Special Coverage

Soft Robot “Walks” on Any Terrain
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Using Microwaves to Produce High-Quality Graphene
Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat
Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines

NASA Begins a New Journey of Exploration

“Tonight, on the planet Mars, the United States of America made history. The successful landing of Curiosity – the most sophisticated roving laboratory ever to land on another planet – marks an unprecedented feat of technology that will stand as a point of national pride far into the future. It proves that even the longest of odds are no match for our unique blend of ingenuity and determination. Tonight’s success reminds us that our preeminence – not just in space, but here on Earth – depends on continuing to invest wisely in the innovation, technology, and basic research that has always made our economy the envy of the world. I congratulate and thank all the men and women of NASA who made this remarkable accomplishment a reality – and I eagerly await what Curiosity has yet to discover.” - President Barack Obama, August 6, 2012

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Historical reference, Research and development, Entry, descent, and landing, Spacecraft
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Talking Mars

NASA Tech Briefs recently spoke with Doug McCuistion, Director of the Mars Exploration Program, and Michael Meyer, lead scientist for the Mars Exploration Program and Program Scientist for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL). We talked about what NASA hopes to find, the technologies used onboard, and how the two-year mission is expected to progress.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Systems engineering, Technical reference, Technical review, Spacecraft
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The Technology of Curiosity

On April 14, 2004, NASA announced an opportunity for researchers to propose science investigations for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission. Eight months later, the agency announced selection of eight investigations. In addition, Spain and Russia would each provide an investigation through international agreements. The instruments for these ten investigations make up the science payload on the Curiosity rover.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Globalization, Test equipment and instrumentation, Test procedures, Spacecraft
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An Ionic Twist on Hair Care

Nanomaterials developed by NASA play a big role in professional hairstyling tools.

Disinfecting can be dirty work. Typical cleaning agents, like chlorine and alcohol, release fumes that don’t go away when applied in the contained environment of a spacecraft. So NASA scientists developed an alternative method to keep surfaces disinfected, using a material whose antimicrobial properties have long been known: nanosilver.

Posted in: Articles, Nanotechnology, Bacteria, Human factors, Ceramics, Materials properties, Nanomaterials
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The GigE Vision® Interface Standard: Transforming Medical Imaging

Live, high-resolution imaging is increasingly being leveraged to enhance operating procedures. It can improve the precision of physicians and their instruments, and minimize the invasiveness of many procedures. Increasingly, one small component in a vision system — the interfacing technology — is providing answers to the most common of these challenges.

Posted in: Articles, Imaging, Architecture, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Architecture, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Human machine interface (HMI), Medical equipment and supplies, Displays, Displays, Performance upgrades
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Industry Contributions to Mars Rover

To accomplish its missions, NASA relies on the support of hundreds of contractors and suppliers. Here's a look at some of the companies that contributed to the Mars Science Laboratory and the future success of Curiosity’s mission on the Red Planet.

Posted in: Articles, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Suppliers, Spacecraft
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The Future Looks Dimmer

New LED Controller Technology Could Make Dimming Problems a Thing of the Past

Originally fueled by environmental concerns and the steadily rising cost of electricity, the market for energy- efficient lighting has been dramatically accelerated by regulations that will restrict the sale of most incandescent bulbs in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Posted in: Articles, Lighting, Powering & Controlling LEDs, Exterior lighting, Environmental regulations and standards, Interior lighting, Interior lighting
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Specifying Gaskets for Outdoor LED Lighting Fixtures

LED lighting technology has the potential to lower energy consumption and reduce maintenance costs on outdoor installations such as area lighting and parking lights, street lights and other “difficult to reach” outdoor locations. When operating in controlled temperatures and weatherproof environments, solid state LED lights are designed to operate for 5 to 10 years. Outdoor LED housings and lighting enclosures are constructed from powder coated aluminum to resist the effects of direct sun and weather for many years. However, if the full payback on the investment in outdoor LED lighting is to be realized, the gaskets required to protect the solid state electronics must function for the 5 to 10 year life of the product.

Posted in: Articles, Lighting, Powering & Controlling LEDs, Exterior lighting, Light emitting diodes (LEDs), Light emitting diodes (LEDs), Aluminum, Coatings Colorants and Finishes, Coatings, colorants, and finishes, Seals and gaskets, Reliability, Reliability
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Researchers Study How to Avoid Charge Traps in Plastic Electronics

Plastic electronics hold the promise of cheap, mass-produced devices. But plastic semiconductors have an important flaw – the electronic current is influenced by “charge traps” in the material. These traps, which have a negative impact on plastic light-emitting diodes and solar cells, are poorly understood.

Posted in: Articles, Lighting, Failure modes and effects analysis, Plastics, Semiconductors
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New ‘Spintronic’ LED Technology Promises Brighter TV and Computer Displays

Physicists at the University of Utah have invented a new “spintronic” organic light-emitting diode (OLED) that promises to be brighter, cheaper and more environmentally friendly than the kinds of LEDs now used in television and computer displays, lighting, traffic lights and numerous electronic devices.

Posted in: Articles, Lighting, Light emitting diodes (LEDs), Light emitting diodes (LEDs), Sustainable development, Semiconductors
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