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.

Efforts are under way to develop data- acquisition, data- processing, and data- communication systems for monitoring disasters over large geographic areas by use of uninhabited...

Briefs: Information Technology
Complexity for Survival of Living Systems

A logical connection between the survivability of living systems and the complexity of their behavior (equivalently, mental complexity) has been established. This connection is an important intermediate result of continuing research on mathematical models that could constitute a unified representation of...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Using Drained Spacecraft Propellant Tanks for Habitation

A document proposes that future spacecraft for planetary and space exploration be designed to enable reuse of drained propellant tanks for occupancy by humans. This proposal would enable utilization of volume and mass that would otherwise be unavailable and, in some cases, discarded. Such...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Connecting Node

A paper describes the Octanode, a connecting node that facilitates the integration of multiple docking mechanisms, hatches, windows, and internal and external systems with the use of flat surfaces. The Octanode is a 26-faced Great Rhombicuboctahedron Archimedean solid with six octagon-shaped panels, eight hexagon-shaped panels,...

Briefs: Materials
Electrolytes for Low-Temperature Operation of Li-CFₓ Cells

A report describes a study of electrolyte compositions selected as candidates for improving the low-temperature performances of primary electrochemical cells that contain lithium anodes and fluorinated carbonaceous (CFx) cathodes. This study complements the developments...

Integrated miniature planar arrays of optical sensors for detecting specific biochemicals in extremely small quantities have been proposed. An array of this type would have an area...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Inter-Symbol Guard Time for Synchronizing Optical PPM

An inter-symbol guard time has been proposed as a means of synchronizing the symbol and slot clocks of an optical pulse-position modulation (PPM) receiver with the symbol and slot periods of an incoming optical PPM signal. (Such synchronization is necessary for correct identification of...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Device for Measuring Low Flow Speed in a Duct

A multiple-throat venturi system has been invented for measuring laminar flow of air or other gas at low speed (1 to 30 cm/s) in a duct while preserving the laminar nature of the flow and keeping...

An instrumentation system for direct measurement of the thermal conductivity of a small sample of a highly insulating material has been devised. As used here, (1) “small”...

An alignment jig (see figure) places a THz horn and power detector at the proper locations with respect to the focal points of a conic reflector in order to couple total power of the...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Autoignition Chamber for Remote Testing of Pyrotechnic Devices

The autoignition chamber (AIC) performs by remotely heating pyrotechnic devices that can fit the inner diameter of the tube furnace. Two methods, a cold start or a hot start, can be used with this device in autoignition testing of pyrotechnics. A cold start means extending a pyro -...

Briefs: Semiconductors & ICs
T/R Multi-Chip MMIC Modules for 150 GHz

Modules containing multiple monolithic microwave integrated-circuit (MMIC) chips have been built as prototypes of transmitting/receiving (T/R) modules for millimeter-wavelength radar systems, including...

Briefs: Semiconductors & ICs
Some Improvements in Utilization of Flash Memory Devices

Two developments improve the utilization of flash memory devices in the face of the following limitations: (1) a flash write element (page) differs in size from a flash erase element (block), (2) a block must be erased before its is rewritten, (3) lifetime of a flash memory is typically...

Briefs: Semiconductors & ICs
GPS/MEMS IMU/Microprocessor Board for Navigation

A miniaturized instrumentation package comprising a (1) Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver, (2) an inertial measurement unit (IMU) consisting largely of surface-micromachined sensors of the microelectro-mechanical systems (MEMS) type, and (3) a microprocessor, all residing on a single...

A modulator circuit board has recently been developed to be used in conjunction with a vector modulator to generate any of a large number of modulations for bandwidth-efficient radio...

Schemes for combining power from coherent microwave sources of arbitrary (unequal or equal) amplitude have been proposed. Most prior microwave-power-combining schemes are limited...

A system that includes a Global Positioning System (GPS) antenna and associated apparatus for keeping the antenna aimed upward has been developed for use aboard a...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Device Acquires and Retains Rock or Ice Samples

The Rock Baller is a sample acquisition tool that improves sample retention. The basic elements of the Rock Baller are the tool rotation axis, the hub, the two jaws, and the cutting blades, which are located on each of the jaws. The entire device rotates about the tool rotation axis, which is...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Pneumatic Haptic Interfaces

Haptic interfaces in the form of arrays of balloonlike pneumatic actuators are being developed to provide tactile feedback from (1) remote-manipulator hands, tools on the tips of robot arms, and other, similar...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Cryogenic Feedthrough Test Rig

The cryogenic feedthrough test rig (CFTR) allows testing of instrumentation feedthroughs at liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen temperature and pressure extremes (dangerous process fluid) without actually exposing the feedthrough to a combustible or explosive process fluid. In addition, the helium used (inert gas),...

A two-step plasma process has been developed as a means of removing surface oxide layers from indium bumps used in flip-chip hybridization (bump bonding) of integrated circuits. This...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Tool for Crimping Flexible Circuit Leads

A hand tool has been developed for crimping leads in flexible tails that are parts of some electronic circuits — especially some sensor circuits. The tool is used to cut the tails to desired lengths and attach solder tabs to the leads. For tailoring small numbers of circuits for special applications,...

An improved assembly for inert-gas shielding of a metallic joint is designed to be useable during any of a variety of both laser-based and traditional welding and brazing...

Briefs: Materials
Polyimide-Foam/Aerogel Composites for Thermal Insulation

Composites of specific types of polymer foams and aerogel particles or blankets have been proposed to obtain thermal insulation performance superior to those of the neat polyimide foams. These composites have potential to also provide enhanced properties for vibration dampening or acoustic...

Yb14MnSb11 has been found to be well-suited for use as a p-type thermoelectric material in applications that involve hot-side temperatures in the...

Briefs: Software
Converting CSV Files to RKSML Files

A computer program converts, into a format suitable for processing on Earth, files of downlinked telemetric data pertaining to the operation of the Instrument Deployment Device (IDD), which is a robot arm on either of the Mars Explorer Rovers (MERs). The raw downlinked data files are in comma-separated-value...

Briefs: Software
Service Management Database for DSN Equipment

This data- and event-driven persistent storage system leverages the use of commercial software provided by Oracle for portability, ease of maintenance, scalability, and ease of integration with embedded, client-server, and multi-tiered applications. In this role, the Service Management Database...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Chemochromic Hydrogen Leak Detectors

At NASA, hydrogen safety is a key concern for space shuttle processing. Leaks of any level must be quickly recognized and addressed due to hydrogen’s lower explosion limit. Chemochromic devices have been developed to detect hydrogen gas in several embodiments. Because hydrogen is odorless and colorless and...

A method of calculating (usually for the purpose of maximizing) the power-conversion efficiency of a segmented thermoelectric generator is based on equations derived from the fundamental...

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