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
Vision System Measures Motions of Robot and External Objects

A prototype of an advanced robotic vision system both (1) measures its own motion with respect to a stationary background and (2) detects other moving objects and estimates their motions, all by use of visual cues. Like some prior robotic and other optoelectronic vision systems, this...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Wide-Band Radar for Measuring Thickness of Sea Ice

A wide-band penetrating radar system for measuring the thickness of sea ice is under development. The need for this or a similar system arises as follows: Spatial and temporal variations in the thickness of sea ice are important indicators of heat fluxes between the ocean and atmosphere and,...

Interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) has been shown to provide very sensitive measurements of surface deformation and displacement on the order of 1 cm. Future...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Microwave Power Combiner/Switch Utilizing a Faraday Rotator

A proposed device for combining or switching electromagnetic beams would have three ports, would not contain any moving parts, and would be switchable among three operating states:

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Compact Low-Loss Planar Magic-T

This design allows broadband power combining with high isolation between the H port and E port, and achieves a lower insertion loss than any other broadband planar magic-T. Passive micro wave/millimeter-wave signal power is combined both in-phase and out-of-phase at the ports, with the phase error being less than...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Next Generation Flight Controller Trainer System

The Next Generation Flight Controller Trainer (NGFCT) is a relatively inexpensive system of hardware and software that provides high- fidelity training for space-shuttle flight controllers. NGFCT provides simulations into which are integrated the behaviors of emulated space-shuttle vehicle onboard...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Quasi-Optical Transmission Line for 94-GHz Radar

A quasi-optical transmission line (QOTL) has been developed as a low-loss transmission line for a spaceborne cloud-observing radar instrument that operates at a nominal frequency of 94 GHz. This QOTL could also readily be redesigned for use in terrestrial millimeter- wave radar systems and...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Using Pipelined XNOR Logic to Reduce SEU Risks in State Machines

Single-event upsets (SEUs) pose great threats to avionic systems' state machine control logic, which are frequently used to control sequence of events and to qualify protocols. The risks of SEUs manifest in two ways: (a) the state machine's state information is changed, causing the...

In a proposed improvement in complementary metal oxide/semi con ductor (CMOS) image detectors, two additional implants in each pixel would effect vertical isolation between the metal oxide/...

Briefs: Information Technology
Converting From DDOR SASF to APF

A computer program called “ddor_sasf2apf” converts delta-door (delta differential one-way range) request from an SASF (spacecraft activity sequence file) format to an APF (apgen plan file) format for use in the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) mission-planning-and- sequencing process. The APF is used as an...

Briefs: Information Technology
Converting From CVF to AAF

A computer program called “dsn config converter” automates what had been a manual process for updating the multi-mission adaptation file (multi.aaf) used by a multiple- mission- command- sequence- generating process comprised of a combination of the AUTOGEN and APGEN programs mentioned in the immediately preceding...

Briefs: Information Technology
Documenting AUTOGEN and APGEN Model Files

A computer program called “autogen hypertext map generator” satisfies a need for documenting and assisting in visualization of, and navigation through, model files used in the AUTOGEN and APGEN software mentioned in the two immediately preceding articles. This program parses autogen script files,...

Briefs: Information Technology
Sequence History Update Tool

The Sequence History Update Tool performs Web-based sequence statistics archiving for Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). Using a single UNIX command, the software takes advantage of sequencing conventions to automatically extract the needed statistics from multiple files. This information is then used to populate a...

Briefs: Software
Extraction and Analysis of Display Data

The Display Audit Suite is an integrated package of software tools that partly automates the detection of Portable Computer System (PCS) Display errors. [PCS is a laptop computer used onboard the International Space Station (ISS).] The need for automation stems from the large quantity of PCS displays...

Briefs: Information Technology
MRO DKF Post-Processing Tool

This software tool saves time and reduces risk by automating two labor-intensive and error- prone post-processing steps required for every DKF [DSN (Deep Space Network) Keyword File] that MRO (Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter) produces, and is being extended to post-process the corresponding TSOE (Text Sequence Of Events)...

