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
AIN-Based Packaging for SiC High-Temperature Electronics

Packaging made primarily of aluminum nitride has been developed to enclose silicon carbide-based integrated circuits (ICs), including circuits containing SiC-based power diodes, that are capable of operation under conditions more severe than can be withstood by silicon-based integrated...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
A Building-Block Approach to COTS Technology

Historically, the price of non-commercial hardware has been astronomical due to the engineering required for it to perform specific functions and to operate reliably in harsh conditions, with ambient temperatures from -55° to +125°C, in high and low humidity, while withstanding extreme...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Model of Mixing Layer With Multicomponent Evaporating Drops

A mathematical model of a three-dimensional mixing layer laden with evaporating fuel drops composed of many chemical species has been derived. The study is motivated by the fact that typical real petroleum fuels contain hundreds of chemical species. Previously, for the sake of...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Role of Meteorology in Flights of a Solar-Powered Airplane

In the summer of 2001, the Helios prototype solar-powered uninhabited aerial vehicle (UAV) [a lightweight, remotely piloted airplane] was deployed to the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), at Kauai, Hawaii, in an attempt to fly to altitudes above 100,000 ft (30.48 km). The goal of...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Blade-Pitch Control for Quieting Tilt-Rotor Aircraft

A method of reducing the noise generated by a tilt-rotor aircraft during descent involves active control of the blade pitch of the rotors. This method is related to prior such noise- reduction methods, of a type denoted generally as higher-harmonic control (HHC), in which the blade pitch is...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Solar Array Panels With Dust-Removal Capability

It has been proposed to incorporate piezoelectric vibrational actuators into the structural supports of solar photovoltaic panels, for the purpose of occasionally inducing vibrations in the panels in order to loosen accumulated dust. Provided that the panels were tilted, the loosened dust would...

Briefs : Information Technology
Autonomous Environment-Monitoring Networks

Autonomous environment-monitoring networks (AEMNs) are artificial neural networks that are specialized for recognizing familiarity and, conversely, novelty. Like a biological neural network, an AEMN receives a constant stream of inputs. For purposes of computational implementation, the inputs are vector...

Briefs : Information Technology
Improved Discrete Approximation of Laplacian of Gaussian

An improved method of computing a discrete approximation of the Laplacian of a Gaussian convolution of an image has been devised. The primary advantage of the method is that without substantially degrading the accuracy of the end result, it reduces the amount of information that must be...

Briefs : Information Technology
Utilizing Expert Knowledge in Estimating Future STS Costs

A method of estimating the costs of future space transportation systems (STSs) involves classical activity-based cost (ABC) modeling combined with systematic utilization of the knowledge and opinions of experts to extend the process-flow knowledge of existing systems to systems that...

Briefs : Information Technology
More About the Phase-Synchroized Enhancement Method

A report presents further details regarding the subject matter of "Phase-Synchronized Enhancement Method for Engine Diagnostics" (MFS-26435), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 22, No. 1 (January 1998), page 54. To recapitulate: The phase-synchronized enhancement method (PSEM) involves the digital...

Briefs : Materials
Elastomer Filled With Single-Wall Carbon Nanotubes

Experiments have shown that composites of a silicone elastomer with single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) are significantly stronger and stiffer than is the unfilled elastomer. The large strengthening and stiffening effect observed in these experiments stands in contrast to the much smaller...

Briefs : Materials
Study of Rapid-Regression Liquefying Hybrid Rocket Fuels

A report describes experiments directed toward the development of paraffin-based hybrid rocket fuels that burn at regression rates greater than those of conventional hybrid rocket fuels like hydroxyl-terminated butadiene. The basic approach followed in this development is to use materials...

Briefs : Software
Readout of DSN Monitor Data

DSN Monitor Data Reader is a computer program that, as its name suggests, reads file of monitor data from the Deep Space Network (DSN). The monitor data constitute information on the status and performance of tracking, telemetry, command, and pointing equipment at the DSN antennas. The DSN has recently introduced a...

Briefs : Software
Viewing ISS Data in Real Time via the Internet

EZStream is a computer program that enables authorized users at diverse terrestrial locations to view, in real time, data generated by scientific payloads aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The only computation/ communication resource needed for use of EZStream is a computer equipped with...

Briefs : Software
Software for Optimizing Quality Assurance of Other Software

Software assurance is the planned and systematic set of activities that ensures that software processes and products conform to requirements, standards, and procedures. Examples of such activities are the following: code inspections, unit tests, design reviews, performance analyses,...

