Tech Briefs

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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
Method and System for Temporal Filtering in Video Compression Systems

Three related innovations combine improved non-linear motion estimation, video coding, and video compression. The first system comprises a method in which side information is generated using an adaptive, non-linear motion model. This method enables extrapolating and...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Apparatus for Measuring Total Emissivity of Small, Low-Emissivity Samples

An apparatus was developed for measuring total emissivity of small, lightweight, low-emissivity samples at low temperatures. The entire apparatus fits inside a small laboratory cryostat. Sample installation and removal are relatively quick, allowing for faster testing.

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Active Flow Effectors for Noise and Separation Control

New flow effector technology for separation control and enhanced mixing is based upon shape memory alloy hybrid composite (SMAHC) technology. The technology allows for variable shape control of aircraft structures through actively deformable surfaces. The flow effectors are made by embedding...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
High-Sensitivity, Broad-Range Vacuum Gauge Using Nanotubes for Micromachined Cavities

A broad-range vacuum gauge has been created by suspending a single-walled carbon nanotube (SWNT) (metallic or semiconducting) in a Schottky diode format or in a bridge conductor format, between two electrically charged mesas. SWNTs are highly sensitive to...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Full Piezoelectric Multilayer-Stacked Hybrid Actuation/ Transduction Systems

The Stacked HYBATS (Hybrid Actuation/Transduction system) demonstrates significantly enhanced electromechanical performance by using the cooperative contributions of the electromechanical responses of multilayer, stacked negative strain components and positive strain...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Extracting Zero-Gravity Surface Figure of a Mirror

The technical innovation involves refinement of the classic optical technique of averaging surface measurements made in different orientations with respect to gravity, so the effects of gravity cancel in the averaged image. Particularly for large, thin mirrors subject to substantial deformation,...

Briefs: Information Technology
Visual SLAM Using Variance Grid Maps

An algorithm denoted “Gamma-SLAM” performs further processing, in real time, of preprocessed digitized images acquired by a stereoscopic pair of electronic cameras aboard an off-road robotic ground vehicle to build accurate maps of the terrain and determine the location of the vehicle with respect to the...

Briefs: Information Technology
Modeling Electromagnetic Scattering From Complex Inhomogeneous Objects

This software innovation is designed to develop a mathematical formulation to estimate the electromagnetic scattering characteristics of complex, inhomogeneous objects using the finite-element-method (FEM) and method-of-moments (MoM) concepts, as well as to develop a FORTRAN...

Briefs: Information Technology
Visual Object Recognition and Tracking of Tools

A method has been created to automatically build an algorithm off-line, using computer-aided design (CAD) models, and to apply this at runtime. The object type is discriminated, and the position and orientation are identified. This system can work with a single image and can provide improved...

Briefs: Information Technology
Predicting Spacecraft Trajectories by the WeavEncke Method

A combination of methods is proposed of predicting spacecraft trajectories that possibly include multiple maneuvers and/or perturbing accelerations, with greater speed, accuracy, and repeatability than were heretofore achievable. The combination is denoted the WeavEncke method because it...

Briefs: Information Technology
An Augmentation of G-Guidance Algorithms

The original G-Guidance algorithm provided an autonomous guidance and control policy for small-body proximity operations that took into account uncertainty and dynamics disturbances. However, there was a lack of robustness in regards to object proximity while in autonomous mode. The modified G-Guidance...

Briefs: Information Technology
Rapid Calculation of Spacecraft Trajectories Using Efficient Taylor Series Integration

A variable-order, variable-step Taylor series integration algorithm was implemented in NASA Glenn’s SNAP (Spacecraft N-body Analysis Program) code. SNAP is a high-fidelity trajectory propagation program that can propagate the trajectory of a spacecraft about...

Briefs: Information Technology
Comparison of Aircraft Icing Growth Assessment Software

A research project is underway to produce computer software that can accurately predict ice growth under any meteorological conditions for any aircraft surface. An extensive comparison of the results in a quantifiable manner against the database of ice shapes that have been generated in the...

Briefs: Information Technology
Efficient Kriging Algorithms

More efficient versions of an interpolation method, called kriging, have been introduced in order to reduce its traditionally high computational cost. Written in C++, these approaches were tested on both synthetic and real data.

