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Ultrahigh-Vacuum Arc-Jet Source of Nitrogen for Epitaxy

Electron-excitation and translational energies can be selected. An arc-jet source of chemically active nitrogen atoms has been developed for use in molecular-beam epitaxy (MBE) to grow such III-V semiconductors as nitrides of gallium, aluminum, and indium. This apparatus utilizes a confined arc to thermally excite N2 and to dissociate N2 into N atoms. This apparatus is compatible with other, ultrahigh-vacuum MBE equipment commonly used in growing such materials.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs, TSP

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Scanning Thermography

Large objects can be scanned fairly quickly. Scanning thermography is a noncontact, nondestructive technique that makes it possible to find defects hidden inside structural components in a variety of settings. Scanning thermography can be used to perform inspections of objects that may have large areas and a variety of shapes and that are found in a variety of settings that include, but are not limited to, production lines, industrial tanks and pipes, aircraft, power plants, and bridges. Scanning thermography is applicable to diverse structural materials, including metals, plastics, laminated polymer-matrix composites, and bonded aluminum composites, to name a few. Defects that can be detected by scanning thermography include cracks, disbonds (delaminations), corrosion, and wear.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs

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Software for Managing Inventory of Flight Hardware

The Flight Hardware Support Request System (FHSRS) is a computer program that relieves engineers at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) of most of the non-engineering administrative burden of managing an inventory of flight hardware. The FHSRS can also be adapted to perform similar functions for other organizations. The FHSRS affords a combination of capabilities, including those formerly provided by three separate programs in purchasing, inventorying, and inspecting hardware. The FHSRS provides a Web-based interface with a server computer that supports a relational database of inventory; electronic routing of requests and approvals; and electronic documentation from initial request through implementation of quality criteria, acquisition, receipt, inspection, storage, and final issue of flight materials and components. The database lists both hardware acquired for current projects and residual hardware from previous projects. The increased visibility of residual flight components provided by the FHSRS has dramatically improved the re-utilization of materials in lieu of new procurements, resulting in a cost savings of over $1.7 million. The FHSRS includes subprograms for manipulating the data in the database, informing of the status of a request or an item of hardware, and searching the database on any physical or other technical characteristic of a component or material. The software structure forces normalization of the data to facilitate inquiries and searches for which users have entered mixed or inconsistent values.

Posted in: Information Sciences, Briefs, TSP

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Adaptation of Mesoscale Weather Models to Local Forecasting

Both objective and subjective evaluation methodologies are needed. Methodologies have been developed for (1) configuring mesoscale numerical weather- prediction models for execution on high- performance computer workstations to make short-range weather forecasts for the vicinity of the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) and (2) evaluating the performances of the models as configured. These methodologies have been implemented as part of a continuing effort to improve weather forecasting in support of operations of the U.S. space program. The models, methodologies, and results of the evaluations also have potential value for commercial users who could benefit from tailoring their operations and/or marketing strategies based on accurate predictions of local weather.

Posted in: Information Sciences, Briefs

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Aerodynamic Design Using Neural Networks

The amount of computation needed to optimize a design is reduced. The design of aerodynamic components of aircraft, such as wings or engines, involves a process of obtaining the most optimal component shape that can deliver the desired level of component performance, subject to various constraints, e.g., total weight or cost, that the component must satisfy. Aerodynamic design can thus be formulated as an optimization problem that involves the minimization of an objective function subject to constraints.

Posted in: Information Sciences, Briefs, TSP

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Using Fractional Clock-Period Delays in Telemetry Arraying

Special digital FIR filters help to increase accuracy. A set of special digital all-pass finite- impulse- response (FIR) filters produces phase shifts equivalent to delays that equal fractions of the sampling or clock period of a telemetry- data- processing system. These filters have been used to enhance the arraying of telemetry signals that have been received at multiple ground stations from spacecraft (see figure). Somewhat more specifically, these filters have been used to align, in the time domain, the telemetry-data sequences received by the various antennas, in order to maximize the signal-to-noise ratio of the composite telemetric signal obtained by summing the signals received by the antennas.

Posted in: Information Sciences, Briefs

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Developing Generic Software for Spacecraft Avionics

A standardized functional model would facilitate cost-effective reuse of common software modules. A proposed approach to the development of software for spacecraft avionics is based partly on a concept of generic software that could be tailored to satisfy requirements for specific missions. The proposed approach would stand in contrast to the conventional approach of first defining avionics requirements for a specific mission, then developing software specific to those requirements. The proposed approach might also be adaptable to programming computers that control and monitor other complex equipment systems that range in scale from automobiles to factories.

Posted in: Information Sciences, Briefs, TSP

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