloquial-English description of a set of policy-based-management rules, and parses that description into a form useable by policy-based enterprise management (PBEM) software.

Briefs: Software
Policy Process Editor for P³BM Software

A computer program enables generation, in the form of graphical representations of process flows with embedded natural-language policy statements, input to a suite of policy-, process-, and performancebased management (P3BM) software developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Like the...

Briefs: Software
A Quality System Database

A quality system database (QSD), and software to administer the database, were developed to support recording of administrative nonconformance activities that involve requirements for documentation of corrective and/or preventive actions, which can include ISO 9000 internal quality audits and customer complaints....

Briefs: Software
Trajectory Optimization: OTIS 4

The latest release of the Optimal Trajectories by Implicit Simulation (OTIS4) allows users to simulate and optimize aerospace vehicle trajectories. With OTIS4, one can seamlessly generate optimal trajectories and parametric vehicle designs simultaneously. New features also allow OTIS4 to solve non-aerospace...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
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: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
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;...

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...

Spurious interference limits the performance of many interferometric measurements. Digitally enhanced interferometry (DEI) improves measurement sensitivity by augmenting conventional heterodyne...

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...

Luminescent materials were developed using aerosol processes, for making improved LED devices for solid-state lighting. In essence this means improving...

Light Emitting Diode (LED) driver ICs associated with specific (uniquely operated) switching power supplies that optimize performance for High...

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...

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...

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