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
Indoor Navigation Using Direction Sensor and Beacons

A system for indoor navigation of a mobile robot includes (1) modulated infrared beacons at known positions on the walls and ceiling of a room and (2) a cameralike sensor, comprising a wide angle lens with a position-sensitive photodetector at the focal plane, mounted in a known position and...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Automated Analysis, Classification, and Display of Waveforms

A computer program partly automates the analysis, classification, and display of waveforms represented by digital samples. In the original application for which the program was developed, the raw waveform data to be analyzed by the program are acquired from space shuttle auxiliary...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Fast-Acquisition/Weak-Signal-Tracking GPS Receiver for HEO

A report discusses the technical background and design of the Navigator Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver — a radiation-hardened receiver intended for use aboard spacecraft. Navigator is capable of weak signal acquisition and tracking as well as much faster acquisition of...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Signal Design for Improved Ranging Among Multiple Transceivers

"Ultra-BOC" (where "BOC" signifies "binary offset carrier") is the name of an improved generic design of microwave signals to be used by a group of spacecraft flying in formation to measure ranges and bearings among themselves and to exchange telemetry needed for these measurements....

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
High-Rate Digital Receiver Board

A high-rate digital receiver (HRDR) implemented as a peripheral component interface (PCI) board has been developed as a prototype of compact, general- purpose, inexpensive, potentially mass-producible data-acquisition interfaces between telemetry systems and personal computers. The installation of this board in a...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Thermal and Compressed-Air Storage System Provides Alternative to UPS Batteries

Virtually all businesses and industries are vulnerable to electric power disturbances such as outages, sags, swells, and harmonics. These problems are less of an issue for data centers, protected behind their walls of Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) systems. But...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Carbon-Fiber Brush Heat Exchangers

Velvetlike and brushlike pads of carbon fibers have been proposed for use as mechanically compliant, highly thermally conductive interfaces for transferring heat. A pad of this type would be formed by attaching short carbon fibers to either or both of two objects that one desires to place in thermal contact...

Briefs : Information Technology
Algorithm Determines Wind Speed and Direction FromVenturi-Sensor Data

An algorithm computes the velocity of wind from the readings of an instrument like the one described in "Three-Dimensional Venturi Sensor for Measuring Extreme Winds" (KSC-12435), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 27, No. 9 (September 2003), page 32. To recapitulate: The sensor has no...

Briefs : Information Technology
Feature-Identification and Data-Compression Software

A report discusses the continuing development of Windows Interface for Nominal Displacement Selection (WINDS), a computer program for automated analysis of images of the Sun and planets acquired by scientific instruments aboard spacecraft. WINDS is intended to afford capabilities for...

Briefs : Information Technology
Masked Proportional Routing

Masked proportional routing is an improved procedure for choosing links between adjacent nodes of a network for the purpose of transporting an entity from a source node (“A”) to a destination node (“B”). The entity could be, for example, a physical object to be shipped, in which case the nodes would represent...

Briefs : Materials
Better End-Cap Processing for Oxidation-Resistant Polyimides

A class of end-cap compounds that increase the thermo-oxidative stability of polyimides of the polymerization of monomeric reactants (PMR) type has been extended. In addition, an improved processing protocol for this class of endcap compounds has been invented. The class of end-cap...

Briefs : Materials
Amplifying Electrochemical Indicators

Dendrimeric reporter compounds have been invented for use in sensing and amplifying electrochemical signals from molecular recognition events that involve many chemical and biological entities. These reporter compounds can be formulated to target specific molecules or molecular recognition events. They can...

Briefs : Materials
Precious-Metal Salt Coatings for Detecting Hydrazines

Substrates coated with a precious metal salt KAuCl4 have been found to be useful for detecting hydrazine vapors in air at and above a concentration of the order of 0.01 parts per million (ppm). Upon exposure to air containing a sufficient amount of hydrazine for a sufficient time, the coating...

