Miniaturized Laser Heterodyne Radiometer
This instrument uses a variation of laser heterodyne radiometer (LHR) to measure the concentration of trace gases in the atmosphere by measuring their absorption of sunlight in the infrared. Each absorption signal is mixed with laser light (the local oscillator) at a near-by frequency in a fast photoreceiver. The resulting beat signal is sensitive to changes in absorption, and located at an easier-to-process RF frequency. By separating the signal into a RF filter bank, trace gas concentrations can be found as a function of altitude.
Estimation of Alga Growth Stage and Lipid Content Growth Rate
This invention, provides a method using light in different wavelength ranges to estimate (i) algae growth stage and (ii) algae growth rates in media (e.g., fresh water or marine water). Absorption of light is measured for a beam having a specified light intensity in each of two or more specified narrow wavelength ranges. Optionally, light absorption is corrected for absorption in the same wavelength range by the medium. Then absorption of light is compared with a reference set of absorption values for the algae at different growth stages. Algorithm is applied to determine differences between measured absorption values and reference absorption values to estimate growth stage. Compensation for light reflection from a liquid (absent algae) is similar. Lipid content of the algae is measured at each of a selected set of growth stages. The estimated growth stage is correlated with a time variable to estimate time for initiation of growth of algae under specified conditions. One or more relevant environmental parameters (light intensity or wavelength, temperature, or nutrients) is varied in the growth medium for the algae and the time required for their grow this determined and related to the system described here.
Soil Remediation With Plant-Fungal Combinations
The technology builds on the existing notion that establishment of trees in contaminated soils can be enhanced through the use of ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungi. EM fungi impart resistance to soil extremes such as high temperature, high acidity and heavy metal contamination. This process for soil remediation utilizes specific plant/fungal combinations that are specifically adapted to conditions created by phenolic application to soils, and abilities of ectomycorrhizal fungi to oxidize these compounds. This is done by taking advantage of the ability of native fungi to upregulate enzyme genes in response to changes in host physiological condition and hence enhance natural phenolic oxidation in soils by up to 5-fold. Ectomycorrhizal mediated remediation of phenolic- based contamination through use of specifically adapted ectomycorrhizal fungi and enzymes utilizes the findings that EM fungi in the genera Russula and Piloderma react with positive growth responses to phenolic-based soil contamination. The activities of enzymes that oxidize these compounds increase in activity by 5 fold when the host tree is partially defoliated, which in turn imparts an increase in phenolic oxidation in soils by a similar amount. Defoliation is done by pine needle removal, where 50% of the needles are removed. This process is performed each year on new growth to maintain defoliation.
mechanical and fluid systems
Harsh Environment Protective Housings
These connectors are designed to be used in harsh environments and to withstand rough handling, such as being stepped on or rolled over by wheelbarrows or light vehicles. If the demated connectors are dropped or placed on the ground, the end caps will shield them from damage and contaminants. When mated, the seal between the housings and end caps keeps contaminants out. The end caps are latched to the housings so that the caps cannot be unintentionally opened; this latch can be opened only by depressing the levers. The spring used to open or close the cap is constructed of a shape memory alloy, allowing the cap to be opened and closed an almost infinite number of times. The cap actuation levers are designed so that only a 3/4-inch pull is needed to open the cap a full 190 degrees. The housings can accept most commercial-off-the-shelf electrical or fluid connectors (including those designed for cryogenics), thus eliminating the need for specialized connectors in hostile environments. The housings can also be grounded and scaled up or down to accommodate connectors of different sizes. The housings can be constructed of steel, aluminum, composites, or even plastic, depending on the environment in which they will be used and material cost constraints.
Robonaut 2: Industrial Opportunities
NASA, GM, and Oceaneering approached the development of R2 from a dual use environment for both space and terrestrial application. NASA needed an astronaut assistant able to function in space and GM was looking for a robot that could function in an industrial setting. With this in mind, R2 was made with many capabilities that offer an enormous advantage in industrial environments. For example, the robot has the ability to retool and vary its tasks. Rather than a product moving from station to station on a conveyor with dozens of specialized robots performing unique tasks, R2 can handle several assembly steps at a single station, thereby reducing manufacturing floor space requirements and the need for multiple robots for the same activities. The robot can also be used in scenarios where dangerous chemicals, biological, or even nuclear materials are part of the manufacturing process. R2 uses stereovision to locate human teammates or tools and a navigation system. The robot was also designed with special torsional springs and position feedback to control fine motor movements in the hands and arms. R2's hands and arms sense weight and pressure and stop when they come in contact with someone or something. These force sensing capabilities make R2 safe to work side-by-side with people on an assembly line, assisting them in ergonomically challenging tasks or working independently. This NASA Technology is available for your company to license and develop into a commercial product. NASA does not manufacture products for commercial sale.
