Special Coverage

Home

Prioritizing Scientific Data for Transmission

A software system has been developed for prioritizing newly acquired geological data onboard a planetary rover. The system has been designed to enable efficient use of limited communication resources by transmitting the data likely to have the most scientific value. This software operates onboard a rover by analyzing collected data, identifying potential scientific targets, and then using that information to prioritize data for transmission to Earth. Currently, the system is focused on the analysis of acquired images, although the general techniques are applicable to a wide range of data modalities. Image prioritization is performed using two main steps. In the first step, the software detects features of interest from each image. In its current application, the system is focused on visual properties of rocks. Thus, rocks are located in each image and rock properties, such as shape, texture, and albedo, are extracted from the identified rocks. In the second step, the features extracted from a group of images are used to prioritize the images using three different methods: (1) identification of key target signature (finding specific rock features the scientist has identified as important), (2) novelty detection (finding rocks we haven't seen before), and (3) representative rock sampling (finding the most average sample of each rock type). These methods use techniques such as K-means unsupervised clustering and a discrimination-based kernel classifier to rank images based on their interest level.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

Read More >>

Software and Algorithms for Biomedical Image Data Processing and Visualization

PlaqTrak automatically assesses plaque deposits on teeth. A new software equipped with novel image processing algorithms and graphical-user-interface (GUI) tools has been designed for automated analysis and processing of large amounts of biomedical image data. The software, called PlaqTrak, has been specifically used for analysis of plaque on teeth of patients. New algorithms have been developed and implemented to segment teeth of interest from surrounding gum, and a real-time image-based morphing procedure is used to automatically overlay a grid onto each segmented tooth. Pattern recognition methods are used to classify plaque from surrounding gum and enamel, while ignoring glare effects due to the reflection of camera light and ambient light from enamel regions. The PlaqTrak system integrates these components into a single software suite with an easy-to-use GUI (see Figure 1) that allows users to do an end-to-end run of a patient's record, including tooth segmentation of all teeth, grid morphing of each segmented tooth, and plaque classification of each tooth image.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

Read More >>

Using a Quadtree Algorithm To Assess Line of Sight

A matched pair of computer algorithms determines whether line of sight (LOS) is obstructed by terrain. These algorithms were originally designed for use in conjunction with combat-simulation software in military training exercises, but could also be used for such commercial purposes as evaluating lines of sight for antennas or determining what can be seen from a “room with a view.” The quadtree preparation algorithm operates on an array of digital elevation data and only needs to be run once for a terrain region, which can be quite large. Relatively little computation time is needed, as each elevation value is considered only one and one-third times. The LOS assessment algorithm uses that quadtree to answer LOS queries. To determine whether LOS is obstructed, a piecewise-planar (or higher-order) terrain skin is computationally draped over the digital elevation data. Adjustments are made to compensate for curvature of the Earth and for refraction of the LOS by the atmosphere. Average computing time appears to be proportional to the number of queries times the logarithm of the number of elevation data points. Accuracy is as high as is possible for the available elevation data, and symmetric results are assured. In the simulation, the LOS query program runs as a separate process, thereby making more random-access memory available for other computations.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

Read More >>

Optics Program Modified for Multithreaded Parallel Computing

A powerful high-performance computer program for simulating and analyzing adaptive and controlled optical systems has been developed by modifying the serial version of the Modeling and Analysis for Controlled Optical Systems (MACOS) program to impart capabilities for multithreaded parallel processing on computing systems ranging from supercomputers down to Symmetric Multiprocessing (SMP) personal computers. The modifications included the incorporation of OpenMP, a portable and widely supported application interface software, that can be used to explicitly add multithreaded parallelism to an application program under a shared-memory programming model. OpenMP was applied to parallelize raytracing calculations, one of the major computing components in MACOS. Multithreading is also used in the diffraction propagation of light in MACOS based on p-threads [POSIX Thread, (where “POSIX” signifies a portable operating system for UNIX)]. In tests of the parallelized version of MACOS, the speedup in ray-tracing calculations was found to be linear, or proportional to the number of processors, while the speedup in diffraction calculations ranged from 50 to 60 percent, depending on the type and number of processors. The parallelized version of MACOS is portable, and, to the user, its interface is basically the same as that of the original serial version of MACOS.

Posted in: Photonics, Software, Briefs, TSP

Read More >>

Software for Automated Generation of Cartesian Meshes

Cart3D is a collection of computer programs for generating Cartesian meshes [for computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and other applications] in volumes bounded by solid objects. Aspects of Cart3D at earlier stages of development were reported in “Robust and Efficient Generation of Cartesian Meshes for CFD” (ARC-14275), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 23, No. 8 (August 1999), page 30. The geometric input to Cart3D comprises surface triangulations like those commonly generated by computer- aided-design programs. Complexly shaped objects can be represented as assemblies of simpler ones. Cart3D deletes all portions of such an assembled object that are not on the exterior surface. Intersections between components are preserved in the resulting triangulation. A tie-breaking routine unambiguously resolves geometric degeneracies. Then taking the intersected surface triangulation as input, the volume mesh is generated through division of cells of an initially coarse hexahedral grid. Cells are subdivided to refine the grid in regions of increased surface curvature and/or increased flow gradients. Cells that become split into multiple unconnected regions by thin pieces of surface are identified.

Posted in: Software, Briefs, TSP

Read More >>

Java Mission Evaluation Workstation System

The Java Mission Evaluation Workstation System (JMEWS) is a collection of applications designed to retrieve, display, and analyze both real-time and recorded telemetry data. This software is currently being used by both the Space Shuttle Program (SSP) and the International Space Station (ISS) program. JMEWS was written in the Java programming language to satisfy the requirement of platform independence. An object-oriented design was used to satisfy additional requirements and to make the software easily extendable. By virtue of its platform independence, JMEWS can be used on the UNIX workstations in the Mission Control Center (MCC) and on office computers. JMEWS includes an interactive editor that allows users to easily develop displays that meet their specific needs. The displays can be developed and modified while viewing data. By simply selecting a data source, the user can view real-time, recorded, or test data.

Posted in: Briefs

Read More >>

Computing Isentropic Flow Properties of Air/ R-134a Mixtures

MACHRK is a computer program that calculates isentropic flow properties of mixtures of air and refrigerant R-134a (tetrafluoroethane), which are used in transonic aerodynamic testing in a wind tunnel at Langley Research Center. Given the total temperature, total pressure, static pressure, and mole fraction of R-134a in a mixture, MACHRK calculates the Mach number and the following associated flow properties: dynamic pressure, velocity, density, static temperature, speed of sound, viscosity, ratio of specific heats, Reynolds number, and Prandtl number. Real-gas effects are taken into account by treating the gases comprising the mixture as both thermally and calorically imperfect. The Redlich-Kwong equation of state for mixtures and the constant-pressure ideal heat-capacity equation for the mixture are used in combination with the departure-function approach of thermo thermodynamics to obtain the equations for computing the flow properties. In addition to the aforementioned calculations for air/R-134a mixtures, a research version of MACHRK can perform the corresponding calculations for mixtures of air and R- 12 (dichlorodifluoromethane) and for air/SF6 mixtures. [R-12 was replaced by R- 134a because of environmental concerns. SF6 has been considered for use in increasing the Reynolds-number range.]

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

Read More >>