Tech Briefs

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
Master Clock and Time-Signal-Distribution System

A timing system comprising an electronic master clock and a subsystem for distributing time signals from the master clock to end users is undergoing development to satisfy anticipated timing requirements of NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN) for the next 20 to 30 years. The developmental system is...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Synchronous Phase-Resolving Flash Range Imaging

The figure is a simplified diagram of an apparatus, now undergoing development, for range imaging based on measurement of the round-trip phase delay of a pulsed laser beam. Variants of this apparatus could be used to provide range information needed for navigation of autonomous robotic ground...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Bar-Code System for a Microbiological Laboratory

A bar-code system (see figure) has been assembled for a microbiological laboratory that must examine a large number of samples. The system includes a commercial bar-code reader, computer hardware and software components, plus custom-designed database software. The software generates a...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Integrated Radial Probe Transition From MMIC to Waveguide

A radial probe transition between a monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) and a waveguide has been designed for operation at frequency of 340 GHz and to be fabricated as part of a monolithic unit that includes the MMIC. Integrated radial probe transitions like this one are...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
MMIC Amplifier Produces Gain of 10 dB at 235 GHz

The first solid-state amplifier capable of producing gain at a frequency >215 GHz has been demonstrated. This amplifier is an intermediate product of a continuing effort to develop amplifiers having the frequency and gain characteristics needed for a forthcoming generation of remote-sensing...

Briefs : Software
Better Finite-Element Analysis of Composite Shell Structures

A computer program implements a finite-element-based method of predicting the deformations of thin aerospace structures made of isotropic materials or anisotropic fiber-reinforced composite materials. The technique and corresponding software are applicable to thin shell structures in...

Briefs : Software
Computing Spacecraft-Pointing Vectors for Limb Tracking

LMBTRK is a computer program that is used together with two software libraries known as ERHAND and HYBRRD to generate spacecraft-pointing vectors for limb-tracking maneuvers needed for experiments on propagation of radio signals through planetary atmospheres. LMBTRK determines, as a...

Briefs : Software
Enhanced Master Controller Unit Tester

The Enhanced Master Controller Unit Tester (EMUT) software is a tool for development and testing of software for a master controller (MC) flight computer. The primary function of the EMUT software is to simulate interfaces between the MC computer and external analog and digital circuitry (including other...

Briefs : Software
Rover Graphical Simulator

Rover Graphical Simulator (RGS) is a package of software that generates images of the motion of a wheeled robotic exploratory vehicle (rover) across terrain that includes obstacles and regions of varying traversability. The simulated rover moves autonomously, utilizing reasoning and decision-making capabilities of a...

Briefs : Materials
Increasing Durability of Flame-Sprayed Strain Gauges

Thermally sprayed dielectric ceramic coatings are the primary means of attaching strain and temperature gauges to hot-section rotating parts of turbine engines. As hot-section temperatures increase, lifetimes of installed gauges decrease, and seldom exceed one hour above 2,000 °F ( ≈1,100...

Briefs : Materials
Multifunctional, High-Temperature Nanocomposites

In experiments conducted as part of a continuing effort to incorporate multifunctionality into advanced composite materials, blends of multi-walled carbon nanotubes and a resin denoted "PETI-330" (wherein "PETI" is an abbreviation for "phenylethynyl- terminated imide") were prepared,...

Briefs : Materials
Multilayer Impregnated Fibrous Thermal Insulation Tiles

The term "secondary polymer layered impregnated tile" ("SPLIT") denotes a type of ablative composite-material thermal- insulation tiles having engineered, spatially non-uniform compositions. The term "secondary" refers to the fact that each tile contains at least two polymer layers wherein...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Film/Adhesive Processing Module for Fiber-Placement Processing of Composites

An automated apparatus has been designed and constructed that enables the automated lay-up of composite structures incorporating films, foils, and adhesives during the automated fiberplacement process. This apparatus, denoted a film module, could be used to deposit...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Radiation-Shielding Polymer/Soil Composites

It has been proposed to fabricate polymer/soil composites primarily from extraterrestrial resources, using relatively lowenergy processes, with the original intended application being that habitat structures constructed from such composites would have sufficient structural integrity and also provide...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Statistical Model of Evaporating Multicomponent Fuel Drops

An improved statistical model has been developed to describe the chemical composition of an evaporating multicomponent- liquid drop and of the mixture of gases surrounding the drop. The model is intended for use in computational simulations of the evaporation and combustion of sprayed...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Electrochemical Disposal of Hydrazines in Water

An electrochemical method of disposal of hydrazines dissolved in water has been devised. The method is applicable to hydrazine (N2H4), to monomethyl hydrazine [also denoted by MMH or by its chemical formula, (CH3)HNNH2], and to unsymmetrical dimethyl...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Resistively Heated SiC Nozzle for Generating Molecular Beams

An improved nozzle has been developed to replace nozzles used previously in an apparatus that generates a substantially unidirectional beam of molecules passing through a vacuum at speeds of several kilometers per second. The need to replace the previous nozzles arose from a complex...

