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
Improved Signal Chains for Readout of CMOS Imagers

An improved generic design has been devised for implementing signal chains involved in readout from complementary metal oxide/semiconductor (CMOS) image sensors and for other readout integrated circuits (ICs) that perform equivalent functions. The design applies to any such IC in which output...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Improving 3D Wavelet-Based Compression of Hyperspectral Images

Two methods of increasing the effectiveness of three-dimensional (3D) wavelet-based compression of hyperspectral images have been developed. (As used here, “images” signifies both images and digital data representing images.) The methods are oriented toward reducing or...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Measuring Low Concentrations of Liquid Water in Soil

An apparatus has been developed for measuring the low concentrations of liquid water and ice in relatively dry soil samples. Designed as a prototype of instruments for measuring the liquid-water and ice contents of Lunar and Martian soils, the apparatus could also be applied similarly to...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Compact Microwave Fourier Spectrum Analyzer

A compact photonic microwave Fourier spectrum analyzer [a Fourier-transform microwave spectrometer, (FTMWS)] with no moving parts has been proposed for use in remote sensing of weak, natural microwave emissions from the surfaces and atmospheres of planets to enable remote analysis and determination of...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Non-Contact Measurement of Density and Thickness Variation in Dielectric Materials

This non-contact, single-sided terahertz electromagnetic measurement and imaging method characterizes micro-structural (e.g., spatially-lateral density) and thickness variation in dielectric (insulating) materials. This method was demonstrated for space shuttle...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
The Mars Science Laboratory Touchdown Test Facility

In the Touchdown Test Program for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission, a facility was developed to use a full-scale rover vehicle and an overhead winch system to replicate the Skycrane landing event. A driving requirement for the testing facility was the need to support a load of 5,000 lb...

Briefs : Software
Combinatorial Generation of Test Suites

Testgen is a computer program that generates suites of input and configuration vectors for testing other software or software/hardware systems. As systems become ever more complex, often, there is not enough time to test systems against all possible combinations of inputs and configurations, so test...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
InP Heterojunction Bipolar Transistor Amplifiers to 255 GHz

Two single-stage InP heterojunction bipolar transistor (HBT) amplifiers operate at 184 and 255 GHz, using Northrop Grumman Corporation’s InP HBT MMIC (monolithic microwave integrated circuit) technology. At the time of this reporting, these are reported to be the highest HBT...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
In-Phase Power-Combined Frequency Tripler at 300 GHz

This design starts with commercial 85- to 115-GHz sources that are amplified to as much as 250 mW using power amplifiers developed for the Herschel Space Observatory. The frequency is then tripled using a novel waveguide GaAs Schottky diode frequency tripler. This planar diode produces 26 mW...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Smaller But Fully Functional Backshell for Cable Connector

An improved design for the backshell of a connector for a shielded, multiple-wire cable reduces the size of the backshell, relative to traditional designs of backshells of otherwise identical cable connectors. Notwithstanding the reduction in size, the design provides all the...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Electronic System for Preventing Airport Runway Incursions

The figure is a block diagram of a proposed system of portable illuminated signs, electronic monitoring equipment, and radio-communication equipment for preventing (or taking corrective action in response to) improper entry of aircraft, pedestrians, or ground vehicles onto active airport...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Glove-Box or Desktop Virtual-Reality System

The figure depicts salient features of the optical layout of a desktop-scale virtual-reality system that is specialized for simulating a glove-box work space. The system generates stereoscopic left- and right-eye images of the interior of the work space that show (1) a user extension (defined here as...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Composite Layer Manufacturing With Fewer Interruptions

An improved version of composite layer manufacturing (CLM) has been invented. CLM is a type of solid freeform fabrication (SFF) — an automated process in which a three-dimensional object is built up, point-by-point, through extrusion of a matrix/fiber composite-material precursor. The...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Improved Photoresist Coating for Making CNT Field Emitters

An improved photoresist-coating technique has been developed for use in the fabrication of carbon-nanotube- (CNT)- based field emitters of the type described in “Fabrication of Improved Carbon- Nanotube Field Emitters” (NPO-44996), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 32, No. 4 (April 2008), page...

Briefs : Information Technology
Integrated System Health Management Development Toolkit

This software toolkit is designed to model complex systems for the implementation of embedded Integrated System Health Management (ISHM) capability, which focuses on determining the condition (health) of every element in a complex system (detect anomalies, diagnose causes, and predict...

