From research and development to industrial and commercial applications, NASA's instrumentation technology can help you unlock new insights, improve efficiency, and drive innovation. Whether you're looking to advance your understanding of the cosmos or simply want to optimize your operations, NASA's instrumentation technology could be the perfect partner for your journey.
SpaceCube is a next-generation computer system developed at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
SpaceCube v2.0 Processor with DDR2 Memory Upgrade
This new version of the card assembly will feature a total of eight 4x DDR2 SDRAM memories per Xilinx FPGA. A dedicated regulator was included to compensate for the lower operating voltage of DDR2 in comparison to the older DDR memory. The DDR2 memories are grouped in pairs with shared address/command/control lines. By sharing those lines, the number of Xilinx I/Os for the DDR2 interfaces could be reduced. These improvements extend the life and design of the processor and provide even greater memory throughput to support the next generation of instruments.
Cryostat-500 (disassembled)
The Cryostat-500 provides laboratory measurement of the steady-state thermal transmission properties of thermal insulation systems under conditions below ambient temperature. Liquid nitrogen is used as a direct measure of the energy going through the test specimen. Thermal insulation systems may be composed of one or more materials that may be homogeneous or non-homogeneous at boundary conditions from 77 K to 373 K and in environments from high vacuum (10E-7 torr) to ambient pressure (10E+3 torr). The Cryostat-500 provides a much wider range of thermal performance and covers the full range of environmental conditions for applications below ambient temperature. The instrument has been proven through extensive testing of foams, composite panels, multilayer insulation (MLI) systems, aerogel blankets, fiberglass, and many other types of materials. Both the quality and quantity of the thermal performance data for insulation materials and systems have increased even as the process and method has become more time efficient and cost effective. Further guidelines on the test method and equipment for the Cryostat-500 are given in ASTM C1774, Annex A3.
Onboard the R/V Atlantis a tangle of power and data cables awaits a busy team of scientists who will organize them
A two-way microwave power divider using microstrip transmission lines
The power divider use Klopfenstein tapered transmission lines on each output branch of the junction impedance that is matched the input port. Thus, the output lines are well matched to the input, and a reflected power of 1% can be easily achieved. Resistors are distributed along the transmission lines to provide isolation between the two output ports which prevents power of one output port from coupling to the other output port. A large amount of the power is dissipated in the resistors rather than exiting through any other ports in the system. Due to the symmetry of the design, very little power is dissipated during normal operation. The resulting power divider is operable at high bandwidths as the tapered impedance match which have no upper frequency limitation. Additionally, the tapered lines eliminate many discontinuities in the layout which in turn reduce microwave junction effects. The power divider is capable of being manufactured using known methods and may be utilized in a compact microwave spectrometer.
Oil Pump
Data Transfer for Multiple Sensor Networks
High-temperature sensors have been used in silicon carbide electronic oscillator circuits. The frequency of the oscillator changes as a function of changes in the sensor's parameters, such as pressure. This change is analogous to changes in the pitch of a person's voice. The output of this oscillator, and many others may be superimposed onto a single medium. This medium may be the power lines supplying current to the sensors, a third wire dedicated to data transmission, the airwaves through radio transmission, or an optical or other medium. However, with nothing to distinguish the identities of each source, this system is useless. Using frequency dividers and linear feedback shift registers, comprised of flip flops and combinatorial logic gates connected to each oscillator, unique bit stream codes may be generated. These unique codes are used to amplitude modulate the output of the sensor (both amplitude shift keying and on-off keying are applicable). By using a dividend of the oscillator frequency to generate the code, a constant a priori number of oscillator cycles will define each bit. At the receiver, a detected frequency will have associated with it a stored code pattern. Thus, a detected frequency will have a unique modulation pattern or "voice," disassociating it from noise and from other transmitting sensors. These codes may be pseudorandom binary sequences (PRBS), ASCII characters, gold codes, etc. The detected code length and frequency are measured, offering intelligent data transfer. This is an early-stage technology requiring additional development. Glenn welcomes co-development opportunities.
