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 : Materials
New Material for Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy

A chemical method of synthesis and application of coating materials that are especially suitable for surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS)has been developed.The purpose of this development is to facilitate the utilization of the inherently high sensitivity of SERS to detect chemicals of...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Advanced Infant Car Seat Would Increase Highway Safety

An advanced infant car seat has been proposed to increase highway safety by reducing the incidence of crying, fussy behavior, and other child-related distractions that divert an adult driver's attention from driving. In addition to a conventional infant car seat with safety restraints, the...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Method of Calibration for a Large Cathetometer System

A method of calibration has been devised for a pair of mutually orthogonal two-axis cathetometers that, when used together, yield measurements of three-dimensional positions of objects mounted on an optical bench. Each cathetometer has a horizontal travel of 1.8 m and a vertical travel of 1.2...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Spaceborne Infrared Atmospheric Sounder

A report describes the development of the spaceborne infrared atmospheric sounder (SIRAS)—a spectral imaging instrument, suitable for observing the atmosphere of the Earth from a spacecraft, that utilizes four spectrometers to cover the wavelength range of 12 to 15.4 µm with a spectral resolution that...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Using Redundancy To Reduce Errors in Magnetometer Readings

A method of reducing errors in noisy magnetic-field measurements involves exploitation of redundancy in the readings of multiple magnetometers in a cluster. By "redundancy" his meant that the readings are not entirely independent of each other because the relationships among...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Lightweight, Low-CTE Tubes Made From Biaxially Oriented LCPs

Tubes made from biaxially oriented liquid-crystal polymers (LCPs) have been developed for use as penetrations on cryogenic tanks. ("Penetrations" in this context denotes feed lines, vent lines, and sensor tubes, all of which contribute to the undesired conduction of heat into the...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Nanofluidic Size-Exclusion Chromatograph

Efforts are under way to develop a nanofluidic size-exclusion chromatograph (SEC), which would be a compact, robust, lightweight instrument for separating molecules of interest according to their sizes and measuring their relative abundances in small samples. About as large as a deck of playing cards, the...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Improved Measurement of Dispersion in an Optical Fiber

An improved method of measuring chromatic dispersion in an optical fiber or other device affords a lower (relative to prior such methods) limit of measurable dispersion. This method is a modified version of the amplitude-modulation (AM) method, which is one of the prior methods. In...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Position-Finding Instrument Built Around a Magnetometer

A coarse-positioning instrument is built around a three-axis magnetometer. The magnetometer is of a type that is made of inexpensive hardware and is suitable for use aboard spacecraft orbiting no more than 1,000 km above the surface of the Earth. A data processor programmed with suitable...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Multifunction Imaging and Spectroscopic Instrument

A proposed optoelectronic instrument would perform several different spectroscopic and imaging functions that, heretofore, have been performed by separate instruments. The functions would be reflectance, fluorescence, and Raman spectroscopies; variable-color confocal imaging at two different...

Briefs : Software
Controlling Distributed Planning

A system of software implements an extended version of an approach, denoted shared activity coordination (SHAC), to the interleaving of planning and the exchange of plan information among organizations devoted to different missions that normally communicate infrequently except that they need to collaborate on...

Briefs : Software
Activity-Centric Approach to Distributed Programming

The first phase of an effort to develop a NASA version of the Cybele software system has been completed. To give meaning to even a highly abbreviated summary of the modifications to be embodied in the NASA version, it is necessary to present the following background information on Cybele:

Briefs : Software
Initial Processing of Infrared Spectral Data

The Atmospheric Infrared Spectrometer (AIRS) Science Processing System is a collection of computer programs, denoted product generation executives (PGEs), for processing the readings of the AIRS suite of infrared and microwave instruments orbiting the Earth aboard NASA 's Aqua spacecraft. Following...

Briefs : Software
Verifying Diagnostic Software

Livingstone PathFinder (LPF) is a simulation-based computer program for verifying autonomous diagnostic software. LPF is designed especially to be applied to NASA's Livingstone computer program, which implements a qualitative-model-based algorithm that diagnoses faults in a complex automated system (e.g.,an...

