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.

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...

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...

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...

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...

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 optimized...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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:

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Novel Materials Containing Single-Wall Carbon Nanotubes Wrapped in Polymer Molecules

In this design, single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) have been coated in polymer molecules to create a new type of material that has low electrical conductivity, but still contains individual nanotubes, and small ropes of individual nanotubes, which are...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Light-Curing Adhesive Repair Tapes

Adhesive tapes, the adhesive resins of which can be cured (and thereby rigidized) by exposure to ultraviolet and/or visible light, are being developed as repair patch materials. The tapes, including their resin components, consist entirely of solid, low-out-gassing, nonhazardous or minimally hazardous...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Zinc Alloys for the Fabrication of Semiconductor Devices

ZnBeO and ZnCdSeO alloys have been disclosed as materials for the improvement in performance, function, and capability of semiconductor devices. The alloys can be used alone or in combination to form active photonic layers that can emit over a range of wavelength values.

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Inherently Ducted Propfans and Bi-Props

The terms “inherently ducted propfan” (IDP) and “inherently ducted bi-prop” (IDBP) denote members of a proposed class of propfan engines that would be quieter and would weigh less than do other...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Small, Lightweight, Collapsible Glove Box

A small, lightweight, collapsible glove box enables its user to perform small experiments and other tasks. Originally intended for use aboard a space shuttle or the International Space Station (ISS),...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Steel Primer Chamber Assemblies for Dual Initiated Pyrovalves

A solution was developed to mitigate the potential risk of ignition failures and burn-through in aluminum primer chamber assemblies on pyrovalves. This was accomplished by changing the assembly material from aluminum to steel, and reconfiguration of flame channels to provide more...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Aerial Deployment and Inflation System for Mars Helium Balloons

A method is examined for safely deploying and inflating helium balloons for missions at Mars. The key for making it possible to deploy balloons that are light enough to be buoyant in the thin, Martian atmosphere is to mitigate the transient forces on the balloon that might tear...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Radial Halbach Magnetic Bearings

Radial Halbach magnetic bearings have been investigated as part of an effort to develop increasingly reliable non-contact bearings for future high-speed rotary machines that may be used in such applications...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Voice Coil Percussive Mechanism Concept for Hammer Drill

A hammer drill design of a voice coil linear actuator, spring, linear bearings, and a hammer head was proposed. The voice coil actuator moves the hammer head to produce impact to the end of the drill bit. The spring is used to store energy on the retraction and to capture the rebound...

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