Physical Sciences

News : Materials
The Top Tech Briefs Stories of 2017

With another year of Tech Briefs almost in the books, it's time to look at our most-read news articles of 2017.

Top stories included a look back at the life of Robert Goddard, and a look forward to...

News : Physical Sciences
Sound-Off: How Should Universities Prepare Tomorrow’s Vehicle Designers?
The skill set for tomorrow’s automotive designer? A combination of traditional engineering, physical sciences, mathematics, and, more than ever, ethics.
Who's Who : Physical Sciences
Dr. (James) Ira Thorpe, Astrophysicist, Gravitational Astrophysics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center, Greenbelt, MD

Gravitational waves from colliding black holes were first observed by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) instruments in 2015. Building on these efforts on the ground, an international group of...

News : Physical Sciences
Is Pluto a Planet? Scientists Seek New Definition

In 2006, the International Astronomical Union demoted Pluto to "non-planet" status. Johns Hopkins University scientist Kirby Runyon led a group of six researchers to draft a new definition of "planet" — one that includes more than 100 other celestial bodies, including Pluto. The proposal was...

Question of the Week : Physical Sciences
Should Pluto be restored as a planet?

This week’s Question: Last week at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston, Johns Hopkins University's Kirby Runyon reignited an often fierce debate within the scientific community: Pluto’s planetary status.

Briefs : Energy
Foldable and Deployable Power Collection System

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is developing a lightweight space-based solar power array with a high power-to-stowed-volume and weight ratio. The system provides power to small satellites and CubeSats that are power starved, operating on extremely limited power because of the size...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Solid-State Ultracapacitor

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center has developed a solid-state ultracapacitor utilizing a novel nanocomposite dielectric material. The material’s design is based on the internal barrier layer capacitance (IBLC) concept, and it uses novel dielectric and metallic conductive ink formulations.

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Iodine-Compatible Hall Effect Thruster

The Hall effect thruster (HET) was designed for long-duration operation with gaseous iodine as the propellant. Iodine is an alternative to the state-of-the-art propellant xenon. Compared to xenon, iodine stores as a solid at much higher density and at a much lower pressure. Because iodine is a halogen, it...

Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
An Alternative Molecular Sexing Method for the Florida Scrub-jay

A new method of molecular sexing is described that helps to understand population dynamics of the Florida Scrub-jay (FSJ). FSJ is an endemic, nonmigratory, monomorphic species of bird found on the Florida peninsula in lowgrowing oak or pine scrub. The current conservation status...

Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) Science Simulator

The SWOT Science Simulator simulates projected SWOT altimetry observations that can be applied to an ocean general circulation model, allowing the exploration of ideas and methods to optimize information retrieval from the proposed SWOT Mission, which is currently baselined to launch in...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Digital Elevation Model Maker (DEMmaker)

The DEMmaker suite of software applications produces data products containing surface shape, reflectivity, and geomorphology (craters and rocks) for a desired planetary surface based on statistically accurate size and frequency distributions of geologic and surface impact features. The current version can...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Terrestrial Observation and Prediction System (TOPS)

TOPS is a modeling software system that integrates data from satellite, aircraft, and ground sensors, and weather/climate models with application models to expeditiously produce operational nowcasts and forecasts of ecological conditions. TOPS allows determination of the options for different...

Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
Images of Change for iPad

Images of Change provides a user-friendly mobile interface for exploring an extensive gallery of land-based and space-based images showing dramatic change over time on Earth. Hosted on NASA’s Global Climate Change website, Images of Change is designed to raise awareness of climate change, inspire curiosity and...

Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
Characteristics of the Spliced Kennedy Space Center Doppler Radar Wind Profiler Database

NASA relies on the Natural Environments (NE) Branch located at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) to provide databases that represent the wind magnitudes and wind changes expected on day-of-launch (DOL) for vehicle programs that MSFC NE supports. MSFC NE...

Briefs : Aerospace
Hydrogen Peroxide for Microbial Growth Control in Space Potable Water Systems

NASA uses a biocide to prevent contamination of astronaut drinking water with harmful microorganisms. Concerns have arisen over existing biocides — that they’re inadequately effective, and may have toxic side effects when consumed. New microbial control methods are...

Technology Leaders

Tech Briefs TV