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
Highly Efficient Vector-Inversion Pulse Generators

Improved transmission-line pulse generators of the vector-inversion type are being developed as lightweight sources of pulsed high voltage for diverse applications, including spacecraft thrusters, portable x-ray imaging systems, impulse radar systems, and corona-discharge systems for sterilizing...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Lightweight Stacks of Direct Methanol Fuel Cells

An improved design concept for direct methanol fuel cells makes it possible to construct fuel-cell stacks that can weigh as little as one-third as much as do conventional bipolar fuel-cell stacks of equal power. The structural-support components of the improved cells and stacks can be made of...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Working Fluids for Increasing Capacities of Heat Pipes

A theoretical and experimental investigation has shown that the capacities of heat pipes can be increased through suitable reformulation of their working fluids. The surface tensions of all of the working fluids heretofore used in heat pipes decrease with temperature. As explained in more...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
On-the-Fly Mapping for Calibrating Directional Antennas

An improved method of calibrating a large directional radio antenna of the type used in deep-space communication and radio astronomy has been developed. This method involves a raster-scanning-and-measurement technique denoted on-the-fly (OTF) mapping, applied in consideration of the results...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Coronagraphic Notch Filter for Raman Spectroscopy

A modified coronagraph has been proposed as a prototype of improved notch filters in Raman spectrometers. Corona-graphic notch filters could offer alternatives to both (1) the large and expensive double or triple monochromators in older Raman spectrometers and (2) holographic notch filters, which...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Preparing and Analyzing Iced Airfoils

SmaggIce version 1.2 is a computer program for preparing and analyzing iced airfoils.It includes interactive tools for

measuring ice-shape characteristics, controlled smoothing of ice shapes, curve discretization, generation of artificial ice shapes,and detection and correction of input errors.
Briefs : Physical Sciences
Rapid Chemometric Filtering of Spectral Data

A method of rapid, programmable filtering of spectral transmittance, reflectance, or fluorescence data to measure the concentrations of chemical species has been proposed. By "programmable" is meant that a variety of spectral analyses can readily be performed and modified in software,...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Centrifugal Adsorption System

The centrifugal adsorption cartridge system (CACS) is an apparatus that recovers one or more bioproduct(s) from a dilute aqueous solution or suspension flowing from a bioreactor. The CACS can be used both on Earth in unit gravity and in space in low gravity. The CACS can be connected downstream from the bioreactor;...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Ultrasonic Apparatus for Pulverizing Brittle Material

The figure depicts an apparatus that pulverizes brittle material by means of a combination of ultrasonic and sonic vibration, hammering, and abrasion. The basic design of the apparatus could be specialized to be a portable version for use by a geologist in collecting powdered rock samples for...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Liquid-Metal-Fed Pulsed Plasma Thrusters

A short document proposes liquid- metal- fed pulsed plasma thrusters for small spacecraft. The propellant liquid for such a thruster would be a low- melting- temperature metal that would be stored molten in an unpressurized, heated reservoir and would be pumped to the thruster by a magneto- hydrodynamic...

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...

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