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 : Motion Control
Releasable Conical Roller Clutch for Knee Brace

A compact conical roller clutch can be either (1) engaged to obtain both positive locking against rotation in one sense and freewheeling in the opposite sense or (2) disengaged to obtain free rotation in both senses. This clutch was devised to enhance the functionality and increase the durability...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Flexure Rings for Centering Lenses

Specially shaped mounting rings keep lenses precisely centered, regardless of temperature, in the lens housings of cameras and other optical systems. These rings feature (1) well-defined contact spots for alignment, plus (2) relieved surfaces that form flexures to accommodate small manufacturing tolerances and...

Briefs : Materials
Lightweight Foam Pads for Helmets

Special foam pads have been developed for use in helmets. The foams in these pads have been formulated to obtain a combination of light weight, resistance to oxidation, flame retardance, superior shock-absorbing properties, and physical comfort during long use. In the original application, the pads are intended...

Briefs : Materials
Water-Borne, Silicone-Based, Primerless Paints

Water-borne, silicone- based paints for protecting metal structures against corrosion have been developed as substitutes for traditional anticorrosion paints that contain large amounts of volatile organic solvents. It is desirable to reduce the volatile-organic-compound (VOC) contents of paints in...

Briefs : Software
Computer Code for Analyzing Piezoelectric Composite Shells

SMARTSHELL is a finite-element computer program for analyzing composite-material propulsion-system structural components (including shells) that are characterized as “smart” because they contain integral piezoelectric sensors and/or actuators. The program implements a unique...

Briefs : Materials
PM Gamma Titanium Aluminide and Fabrication Techniques

A γ titanium aluminide alloy produced by a powder-metal (PM) process, and techniques for fabricating sheets and sheet-metal components from the alloy, have been developed. The alloy and techniques, used together, are expected to satisfy a need for relatively economical manufacture of...

Briefs : Materials
Composite-Material Pipes for Liquid Hydrogen

Pipes made of graphite-fiber/epoxymatrix composites have been shown to be suitable as conduits for liquid hydrogen. Conceived for as replacements for heavier metallic liquid-hydrogen feedlines in spacecraft, pipes like these could also be advantageous in terrestrial applications in which there are...

Briefs : Materials
Refractory, Oxidation-Resistant Ceramic/Carbon Insulation

Lightweight, refractory ceramic/carbon thermal-insulation materials have been invented. These materials, consist of carbon, silicon, and oxygen in suitable pro- portions combined into molecular structures that are stable at high temperatures. Insulating tiles and other components made of...

Briefs : Software
Analyzing Loads and Strains in Polymer-Matrix Composites

Strain Rate Dependent Analysis of Polymer Matrix Composites (STRANALPMC) is a computer program for analyzing strain-rate-dependent, nonlinear deformation and failure responses of composite materials in which the matrices are ductile polymers. Modified versions of the Ramaswamy-Stouffer...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Synthesis of Fuzzy-Logic Circuits in Evolvable Hardware

The synthesis of some fuzzy-logic circuits by use of evolvable hardware (EHW) has been demonstrated in an investigation of EHW as a means of auto- mated synthesis of computational-intelligence circuitry in general. This investigation is, in turn, part of continuing research on the broader...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Improved Circularly Polarized Microstrip Antenna

Two modifications improve the performance of a circularly polarized microstrip-patch-array antenna described in U.S. Patent 5,661,994. Because the phase difference between the orthogonal sides in the original design was 135°, there was substantial cross-polarization and waste of power. One...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Direct Methanol Fuel Cells for Low-Power Applications

Direct methanol fuel cells integrated with fuel reservoirs have been proposed as power sources in applications that involve power demands up to about 50 W. A prior concept of direct methanol fuel cells as alternatives to re- chargeable batteries in such applications was reported previously in...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Lithium-Ion Batteries for Demanding Applications

High-performance lithium-ion electro- chemical cells and batteries have been developed to satisfy a need for longer lifetimes and greater capacities in the power supplies of the life-support systems attached to space suits. These and similar cells and batteries could also be used on Earth to...

Briefs : Software
Software for an Autonomous Constellation of Satellites

The Autonomous Sciencecraft Constellation (ASC) software has been developed for Techsat-21 — a group of small satellites, to be launched by the Air Force Research Laboratory in 2004, intended to demonstrate the feasibility of groups of satellites cooperating in the performance of tasks....

Briefs : Software
Training by Use of Games Played via the Internet

A software system that resides on a server delivers training via the Internet to users of client computers. Admin- istrators can also interact with the system via client computers. The training lessons are in the form of trivia games, which are implemented by a game-engine software subsystem that...

