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 : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Attitude Control for a Solar-Sail Spacecraft

A report describes the personal radiation protection system (PRPS), which has been invented for use on the International Space Station and other spacecraft. The PRPS comprises walls that can be erected inside spacecraft, where and when needed, to reduce the amount of radiation to which personnel are...

Briefs : Information Technology
Determining Sizes of Particles in a Flow From DPIV Data

A proposed method of measuring the size of particles entrained in a flow of a liquid or gas would involve utilization of data from digital particle-image velocimetry (DPIV) of the flow. That is to say, with proper design and operation of a DPIV system, the DPIV data could be processed...

Briefs : Information Technology
Faster Processing for Inverting GPS Occultation Data

A document outlines a computational method that can be incorporated into two prior methods used to invert Global Positioning System (GPS) occultation data [signal data acquired by a low-Earth-orbiting satellite as either this or the GPS satellite rises above or falls below the horizon] to...

Briefs : Information Technology
Framework for Development of Object-Oriented Software

The Real-Time Control (RTC) Application Framework is a high-level software framework written in C++ that supports the rapid design and implementation of object-oriented application programs. This framework provides built-in functionality that solves common software development problems within...

Briefs : Information Technology
Collaborative Planning of Robotic Exploration

The Science Activity Planner (SAP) software system includes an uplink-planning component, which enables collaborative planning of activities to be undertaken by an exploratory robot on a remote planet or on Earth. Included in the uplink-planning component is the SAP-Uplink Browser, which enables...

Briefs : Information Technology
Tools for Administration of a UNIX-Based Network

Several computer programs have been developed to enable efficient administration of a large, heterogeneous, UNIX-based computing and communication network that includes a variety of computers connected to a variety of sub-networks. One program provides secure software tools for administrators to...

Briefs : Information Technology
Evaluating Performance of Components

Parallel Component Performance Benchmarks is a computer program developed to aid the evaluation of the Common Component Architecture (CCA) — a software architecture, based on a component model, that was conceived to foster high-performance computing, including parallel computing. More specifically, this...

Briefs : Information Technology
Computationally-Efficient Minimum-Time Aircraft Routes in the Presence of Winds

A computationally efficient algorithm for minimizing the flight time of an aircraft in a variable wind field has been invented. The algorithm, referred to as Neighboring Optimal Wind Routing (NOWR), is based upon neighboring-optimal- control (NOC) concepts and...

Briefs : Materials
Fuels Containing Methane or Natural Gas in Solution

While exploring ways of producing better fuels for propulsion of a spacecraft on the Mars sample return mission, a researcher at Johnson Space Center (JSC) devised a way of blending fuel by combining methane or natural gas with a second fuel to produce a fuel that can be maintained in liquid...

Briefs : Materials
Direct Electrolytic Deposition of Mats of MnₓOᵧ Nanowires

Mats of free-standing manganese oxide (MnxOy ) nanowires have been fabricated as experimental electrode materials for rechargeable electro- chemical power cells and capacitors. Because they are free-standing, the wires in these mats are electrochemically...

Briefs : Materials
Personal Radiation Protection System

A report describes the personal radiation protection system (PRPS), which has been invented for use on the International Space Station and other spacecraft. The PRPS comprises walls that can be erected inside spacecraft, where and when needed, to reduce the amount of radiation to which personnel are exposed....

Briefs : Software
Software and Algorithms for Biomedical Image Data Processing and Visualization

A new software equipped with novel image processing algorithms and graphical-user-interface (GUI) tools has been designed for automated analysis and processing of large amounts of biomedical image data. The software, called PlaqTrak, has been specifically used for...

Briefs : Software
Prioritizing Scientific Data for Transmission

A software system has been developed for prioritizing newly acquired geological data onboard a planetary rover. The system has been designed to enable efficient use of limited communication resources by transmitting the data likely to have the most scientific value. This software operates onboard a...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Estimating Basic Preliminary Design Performances of Aerospace Vehicles

Aerodynamics and Performance Estimation Toolset is a collection of four software programs for rapidly estimating the preliminary design performance of aerospace vehicles represented by doing simplified calculations based on ballistic trajectories, the ideal rocket equation,...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Bubble Eliminator Based on Centifugal Flow

The fluid bubble eliminator (FBE) is a device that removes gas bubbles from a flowing liquid. The FBE contains no moving parts and does not require any power input beyond that needed to pump the liquid. In the FBE, the buoyant force for separating the gas from the liquid is provided by a radial pressure...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Inflatable Emergency Atmospheric-Entry Vehicles

In response to the loss of seven astronauts in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, large, lightweight, inflatable atmospheric-entry vehicles have been proposed as means of emergency descent and landing for persons who must abandon a spacecraft that is about to reenter the atmosphere and has been...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Lightweight Deployable Mirrors With Tensegrity Supports

The upper part of Figure 1 shows a small-scale prototype of a developmental class of lightweight, deployable structures that would support panels in precise alignments. In this case, the panel is hexagonal and supports disks that represent segments of a primary mirror of a large telescope....

