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
CHEM-Based Self-Deploying Spacecraft Radar Antennas

A document proposes self-deploying spacecraft radar antennas based on cold hibernated elastic memory (CHEM) structures. Described in a number of prior NASA Tech Briefs articles, the CHEM concept is one of utilizing open-cell shape-memory-polymer (SMP) foams to make lightweight structures that...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Scalable Multiprocessor for High-Speed Computing in Space

A report discusses the continuing development of a scalable multiprocessor computing system for hard real-time applications aboard a spacecraft. "Hard real-time applications" signifies applications, like real-time radar signal processing, in which the data to be processed are generated at...

Briefs : Motion Control
Additional Drive Circuitry for Piezoelectric Screw Motors

Modules of additional drive circuitry have been developed to enhance the functionality of a family of commercially available positioning motors (Picomotor™ or equivalent) that provide linear motion controllable, in principle, to within increments ≤30 nm. A motor of this type includes...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Optical Position Encoders for High or Low Temperatures

Optoelectronic pattern-recognition systems (optical encoders)for measuring positions of objects of interest at temperatures well below or well above room temperature are undergoing development.At present,the development effort is concentrated on absolute linear, rotary, and Cartesian...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Tunable Optical True-Time Delay Devices Would Exploit EIT

Tunable optical true-time delay devices that would exploit electromagnetically induced transparency (EIT) have been proposed. Relative to prior true-time delay devices (for example, devices based on ferroelectric and ferromagnetic materials) and electronically controlled phase shifters,...

Briefs : Information Technology
An Architecture for Controlling Multiple Robots

The Control Architecture for Multirobot Outpost (CAMPOUT) is a distributed-control architecture for coordinating the activities of multiple robots. In the CAMPOUT, multiple-agent activities and sensor-based controls are derived as group compositions and involve coordination of more basic...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Photodiode-Based, Passive Ultraviolet Dosimeters

Simple, passive instruments have been developed for measuring the exposure of material specimens to vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) radiation from the Sun. Each instrument contains a silicon photodiode and a coulometer. The photocharge generated in the photodiode is stored in the coulometer. The...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Measuring Radiation Patterns of Reconfigurable Patch Antennas on Wafers

An apparatus and technique have been devised for measuring the radiation pattern of a microwave patch antenna that is one of a number of identical units that have been fabricated in a planar array on a high-resistivity silicon wafer. The apparatus and technique are intended,...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Hydraulic Apparatus for Mechanical Testing of Nuts

The figure depicts an apparatus for mechanical testing of nuts In the original application for which the apparatus was developed, the nuts are of a frangible type designed for use with pyrotechnic devices in spacecraft applications in which there are requirements for rapid, one-time separations...

Briefs : Medical
Solution Preserves Nucleic Acids in Body-Fluid Specimens

A solution has been formulated to preserve deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA) in specimens of blood, saliva, and other bodily fluids. Specimens of this type are collected for diagnostic molecular pathology, which is becoming the method of choice for diagnosis of many...

Briefs : Medical
Oligodeoxynucleotide Probes for Detecting Intact Cells

A rapid, sensitive test using chemiluminescent oligodeoxynucleotide probes has been developed for detecting, identifying, and enumerating intact cells. The test is intended especially for use in detecting and enumerating bacteria and yeasts in potable water.

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Imaging of γ-Irradiated Regions of a Crystal

A holographic technique has been devised for generating a visible display of the effect of exposure of a photorefractive crystal to γ-rays. The technique exploits the space charge that results from trapping of electrons in defects induced by γ-rays.

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Digital Averaging Phasemeter for Heterodyne Interferometry

A digital averaging phasemeter has been built for measuring the difference between the phases of the unknown and reference heterodyne signals in a heterodyne laser interferometer. This phasemeter performs well enough to enable interferometric measurements of distance with accuracy of the...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Part 2 of a Computational Study of a Drop-Laden Mixing Layer

This second of three reports on a computational study of a mixing layer laden with evaporating liquid drops presents the evaluation of Large Eddy Simulation (LES) models.

