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 : Software
Partial Automation of Requirements Tracing

Requirements Tracing on Target (RETRO) is software for after-the-fact tracing of textual requirements to support independent verification and validation of software. RETRO applies one of three user-selectable information-retrieval techniques: (1) term frequency/inverse document frequency (TF/IDF) vector...

Briefs : Software
Automated Synthesis of Architectures of Avionic Systems

The Architecture Synthesis Tool (AST) is software that automatically synthesizes software and hardware architectures of avionic systems. The AST is expected to be most helpful during initial formulation of an avionic-system design, when system requirements change frequently and manual...

Briefs : Software
SSRL Emergency Response Shore Tool

The SSRL Emergency Response Shore Tool (wherein “SSRL” signifies “Smart Systems Research Laboratory”) is a computer program within a system of communication and mobile-computing software and hardware being developed to increase the situational awareness of first responders at building collapses....

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Four-Quadrant Analog Multipliers Using G4-FETs

Theoretical analysis and some experiments have shown that the silicon-on-insulator (SOI) 4-gate transistors known as G4-FETs can be used as building blocks of four-quadrant analog voltage multiplier circuits. Whereas a typical prior analog voltage multiplier contains between six and 10...

Briefs : Materials
Carbon-Nanotube-Carpet Heat-Transfer Pads

Microscopic thermal-contact pads that include carpetlike arrays of carbon nanotubes have been invented for dissipating heat generated in integrated circuits and similarly sized single electronic components. The need for these or other innovative thermal-contact pads arises because the requisite high...

Briefs : Materials
Wholly Aromatic Ether-Imides as n-Type Semiconductors

Some wholly aromatic ether-imides consisting of rod-shaped, relatively-low-mass molecules that can form liquid crystals have been investigated for potential utility as electron-donor-type (n-type) organic semiconductors. It is envisioned that after further research to improve understanding of...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Nuclear Reactor Cooling Valve Design Optimized With FEA

Atomic Energy of Canada, Ltd., a subcontractor of Societatea Nationala Nucleoelectrica S.A. (SNN) of Romania, contracted Badger Meter to model, test, and produce a set of precision valves for Cernavoda Unit 2, the second nuclear power plant in Cernavoda, Romania. The main concern for the...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Pulse-Flow Microencapsulation System

The pulse-flow microencapsulation system (PFMS) is an automated system that continuously produces a stream of liquid-filled microcapsules for delivery of therapeutic agents to target tissues. Prior microencapsulation systems have relied on batch processes that involve transfer of batches between different...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Automated Low-Gravitation Facility Would Make Optical Fibers

A report describes a proposed automated facility that would be operated in outer space to produce high-quality optical fibers from fluoride-based glasses, free of light-scattering crystallites that form during production in normal Earth gravitation. Before launch, glass preforms would...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Surface Acoustic Wave Sensor for Viscosity Measurement

Viscosity is a measure of the resistance of a liquid to flow, and is an important measurement requirement in industrial process control and OEM applications. Viscosity describes the retarding force that is proportional to the rate of deformation. This so-called shear rate has units of...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Alignment Cube With One Diffractive Face

An enhanced alignment cube has been invented for use in a confined setting (e.g., a cryogenic chamber) in which optical access may be limited to a single line of sight. Whereas traditional alignment-cube practice entails the use of two theodolites aimed along two lines of sight, the enhanced alignment...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Graphite Composite Booms With Integral Hinges

A document discusses lightweight instrument booms under development for use aboard spacecraft. A boom of this type comprises a thin-walled graphite-fiber/matrix composite tube with an integral hinge that can be bent for stowage and later allowed to spring back to straighten the boom for deployment in...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Tool for Sampling Permafrost on a Remote Planet

A report discusses the robotic arm tool for rapidly acquiring permafrost (RATRAP), which is being developed for acquiring samples of permafrost on Mars or another remote planet and immediately delivering the samples to adjacent instruments for analysis. The prototype RATRAP includes a rasp that...

Briefs : Information Technology
Special Semaphore Scheme for UHF Spacecraft Communications

A semaphore scheme has been devised to satisfy a requirement to enable ultrahigh- frequency (UHF) radio communication between a spacecraft descending from orbit to a landing on Mars and a spacecraft, in orbit about Mars, that relays communications between Earth and the lander spacecraft....