Briefs : Software
Software for Designing Thermal Protection for Spacecraft

Traj and Traj.CGI are computer programs for designing thermal-protection systems (TPSs) for spacecraft that must survive re-entry into planetary atmospheres. Together with a separately developed program denoted FIAT, Traj and Traj.CGI are integral parts of NASA’s Entry Vehicle Integrated...

Briefs : Software
Software for Validating Planetary Data Volumes

The PDS Validation Toolkit is an integrated set of scripts and computer programs for determining whether data recorded on compact disk (CD) or digital video disk (DVD) conform to the standards of the Planetary Data System (PDS). The software provides both command- line and graphical user interfaces,...

Briefs : Software
Java Version of Embedded Web Software Server

Tempest is a computer program that functions as a HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) server for embedded systems. Tempest enables remote command and control of embedded systems. Tempest accepts HTTP requests from standard Webbrowser programs running on remote client computers and returns HyperText...

Briefs : Software
Image Display Component of JADE

A Java bean that offers high performance display of images has been developed as a component of the Java Advanced Display Environment (JADE) computer program.

This component works asynchronously, loading and/or computing image tiles as needed in background threads. In so doing, it enables a main...

Briefs : Software
Software for Analyzing Scientific Data Aboard a Spacecraft

A computer program designed for execution aboard an exploratory spacecraft analyzes scientific data (espec- ially image data) in order to (1) enable the reservation of limited communication re- sources for transmission of data likely to be of significant scientific value and (2) enable...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Variable Submillimeter-Wave Delay Line for Cryogenic Use

A variable delay line is being developed as part of a far-infrared or submillimeter- wavelength interferometer that would operate in a vacuum in the cryogenic temperature range. No such delay line for spatial interferometry has previously been built for operation under these...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Precise Air Bearings Redesigned

Highly precise air bearings for suspending objects over an epoxy flat floor in a laboratory have been developed. These bearings float on airgaps 3 to 5 mil (about 0.08 to 0.13 mm) thick. They are modern versions of precise air bearings, developed during the 1960s, that offer a working coefficient of friction of...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
User’s Guide for ENSAERO

A report summarizes the development, applications, and procedures for use of ENSAERO, a computer program for simulating aeroelastic phenomena (e.g., wing flutter) of aircraft and spacecraft. ENSAERO computes aeroelastic responses by simultaneously numerically integrating Euler and/or Navier-Stokes equations of airflow...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Minimally Actuated Hopping Robot

A small robot that travels by hopping has been built and tested. This is a prototype of hopping robots that would carry video cameras and possibly other sensory devices and that are under consideration for use in exploring cluttered, unpredictable terrain on distant planets. On Earth, robots like this one might...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Mobile Robot With Foveal Machine Vision

The Foveal Extra-Vehicular Activity Helper-Retriever (FEVAHR) is a mobile robot that features a hierarchical foveal machine-vision system (HFMV). The FEVAHR is a prototype of future robots that could detect, recognize, track, and pursue objects and avoid obstacles while operating autonomously, controlled...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Rotary Tool and Retractable Foot for Walking Robot

A mechanism has been developed to serve as an end effector for one of the legs of the Legged Excursion Mechanical Utility Robot (LEMUR) — a walking robot designed for demon- strating robotic cap- abilities for maintenance and repair. [The LEMUR was described in “Six-Legged Experimental...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Minirovers as Test Beds for Robotic and Sensor-Web Concepts

The figure depicts a proposed reconfigurable miniature exploratory robotic vehicle (mini- rover) that would serve as a versatile prototype in the development of exploratory robots and “smart”-sensor systems that contain them. For example, minirovers could serve as nodes of sensor...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Tool for Installing a Seal Ring Between Pipe Flanges

A tool has been devised to facilitate the accurate placement of a seal ring between the hubs of two pipe flanges that are to be clamped together. Heretofore, technicians have resorted to impro- visations that have included, variously, insertion of a ring with fingertips, lowering a ring into...

Briefs : Medical
Locating Epileptic Foci by ANN Analysis of Interictal Spikes

A diagnostic software system (DSS) now under development is intended to implement artificial neural networks (ANNs) that will analyze magnetoencephalographic (MEG) data to locate foci and epicenters of epileptic activity in human patients. This DSS is applicable to single-focus...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Electrostatic/Electrodynamic Nanoparticle-Capture Vessel

A proposed simple, portable, robust apparatus, capable of automated operation, has been proposed for collecting samples of selected biological or chemical species in harsh environments. The sampled species could range in size from molecules to nanoparticles (that is, particles with...


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Space-Qualified Traveling-Wave Tube

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