Briefs : Software
Neuropsychological Testing of Astronauts

The Spaceflight Cognitive Assessment Tool for Windows (WinSCAT) is a computer program that administers a battery of five timed neuro-cognitive tests.WinSCAT was developed to give astronauts an objective and automated means of assessing their cognitive functioning during space flight, as compared with...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Tool for Insertion of a Fiber-Optic Terminus in a Connector

A tool has been developed for the special purpose of inserting the terminus of an optical fiber in a cable connector that conforms to NASA Specification SSQ-21635. What prompted the development of the tool was the observation that because of some aspects of the designs of fiber-optic...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Multilayer Dielectric Transmissive Optical Phase Modulator

A multilayer dielectric device has been fabricated as a prototype of a low-loss, low-distortion, transmissive optical phase modulator that would provide as much as a full cycle of phase change for all frequency components of a transmitted optical pulse over a frequency band as wide as...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Compact Instrument for Measuring Profile of a Light Beam

The beamviewer is an optical device designed to be attached to a charge-coupled-device (CCD) image detector for measuring the spatial distribution of intensity of a beam of light (the "beam profile ") at a designated plane intersecting the beam. The beamviewer-and-CCD combination is...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Second-Generation Multi-Angle Imaging Spectroradiometer

A report discusses an early phase in the development of the MISR-2 C, a second, improved version of the Multi-angle Imaging Spectro Radiometer (MISR), which has been in orbit around the Earth aboard NASA's Terra spacecraft since 1999. Like the MISR, the MISR-2 would contain a "pushbroom"...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Concept for Multiple-Access Free-Space Laser Communications

A design concept for a proposed airborne or spaceborne free-space optical-communication terminal provides for simultaneous reception of signals from multiple other optical-communication terminals aboard aircraft or spacecraft that carry scientific instruments and fly at lower altitudes....

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Variable Shadow Screens for Imaging Optical Devices

Variable shadow screens have been proposed for reducing the apparent brightnesses of very bright light sources relative to other sources within the fields of view of diverse imaging optical devices, including video and film cameras and optical devices for imaging directly into the human eye. In...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Improved Phase-Mask Fabrication of Fiber Bragg Gratings

An improved method of fabrication of Bragg gratings in optical fibers combines the best features of two prior methods: one that involves the use of a phase mask and one that involves interference between the two coherent laser beams. The improved method affords flexibility for tailoring...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Inter-Valence-Subband/Conduction-Band-Transport IR Detectors

Infrared (IR) detectors characterized by a combination of (1) high-quantum-efficiency photoexcitation of inter-valence-subband transitions of charge carriers and (2) high-mobility conduction-band transport of the thus-excited charge carriers have been proposed in an effort to develop...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Miniature Robotic Submarine for Exploring Harsh Environments

The miniature autonomous submersible explorer (MASE) has been proposed as a means of scientific exploration—especially, looking for signs of life—in harsh, relatively inaccessible underwater environments. Basically, the MASE would be a small instrumented robotic submarine...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Lightweight Exoskeletons With Controllable Actuators

A proposed class of lightweight exoskeletal electromechanical systems would include electrically controllable actuators that would generate torques and forces that, depending on specific applications, would resist and/or assist wearers' movements. The proposed systems would be successors to...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Progress in Fabrication of Rocket Combustion Chambers by VPS

Several documents in a collection describe aspects of the development of advanced materials and fabrication processes intended to enable the manufacture of advanced rocket combustion chambers and nozzles at relatively low cost. One concept discussed in most of the documents is the...

Briefs : Information Technology
Indentured Parts List Maintenance and Part Assembly Capture Tool — IMPACT

Johnson Space Center’s (JSC's) indentured parts list (IPL) maintenance and parts assembly capture tool (IMPACT) is an easy-to-use graphical interface for viewing and maintaining the complex assembly hierarchies of large databases. IMPACT, already in use at JSC to...

Briefs : Information Technology
Fast Query-Optimized Kernel-Machine Classification

A recently developed algorithm performs kernel-machine classification via incremental approximate nearest support vectors. The algorithm implements support-vector machines (SVMs) at speeds 10 to 100 times those attainable by use of conventional SVM algorithms. The algorithm offers potential...

Briefs : Information Technology
Forensic Analysis Specialists Discover Product Failure Causes Using FEA Software

Engineers use a wide range of tools and techniques to ensure that the designs they create are safe. However, accidents sometimes happen and when they do, companies need to know if a product failed because the design was inadequate or if some other cause, such as...

Briefs : Information Technology
Software Reduces Radio-Interference Effects in Radar Data

A computer program suppresses the effects of narrow-band radio-frequency interference (RFI) on the data collected by a wide-band radar system. The need for this program arises because some advanced wide-band synthetic-aperture radar systems utilize frequency bands that include frequencies...

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