Briefs: Software
Rig Diagnostic Tools

Rig Diagnostic Tools is a suite of applications designed to allow an operator to monitor the status and health of complex networked systems using a unique interface between Java applications and UNIX scripts. The suite consists of Java applications, C scripts, VxWorks applications, UNIX utilities, C programs, and...

Briefs: Information Technology
MRO Sequence Checking Tool

The MRO Sequence Checking Tool program, mro_check, automates significant portions of the MRO (Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter) sequence checking procedure. Though MRO has similar checks to the ODY's (Mars Odyssey) Mega Check tool, the checks needed for MRO are unique to the MRO spacecraft.

Briefs: Information Technology
Science Activity Planner for the MER Mission

The Maestro Science Activity Planner is a computer program that assists human users in planning operations of the Mars Explorer Rover (MER) mission and visualizing scientific data returned from the MER rovers. Relative to its predecessors, this program is more powerful and easier to use. This program...

Briefs: Information Technology
UAVSAR Flight-Planning System

A system of software partly automates planning of a flight of the Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR) — a polarimetric synthetic-aperture radar system aboard an unpiloted or minimally piloted airplane. The software constructs a flight plan that specifies not only the intended flight...

Templates for fabricating sharply pointed microscopic peaks arranged in nearly regular planar arrays can be fabricated by a relatively inexpensive technique that has recently been...

Improved crucibles consisting mainly of metal-reinforced ceramic ampules have been developed for use in experiments in which material specimens are heated in the crucibles to various high temperatures,...

Briefs: Materials
Adjustable Membrane Mirrors Incorporating G-Elastomers

Lightweight, flexible, large-aperture mirrors of a type being developed for use in outer space have unimorph structures that enable precise adjustment of their surface figures. A mirror of this type includes a reflective membrane layer bonded with an electrostrictive grafted elastomer...

Briefs: Materials
High-Temperature Crystal-Growth Cartridge Tubes Made by VPS

Cartridge tubes for use in a crystal-growth furnace at temperatures as high as 1,600°C have been fabricated by vacuum plasma spraying (VPS). These cartridges consist mainly of an alloy of 60 weight percent molybdenum with 40 weight percent rhenium, made from molybdenum powder coated...

Briefs: Materials
Hall-Effect Thruster Utilizing Bismuth as Propellant

A laboratory-model Hall-effect spacecraft thruster was developed that utilizes bismuth as the propellant. Xenon was used in most prior Hall-effect thrusters. Bismuth is an attractive alternative because it has a larger atomic mass, a larger electron- impact- ionization cross-section, and is...

Applying an electric current to specially coated glass results in radiant heat energy. This process creates a transparent heating element with near- uniform surface temperatures. Manufacturing...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Deep-Sea Hydrothermal-Vent Sampler

An apparatus is being developed for sampling water for signs of microbial life in an ocean hydrothermal vent at a depth of as much as 6.5 km. Heretofore, evidence of microbial life in deep-sea hydrothermal...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Mars Rocket Propulsion System

A report discusses the methane and carbon monoxide/LOX (McLOx) rocket for ascent from Mars as well as other critical space propulsion tasks. The system offers a specific impulse over 370 s — roughly 50 s higher than existing space-storable bio- propellants. Current Mars in-situ propellant production (ISPP)...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Two-Stage Passive Vibration Isolator

The design and testing of a structural system were implemented to hold the optics of the planned Space Interferometry Mission (SIM) at positions and orientations characterized by vibrational translation and rotation errors of no more than a few nanometers or a few milliarcseconds, respectively. Much of the...

Briefs: Physical Sciences
Altimetry Using GPS-Reflection/Occultation Interferometry

A Global Positioning System (GPS)- reflection/occultation interferometry was examined as a means of altimetry of water and ice surfaces in polar regions. In GPS- reflection/occultation interferometry, a GPS receiver aboard a satellite in a low orbit around the Earth is used to determine...

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Electric-Vehicle Transmission Development Priorities

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The Critical Role of Fiber Optic Temperature Sensors in Medical...

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Zinc Die Casting Concepts to Achieve Precision, Performance, and...

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Radar Measurements: Triggering, Analysis, and Generation

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Designing with Silicone for Space

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