Briefs : Information Technology
Modeling Evaporation of Drops of Different Kerosenes

A mathematical model describes the evaporation of drops of a hydrocarbon liquid composed of as many as hundreds of chemical species. The model is intended especially for application to any of several types of kerosenes commonly used as fuels. Like evaporating- multicomponent- fuel-drop models...

Briefs : Information Technology
A Robustly Stabilizing Model Predictive Control Algorithm

A model predictive control (MPC) algorithm that differs from prior MPC algorithms has been developed for controlling an uncertain nonlinear system. This algorithm guarantees the resolvability of an associated finite-horizon optimal-control problem in a recedinghorizon implementation....

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Development of Vapor-Phase Catalytic Ammonia Removal System

A report describes recent accomplishments of a continuing effort to develop the vapor-phase catalytic ammonia removal (VPCAR) process for recycling wastewater for consumption by humans aboard a spacecraft in transit to Mars. The VPCAR process is implemented by a system of highly...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Several Developments in Space Tethers

Five reports address different aspects of development of tethers to be deployed from spacecraft in orbit around the Earth. The first report discusses proposed optoelectronic tracking of retroreflective objects located at intervals or of retroreflective coats along the entire length of a tether to measure...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Design Concept for a Nuclear Reactor-Powered Mars Rover

A report presents a design concept for an instrumented robotic vehicle (rover) to be used on a future mission of exploration of the planet Mars. The design incorporates a nuclear fission power system to provide long range, long life, and high power capabilities unachievable through the use...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Formation-Initialization Algorithm for N Spacecraft

A paper presents an algorithm to initialize a formation of N distributed spacecraft in deep space. Such formations will enable variable-baseline interferometers in future NASA missions designed to study the structure and origin of the universe. The algorithm described in the paper reflects some...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
DNSs of Multicomponent Gaseous and Drop-Laden Mixing Layers Achieving Transition to Turbulence

A paper describes direct numerical simulations (DNSs) of three-dimensional mixing-layer flows undergoing transition to turbulence; the mixing layers may or may not be laden with evaporating liquid drops. In contrast to most studies in this field, the...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Noise-Canceling Helmet Audio System

A prototype helmet audio system has been developed to improve voice communication for the wearer in a noisy environment. The system was originally intended to be used in a space suit, wherein noise generated by airflow of the spacesuit life-support system can make it difficult for remote listeners to...

Briefs : Software
Program Analyzes Spacecraft/Ground Radio Links

A versatile computer program analyzes the link-design control table necessary for designing the telecommunication subsystem of a spacecraft in orbit around the Earth or on a deep-space mission. The program helps to calculate all the important parameter values for spacecraft-to-ground telemetry links...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Six-Message Electromechanical Display System

A proposed electromechanical display system would be capable of presenting as many as six distinct messages. This system would be a more capable and more complex successor to the proposed system reported in "Four-Message Electromechanical Display System" (MFS-31368), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 24, No. 4...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Two-Way Communication Using RFID Equipment and Techniques

Equipment and techniques used in radio-frequency identification (RFID) would be extended, according to a proposal, to enable short-range, two-way communication between electronic products and host computers. In one example of a typical contemplated application, the purpose of the...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Compact Packaging of Photonic Millimeter-Wave Receiver

A carrier structure made from a single silicon substrate is the basis of a compact, lightweight, relatively inexpensive package that holds the main optical/electronic coupling components of a photonic millimeter- wave receiver based on a lithium niobate resonator disk. The design of the...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Fabrication of Submillimeter Axisymmetric Optical Components

It is now possible to fashion transparent crystalline materials into axisymmetric optical components having diameters ranging from hundreds down to tens of micrometers, whereas previously, the smallest attainable diameter was 500 m. A major step in the fabrication process that makes...

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