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
Improved Successive-Approximation ADCs With Charge Balancing

Improved successive-approximation analog-to-digital converter (ADC) circuits are undergoing development for eventual incorporation into focal-plane arrays of photodetectors. These circuits are derived from, and offer advantages over, the ones described in "Successive-Approximation...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Series-Connected Boost Regulators

A series-connected boost regulator (SCBR) is, as its name suggests, an electronic circuit for boosting a power-supply voltage to a higher and regulated value. The distinguishing feature of an SCBR is an interconnection topology in which one utilizes the input/output dc-isolating quality of a dc-to-dc converter....

Briefs : Medical
Wicks for Initiating Hydroponic Growth

A material developed for space suits has been found useful in a completely different application: making wicks to support seedlings and to carry water and nutrients to them during the initial stages of hydroponic growth. A modified version of the wick material may also prove useful in wick-based...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Redundant Fiber-Optic Transceivers for Remote Testing

Redundant fiber-optic transceivers have been incorporated into the High Speed Data Acquisition System (HSDAS) at Stennis Space Center, where they are used to communicate data acquired by remotely located instrumentation during tests of spacecraft engines. These and similar transceivers could...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
A Solid-State Alternative to the Vacuum Photomultiplier Tube

There are a number of important OEM photonic applications based on the detection of low incident light levels, including flow cytometry, PET (positron emission tomography) imaging, and applied spectroscopy. In flow cytometry, a blood sample is first treated with fluorescently labeled...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Improved Q-Switch Drivers

Improved circuits that generate high-voltage pulses for driv-ing Q-switched lasers have been devised. To extract maximum energy from a laser cavity in the form of consistent laser pulses, the Q-switch pulses must rise rapidly so that the Q-switch is fully open before each laser pulse occurs. The Q-switch drivers placed...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Durability Studies on the F-15B Flight-Test Fixture

NASA's F-15B #836 is a two-seat version of the F-15, which is a high-performance, supersonic, all-weather fighter airplane. The F-15B is used as a test-bed aircraft for a wide variety of flight experiments. In support of this use, a flight-test fixture (FTF) (see Figure 1) was developed to...

Briefs : Materials
Separating Ethanol From Water Via Differential Solubility

The differential solubility of sulfur in ethanol and water could be exploited to separate ethanol from water. The energy that could be produced by burning the separated ethanol would be more than that required in the separation process. In contrast, the separation of a small amount of...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Suspension Devices for Vibration Testing of Structures

Space structures in general experience free-free vibrational boundary conditions that are not readily replicable on the ground. To conduct vibration tests of such structures on Earth, special devices must be used to support the weight of the structures without introducing any constraining...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Apparatus for Testing Vacuum Torsional Dampers

A laboratory apparatus called a "vacuum damper investigation and performance evaluation robot" ("V-DIAPER") affords capabilities for vacuum dynamic testing of torsional dampers. The apparatus was developed for original use in testing torsional dampers (rotary viscous dampers) that are destined to...

Briefs : Software
Automating Work-Time and Attendance Recording on an Intranet

The OMNI time and attendance system is a workstation software system for automated, centralized recording of work time and attendance, and for flexible scheduling of work by employees in an organization. The OMNI system makes it unnecessary to perform the time-consuming and...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Determining Superconductor Inhomogeneity at Room Temperature

A technique for determining inhomogeneities in a specimen of a high-critical-temperature superconductor involves scanning a small eddy-current probe over a flat surface of the specimen at room temperature while monitoring the inductance of the probe. In contrast, older techniques for...

Briefs : Materials
Metal-Surfaced Ceramic Insulating Blankets

Flexible thermal-insulation blankets made of ceramic fibers can be protected against weather and handling by attaching thin metal face sheets. In applications in which the blankets are exposed to gas flows, the face sheets also afford protection against flow-induced stresses and help reduce aerodynamic...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Corrugated Quantum-Well Infrared Photodetector Arrays

Corrugated quantum-well infrared photodetector (C-QWIPs) arrays are sensitive and high-resolution thermal imaging devices. They are not only suitable for a wide range of conventional military, scientific, and commercial applications but also offer new imaging capabilities, such as remote...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Rapid Thermal-Cycle Life Testing of Thin Films

An automated heating/cooling laboratory apparatus enables the accelerated thermal-cycle life testing of thin-film samples and other small material samples. In the original application for which the apparatus was constructed, the thin-film samples are candidates for use as components of...

