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

A special image-data-processing technique has been developed for use in experiments that involve observation, via optical microscopes equipped with electronic cameras, of moving...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
A Deep Space Network Portable Radio Science Receiver

The Radio Science Receiver (RSR) is an open-loop receiver installed in NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN), which digitally filters and records intermediate-frequency (IF) analog signals. The RSR is an important tool for the Cassini Project, which uses it to measure perturbations of the...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Using GPS to Detect Imminent Tsunamis

A promising method of detecting imminent tsunamis and estimating their destructive potential involves the use of Global Positioning System (GPS) data in addition to seismic data. Application of the method is expected to increase the reliability of global tsunami-warning systems, making it possible to save...

Briefs: Information Technology
Stream Flow Prediction by Remote Sensing and Genetic Programming

A genetic programming (GP)-based, nonlinear modeling structure relates soil moisture with synthetic-apertureradar (SAR) images to present representative soil moisture estimates at the watershed scale. Surface soil moisture measurement is difficult to obtain over a large area due to...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Very-Long-Distance Remote Hearing and Vibrometry

A proposed development of laserbased instrumentation systems would extend the art of laser Doppler vibrometry beyond the prior limits of laserassisted remote hearing and industrial vibrometry for detecting defects in operating mechanisms. A system according to the proposal could covertly measure...

Briefs: Information Technology
Low-Complexity Lossless and Near-Lossless Data Compression Technique for Multispectral Imagery

This work extends the lossless data compression technique described in “Fast Lossless Compression of Multispectral-Image Data,” (NPO- 42517) NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 30, No. 8 (August 2006), page 26. The original technique was extended to include a...

Briefs: Semiconductors & ICs
Reconfigurable, Bi-Directional Flexfet Level Shifter for Low- Power, Rad-Hard Integration

Two prototype Reconfigurable, Bidirectional Flexfet Level Shifters (ReBiLS) have been developed, where one version is a stand-alone component designed to interface between external low voltage and high voltage, and the other version is an embedded...

Briefs: Semiconductors & ICs
Compact, Miniature MMIC Receiver Modules for an MMIC Array Spectrograph

A single-pixel prototype of a W-band detector module with a digital backend was developed to serve as a building block for large focal-plane arrays of monolithic millimeter-wave integrated circuit (MMIC) detectors. The module uses low-noise amplifiers, diode-based mixers,...

Briefs: Semiconductors & ICs
Magnetic-Field-Tunable Superconducting Rectifier

Superconducting electronic components have been developed that provide current rectification that is tunable by design and with an externally applied magnetic field to the circuit component. The superconducting material used in the device is relatively free of pinning sites with its critical...

Briefs: Semiconductors & ICs
Waveguide Transition for Submillimeter-Wave MMICs

An integrated waveguide-to-MMIC (monolithic microwave integrated circuit) chip operating in the 300-GHz range is designed to operate well on highpermittivity semiconductor substrates typical for an MMIC amplifier, and allows a wider MMIC substrate to be used, enabling integration with larger...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

A method of pilotless frame synchronization has been devised for low-density parity-check (LDPC) codes. Heretofore, it has been conventional practice to add pilot symbols, which...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Modulation Based on Probability Density Functions

A proposed method of modulating a sinusoidal carrier signal to convey digital information involves the use of histograms representing probability density functions (PDFs) that characterize samples of the signal waveform. Although almost any modulation can be characterized as amplitude, phase, or...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

An architecture for arraying microwave antennas in the next generation of NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) involves the use of all photonic links between (1) the antennas in a given...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Video System for Viewing From a Remote or Windowless Cockpit

A system of electronic hardware and software synthesizes, in nearly real time, an image of a portion of a scene surveyed by as many as eight video cameras aimed, in different directions, at portions of the scene. This is a prototype of systems that would enable a pilot to view the...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Hardware-Efficient Monitoring of I/O Signals

In this invention, command and monitor functionality is moved between the two independent pieces of hardware, in which one had been dedicated to command and the other had been dedicated to monitor, such that some command and some monitor functionality appears in each. The only constraint is that the...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Spacesuit Data Display and Management System