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Simulator for Testing Spacecraft Separation Devices

A report describes the main features of a system for testing pyrotechnic and mechanical devices used to separate spacecraft and modules of spacecraft during flight. The system includes a spacecraft simulator [also denoted a large mobility base (LMB)] equipped with air thrusters, sensors, and...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Apparatus for Hot Impact Testing of Material Specimens

An apparatus for positioning and holding material specimens is a major subsystem of a system for impact testing of the specimens at temperatures up to 1,500 °C. This apparatus and the rest of the system are designed especially for hot impact testing of advanced ceramics, composites, and...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Instrument for Aircraft-Icing and Cloud-Physics Measurements

The figure shows a compact, rugged, simple sensor head that is part of an instrumentation system for making measurements to characterize the severity of aircraft-icing conditions and/or to perform research on cloud physics. The quantities that are calculated from measurement data...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Improved Apparatus for Testing Monoball Bearings

A desk-sized apparatus for testing monoball bearings and their lubricants offers advantages, relative to prior such apparatuses, of (1) a greater degree of automation and (2) capability of operation under wider and more realistic ranges of test conditions. The ranges of attainable test conditions...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Advances in Measurement of Skin Friction in Airflow

The surface interferometric skin-friction (SISF) measurement system is an instrument for determining the distribution of surface shear stress (skin friction) on a wind-tunnel model. The SISF system utilizes the established oil-film interference method, along with advanced image-data-processing...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Infrared Instrument for Detecting Hydrogen Fires

The figure shows an instrument incorporating an infrared camera for detecting small hydrogen fires. The instrument has been developed as an improved replacement for prior infrared and ultraviolet instruments used to detect hydrogen fires. The need for this or any such instrument arises because...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Modified Coaxial Probe Feeds for Layered Antennas

In a modified configuration of a coaxial probe feed for a layered printed-circuit antenna (e.g., a microstrip antenna), the outer conductor of the coaxial cable extends through the thickness of at least one dielectric layer and is connected to both the ground-plane conductor and a radiator-plane...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Detecting Negative Obstacles by Use of Radar

Because such wavelengths are comparable to the characteristic dimensions of terrain features associated with negative hazards, a significant amount of diffraction would occur at such features. In effect, the diffraction would afford a limited ability to see corners and to see around corners. Hence,...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Simulator for Testing Spacecraft Separation Devices

A report describes the main features of a system for testing pyrotechnic and mechanical devices used to separate spacecraft and modules of spacecraft during flight. The system includes a spacecraft simulator [also denoted a large mobility base (LMB)] equipped with air thrusters, sensors, and...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Instrument for Aircraft-Icing and Cloud- Physics Measurements

The figure shows a compact, rugged, simple sensor head that is part of an instrumentation system for making measurements to characterize the severity of aircraft-icing conditions and/or to perform research on cloud physics. The quantities that are calculated from measurement data...

Briefs : Software
PixelLearn

PixelLearn is an integrated user-interface computer program for classifying pixels in scientific images. Heretofore, training a machine-learning algorithm to classify pixels in images has been tedious and difficult. PixelLearn provides a graphical user interface that makes it faster and more intuitive, leading to more interactive...

Briefs : Software
New Software for Predicting Charging of Spacecraft

The NASA/Air Force Spacecraft Charging System Analyzer Program (Nascap-2K) is a comprehensive update, revision, and extension of several NASA and Air Force codes for predicting electrical charging of spacecraft. Nascap-2K integrates the capabilities and models included in four independent...

Briefs : Software
Conversion Between Osculating and Mean Orbital Elements

Osculating/Mean Orbital Element Conversion (C version) (OSMEANC) is a C-language computer program that performs precise conversions between osculating and mean classical orbital elements. OSMEANC can be used for precise design of spacecraft missions and maneuvers and precise calculation of...

Briefs : Software
Generating a 2D Representation of a Complex Data Structure

A computer program, designed to assist in the development and debugging of other software, generates a two-dimensional (2D) representation of a possibly complex ndimensional (where n is an integer >2) data structure or abstract rank-n object in that other software. The nature of the...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Cryogenic Pound Circuits for Cryogenic Sapphire Oscillators

Two modern cryogenic variants of the Pound circuit have been devised to increase the frequency stability of microwave oscillators that include cryogenic sapphire-filled cavity resonators. Invented in the 1940s and named after its inventor (R. V. Pound), the original Pound circuit is a...

Briefs : Materials
Making Activated Carbon by Wet Pressurized Pyrolysis

A wet pressurized pyrolysis (wet carbonization) process has been invented as a means of producing activated carbon from a wide variety of inedible biomass consisting principally of plant wastes. The principal intended use of this activated carbon is room-temperature adsorption of pollutant...