Briefs : Information Technology
Documents on Flight Software for the SAMPEX Spacecraft

A collection of four documents contains information on various aspects of the flight software of the Solar Anomalous and Magnetospheric Particle Explorer (SAMPEX) spacecraft. The first document is part of a longer paper that presents design requirements for the software; the information in...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
NASA Developing Crew-Return Vehicle

Up a creek without a paddle? Not if you're an International Space Station astronaut with a CRV. That's short for Crew Return Vehicle, and it's being developed following an innovative approach in the X-38 program. The CRV will perform three specific roles:

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Improved Inlets for T-38 Airplane

A change in the design of the engine inlets of the T-38 airplane significantly reduces takeoff distances while increasing safety margins. Although the newer inlet design (see Figure 1) is based on well-known engineering principles, it is unique and will prove invaluable to the NASA fleet and to other T-38...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Smoother Wing Leading-Edge Joints Would Favor Laminar Flow

Some changes in the design and construction of the leading edges of metal airplane wings have shown promise as means to suppress laminar-to-turbulent flow transitions. The significance of this development is that it creates an opportunity to take advantage of laminar-flow boundary...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Kit for Sampling Nitrosamines From Aqueous Solutions

Scientists at White Sands Test Facility (WSTF) have devised a kit for extracting nitrosamines from aqueous solutions. In comparison with extractions according to the method recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), extractions by use of the kit are faster, cheaper and less...

Briefs : Motion Control
Linear Motors Offer New Motion Capabilities

The linear motor was invented in the mid-nineteenth century, at much the same time as its brother, the rotating electric motor. Because the linear motor always has to effect a reversing movement - from one end of the motor to the other and back again - it has physical drawbacks as a source of energy...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Portable Multispectral Telescope

A telescope produces multiple video outputs representing coregistered images in multiple spectral bands that can range from ultraviolet through far infrared. Although the overall function of the telescope is partly equivalent to that of a color television camera equipped with telescopic lenses, its basic optical...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Pixel-Summing APS Imager With Differential Column Readout

A complementary metal oxide/semiconductor (CMOS) integrated-circuit video image detector of the active-pixel-sensor (APS) type has been designed to implement programmable multiresolution output (through summing of outputs from selected groups of neighboring pixels) in a low-power,...

Briefs : Information Technology
Computer Network for Distribution of Radiographic Images

The Radiographic Imaging Performance Support System (RIPSS) is a developmental computer network intended to serve as (1) a central electronic archive for the storage, retrieval, and analysis of radiographic images generated in nondestructive-evaluation (NDE) laboratories at Kennedy Space...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Spectral Reflectometer for Quantifying Stress in Plants

A hand-held optoelectronic instrument has been designed to generate a quantitative indication of the loss of chlorophyll, and thus the level of stress, in plants. The instrument exploits the known spectral-reflectance characteristics associated with the chlorophyll contents of healthy and...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Cheaper, Lighter Biplates for Methanol Fuel Cells

Relatively inexpensive, lightweight biplates for methanol fuel cells have been proposed. The reductions in weight and cost, relative to biplates now used in methanol fuel cells, would be achieved by use of a combination of modified geometry, cheaper and lighter materials, and cheaper...

Briefs : Information Technology
Program Estimates Run Time on a Parallel Computer

The Pathcalc computer program estimates the time needed to execute a given application program on a parallel computer of given computation and network capabilities. Pathcalc can be used to analyze the effects of changes in such parameters as central-processing-unit (CPU) speed, network...

Briefs : Materials
Improved Aerogel-Based Thermal Insulation Systems

Improved aerogel-based thermal insulation systems have been developed to provide cost-effective and easier-to-handle alternatives to various types of multilayer insulation (MLI) and evacuated powder insulation now used on cryogenic equipment. The apparent thermal conductivities of the...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Improved Computer-Based System for Handling Shuttle Data

The Shuttle Projects Information Frontier (SPIF) Telemetry and Command Processor (TAC) is a personal-computer-based data-handling system that serves as part of an interface for transfer of data between Johnson Space Center and Goddard Space Flight Center (see figure). The data in question...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Improved HSPES-Based MEAs for Methanol Fuel Cells

Improved membrane/electrode assemblies (MEAs) made partly from hydrogen form of sulfonated polyether sulfone (HSPES) have been developed for use in methanol fuel cells. In comparison with traditional fuel-cell MEAs made partly from a commercial perfluorosulfonic acid-based polymer, these MEAs...

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