Updated: Metrology and Calibration Working Group Develops Agency-Wide Capabilities Database

Updated: Metrology and Calibration Working Group Develops Agency-Wide Capabilities Database

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Metrology and Calibration Database

Update: This database is no longer in service. 

NASA’s Metrology and Calibration (MetCal) Program Office at Kennedy Space Center released the NASA Calibration Capabilities database on May 19, 2015. The database lists the calibration capabilities of NASA centers, providing information on the types, measurement ranges and accuracies of calibrations that can be performed at each location. 

The database provides agency-wide insight into each center’s calibration capabilities. This new insight is particularly important because occasionally centers don’t have the necessary equipment to perform certain calibrations. In those cases, calibration labs must look outside their center to outsource the calibrations. The Calibration Capabilities database enables centers to easily look within NASA for outsourcing alternatives. 

“Instead of outsourcing to vendors, we can keep it [calibration work] within the NASA centers,” said Kenny Mathews, Metrology and Calibration program manager. “If you don’t have to send it outside NASA, you’re going to save time and money.”

The database also benefits NASA partners and contractors by providing awareness of calibration resources available at NASA Centers. By assisting these partners and contractors with the identification of which equipment can be calibrated on center, a cost savings and shortened turnaround time often can be achieved, as negotiated with the calibration lab.

In order to compile and display agency-wide calibration capabilities and facilitate searches, the MetCal Program Office needed to establish common categories, called measurement disciplines. Working with the Metrology and Calibration Working Group (MCWG), the program office created 11 measurement disciplines and 70 sub-disciplines, within which all calibration capabilities are categorized.  

“We standardized the bins in which these capabilities are listed,” explained Jim Wachter, metrology engineer with APT Research.

The 11 measurement disciplines used within the database are

  • Acoustical
  • Chemical
  • Dimensional
  • Electrical
  • Fluid Properties and Quantities
  • Ionizing Radiation
  • Magnetic Quantities
  • Mechanical
  • Optical Quantities
  • Thermodynamics
  • Time and Frequency

Using the Database

The database can be accessed at http://calibrationcapabilities.ksc.nasa.gov by anyone with access to the NDC domain. Within the website, users can search for capabilities at a single center, multiple centers or throughout the agency.  The searches can include all calibration capabilities at the centers or be focused on specific measurement disciplines.

Search results are organized by the measurement discipline and sub-disciplines selected by the user and will include information on the measurement type, range and uncertainty, along with information about the measurement method. The database also identifies center points of contact that will be able to answer questions about their center’s calibration capabilities.

The information in the database normally won’t provide a definitive answer as to whether or not the center can calibrate a specific item; rather, the database is a means of narrowing the search for potential calibration support. After completing a search, users should contact the selected lab to see if it can calibrate their specific piece of equipment.

 “The database is meant to generate communication between users and all center labs,” said Mathews. “It provides enough information to get dialogue started.”

Questions about the database can be directed to Mathews