Briefs : Motion Control
Compact Motors Provide Motion Control for Explosive Ordnance Disposal Robot

A remote-controlled, compact Explosive Ordnance Disposal Robot (EOD) has been deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other worldwide locations to secure and transport hazardous, dangerous, or suspicious materials to a safe location where it can be disarmed or destroyed. The...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Small Active Radiation Monitor

A device, named small active radiation monitor, allows on-orbit evaluations during periods of increased radiation, after extravehicular activities, or at predesignated times for crews on such long-duration space missions as on the International Space Station. It also permits direct evaluation of biological doses, a...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Portable Electromyograph

A portable electronic apparatus records electromyographic (EMG) signals in as many as 16 channels at a sampling rate of 1,024 Hz in each channel. The apparatus (see figure) includes 16 differential EMG electrodes (each electrode corresponding to one channel) with cables and attachment hardware, reference electrodes, an...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Optoelectronic Sensor System for Guidance in Docking

The Video Guidance Sensor (VGS) system is an optoelectronic sensor that provides automated guidance between two vehicles. In the original intended application, the two vehicles would be spacecraft docking together, but the basic principles of design and operation of the sensor are applicable...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Ka-Band Autonomous Formation Flying Sensor

A Ka-band integrated range and bearing- angle formation sensor called the Autonomous Formation Flying (AFF) Sensor has been developed to enable deep-space formation flying of multiple spacecraft. The AFF Sensor concept is similar to that of the Global Positioning System (GPS), but the AFF Sensor would...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
CMOS VLSI Active-Pixel Sensor for Tracking

An architecture for a proposed active pixel sensor (APS) and a design to implement the architecture in a complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) very-large-scale integrated (VLSI) circuit provide for some advanced features that are expected to be especially desirable for tracking pointlike...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Lightweight, Self-Deploying Foam Antenna Structures

Lightweight, deployable antennas for a variety of outer-space and terrestrial applications would be designed and fabricated according to the concept of cold hibernated elastic memory (CHEM) structures, according to a proposal. Mechanically deployable antennas now in use are heavy, complex, and...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Electrically Small Microstrip Quarter- Wave Monopole Antennas

Microstrip-patch-style antennas that generate monopole radiation patterns similar to those of quarter-wave whip antennas can be designed to have dimensions smaller than those needed heretofore for this purpose, by taking advantage of a feed configuration different from the...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Active Power Filters Provide a Cost- Effective, Flexible Solution for System Harmonic Control

Although the preponderance of electronic equipment in our professional environment makes work more convenient, these devices complicate demands on facility wiring and power utilities. Most facilities employ a variety of devices such as multiple switch...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
A 2-to-48-MHz Phase-Locked Loop

A 2-to-48-MHz phase-locked loop (PLL), developed for the U.S. space program, meets or exceeds all space shuttle clock electrical interface requirements by taking as its reference a 2-to-48-MHz clock signal and outputting a phaselocked clock signal set at the same frequency as the reference clock with transistor-...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Some Improvements in Signal-Conditioning Circuits

Two documents present wide-ranging discussions of some issues in the design and operation of signal-conditioning circuits. The first document focuses on active low-pass filter circuits that contain resistors, capacitors, and operational amplifiers. It describes design and operational problems...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Part 1 of a Computational Study of a Drop-Laden Mixing Layer

This first of three reports on a computational study of a drop-laden temporal mixing layer presents the results of direct numerical simulations (DNS) of well-resolved flow fields and the derivation of the large-eddy simulation (LES) equations that would govern the larger scales of a...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Selected Papers on Protoplanetary Disks
Three papers present studies of thermal balances, dynamics, and electromagnetic spectra of protoplanetary disks, which comprise gas and dust orbiting young stars. One paper addresses the reprocessing, in a disk, of photons that originate in the disk itself in addition to photons that originate in the stellar...

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CNC Machining: How to Reduce Costs and Accelerate Production

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Testing and Inspecting 3D-Printed Parts

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Optical Coating Design

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Advanced Quality Planning and Production Part Approval Process...

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How to Avoid PCB Re-spins when IC’s Change or are Obsoleted

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Non-Contact Strain and Displacements Measurements in the Automotive Industry