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 : Materials
Making Ion-Accelerator Grids From Ti Instead of Mo

Titanium has been found to offer several advantages over molybdenum as the material used to construct electrostatic-accelerator and -screen grids for ion thrusters for spacecraft. These advantages could also be expected to extend to the manufacture of grids for ion accelerators used in...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Quasi-Fractal Lenticular Booms

An improved configuration for large, thin-walled lenticular booms has been proposed to reduce their susceptibility to buckling. Lenticular booms have been used on spacecraft because they can be flattened and rolled onto drums for compact storage during transport, then deployed by unrolling them from the drums....

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Nonintrusive Pressure Gauges

The state of the art of pressure gauging has been advanced by the development of a new technique, and of a nonintrusive gauge based on the technique, for measuring the pressure of a fluid in the same segment of pipe in which the mass-flow rate of the fluid is also measured. NASA anticipates the first use of the...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
PVP-MP Method for Wrinkling Analysis of Space Membrane Structures

Parameter-Variation-Principle (PVP) based Mathematical Programming (MP) is the basis of a computational method of analyzing wrinkles in membranes. Devised for original application to lightweight membrane structures in outer space, the method can also be applied on Earth to similar...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Vacuum Pumping Station

A proposed valve unit called a "vacuum pumping station" would be incorporated into a plumbing system that supplies a vacuum for vacuum insulated cryogenic equipment. The vacuum pumping station is intended to perform functions now performed by, and to be a simpler and more reliable alternative to, an assembly of components...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Digital Preassembly Process

Because the International Space Station is being assembled in orbit, there was a need to verify in advance that it could, indeed, be assembled there and that the various assembled parts would function as intended. A digital preassembly process was devised to satisfy this need for verification, without having to...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Numerical Index for Quantifying Aircraft Icing Hazards

A new method for assessing and communicating aviation in-flight icing hazards has been proposed. This methodology creates a simple numerical index for quantifying hazard severity. The index is traceable to flight-level meteorology and aircraft-specific, icing-induced reductions in aircraft...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
DNS of Mixing of Supercritical Heptane and Nitrogen

A report discusses direct numerical simulations (DNS) of a developing mixing layer between nitrogen and heptane initially at different temperatures and initially flowing at different velocities under supercritical conditions. The usual conservation equations for a binary fluid, along with the...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Gas Generator for Inflating Structures in Outer Space

A report proposes a system that would supply gas for inflating one or more inflatable structure(s) in outer space. The system would include a small tank of helium for initial inflation, plus a catalytic hydrazine gas generator that would supply makeup gas over the long term. After...

Briefs : Materials
Thermal Insulation Would Use CO2 in the Martian Environment

A report describes the development of a lightweight thermal insulation system for Martian surface applications. The ambient Martian atmosphere, which is predominantly carbon dioxide at a pressure of 10 torr, is used as the insulation medium with a modest multiple radiation shield...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Martian Landing Balls

A report describes Martian landing balls, which are under development for use in delivering scientific payloads to Mars. Martian landing balls are related to other soft-landing devices that resemble beach balls and that have been described in several previous NASA Tech Briefs articles. They are also related to the...

Briefs : Motion Control
Self-Tuning Impact Dampers for Turbomachine Blades

Self-tuning impact dampers have been proposed as improved means for suppressing vibrations in the rotor blades of turbomachines (turbines and compressors). Dampers are needed because aeroelastic blade/flow interactions in a turbomachine cause the blades to vibrate intensely, with resultant...

Briefs : Motion Control
Double-Parallelogram Carriage for Spectrometer Mirrors

A double-parallelogram ("porch swing") carriage mechanism has been devised to provide for free linear motion of one or more retroreflector(s) in a Fourier-transform infrared spectrometer. Mechanisms like this one are particularly well suited for cryogenic high-resolution Fourier transform...

Briefs : Motion Control
Using Microwave Radiometers To Prevent Unstarts

Measurement and control systems based on microwave radiometers would be used to prevent unstarts in the next generation of high-speed (up to mach 2.4) civil-transport airplanes, according to a proposal. "Unstart" denotes a compressor stall in a supersonic aircraft engine, and is caused by a change...

Briefs : Motion Control
Non-Ablative Aeroshells

Two reports propose the development of non-ablative aeroshells for braking of spacecraft entering the atmospheres of Earth, Mars, and other planets. The primary advantages of non-ablative aeroshells, relative to ablative aeroshells, results from reduced mass and increased aerodynamic stability of the aeroshell occasioned...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Fractal-Based Encryption

In 1987 a discovery led to the formal proof that it is possible to use chaotic functions to arrive at a nonprobabilistic and nondeterministic method normal context of the operation of this system, and by using a virtual operational environment, the investigators are manipulating data in eight dimensions, which require a...