Briefs : Materials
Nanocarpets for Trapping Microscopic Particles

Nanocarpets — that is, carpets of carbon nanotubes — are undergoing development as means of trapping microscopic particles for scientific analysis. Examples of such particles include inorganic particles, pollen, bacteria, and spores. Nanocarpets can be characterized as scaled-down versions of...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Alternative Attitude Commanding and Control for Precise Spacecraft Landing

A report proposes an alternative method of control for precision landing on a remote planet. In the traditional method, the attitude of a spacecraft is required to track a commanded translational acceleration vector, which is generated at each time step by solving a...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Helicity in Supercritical O₂/H₂ and C₇H₁₆/N₂ Mixing Layers

This report describes a study of databases produced by direct numerical simulation of mixing layers developing between opposing flows of two fluids under supercritical conditions, the purpose of the study being to elucidate chemical species-specific aspects of turbulence,...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
A Resonator for Low-Threshold Frequency Conversion

A proposed toroidal or disklike dielectric optical resonator (dielectric optical cavity) would be made of an optically nonlinear material and would be optimized for use in parametric frequency conversion by imposition of a spatially periodic permanent electric polarization. The poling (see...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Solar-Powered Airplane With Cameras and WLAN

An experimental airborne remote sensing system includes a remotely controlled, lightweight, solar-powered airplane (see figure) that carries two digital-output electronic cameras and communicates with a nearby ground control and monitoring station via a wireless local-area network (WLAN). The speed of...

Briefs : Software
Software for Automated Testing of Mission-Control Displays

MCC Display Cert Tool is a set of software tools for automated testing of computer terminal displays in spacecraft mission-control centers, including those of the space shuttle and the International Space Station. This software makes it possible to perform tests that are more thorough,...

Briefs : Software
WinPlot

WinPlot is a powerful desktop graphical analysis tool that allows the user to generate displays of unrestrictive amounts of data. It is designed to operate on a Windows 98/NT/2000 based desktop platform. WinPlot was developed to fulfill the need for fast and easily managed graphical displays of NASA test articles and facilities with...

Briefs : Software
Software for Autonomous Spacecraft Maneuvers

The AutoCon computer programs facilitate and accelerate the planning and execution of orbital control maneuvers of spacecraft while analyzing and resolving mission constraints. AutoCon-F is executed aboard spacecraft, enabling the spacecraft to plan and execute maneuvers autonomously; AutoCon-G is...

Briefs : Software
Software Assists in Responding to Anomalous Conditions

(FIDO) is a computer program that reduces the need for a large and costly team of engineers and/or technicians to monitor the state of a spacecraft and associated ground systems and respond to anomalies. FIDO includes artificial-intelligence components that imitate the reasoning of human...

Briefs : Software
Program Analyzes Radar Altimeter Data

A computer program has been written to perform several analyses of radar altimeter data. The program was designed to improve on previous methods of analysis of altimeter engineering data by (1) facilitating and accelerating the analysis of large amounts of data in a more direct manner and (2) improving the...

Briefs : Software
Format for Interchange and Display of 3D Terrain Data

Visible Scalable Terrain (ViSTa) is a software format for production, interchange, and display of three-dimensional (3D) terrain data acquired by stereoscopic cameras of robotic vision systems. ViSTa is designed to support scalability of data, accuracy of displayed terrain images, and optimal...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Power Transmission for Motion Control

While technology has advanced and there are many new ways to accomplish useful motion within particular applications, electric motors and gearheads are still the preferred and most popular choices for power transmission throughout commercial, industrial, and automation applications. Motors are the components...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Inspecting Friction Stir Welding Using Electromagnetic Probes

A report describes the use of advanced electromagnetic probes to measure the dimensions, the spatial distribution of electrical conductivity, and related other properties of friction stir welds (FSWs) between parts made of the same or different aluminum alloy(s). The probes are of the...

Briefs : Medical
Probe for Sampling of Interstitial Fluid From Bone

An apparatus characterized as both a membrane probe and a bone ultrafiltration probe has been developed to enable in vivo sampling of interstitial fluid in bone. The probe makes it possible to measure the concentration of calcium and other constituents of the fluid that may be relevant to bone...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Tests of Multibeam Scintillation Mitigation on Laser Uplinks

A report presents additional details about parts of the program of research and development that is the topic of the immediately preceding article. The report em- phasizes those aspects of the program that pertain to the use of multiple uplink laser beams in a ground-to-spacecraft...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Research and Development in Optical Communications

A report in the form of lecture slides summarizes the optical-communications program of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and describes the JPL Optical Communications Telescope Laboratory (OCTL) and its role in the program. The purpose of the program is to develop equipment and techniques...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Improved Timing Scheme for Spaceborne Precipitation Radar

An improved timing scheme has been conceived for operation of a scanning satellite-borne rain-measuring radar system.The scheme allows a real- time-generated solution,which is required for auto targeting. The current timing scheme used in radar satellites involves pre-computing a solution...

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