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 : Materials
Silica-Aerogel Composites Opacified With La0.7Sr0.3MnO3

As part of an effort to develop improved lightweight thermal-insulation tiles to withstand temperatures up to 1,000 °C, silica aerogel/fused-quartz- fiber composite materials containing La0.7Sr0.3MnO3 particles as opacifiers have been investigated as...

Briefs : Materials
Biologically Inspired Purification and Dispersion of SWCNTs

A biologically inspired method has been developed for (1) separating single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) from other materials (principally, amorphous carbon and metal catalysts) in raw production batches and (2) dispersing the SWCNTs as individual particles (in contradistinction to...

Briefs : Materials
Quantifying Airborne Hydrogen in Nearly Real Time

An indirect method of measuring small concentrations of hydrogen gas in air in nearly real time has been devised to circumvent the difficulty of performing such measurements directly. In this method, a sample of air suspected of containing hydrogen is first enclosed in a suitable container, and...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
A Technique for Adjusting Eigenfrequencies of WGM Resonators

A simple technique has been devised for making small, permanent changes in the eigenfrequencies (resonance frequencies) of whispering-gallery-mode (WGM) dielectric optical resonators that have high values of the resonance quality factor (Q). The essence of the technique is to coat the...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Low-Pressure, Field-Ionizing Mass Spectrometer

A small mass spectrometer utilizing a miniature field ionization source is now undergoing development. It is designed for use in a variety of applications in which there are requirements for a lightweight, low-power-consumption instrument that can analyze the masses of a wide variety of molecules...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Modifying Operating Cycles To Increase Stability in a LITS

The short-term instability in the frequency of a linear-ion-trap frequency standard (LITS) can be reduced by modifying two cycles involved in its operation: (1) the bimodal (bright/dim) cycle of a plasma discharge lamp used for state preparation and detection and (2) a...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Chamber for Simulating Martian and Terrestrial Environments

An apparatus for simulating the environment at the surface of Mars has been developed. Within the apparatus, the pressure, gas composition, and temperature of the atmosphere; the incident solar visible and ultraviolet (UV) light; and the attenuation of the light by dust in the...

Briefs : Information Technology
Algorithm for Detecting a Bright Spot in an Image

An algorithm processes the pixel intensities of a digitized image to detect and locate a circular bright spot, the approximate size of which is known in advance. The algorithm is used to find images of the Sun in cameras aboard the Mars Exploration Rovers. (The images are used in estimating...

Briefs : Information Technology
Extreme Programming: Maestro Style

“Extreme Programming: Maestro Style” is the name of a computer-programming methodology that has evolved as a custom version of a methodology, called “extreme programming” that has been practiced in the software industry since the late 1990s. The name of this version reflects its origin in the work of...

Briefs : Information Technology
Adaptive Behavior for Mobile Robots

The term “System for Mobility and Access to Rough Terrain” (SMART) denotes a theoretical framework, a control architecture, and an algorithm that implements the framework and architecture, for enabling a land-mobile robot to adapt to changing conditions. SMART is intended to enable the robot to recognize...

Briefs : Information Technology
Protocol for Communication Networking for Formation Flying

An application-layer protocol and a network architecture have been proposed for data communications among multiple autonomous spacecraft that are required to fly in a precise formation in order to perform scientific observations. The protocol could also be applied to other autonomous...

Briefs : Information Technology
Planning Complex Sequences Using Compressed Representations

A method that notably includes the use of compressed representations interleaved with non-compressed (time-line) representations of a general scheduling problem has been conceived as a means of increasing, by orders of magnitude, the speeds of computations needed for scheduling complex...

Briefs : Information Technology
Self-Supervised Learning of Terrain Traversability From Proprioceptive Sensors

Robust and reliable autonomous navigation in unstructured, off-road terrain is a critical element in making unmanned ground vehicles a reality. Existing approaches tend to rely on evaluating the traversability of terrain based on fixed parameters obtained via testing...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Hail Monitor Sensor

Figure 1 shows damage to the space shuttle’s external tank (ET) that was likely caused by a pea-sized hailstone. Because of the potential damage to the ET while exposed to the weather, it is important to remotely monitor the hail fall in the vicinity of the shuttle pad. If hail of sufficient size and quantity is detected by...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Dual Cryogenic Capacitive Density Sensor

A dual cryogenic capacitive density sensor has been developed. The device contains capacitive sensors that monitor two-phase cryogenic flow density to within ±1% accuracy, which, if temperature were known, could be used to determine the ratio of liquid to gas in the line. Two of these density sensors,...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Improved Blackbody Temperature Sensors for a Vacuum Furnace