Briefs: Information Technology
Estimation of Coriolis Force and Torque Acting on Ares-1

A document describes work on the origin of Coriolis force and estimating Coriolis force and torque applied to the Ares-1 vehicle during its ascent, based on an internal ballistics model for a multi-segmented solid rocket booster (SRB).

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Null Lens Assembly for X-Ray Mirror Segments

A document discusses a null lens assembly that allows laser interferometry of 60° slumped glass mirror segments used in x-ray mirrors. The assembly consists of four lenses in precise alignment to each other, with incorporated piezoelectric nanometer stepping actuators to position the lenses in six...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
High-Precision Pulse Generator

A document discusses a pulse generator with subnanosecond resolution implemented with a low-cost field-programmable gate array (FPGA) at low power levels. The method used exploits the fast carry chains of certain FPGAs. Prototypes have been built and tested in both Actel AX and Xilinx Virtex 4 technologies....

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Silicon-Germanium Voltage-Controlled Oscillator at 105 GHz

A group at UCLA, in collaboration with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has designed a voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO) created specifically for a compact, integrated, electronically tunable frequency generator useable for submillimeter-wave science instruments operating in extreme cold...

Briefs: Physical Sciences

An innovation reported in “Two-Camera Acquisition and Tracking of a Flying Target,” NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 32, No. 8 (August 2008), p. 20, used a commercial fish-eye lens and an...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Method for Implementing Optical Phase Adjustment

A method has been developed to mechanically implement the optical phase shift by adjusting the polarization of the pump and probe beams in an NMOR (nonlinear magneto-optical rotation) magnetometer as the proper phase shift is necessary to induce self-oscillation. This innovation consists of...

Briefs: Physical Sciences

A diffractive optic element (DOE) can be used as a beam splitter to generate multiple laser beams from a single input laser beam. This technology has been recently used...

Briefs: Physical Sciences

The simplified architecture is a minimal system for a deep-space optical communications transceiver. For a deep-space optical communications link the...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics

A new optical beam tracking approach for free-space optical communication links using two-photon absorption (TPA) in a high-bandgap detector material was demonstrated. This tracking...

Briefs: Energy
High-Resolution Wind Measurements for Offshore Wind Energy Development

A mathematical transform, called the Rosette Transform, together with a new method, called the Dense Sampling Method, have been developed. The Rosette Transform is invented to apply to both the mean part and the fluctuating part of a targeted radar signature using the Dense...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Coherent Frequency Reference System for the NASA Deep Space Network

The NASA Deep Space Network (DSN) requires state-of-the-art frequency references that are derived and distributed from very stable atomic frequency standards. A new Frequency Reference System (FRS) and Frequency Reference Distribution System (FRD) have been developed, which...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
180-GHz I-Q Second Harmonic Resistive Mixer MMIC

An indium phosphide MMIC (monolithic microwave integrated circuit) mixer was developed, processed, and tested in the NGC 35-nm-gate-length HEMT (high electron mobility transistor) process. The MMIC mixers were tested and assembled in the miniature MMIC receiver module described in “Miniature...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Diamond Heat-Spreader for Submillimeter-Wave Frequency Multipliers

The planar GaAs Shottky diode frequency multiplier is a critical technology for the local oscillator (LO) for submillimeter-wave heterodyne receivers due to low mass, tenability, long lifetime, and room-temperature operation. The use of a W-band (75–100 GHz) power amplifier...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Power Amplifier Module With 734-mW Continuous Wave Output Power

Research findings were reported from an investigation of new gallium nitride (GaN) monolithic millimeter-wave integrated circuit (MMIC) power amplifiers (PAs) targeting the highest output power and the highest efficiency for class-A operation in W-band (75–110 GHz). W-band PAs are...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Ultra-Low-Noise W-Band MMIC Detector Modules

A monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) receiver can be used as a building block for next-generation radio astronomy instruments that are scalable to hundreds or thousands of pixels. W- band (75–110 GHz) low-noise receivers are needed for radio astronomy interfer- ometers and spectrometers,...

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