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
Strobe Traffic Lights Warn of Approaching Emergency Vehicles

Strobe-enhanced traffic signals have been developed to aid in the preemption of road intersections for emergency vehicles. The strobe-enhanced traffic signals can be incorporated into both new and pre-existing traffic-control systems in which the traffic-signal heads are of a...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Improved Method of Locating Defects in Wiring Insulation

An improved method of locating small breaches in insulation on electrical wires combines aspects of the prior dielectric withstand voltage (DWV) and time-domain reflectometry (TDR) methods. The method was invented to satisfy a need for reliably and quickly locating insulation defects in...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Four-Channel PC/104 MIL-STD-1553 Circuit Board

The mini bus interface card (miniBIC) is the first four-channel electronic circuit board that conforms to MIL-STD-1553 and to the electrical-foot- print portion of PC/104. [MIL-STD- 1553 is a military standard that encompasses a method of communication and electrical-interface requirements for...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Miniature Linear Actuator for Small Spacecraft

A report discusses the development of a kit of mechanisms intended for use aboard future spacecraft having masses between 10 and 100 kg. The report focuses mostly on two prototypes of one of the mechanisms: a miniature linear actuator based on a shape-memory-alloy (SMA) wire. In this actuator, as in...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Second-Generation Six-Limbed Experimental Robot

The figure shows the LEMUR II—the second generation of the Limbed Excursion Mechanical Utility Robot (LEMUR), which was described in "Six-Legged Ex- perimental Robot " (NPO-20897), NASA Tech Briefs,Vol.25, No.12 (December 2001), page 58. The LEMUR II incorporates a number of improvements,...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Development of Biomorphic Flyers

Biomorphic flyers have recently been demonstrated that utilize the approach described earlier in "Bio-Inspired Engineering of Exploration Systems" (NPO-21142), NASA Tech Briefs ,Vol.27, No.5 (May 2003), page 54, to distill the principles found in successful, nature-tested mechanisms of flight control. Two types...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Resin-Transfer-Molding of a Tool Face

A resin-transfer-molding (RTM) process has been devised for fabricating a matrix/graphite-cloth composite panel that serves as tool face for manufacturing other composite panels. Heretofore, RTM has generally been confined to resins with viscosities low enough that they can readily flow through interstices...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
A New Process for Fabricating Random Silicon Nanotips

An improved process for the fabrication of random arrays of silicon nanotips has been demonstrated to be feasible. Relative to other such processes, this process offers advantages of low cost and simplicity. Moreover, this process can readily be combined with other processes used to fabricate...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Process for Making Single-Domain Magnetite Crystals

A process for making chemically pure, single-domain magnetite crystals substantially free of structural defects has been invented as a byproduct of research into the origin of globules in a meteorite found in Antarctica and believed to have originated on Mars. The globules in the meteorite...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Rapid Injection Molding Offers Alternative to Conventional Prototyping

Now more than ever, technological advancements drive the product design process.Increasingly powerful CAD programs allow more complex product designs, which in turn drive the demand for more complex prototypes. At the same time,fast-moving competitive markets require frequent...

Briefs : Information Technology
Real-Time Adaptive Color Segmentation by Neural Networks

Artificial neural networks that would utilize the cascade error projection (CEP) algorithm have been proposed as means of autonomous, real-time,adaptive color segmentation of images that change with time.In the original intended application,such a neural network would be used to analyze...

Briefs : Information Technology
Product Lifecycle Management System Aligns Manufacturer's Design and Development

Smiths Aerospace, a leading trans-Atlantic aerospace equipment manufacturer, has grown dramatically in recent years through a combination of strategic acquisitions and major program wins. To maintain its key position in the supply chains of all major military and...

Briefs : Information Technology
Designing Application Software for DSP Chips

When it comes to building a digital signal processing (DSP) board, it is important not to neglect the requirements of the application code — the code that actually acquires and processes data to provide useful results. Developers can write code using the assembly language native for a chosen DSP...

Briefs : Materials
Treated Carbon Nanofibers for Storing Energy in Aqueous KOH

A surface treatment has been found to enhance the performances of carbon nanofibers as electrode materials for electrochemical capacitors in which aqueous solutions of potassium hydroxide are used as the electrolytes. In the treatment, sulfonic acid groups are attached to edge plane...

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...

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