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
Using Electrostriction To Manipulate Ullage in Microgravity

A report proposes to use electrostriction to manipulate the ullage in a tank containing a dielectric liquid in a microgravitational environment. In the original intended application, the liquid would be a spacecraft propellant and the goal would be to force the ullage (comprising...

Briefs: Information Technology
Equations for Scoring Rules When Data Are Missing

A document presents equations for scoring rules in a diagnostic and/or prognostic artificial-intelligence software system of the rule-based inference- engine type. The equations define a set of metrics that characterize the evaluation of a rule when data required for the antecedence clause(s) of...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Pseudorandom Switching for Adding Radar to the AFF Sensor

A document describes the proposed addition of a radar function to the Autonomous Formation Flying Sensor, making possible coarse relative-position control to prevent collisions in the event of failure of one of the spacecraft. According to the proposal, in addition to tracking GPS-like...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Holographic Plossl Retroreflectors

Holographic retroreflectors that function equivalently to Plossl eyepieces have been developed and used in free-space optical communication systems that utilize laser beams. Plossl eyepieces are well known...

A scanning optoelectronic instrument generates the digital equivalent of a three-dimensional (X,Y,Z) map of a surface that spans an area with resolution on the order of 0.005 in....

The Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption and Ionization (MALDI) technique in 1987 led to a renewed interest for the nitrogen laser. MALDI allows large and fragile biomolecules to be desorbed and...

An electro-optical (E-O) imaging Fourier-transform spectrometer (IFTS), now under development, is a prototype of improved imaging spectrometers to be used for hyperspectral imaging,...

The figure shows components of a distillation column intended for use as part of a system that produces high-purity liquid oxygen (LOX) from air by distillation. (The column could be...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Solar-Powered Cooler and Heater for an Automobile Interior

A proposed apparatus would provide or augment cooling or heating of the interior of an automobile in the presence of sunlight. The apparatus could be added to an existing automobile,...

Briefs: Information Technology
Hybrid Terrain Database

A prototype hybrid terrain database is being developed in conjunction with other databases and with hardware and software that constitute subsystems of aerospace cockpit display systems (known in the art as synthetic vision systems) that generate images to increase pilots’ situation awareness and eliminate poor...

Briefs: Information Technology
Power User Interface

Power User Interface 5.0 (PUI) is a system of middleware that is an alternative to the computer program described in the immediately preceding article. Written for PUI enables expedited ordering of data granules on the basis of specific granule-identifying information that the users already know or can assemble. PUI also...

Briefs: Medical
Architecture Adaptive Computing Environment

Architecture Adaptive Computing Environment (aCe) is a software system that includes a language, compiler, and run-time library for parallel computing. aCe was developed to enable programmers to write programs, more easily than was previously possible, for a variety of parallel computing architectures....

Briefs: Medical
Stationary Apparatus Would Apply Forces of Walking to Feet

A proposed apparatus would apply controlled cyclic forces to both feet for the purpose of preventing the loss of bone density in a human subject whose bones are not subjected daily to the mechanical loads of normal activity in normal Earth gravitation. The apparatus was conceived for use...

Briefs: Medical
Instrument Would Detect and Collect Biological Aerosols

A proposed compact, portable instrument would sample micron-sized airborne particles, would discriminate between biological ones (e.g., bacteria) and nonbiological ones (e.g., dust particles), and would collect the detected biological particles for further analysis. The instrument is...

An effort is under way to develop noninvasive neuro-electric interfaces through which human operators could control systems as diverse as simple mechanical devices, computers, aircraft,...

The NASA Ames hyperwall is a display system designed to facilitate the visualization of sets of multivariate and multidimensional data like those generated in complex engineering and...

A facility that includes a probe station and a scanning open-ended waveguide probe for measuring near electromagnetic fields (see figure) has been added to Glen Research Center's...

A control system strives to maintain the correct alignment of a laser beam in an interferometer dedicated to measuring the displacement or distance between two fiducial corner-cube...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
3D X-Ray Luggage-Screening System

A three-dimensional (3D) x-ray luggage- screening system has been proposed to reduce the fatigue experienced by human inspectors and increase their ability to detect weapons and other contraband. The system...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Photodetector Arrays for Multicolor Visible/Infrared Imaging

Monolithic focal-plane arrays of photodetectors capable of imaging the same scenes simultaneously in multiple wavelength bands in the visible and infrared spectral regions have been proposed. In prior visible/infrared imaging systems, it has been standard practice to use separate...

Briefs: Information Technology
Algorithm for Automated Detection of Edges of Clouds

An algorithm processes cloud-physics data gathered in situ by an aircraft, along with reflectivity data gathered by ground-based radar, to determine whether the aircraft is inside or outside a cloud at a given time. A cloud edge is deemed to be detected when the in/out state changes, subject...

Briefs: Information Technology
Exploiting Quantum Resonance to Solve Combinatorial Problems

Quantum resonance would be exploited in a proposed quantum-computing approach to the solution of combinatorial optimization problems. In quantum computing in general, one takes advantage of the fact that an algorithm cannot be decoupled from the physical effects available to implement...

Briefs: Information Technology
A Concept for Run-Time Support of the Chapel Language

A document presents a concept for run-time implementation of other concepts embodied in the Chapel programming language. (Now undergoing development, Chapel is intended to become a standard language for parallel computing that would surpass older such languages in both computational...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
System for Continuous Deaeration of Hydraulic Oil
A system for continuous, rapid deaeration of hydraulic oil has been built to replace a prior system that effected deaeration more slowly in a cyclic pressure/vacuum process. Such systems are...
Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Tool for Two Types of Friction Stir Welding

A tool that would be useable in both conventional and self-reacting friction stir welding (FSW) has been proposed. The tool would embody both a prior tooling concept for self-reacting FSW and an...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Spacecraft Escape Capsule

A report discusses the Gumdrop capsule — a conceptual spacecraft that would enable the crew to escape safely in the event of a major equipment failure at any time from launch through atmospheric re-entry. The scaleable Gumdrop capsule would comprise a command module (CM), a service module (SM), and a crew escape...

An improved method has been devised for using directed, hyperthermal beams of oxygen atoms and ions to impart desired textures to the tips of polymethylmethacrylate [PMMA] optical...
Briefs: Materials
SiC Composite Turbine Vanes

Turbine inlet guide vanes have been fabricated from composites of silicon carbide fibers in silicon carbide matrices. A unique design for a cloth made from SiC fibers makes it possible to realize the geometric...

Briefs: Materials
Thermoelectric Inhomogeneities in (Ag1-SbTe2)x(PbTe)1-x

A document presents a study of why materials of composition (Ag1–ySbTe2)0.05 (PbTe)0.95 [0=y=1] were previously reported to have values of the thermoelectric figure of merit [ZT (where Z = a2/??, a is the Seebeck coefficient, ? is electrical resistivity, ? is thermal conductivity, and T...

Question of the Week
Will Self-Erasing Chips Catch On?

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