Briefs : Information Technology
TCP/IP Interface for the Satellite Orbit Analysis Program (SOAP)

The Transmission Control Protocol/Internet protocol (TCP/IP) interface for the Satellite Orbit Analysis Program (SOAP) provides the means for the software to establish real-time interfaces with other software. Such interfaces can operate between two programs, either on the same...

Briefs : Software
Autonomous Instrument Placement for Mars Exploration Rovers

Autonomous Instrument Placement (AutoPlace) is onboard software that enables a Mars Exploration Rover to act autonomously in using its manipulator to place scientific instruments on or near designated rock and soil targets. Prior to the development of AutoPlace, it was necessary for...

Briefs : Software
Mission and Assets Database

Mission and Assets Database (MADB) Version 1.0 is an SQL database system with a Web user interface to centralize information. The database stores flight project support resource requirements, view periods, antenna information, schedule, and forecast results for use in mid-range and long-term planning of Deep Space...

Briefs : Software
Trajectory Calculator for Finite-Radius Cutter on a Lathe

A computer program calculates the two- dimensional trajectory (radial vs. axial position) of a finite-radius-of- curvature cutting tool on a lathe so as to cut a workpiece to a piecewise-continuous, analytically defined surface of revolution. (In the original intended application, the...

Briefs : Materials
A Simplified Diagnostic Method for Elastomer Bond Durability

A simplified method has been developed for determining bond durability under exposure to water or high humidity conditions. It uses a small number of test specimens with relatively short times of water exposure at elevated temperature. The method is also gravimetric; the only equipment...

Briefs : Materials
Very High Output Thermoelectric Devices Based on ITO Nanocomposites

A material having useful thermoelectric properties was synthesized by combining indium-tin-oxide (ITO) with a NiCoCrAlY alloy/alumina cermet. This material had a very large Seebeck coefficient with electromotive- force-versus- temperature behavior that is considered to be...

Briefs : Materials
Complex Multifunctional Polymer/Carbon-Nanotube Composites

A methodology for developing complex multifunctional materials that consist of or contain polymer/ carbon-nanotube composites has been conceived. As used here, “multifunctional” signifies having additional and/or enhanced physical properties that polymers or polymer- matrix...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Ultrasonic/Sonic Anchor

The ultrasonic/sonic anchor (U/S anchor) is an anchoring device that drills a hole for itself in rock, concrete, or other similar material. The U/S anchor is a recent addition to a series of related devices, the first of which were reported in “Ultrasonic/Sonic Drill/Corers With Integrated Sensors” (NPO-20856), NASA...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Grooved Fuel Rings for Nuclear Thermal Rocket Engines

An alternative design concept for nuclear thermal rocket engines for interplanetary spacecraft calls for the use of grooved-ring fuel elements. Beyond spacecraft rocket engines, this concept also has potential for the design of terrestrial and spacecraft nuclear electric-power plants.

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Pulsed Operation of an Ion Accelerator

Electronic circuitry has been devised to enable operation of an ion accelerator in either a continuous mode or a high-peak-power, low-average-power pulsed mode. In the original intended application, the ion accelerator would be used as a spacecraft thruster and the pulse mode would serve to generate small...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
The Radio Frequency Health Node Wireless Sensor System

The Radio Frequency Health Node (RFHN) wireless sensor system differs from other wireless sensor systems in ways originally intended to enhance utility as an instrumentation system for a spacecraft. The RFHN can also be adapted to use in terrestrial applications in which there are...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Small CO₂ Sensors Operate at Lower Temperature

Solid-electrolyte-based amperometric sensors for measuring concentrations of CO2 in air are being developed for use in detection of fires, environmental monitoring, and other applications where liquid-based electrochemical cells are problematic. These sensors are small (sizes of the...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Effects of Temperature on Polymer/Carbon Chemical Sensors

Experiments were conducted on the effects of temperature, polymer molecular weight, and carbon loading on the electrical resistances of polymer/carbon-black composite films. The experiment were performed in a continuing effort to develop such films as part of the JPL Electronic Nose...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Tele-Supervised Adaptive Ocean Sensor Fleet

The Tele-supervised Adaptive Ocean Sensor Fleet (TAOSF) is a multi-robot science exploration architecture and system that uses a group of robotic boats (the Ocean-Atmosphere Sensor Integration System, or OASIS) to enable in-situ study of ocean surface and subsurface characteristics and the dynamics of...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Submillimeter-Wave Amplifier Module With Integrated Waveguide Transitions

To increase the usefulness of monolithic millimeter-wave integrated circuit (MMIC) components at submillimeter-wave frequencies, a chip has been designed that incorporates two integrated, radial E-plane probes with an MMIC amplifier in between, thus creating a fully...