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
Programmable Low-Voltage Circuit Breaker and Tester

An instrumentation system that would comprise a remotely controllable and programmable low- voltage circuit breaker plus several electric- circuit-testing subsystems has been conceived, originally for use aboard a spacecraft during all phases of operation from pre-launch testing through launch,...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Fabricating Large-Area Sheets of Single-Layer Graphene by CVD

This innovation consists of a set of methodologies for preparing large area (>1 cm2) domains of single-atomic-layer graphite, also called graphene, in single (two-dimensional) crystal form. To fabricate a single graphene layer using chemical vapor deposition (CVD), the...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Heat Transfer Analysis for Optimizing Solar Cell Casting Equipment

Solar Power Industries' (SPI) current annual production capacity for processing polycrystalline silicon feedstock into completed solar cells has grown to 40 megawatts, with plans to increase capacity to 250 megawatts over the next several years. SPI's solar cell manufacturing...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Support for Diagnosis of Custom Computer Hardware

The Coldfire SDN Diagnostics software is a flexible means of exercising, testing, and debugging custom computer hardware. The software is a set of routines that, collectively, serve as a common software interface through which one can gain access to various parts of the hardware under test and/or...

Briefs : Information Technology
Providing Goal-Based Autonomy for Commanding a Spacecraft

A computer program for use aboard a scientific- exploration spacecraft autonomously selects among goals specified in high-level requests and generates corresponding sequences of low-level commands, understandable by spacecraft systems. (As used here, "goals" signifies specific scientific...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Dynamic Method For Identifying Collected Sample Mass

G-Sample is designed for sample collection missions to identify the presence and quantity of sample material gathered by spacecraft equipped with end effectors. The software method uses a maximum-likelihood estimator to identify the collected sample's mass based on onboard force-sensor...

Briefs : Information Technology
Optimal Planning and Problem-Solving

CTAEMS MDP Optimal Planner is a problem- solving software designed to command a single spacecraft/rover, or a team of spacecraft/ rovers, to perform the best action possible at all times according to an abstract model of the spacecraft/rover and its environment. It also may be useful in solving logistical...

Briefs : Information Technology
Attitude-Control Algorithm for Minimizing Maneuver Execution Errors

A G-RAC attitude- control algorithm is used to minimize maneuver execution error in a spacecraft with a flexible appendage when said spacecraft must induce translational momentum by firing (in open loop) large thrusters along a desired direction for a given period of time. The...

Briefs : Information Technology
Grants Document-Generation System

The Grants Document- Generation System (GDGS) software allows the generation of official grants documents for distribution to the appropriate parties. The documents are created after the selection and entry of specific data elements and clauses. GDGS is written in Cold Fusion that resides on an SQL2000 database...

Briefs : Materials
Precipitation-Strengthened, High-Temperature, High-Force Shape Memory Alloys

Shape memory alloys (SMAs) are an enabling component in the development of compact, lightweight, durable, high-force actuation systems particularly for use where hydraulics or electrical motors are not practical. However, commercial shape memory alloys based on NiTi are...

Briefs : Materials
Heat-Storage Modules Containing LiNO3•3H2O and Graphite Foam

A heat-storage module based on a commercial open-cell graphite foam (PocoFoam or equivalent) imbued with lithium nitrate trihydrate (LiNO3•3H2O) has been developed as a prototype of other such modules for use as short-term heat sources or heat sinks in the...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Improved Relief Valve Would Be Less Susceptible to Failure

The balanced-piston relief valve with side vented reaction cavity has been proposed as an improved alternative to a conventional high- pressure, high-flow relief valve. As explained below, the proposed valve would be less susceptible to failure.

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Using Composite Materials in a Cryogenic Pump

Several modifications have been made to the design and operation of an extended-shaft cryogenic pump to increase the efficiency of pumping. In general, the efficiency of pumping a cryogenic fluid is limited by thermal losses (the thermal energy that the pump adds to the fluid). The sources of the...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Safety Modification of Cam-and-Groove Hose Coupling

A modification has been made in the mating halves of a cam-and- groove hose coupling to prevent rapid separation of the halves in the event that the cam levers are released while the fluid in the hose is pressurized. This modification can be duplicated on almost any commercially available...

Briefs : Medical
Using Electronic Noses To Detect Tumors During Neurosurgery

It has been proposed to develop special-purpose electronic noses and algorithms for processing the digitized outputs of the electronic noses for determining whether tissue exposed during neurosurgery is cancerous. At present, visual inspection by a surgeon is the only available...