3D Laser Scanner
ShuttleSCAN 3-D
How It Works The scanners operation is based on the principle of Laser Triagulation. The ShuttleSCAN contains an imaging sensor; two lasers mounted on opposite sides of the imaging sensor; and a customized, on-board processor for processing the data from the imaging sensor. The lasers are oriented at a given angle and surface height based on the size of objects being examined. For inspecting small details, such as defects in space shuttle tiles, a scanner is positioned close to the surface. This creates a small field of view but with very high resolution. For scanning larger objects, such as use in a robotic vision application, a scanner can be positioned several feet above the surface. This increases the field of view but results in slightly lower resolution. The laser projects a line on the surface, directly below the imaging sensor. For a perfectly flat surface, this projected line will be straight. As the ShuttleSCAN head moves over the surface, defects or irregularities above and below the surface will cause the line to deviate from perfectly straight. The SPACE processors proprietary algorithms interpret these deviations in real time and build a representation of the defect that is then transmitted to an attached PC for triangulation and 3-D display or printing. Real-time volume calculation of the defect is a capability unique to the ShuttleSCAN system. Why It Is Better The benefits of the ShuttleSCAN 3-D system are very unique in the industry. No other 3-D scanner can offer the combination of speed, resolution, size, power efficiency, and versatility. In addition, ShuttleSCAN can be used as a wireless instrument, unencumbered by cables. Traditional scanning systems make a tradeoff between resolution and speed. ShuttleSCANs onboard SPACE processor eliminates this tradeoff. The system scans at speeds greater than 600,000 points per second, with a resolution smaller than .001". Results of the scan are available in real time, whereas conventional systems scan over the surface, analyze the scanned data, and display the results long after the scan is complete.
NASA's most exciting science missions: mind-bending results from the Hubble Space Telescope
A Broadband, Compact Low-Power microwave Radiometer Down Converter for Small Satellite Applications
The system includes a fundamental local oscillator (LO) source composed of a broad-band tunable frequency synthesizer as well as a crystal oscillator. The synthesizer employs a harmonic doubler to expand frequency coverage. The CubeRRT system uses a series of RF switches and band-pass filters, to select the desired harmonic while suppressing unwanted harmonics. The CubeRRT system uniquely combines several technologies to minimize the number of frequency banks and thus reduce mass, volume and power requirements. The CubeRRT system uses four frequency banks in order to provide continuous microwave receiver coverage from 6GHz to 40GHz.
Flight Controls
Variable Visibility Glasses for Instrument Flight Training
The technology combines electroactively controlled liquid crystal lenses with a means for determining the pilots head position. When the pilots head is positioned to look outside the front or side windscreens, the lenses restrict light transmission. When the pilots head is lowered to view the instrument panel or other cockpit displays, the lenses allow light transmission so that the view of the instruments is unimpeded. Light transmission through the lenses can be selectively controlled by the system, ranging from 0.1% to 10%. The lenses are mounted in conventional eyeglass frames. The frames include a detection system to determine the position and orientation of the pilots head. Circuits within the frames activate the lenses to restrict light transmission when the pilots head is oriented to look out the windscreen. A PC, linked to the aircraft flight computer or altimeter, is also in the control loop and turns off the system to allow unimpeded visibility when the aircraft is below 200 feet or for other specified conditions. The technology readiness level of this invention is at stage seven with a prototype having been tested.
Medical instrument
Highly Accurate Position Detection and Shape Sensing with Fiber Optics
NASA's novel method was developed to more accurately measure the position and shape of optical fibers. Multi-core optical fibers contain multiple light-guiding cores arranged symmetrically. Sensors, such as FBGs, are embedded into each of the cores (Figure 1). Such an arrangement allows for the measurement of strain in each core of the fiber at specific axial locations along the fiber. When a multi-core fiber is subjected to bending, the strain imposed in each core relative to one another is used to provide position information (Figure 2). In the past, shape-sensing measurements using optical fibers estimated bending at sequential points along the fiber, and the resulting measurement had many discontinuities and errors. The combination of these errors resulted in a very poor indication of actual fiber position in three-dimensional space. NASA's patent-pending algorithms and apparatus incorporate not only fiber bending measurements, but fiber twisting measurements as well, to eliminate previous sources of error. The uniqueness of the algorithm is in how the curvature, bend-direction, and twisting information of the fiber are all brought together to obtain a highly accurate 3-D location and shape characterization. The new methods have been demonstrated to significantly improve the accuracy of multi-core fiber optic shape sensors.
Golfer lining up a put
ZONE (Zeroing Out Negative Effects)
The system uses perturbation feedback to help the athlete get into the zone through an original method of ZONE. The method allows a trainee to learn physiological self-regulation in order to modify the difficulty of the performance task and/or environment in which training is conducted. For example, better concentration leads to a variety of easier conditions on a training putting green. The technology incorporates software and hardware to provide real-time feedback to the athlete about how close his or her arousal and emotive responses are to an optimal state required to successfully perform the athletic task. This innovation presents the capability to extend current sports training and psychological practices of guided imagery visualization and cognitive reinforcement learning by systematically providing demonstrable and relevant feedback through the use of closed-loop, cybernetic feedback principles that provide immediate reinforcement of pyschophysiological self-regulation and translate into better skill-based performance.
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