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Microwave-Spectral Signatures Would Reveal Concealed Objects

A proposed technique for locating concealed objects (especially small antipersonnel land mines) involves the acquisition and processing of spectral signatures over broad microwave frequency bands. This technique was conceived to overcome the weaknesses of older narrow-band...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Demonstration of a Pyrotechnic Bolt-Retractor System

A paper describes a demonstration of the X-38 bolt-retractor system (BRS) on a spacecraft-simulating apparatus, called the Large Mobility Base, in NASA Flight Robotics Laboratory (FRL). The BRS design was proven safe by testing in NASA Pyrotechnic Shock Facility (PSF) before being demonstrated...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Low-Cutoff, High-Pass Digital Filtering of Neural Signals

The figure depicts the major functional blocks of a system, now undergoing development, for conditioning neural signals acquired by electrodes implanted in a brain. The overall functions to be performed by this system can be summarized as preamplification, multiplexing,digitization, and...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Iterative Demodulation and Decoding of Non-Square QAM

It has been shown that a non-square (NS)22n+1-ary (where n is a positive integer) quadrature amplitude modulation [(NS)2 22n+1-QAM] has inherent memory that can be exploited to obtain coding gains. Moreover, it should not be necessary to build new hardware to realize...

Briefs : Information Technology
Further Improvement in 3DGRAPE

"3DGRAPE/AL:V2" denotes version 2 of the Three - Dimensional Grids About Anything by Poisson's Equation with Upgrades from Ames and Langley computer program. The preceding version, 3DGRAPE/AL, was described in "Improved 3DGRAPE" (ARC-14069) NASA Tech Briefs ,Vol.21, No.5 (May 1997), page 66....

Briefs : Information Technology
Ground Support Software for Spaceborne Instrumentation

ION is a system of ground support software for the ion and neutral mass spectrometer (INMS) instrument aboard the Cassini spacecraft. By incorporating commercial off - the - shelf database, Web server, and Java application components, ION offers considerably more ground - support - service...

Briefs : Information Technology
MER SPICE Interface

MER SPICE Interface is a software module for use in conjunction with the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission and the SPICE software system of the Navigation and Ancillary Information Facility (NAIF) at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (SPICE is used to acquire, record, and disseminate engineering, navigational, and other...

Briefs : Information Technology
Analyzing Contents of a Computer Cache

The Cache Contents Estimator (CCE) is a computer program that provides information on the contents of level-1 cache of a PowerPC computer. The CCE is configurable to enable simulation of any processor in the PowerPC family. The need for CCE arises because the contents of level-1 caches are not available to...

Briefs : Information Technology
Discrepancy Reporting Management System

Discrepancy Reporting Management System (DRMS) is a computer program designed for use in the stations of NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN) to help establish the operational history of equipment items; acquire data on the quality of service provided to DSN customers; enable measurement of service performance;...

Briefs : Information Technology
Simultaneous Product Development Provides a New Approach to Design Collaboration

Product development is becoming increasingly global and as a result, new challenges have emerged,such as coordinating geographically dispersed teams of suppliers and partners. Consequently, the modern enterprise is more similar to a network of interconnected nodes...

Briefs : Materials
Brazing SiC/SiC Composites to Metals

Experiments have shown that active brazing alloys (ABAs) can be used to join SiC/SiC composite materials to metals, with bond strengths sufficient for some structural applications. The SiC/SiC composite coupons used in the experiments were made from polymer-based SiC fiber preforms that were chemical-vapor-...

Briefs : Materials
Composite-Material Tanks With Chemically Resistant Liners

Lightweight composite-material tanks with chemically resistant liners have been developed for storage of chemically reactive and/or unstable fluids — especially hydrogen peroxide. These tanks are similar, in some respects, to the ones described in — Lightweight...

Briefs : Materials
Improved BN Coatings on SiC Fibers in SiC Matrices

Modifications of BN-based coatings that are used as interfacial layers between the fibers and matrices of SiC-fiber/SiC-matrix composite materials have been investigated to improve the thermomechanical properties of these materials. Such interfacial coating layers, which are also known as...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Simulating Operation of a Planetary Rover

Rover Analysis, Modeling, and Simulations (ROAMS) is a computer program that simulates the operation of a robotic vehicle (rover) engaged in exploration of a remote planet. ROAMS is a rover-specific extension of the DARTS and Dshell programs, described in prior NASA Tech Briefs articles, which afford...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Silicone-Rubber Microvalves Actuated by Paraffin

Microvalves containing silicone-rubber seals actuated by heating and cooling of paraffin have been proposed for development as integral components of microfluidic systems. In comparison with other microvalves actuated by various means (electrostatic, electro-magnetic, piezoelectric, pneumatic, and...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Flexible Shields for Protecting Spacecraft Against Debris

A report presents the concept of Flexshield —a class of versatile, light-weight, flexible shields for protecting spacecraft against impacts by small meteors and orbiting debris. The Flexshield concept incorporates elements of, but goes beyond, prior space-craft-shielding concepts,...

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