Briefs : Medical
Producing Newborn Synchronous Mammalian Cells

A method and bioreactor for the continuous production of synchronous (same age) population of mammalian cells have been invented. The invention involves the attachment and growth of cells on an adhesive-coated porous membrane immersed in a perfused liquid culture medium in a microgravity analog...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Smaller, Lower-Power Fast-Neutron Scintillation Detectors

Scintillation-based fast-neutron detectors that are smaller and less power-hungry than mainstream scintillation-based fast-neutron detectors are undergoing development. There are numerous applications for such detectors in monitoring fast-neutron fluxes from nuclear reactors, nuclear...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Particle-Charge Spectrometer

An instrument for rapidly measuring the electric charges and sizes (from ≈1 to ≈100 μm) of airborne particles is undergoing development. Conceived for monitoring atmospheric dust particles on Mars, instruments like this one could also be used on Earth to monitor natural and artificial aerosols in diverse indoor...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Rotationally Vibrating Electric-Field Mill

A proposed instrument for measuring a static electric field would be based partly on a conventional rotating- split-cylinder or rotating-split-sphere electric-field mill. However, the design of the proposed instrument would overcome the difficulty, encountered in conventional rotational field mills, of...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Estimating Hardness From the USDC Tool-Bit Temperature Rise

A method of real-time quantification of the hardness of a rock or similar material involves measurement of the temperature, as a function of time, of the tool bit of an ultrasonic/sonic drill corer (USDC) that is being used to drill into the material. The method is based on the idea...

Briefs : Information Technology
Automated Production of Movies on a Cluster of Computers

A method of accelerating and facilitating production of video and film motion- picture products, and software and generic designs of computer hardware to implement the method, are undergoing development. The method provides for automation of most of the tedious and repetitive tasks...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
FIDO-Class Development Rover

A report describes a rover-type robotic wheeled vehicle recently built for use as a testbed for development of software for future rover-type vehicles. This vehicle is a derivative of the Field Integrated Design and Operations (FIDO) rover, which is a prototype Mars- exploration rover that also serves as a...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Tone-Based Command of Deep Space Probes Using Ground Antennas

A document discusses a technique for enabling the reception of spacecraft commands at received signal levels as much as three orders of magnitude below those of current deep space systems. Tone-based commanding deals with the reception of commands that are sent in the form of precise...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Torque Sensor Based on Tunnel-Diode Oscillator

A proposed torque sensor would be capable of operating over the temperature range from 1 to 400 K, whereas a typical commercially available torque sensor is limited to the narrower temperature range of 244 to 338 K. The design of this sensor would exploit the wide temperature range and other...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Shaft-Angle Sensor Based on Tunnel-Diode Oscillator

A proposed brushless shaft-angle sensor for use in extreme cold would offer significant advantages over prior such sensors:

It would be capable of operating in extreme cold; and Its electronic circuitry would be simpler than that of a permanent- magnet/multiple-
Hall-probe shaft-angle...
Briefs : Physical Sciences
Optical Pressure-Temperature Sensor for a Combustion Chamber

A compact sensor for measuring temperature and pressure in a combustion chamber has been proposed. Heretofore, independent measurements of high pressures and temperatures in combustion chambers have not been performed. In the original intended application, the combustion chamber would...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Ground Facility for Vicarious Calibration of Skyborne Sensors

An automated ground facility, for vicarious radiometric calibration of airborne and spaceborne sensors of visible and infrared light has been established. In the term “vicarious calibration,” “vicarious” is used in the sense of “in place of another,” signifying “in place...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Impact-Locator Sensor Panels

Electronic sensor systems for detecting and locating impacts of rapidly moving particles on spacecraft have been invented. Systems of this type could also be useful on Earth in settings in which the occurrence of impacts and/or the locations of impacts are not immediately obvious and there are requirements to detect...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Low-Temperature Supercapacitors

An effort to extend the low-temperature operational limit of supercapacitors is currently underway. At present, commercially available non-aqueous supercapacitors are rated for a minimum operating temperature of –40 °C. A capability to operate at lower temperatures would be desirable for delivering power to...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
MEMS/ECD Method for Making Bi₂₋ₓSbₓTe₃ Thermoelectric Devices

A method of fabricating Bi2–xSbxTe3-based thermoelectric microdevices involves a combination of (1) techniques used previously in the fabrication of integrated circuits and of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and (2) a relatively...

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