Some improvements have been made in the design and fabrication of blackbody sensors (BBSs) used to measure the temperature of a heater core in a vacuum furnace. Each BBS consists of a ring of thermally conductive, high-melting-temperature material with two tantalum-sheathed...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Miniature Six-Axis Load Sensor for Robotic Fingertip

A miniature load sensor has been developed as a prototype of tactile sensors that could fit within fingertips of anthropomorphic robot hands. The sensor includes a force-and-torque transducer in the form of a spring instrumented with at least six semiconductor strain gauges. The strain-gauge...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Wide-Range Temperature Sensors With High-Level Pulse Train Output

Two types of temperature sensors have been developed for wide-range temperature applications. The two sensors measure temperature in the range of –190 to +200 °C and utilize a thin-film platinum RTD (resistance temperature detector) as the temperature-sensing element. Other...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Wrap-Around Out-the-Window Sensor Fusion System

The Advanced Cockpit Evaluation System (ACES) includes communication, computing, and display subsystems, mounted in a van, that synthesize out-the-window views to approximate the views of the outside world as it would be seen from the cockpit of a crewed spacecraft, aircraft, or remote control of a...

Briefs : Software
Terminal Descent Sensor Simulation

Sulcata software simulates the operation of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) radar terminal descent sensor (TDS). The program models TDS radar antennas, RF hardware, and digital processing, as well as the physics of scattering from a coherent ground surface. This application is specific to this sensor and is...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
A Robust Mechanical Sensing System for Unmanned Sea Surface Vehicles

The need for autonomous navigation and intelligent control of unmanned sea surface vehicles requires a mechanically robust sensing architecture that is watertight, durable, and insensitive to vibration and shock loading. The sensing system developed here comprises four black...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Additive for Low-Temperature Operation of Li-(CF)n Cells

Some progress has been reported in continuing research on the use of anion-receptor compounds as electrolyte additives to increase the sustainable rates of discharge and, hence, the discharge capacities, of lithium-poly(carbon monofluoride) [Li-(CF)n, where n >1] primary...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Li/CFₓ Cells Optimized for Low-Temperature Operation

Several prior developments are combined.

Some developments reported in prior NASA Tech Briefs articles on primary electrochemical power cells containing lithium anodes and fluorinated carbonaceous (CFx) cathodes have been combined to yield a product line of cells...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Number Codes Readable by Magnetic-Field-Response Recorders

A method of encoding and reading numbers incorporates some of the features of conventional optical bar coding and radio-frequency identification (RFID) tagging, but overcomes some of the disadvantages of both: (1) Unlike in conventional optical bar coding, numbers can be read without...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Determining Locations by Use of Networks of Passive Beacons

Networks of passive radio beacons spanning moderate-sized terrain areas have been proposed to aid navigation of small robotic aircraft that would be used to explore Saturn’s moon Titan. Such networks could also be used on Earth to aid navigation of robotic aircraft, land vehicles, or...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Optical Injection Locking of a VCSEL in an OEO

Optical injection locking has been demonstrated to be effective as a means of stabilizing the wavelength of light emitted by a vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) that is an active element in the frequency-control loop of an opto-electronic oscillator (OEO) designed to implement an atomic...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Superconducting Hot-Electron Submillimeter-Wave Detector

A superconducting hot-electron bolometer has been built and tested as a prototype of high-sensitivity, rapid-response detectors of submillimeter-wavelength radiation. There are diverse potential applications for such detectors, a few examples being submillimeter spectroscopy for scientific...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Measuring Multiple Resistances Using Single-Point Excitation

In a proposed method of determining the resistances of individual DC electrical devices (e.g., batteries or fuel-cell stacks containing multiple electrochemical cells) connected in a series or parallel string, no attempt would be made to perform direct measurements on individual...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Improved-Bandwidth Transimpedance Amplifier

The widest available operational amplifier, with the best voltage and current noise characteristics, is considered for transimpedance amplifier (TIA) applications where wide bandwidth is required to handle fast rising input signals (as for time-of-flight measurement cases). The added amplifier inside...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Thin-Film Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

The development of thin-film solid oxide fuel cells (TFSOFCs) and a method of fabricating them have progressed to the prototype stage. A TFSOFC consists of the following:

Webcasts

On-Demand Webinars: Test & Measurement

Solving Complex Measurement Problems with PXI

Upcoming Webinars: Photonics/Optics

NASA Discusses Advances in Photonics for Space and Commercial...

Upcoming Webinars: Robotics, Automation & Control

Using Portable Scenarios and Coverage Metrics to Ensure...

Upcoming Webinars: Robotics, Automation & Control

Impact of Autonomous and Electric Vehicles in New Product...

Upcoming Webinars: Sensors/Data Acquisition

Autonomous Vehicles Sensors: How to Ensure They Work Well and...

Upcoming Webinars: Automotive

Connectivity Solutions for Robust Data Transmission in Future...