mechanical and fluid systems
Magnetic Pressure Valves
The innovation was developed for low-pressure pneumatic testing of a vacuum chamber in the Kennedy Cryogenics Test Laboratory. Standard relief valves that utilize mechanical springs did not function adequately at the low pressure (16 pounds per square inch [psi]) required by the inventors during testing. The technology is an improvement over current pressure relief valves using spring mechanisms. Typical pressure relief valves are normally held closed by a spring. After a relief valves cracking pressure is reached, the spring is compressed and the valve opens to relieve excess pressure. The NASA valve eliminates the need for a spring by instead incorporating magnets to hold the poppet relief valve in the closed position. The use of magnets in a pressure relief valve exploits the exponential decay of the magnetic field between two magnets as they are separated. This leads to a faster acting valve that does not require an increasing force to open the relief valve after cracking pressure has been surpassed, as is the case in standard pressure relief valves.
Algae Photobioreactor Using Floating Enclosures With Semi-Permeable Membranes
The photobioreactors allow light to enter through their transparent upper surface and optimizes the efficiency of light utilization with a light-reflective lower surface inside. Deployed in the marine environment, the gradient between the freshwater inside the system and the saltwater outside drives forward osmosis. The water removed through semi-permeable (forward osmosis) membranes is cleaned as it is released into the marine environment. In addition, this process concentrates nutrients in the algae medium to stimulate growth, and concentrates the algae to facilitate harvesting. The harvested algae can be used to make biofuels, fertilizer, animal food, or other products. The photobioreactors are intended for use in naturally or artificially protected marine environments with small waves and gentle currents. The system can also be used in artificial brine pools and freshwater basins or reservoirs, however in freshwater the forward osmosis feature cannot be used.
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.
Sensing Magnetic Fields
This technology is part of Armstrong's portfolio of fiber optic sensing technologies known as FOSS. The innovation leverages Armstrong's cutting edge work in this area, including its patented FBG interrogation system, which allows for a diverse set of engineering measurements in a single compact system. In addition to magnetic field, other measurements include structural shape and buckling modes, external loads, and cryogenic liquid level. The system and measurement technology is commercially available for research applications. In addition to capitalizing on the significant advancements in fiber optic and laser technologies that have been made to support the telecommunications industry, Armstrong has also partnered with UCLA's Active Materials Lab (AML) to tap their expertise in the field of magnetics. <b><i>For more information about the full portfolio of FOSS technologies, see DRC-TOPS-37 or visit <a href=https://technology-afrc.ndc.nasa.gov/featurestory/fiber-optic-sensing>https://technology-afrc.ndc.nasa.gov/featurestory/fiber-optic-sensing</a></b></i>
Streamlined Liquid Level Sensing Using Fiber Optics
Armstrong has developed a robust fiber optic–based sensing technology that offers extraordinary accuracy in liquid level measurements. The sensing system uses fiber optic Bragg sensors located along a single fiber optic cable. These sensors actively discern between the liquid and gas states along a continuous fiber and can accurately pinpoint the liquid level. <strong><i>How It Works</strong></i> The technology uses a resistive heater wire bundled with the optical fiber. The heater is pulsed to induce a local temperature change along the fiber, and the fiber Bragg grating data is used to monitor the subsequent cooling of the fiber. The length of fiber in the liquid cools more rapidly than the portion of the fiber in the gas above the liquid. The measurement system accurately establishes the location of this transition to within 1/4-inch. <strong><i>Why It Is Better</strong></i> Armstrong's liquid level sensing technology was originally developed to measure cryogenic liquid levels in rockets, and it represents a significant advancement in the state of the art in this application. Conventional methods for measuring cryogenic liquid levels rely on cryogenic diodes strategically placed along a rod or rack. The diodes are mounted in pre-selected, relatively widely spaced positions along the length of a rod; this configuration provides limited, imprecise data. Furthermore, each diode on the rod has two wires associated with it, which means a single system may require a large number of wires, making installation, connectivity, and instrumentation cumbersome. Armstrong's novel technology provides liquid measurements with much greater precision, achieving measurements at 1/4-inch intervals. Furthermore, the streamlined system uses just two wires, which greatly simplifies installation and instrumentation. Due to its extraordinary accuracy and ease of use, Armstrong's measurement system offers important advantages for a wide range of applications beyond cryogenic liquids. <strong><i>In Addition</strong></i> Researchers have developed a new manufacturing process that improves the ability of fiber optic sensing systems to measure temperature and liquid levels when operating in humid environments. The process involves eliminating moisture from the optical fiber coating, then completing the sensor assembly within humidity-controlled conditions. The resulting sensor hardware provides precise and accurate measurements even when operating in a humid environment. <b><i>For more information about the full portfolio of FOSS technologies, see DRC-TOPS-37 or visit <a href=https://technology-afrc.ndc.nasa.gov/featurestory/fiber-optic-sensing>https://technology-afrc.ndc.nasa.gov/featurestory/fiber-optic-sensing</a></b></i>