Briefs : Information Technology
Coherent Phase Line Enhancer: a Method of Spectral Analysis

The term "coherent phase line enhancer" (CPLE) refers to a dual-transform method of spectral analysis that enhances the detection of periodic and quasi-periodic signals buried in wide-band noise. The CPLE is particularly useful for increasing the signal-to-noise ratios of spectral peaks...

Briefs : Information Technology
Software for Secure Distribution of Data

MECS is a computer program for the automated, secure, rapid, and efficient transfer of data between a central source and users at multiple distant locations. "MECS" signifies "Multi-mission Encrypted Communication System." MECS enables many users to collaborate securely on a shared plan or set of...

Briefs : Software
Software for Real-Time Transfer of GPS Data Over the Open Internet

Real-Time Net Transfer (RTNT) software allows for efficient and reliable transport of raw, GPS (Global Positioning System) observables over the open Internet. Efficiency is achieved by editing and compressing the GPS observables at the remote site, and by using User Datagram...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
System Processes Data From Wind-Tunnel Acoustic Measurements

A processing system has been developed to meet increasing demands for detailed noise measurement of aircraft in wind tunnels. Phased arrays enable spatial and amplitude measurements of acoustic sources, including low signal-to-noise sources not measurable by conventional techniques....

Briefs : Information Technology
Common Database Interface and Report Generator

The Common Database Interface and Report Generator is a computer program that serves as both (1) a single common interface for data-base application programs to gain access to local or remote data bases by use of Structured Query Language (SQL) operators and (2) a report generator.

Briefs : Software
Software for Displaying Coregistered Sets of Data

The DataSlate computer program is being developed to help educators and students gain access to, view, manipulate, and otherwise interact with sets of planetary and other scientific data via the Internet or via local data-storage facilities. DataSlate will be especially useful for displaying...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
The Wireless Augmented Reality Prototype Concept

The Wireless Augmented Reality Prototype (WARP) is a system for personal access to a local area network with video, audio, and sensor data services. The center of the WARP system is a lightweight, unobtrusive heads-up display with a wireless wearable control unit, called the Remote Access Unit...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
MQW Based Blocked Intersubband Detector for Low-Background Operation

Multiple-quantum-well (MQW) AlxGa1-xAs/GaAs infrared photodetectors that are better suited [relative to prior AlxGa1-xAs/GaAs quantum-well infrared photodetectors (QWIPs)] for operation under low-background conditions are undergoing...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Airfield Wind Advisory Systems for General Aviation

An Airfield Wind Advisory System (AWAS) includes a self-contained weather station, located at an airfield, that measures speed and direction of the wind, the temperature, the barometric pressure, and the humidity. This ground station digitizes these measurements and transmits the measurement...

Briefs : Software
Computing Radiation Fluxes, Power, and Temperature for TOPEX

A computer program performs a unified analysis of the radiation exposure, the temperatures, and the power generation and distribution for predicting the performance of the TOPEX satellite on orbit and during maneuvers. The unified analysis is needed because all aspects are...

Briefs : Software
Program for Updating Parameters of Thermal Models

Parameter Identification in Thermal Networks (PITN) is a computer program developed to satisfy a need to update parameters in mathematical models of thermal systems in order to make the temperatures computed by the models equal to the temperatures measured in tests of the corresponding real...

Briefs : Software
Program Tracks Operation of a Remote Solid-State Recorder

Solid State Recorder Pointer Tracker (SSRPT) is a computer program developed specifically to aid ground-based monitoring and control of two redundant solid-state recorders (SSRs) aboard the Cassini Spacecraft. The SSRs store telemetry data until downlink times, which are limited to a...

Briefs : Software
Library for Developing Spacecraft-Mission-Planning Software

The Platform Independent Software Components for the Exploration of Space (PISCES) software library provides for web-based, collaborative development of computer programs for planning trajectories and other trajectory-related aspects of spacecraft-mission design. The PISCES...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Lightweight, Collapsible Hyperbaric Chamber With Airlock

A lightweight, collapsible hyperbaric chamber/airlock system has been proposed as a portable unit for treating decompression sickness. Copies of the system could be stowed compactly and deployed when needed in settings in which decompression sickness is expected to occur occasionally but...

Technology Leaders