Briefs : Software
The TechSat 21 Autonomous Sciencecraft Experiment

Software has been developed to perform a number of functions essential to autonomous operation in the Autonomous Sciencecraft Experiment (ASE), which is scheduled to be demonstrated aboard a constellation of three spacecraft, denoted TechSat 21, to be launched by the Air Force into orbit around...

Briefs : Software
Software for Analyzing Laminar-to-Turbulent Flow Transitions

Langley Stability and Transition Analysis Codes (LASTRAC) is a set of engineering software tools developed with the C++ language and modern software technologies for use in analyzing transition from laminar to turbulent flows. LASTRAC is a product of on-going NASA Langley research...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Multiphysics Software for Designing Planar-Lightwave Photonic Processors

Advances in the development and manufacturing of photonic processors have reached a critical stage where their mass applications are becoming commercially viable. LNL Optenia utilized the FEMLAB multiphysics package from COMSOL to design inexpensive planar-lightwave...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Curved-Focal-Plane Arrays Using Deformed-Membrane Photodetectors
Curved-Focal-Plane Arrays Using Deformed-Membrane Photodetectors

A versatile and simple approach to the design and fabrication of curved-focal-plane arrays of silicon-based photodetectors is being developed. This approach is an alternative...

Curved-Focal-Plane Arrays Using Deformed-Membrane Photodetectors
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Optical Phased Array Improves Liquid Crystal Devices Used in Laser Beam Steering Subsystems
Optical Phased Array Improves Liquid Crystal Devices Used in Laser Beam Steering Subsystems

Under a DARPA program known as Steered Agile Beams (STAB), novel liquid-crystal devices are being developed by Rockwell Scientific Company (RSC) to...

Optical Phased Array Improves Liquid Crystal Devices Used in Laser Beam Steering Subsystems
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Strain-Gauge Measurement of Weight of Fluid in a Tank

A method of determining the amount of fluid in a tank is based on measurement of strains induced in tank supports by the weight of the fluid. Unlike most prior methods, this method is nonintrusive: there is no need to insert instrumentation in the tank and, hence, no need to run wires,...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Aligning Arrays of Lenses and Single-Mode Optical Fibers
Aligning Arrays of Lenses and Single-Mode Optical Fibers

A procedure now under development is intended to enable the precise alignment of sheet arrays of microscopic lenses with the end faces of a coherent bundle of as many as 1,000...

Aligning Arrays of Lenses and Single-Mode Optical Fibers
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Advanced Docking System With Magnetic Initial Capture

An advanced docking system is undergoing development to enable softer, safer docking than was possible when using prior docking systems. This system is intended for original use in docking of visiting spacecraft and berthing the Crew Return Vehicle at the International Space Station (ISS)....

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Modifying Ship Air-Wake Vortices for Aircraft Operations

Columnar-vortex generators (CVG) have been proposed as means to increase the safety of takeoffs and landings of aircraft on aircraft or helicopter carriers and other ships at sea. According to the proposal, CVGs would be installed at critical edge locations on ships to modify the vortices...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Automatic Control of Arc Process for Making Carbon Nanotubes

An automatic-control system has been devised for a process in which carbon nanotubes are produced in an arc between a catalyst-filled carbon anode and a graphite cathode. The control system includes a motor-driven screw that adjusts the distance between the electrodes. The system also...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Electronic Tongue for Quantitation of Contaminants in Water

An assembly of sensors, denoted an electronic tongue, is undergoing development as a prototype of compact devices for use in measuring concentrations of contaminants in water. Thus far, the electronic tongue has been tested on ions of Cu, Zn, Pb, and Fe and shown to respond to...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Radar for Measuring Soil Moisture Under Vegetation

A two-frequency, polarimetric, spaceborne synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) system has been proposed for measuring the moisture content of soil as a function of depth, even in the presence of overlying vegetation. These measurements are needed because data on soil moisture under vegetation canopies...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Modular Wireless Data-Acquisition and Control System

A modular wireless data-acquisition and control system, now in operation at Kennedy Space Center, offers high performance at relatively low cost. The system includes a central station and a finite number of remote stations that communicate with each other through low-power radio-frequency (RF)...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Microwave System for Detecting Ice on Aircraft

A microwave-based system has been developed as a means of detecting ice on aircraft surfaces, with enough sensitivity to provide a warning before the ice accretes to a dangerous thickness. The system can measure the thickness of ice from a few mils (1 mil = 0.0254 mm) to about 1/4 in. (≈6 mm) and...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Routing Algorithm Exploits Spatial Relations

A recently developed routing algorithm for broadcasting in an ad hoc wireless communication network takes account of, and exploits, the spatial relationships among the locations of nodes, in addition to transmission power levels and distances between the nodes. In contrast, most prior algorithms for...