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: Software
Automated Scheduling and Reporting of Fire Inspections

A computer-based automated system for scheduling, reporting, and tracking fire inspections at Kennedy Space Center has supplanted a manual system based on paper fire-inspection reports transmitted by mail. The automated system not only minimizes the consumption of paper and other resources...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
A Hybrid Position and Displacement Sensor

Sensor Products has recently filed two patents for, and introduced, the ASET® sensor for measuring interfacial stresses in real time. The sensor does not measure force, but rather the...

Basic research on ion-trap mass spectrometry (IT/MS) in the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL) at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has resulted in a...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Improved Ultrasonic Imaging of Microscopic Devices

Advances in time gating of ultrasonic signals in scanning acoustic microscopes have been proposed to enable detailed nondestructive examination of bonds and other interfaces deep within the interiors of such micromachined objects as high-density integrated electronic circuits and...

Briefs: Motion Control
PC Control withIntegrated Motion

PC-based control has become one of the fastest-growing automation solutions for the factory floor. Control engineers are quickly dropping their proprietary PLC boxes and replacing them with PC-based control...

The figure shows a robot arm that is essentially a miniature crane actuated by electroactive polymers. This mechanism has been constructed as part of a continuing effort to develop lightweight,...

Improved zirconium- and hafnium-based ceramic composites have been invented in an effort to obtain better resistance to ablation at high temperature. These ceramics are suitable for use...

A biotelemetric system for monitoring key physiological parameters of a fetus and its uterine environment is undergoing development. The main purpose of the monitoring is to detect...

Briefs: Materials
Hybrid Composite Overwraps for Low-Pressure Tanks

Hybrid versions of the high-performance overwraps used on some low-pressure tanks have been proposed. The hybrid overwraps would weigh less than do the corresponding nonhybrid overwraps, as explained below.

Preforms (essentially, shaped mats) of single-crystal yttrium aluminum garnet (YAG) fibers can now be readily fabricated in net size and shape, with tailored orientation of...

Researchers at Johnson Space Center (JSC) recently demonstrated that the resonant microstrip patch antenna (RMPA), which has been proven in commercial applications, can be applied with...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
GPS "Compound Eye" Attitude Sensor

A proposed Global Positioning System (GPS) sensor would give information on approximate attitude as well as on position. Unlike other GPS-based attitude sensors, this attitude sensor would not depend on...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Eclipse Aerotow Dynamics Experiment

NASA Dryden Flight Research Center is supporting a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract between the U.S. Air Force Research Labs and Kelly Space & Technology (KST). KST's...

Briefs: Software
Updated Software for Predicting Noise From Aircraft

The FOOTPR and RADIUS computer programs implement state-of-the-art mathematical models for predicting levels of noise generated by existing or proposed aircraft. These programs can be used to calculate Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) noise-certification levels, airport-vicinity noise...

Briefs: Materials
Repair of Composite-Overwrapped Pressure Vessels

Pressure vessels overwrapped with graphite-fiber-based composite materials that become damaged would be salvaged by a proposed repair technique. The need for the technique arises as follows: High-performance graphite-fiber-based composites are very susceptible to damage from impact or cutting....

Direct measurement of aircraft-engine thrust by use of strain gauges offers several advantages over traditional model-based methods of calculating thrust, provided that care is...

An improved quadrupole mass analyzer (QMA) has been proposed for use in determining the compositions of gas mixtures. The proposed QMA would incorporate two major innovations over traditional...

Briefs: Materials
Properties of Cubic Boron Nitride Films

A report describes an experimental study of the surface-chemical, microstructural, and tribological properties of cubic boron nitride (c-BN) films, which are potentially useful as hard, wear-resistant coatings on bearings and on steel-cutting tools. For the experiments, BN films about 500 nm thick were...

Improved sensor assemblies have been invented for measuring acoustic signals in gases or liquids flowing in or around any of a variety of moving or stationary objects. Examples of such objects...

A method of computing the concentrations of chemical species in chemically reacting flows includes, among other things, utilization of a prior chemical-kinetic method based on a...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Active Homopolar Magnetic Bearing

A report presents information on an earlier work on active magnetic bearings with high-critical-temperature superconducting coils. To recapitulate, the device is a homopolar radial-type active magnetic bearing with a bias coil and control coils made of a high-critical-temperature superconductor. The report...

Experiments have demonstrated the feasibility of inflatable reflectors with very low system aerial densities of the order of 1 kg/m². Diverse applications include radio and...

Briefs: Materials
Polymeric Composite Damage Protective Overwraps for Composite Pressure Vessels

Damage-tolerant polymeric composite overwraps have been proposed for lightweight pressure vessels that are made of composites of graphite fibers in polymeric matrices. Graphite-fiber/polymer composites are vulnerable to impact damage; overwraps on the pressure...

Continuing efforts to develop lightweight, flexible thermal-insulation blankets that withstand high temperatures have led to design and fabrication concepts that effect the following...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Experiment on Quasi-Tailless Flight of an X-31A Airplane

An experiment consisting of flight tests on the X-31A airplane (see figure) has demonstrated the ability to use thrust vectoring to replace the functions of stabilization and turn...

Electron-beam (e-beam) lithography has shown promise as a technique for fabricating diffractive optical elements on nonflat substrates. Such optical elements could include convex or...

An improved suit to be worn by a worker during abrasive blasting has been developed. Denoted an environmentally controlled abrasive-blasting suit (ECAB), it provides comprehensive...

Briefs: Medical
Exoskeletal System for Neuromuscular Rehabilitation

A system of sensors and actuators designed to fit on the lower extremities of human patients and astronauts like an exoskeleton is under development to serve diverse purposes in neuromuscular research and rehabilitation. This system will be operated under both Earth and microgravity conditions....

Studies of physical and chemical effects in the hydride-forming electrodes of rechargeable nickel/metal hydride electrochemical cells have yielded results that now guide...

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