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: Photonics/Optics
Software for Multidisciplinary Concurrent Optical Design

The Integrated Optical Design Analyzer (IODA) is a computer program that facilitates multidisciplinary concurrent engineering of highly precise optical instruments. (IODA should not be confused with a multidisciplinary optical-system-analysis program, called "IMOS," that has been reported...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Ultrasonic Detector and Identifier of Land Mines

A robotic apparatus equipped with ultrasonic probes and other instrumentation has been proposed to reduce the danger and cost and increase the speed of searching for land mines. The apparatus...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Multibeam Beacon Laser Assembly

An optical assembly that combines the output of mutually incoherent lasers into a multibeam source for transmission into free space was designed, assembled, and tested. This design was motivated by the need...

Briefs: Motion Control
Software for Selecting Modes of Vibration of a Structure

A computer program facilitates the selection of the dominant modes of vibration of a structure - especially the dominant modes that interact with specific locations on the structure. This program is intended for use in conjunction with any of the various vibration-mode-analysis programs...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Improved Fiber-Pigtailed Non-Planar Ring Oscillator Laser

An improved non-planar ring oscillator (NPRO) of the fiber-pigtailed type has been developed. The improvements over prior lasers of this type lie in details of design and construction that are intended to enhance mechanical stability and thereby increase the stability of optical...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Computing Atmospheric Profiles From Spectral Measurements

The SEASCRAPE computer program estimates the composition, temperature, and pressure of the atmosphere as a function of position by fitting remote-sounding spectroscopic data to a mathematical model of the transfer of radiation through the atmosphere. SEASCRAPE consists of two integrated...

Design and development of miniature paraboloidal mirrors that would be deflected magnetically to vary their radii of curvature (and thus their focal...

Miniature electroactive-polymer rakes (MEARs) are undergoing development for eventual use as simple, lightweight, inexpensive low-power-consumption devices that would remove soil, dust, and/or other...

Engineers at Johnson Space Center have invented a relatively inexpensive, lightweight device that provides vibrational and thermal isolation for low-power electronic equipment. The...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Study of Stitching Errors in Shot-Shifted E-Beam Lithography

A report presents a study of the efficacy of shot shifting for reducing stitching errors in diffraction gratings made by electron-beam (E-beam) lithography. Stitching errors arise from fabricating a grating as a mosaic of smaller gratings by frequently translating the grating blank....

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Variable-Specific-Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket

Johnson Space Center has been leading the development of a high-power, electrothermal plasma rocket — the variable- specific-impulse magnetoplasma rocket (VASIMR) — that is capable of exhaust modulation at constant power. An electrodeless design enables the rocket to operate at power densities...

The "smart" current-signature sensor is an instrument that noninvasively measures and analyzes steady-state and transient components of the magnetic field of (and, thus, indirectly, the...

An improved design for baseplates in silicon microsensors reduces parasitic capacitances between adjacent coplanar electrodes. It also reduces thermal-expansion mismatches, which are...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Carbon Nanotube Bimorph Actuators and Force Sensors

A proposal has been made to develop bimorph actuators and force sensors based on carbon nanotubes. The proposed devices could make it possible to generate, sense, and control displacements...

"Health check" would be built into pressure transducers, according to a proposal, to enable occasional, rapid, in situ testing of the transducers between normal pressure-measurement...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Improvements in a Fast Transient-Voltage Recorder

Some improvements have been made in an instrument designed expressly for recording lightning-induced transient voltages on power and signal cables. The instrument as it existed prior to the improvements was described in "Fast Transient-Voltage Recorder" (KSC-11991), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 23,...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Improved Field-Emission Cathodes

Microscopic cathodes based on field emission (in contradistinction to thermionic emission) are undergoing development with a view toward using them as miniature or scalable sources of electrons in diverse...

Briefs: Software
LabVIEW as Flight Software With VxWorks Operating System

A development effort under way at the time of reporting the information for this article is directed toward producing a version of the LabVIEW data-acquisition software that would be suitable for use as flight software that could be executed in the VxWorks real-time operating system....

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Robot for Positioning Sensors in a Plant-Growth Chamber

The Advanced Life Support Automated Remote Manipulator (ALSARM) is a three-degree-of-freedom robotic system that positions an array of sensors inside a closed-system hydroponic chamber used in research on the production of biomass and the use of hydroponic subsystems of life-support...

Briefs: Software
MPP Port of PVM to a Beowulf Computer System

The latest version of the Parallel Virtual Machine (PVM) computer program, denoted PVM 3.4.3, incorporates a massively-parallel-processor (MPP) software port that enables a user working on a computer outside a Beowulf system (a cluster of personal computers that run the Linux operating system) to...

Briefs: Software
Software for Iterative Optimization of Plans

The Iterative Plan Optimization computer program automatically optimizes plans with respect to preferences expressed by human planners. This program incorporates a generalization of commonly occurring plan-quality metrics to provide a language for expression of preferences. The program...

Briefs: Software
Software for Planning an SAR Antarctic Mapping Mission

The AMM Automated Mission Planner computer program was developed to save time and money by automating much of the planning of the Second RADARSAT Antarctic Mapping Mission (AMM), which was scheduled to take place at the time of writing this article. The planning problem for this and...

A methodology for predicting stresses and the resultant cracking in plasma-sprayed thermal-barrier coatings (TBCs) has been developed. The methodology is built around a computer code that...

Experiments have shown that ultrasound could be an effective means of enhancing the removal of chlorinated hydrocarbon contaminants from groundwater by the zero-valent-metal treatment...

The magnetic/extendible boom docking aid is an improved mechanism that enables two spacecraft to capture and structurally mate with each other without inducing the large (and...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Vapor-Compression Solar Refrigerator Without Batteries

A solar-powered vapor-compression refrigeration system developed for Johnson Space Center operates without batteries. The design of this system will make the cost of solar-powered refrigeration systems competitive and enable the use of such systems in long-distance spaceflights, military...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Thermal-Stress Technique for Cutting Thin Glass Sheets

A technique based on the generation of highly localized thermal stresses has been devised as a means of cutting both flat and curved glass sheets of thicknesses between 30 and 600 µm. The technique is reliable, accurate, and economical. The technique can be used, for example, to cut thin...

The microwave-sterilizable access port is an apparatus that functions in a simple, quick, and reliable manner to reduce significantly the risk of contamination during transfer of materials into or out of...

Briefs: Medical
Treatment With Ferrates Eliminates DNA and Proteins

Ferrate (VI) salts have been proposed for use in sterilizing water (perhaps also in sterilizing air). The iron in ferrate (VI) salts is in its highest oxidation state (VI), and these salts are extremely strong oxidants. In laboratory experiments, it was shown that treatment of DNA solutions...

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Will Self-Erasing Chips Catch On?

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