A prototype embedded avionics system has been designed for the next generation of NASA extra-vehicular-activity (EVA) spacesuits. The system performs biomedical and other sensor monitoring, image capture, data display, and data transmission. An existing NASA Phase I and II award winning design for an...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
IEEE 1394 Hub With Fault Containment

This innovation is designed to prevent a single end system communication node from negatively influencing the whole system’s behavior so that the network system can still operate if an end node is faulty. Placing a hub (star) in the middle of the system prevents propagation of critical control information...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Ku Telemetry Modulator for Suborbital

A modulator utilizing the Ku-band instead of the usual S-band has been developed to improve transmission rates for suborbital platforms. The unit operates in the 14.5–15.5-GHz band and supports data rates up to 200 Mbps.

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Radiometer on a Chip

Submillimeter-wave radiometers have traditionally been built by packaging each chip with a distinct function separately, and then combining the packaged chips to form subsystems. Instead of packaging one chip at a time, the radiometer on a chip (ROC) integrates whole wafers together to provide a robust, extremely powerful...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Measuring Luminescence Lifetime With Help of a DSP

An instrument for measuring the lifetime of luminescence (fluorescence or phosphorescence) includes a digital signal processor (DSP) as the primary means of control, generation of excitation signals, and analysis of response signals. In contrast, prior luminescencelifetime- measuring instruments...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Bonded Invar Clip Removal Using Foil Heaters

A new process uses local heating and temperature monitoring to soften the adhesive under Invar clips enough that they can be removed without damaging the composite underneath or other nearby bonds. Two 1×1 in. (≈2.5×2.5 cm), 10-W/in.2 (≈1.6-W/cm2), 80-ohm resistive foil Kapton foil...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Gratings Fabricated on Flat Surfaces and Reproduced on Non-Flat Substrates

A method has been developed for fabricating gratings on flat substrates, and then reproducing the groove pattern on a curved (concave or convex) substrate and a corresponding grating device. First, surface relief diffraction grating grooves are formed on flat substrates....

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Fabricating Radial Groove Gratings Using Projection Photolithography

Projection photolithography has been used as a fabrication method for radial grove gratings. Use of photolithographic method for diffraction grating fabrication represents the most significant breakthrough in grating technology in the last 60 years, since the introduction of...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Method for Measuring the Volume-Scattering Function of Water

The volume scattering function (VSF) of seawater affects visibility, remote sensing properties, in-water light propagation, lidar performance, and the like. Currently, it’s possible to measure only small forward angles of VSF, or to use cumbersome, large, and non-auton - omous...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Method of Heating a Foam-Based Catalyst Bed

A method of heating a foam-based catalyst bed has been developed using silicon carbide as the catalyst support due to its readily accessible, high surface area that is oxidation-resistant and is electrically conductive. The foam support may be resistively heated by passing an electric current through...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Small Deflection Energy Analyzer for Energy and Angular Distributions

The development of the Small Deflection Energy Analyzer (SDEA) charged-particle spectrometer for energy and angle distributions responds to a longstanding need to measure the wind velocity vector in Earth’s thermosphere, and to obtain the ion-drift vector in the ionosphere....

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Polymeric Bladder for Storing Liquid Oxygen

A proposed system for storing oxygen in liquid form and dispensing it in gaseous form is based on (1) initial subcooling of the liquid oxygen; (2) containing the liquid oxygen in a flexible vessel; (3) applying a gas spring to the flexible vessel to keep the oxygen compressed above the saturation...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Pyrotechnic Simulator/Stray-Voltage Detector

The concept for a dual test item has been developed for use in simulating live initiators/detonators during ground testing to verify the proper operation of the safing and firing circuitry for ground and flight systems ordnance as well as continuous monitoring for any stray voltages. Previous ordnance...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Inventions Utilizing Microfluidics and Colloidal Particles

Several related inventions pertain to families of devices that utilize microfluidics and/or colloidal particles to obtain useful physical effects. The families of devices can be summarized as follows:

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