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The TechSat 21 Autonomous Sciencecraft Experiment

Software has been developed to perform a number of functions essential to autonomous operation in the Autonomous Sciencecraft Experiment (ASE), which is scheduled to be demonstrated aboard a constellation of three spacecraft, denoted TechSat 21, to be launched by the Air Force into orbit around the Earth in January 2006. A prior version of this software was reported in "Software for an Autonomous Constellation of Satellites" (NPO-30355), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 26, No. 11 (November 2002), page 44.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Software for Optimizing Quality Assurance of Other Software

Software assurance is the planned and systematic set of activities that ensures that software processes and products conform to requirements, standards, and procedures. Examples of such activities are the following: code inspections, unit tests, design reviews, performance analyses, construction of traceability matrices, etc. In practice, software development projects have only limited resources (e.g., schedule, budget, and availability of personnel) to cover the entire development effort, of which assurance is but a part. Projects must therefore select judiciously from among the possible assurance activities. At its heart, this can be viewed as an optimization problem; namely, to determine the allocation of limited resources (time, money, and personnel) to minimize risk or, alternatively, to minimize the resources needed to reduce risk to an acceptable level. The end result of the work reported here is a means to optimize quality-assurance processes used in developing software. This is achieved by combining two prior programs in an innovative manner:

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Viewing ISS Data in Real Time via the Internet

EZStream is a computer program that enables authorized users at diverse terrestrial locations to view, in real time, data generated by scientific payloads aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The only computation/ communication resource needed for use of EZStream is a computer equipped with standard Web-browser software and a connection to the Internet. EZStream runs in conjunction with the TReK software, described in a prior NASA Tech Briefs article, that coordinates multiple streams of data for the ground communication system of the ISS. EZStream includes server components that interact with TReK within the ISS ground communication system and client components that reside in the users' remote computers. Once an authorized client has logged in, a server component of EZStream pulls the requested data from a TReK application-program interface and sends the data to the client. Future EZStream enhancements will include (1) extensions that enable the server to receive and process arbitrary data streams on its own and (2) a Web-based graphical-user-interface-building subprogram that enables a client who lacks programming expertise to create customized display Web pages.

Posted in: Software, Briefs

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Readout of DSN Monitor Data

DSN Monitor Data Reader is a computer program that, as its name suggests, reads file of monitor data from the Deep Space Network (DSN). The monitor data constitute information on the status and performance of tracking, telemetry, command, and pointing equipment at the DSN antennas. The DSN has recently introduced a new, more advanced monitor data format, denoted 0158-Mon, that is based on the standard formatted data unit (SFDU) and compressed header data objects (CHDO) of the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS). The 0158-Mon data format is a very flexible generic format that provides for specific variable-length formats and for self-identifying parameters that obviate the proprietary NASA Communications (NASCOM) bit-packed formats of the past. The monitor data SFDUs are also encapsulated in Standard DSN Blocks and routed to DSN customers for processing at their local mission control centers. This program helps a DSN customer to read and parse the monitor data to assess the statuses of the DSN stations in support of spacecraft flight operations.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Algorithm for Controlling a Centrifugal Compressor

Algorithm for Controlling a Centrifugal Compressor An algorithm has been developed for controlling a centrifugal compressor that serves as the prime mover in a heatpump system. Experimental studies have shown that the operating conditions for maximum compressor efficiency are close to the boundary beyond which surge occurs. Compressor surge is a destructive condition in which there are instantaneous reversals of flow associated with a high outlet-to-inlet pressure differential. For a given cooling load, the algorithm sets the compressor speed at the lowest possible value while adjusting the inlet guide vane angle and diffuser vane angle to maximize efficiency, subject to an overriding requirement to prevent surge. The onset of surge is detected via the onset of oscillations of the electric current supplied to the compressor motor, associated with surge-induced oscillations of the torque exerted by and on the compressor rotor. The algorithm can be implemented in any of several computer languages.

Posted in: Briefs

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PVM Wrapper

PVM Wrapper is a software library that makes it possible for code that utilizes the Parallel Virtual Machine (PVM) software library to run using the message-passing interface (MPI) software library, without needing to rewrite the entire code. PVM and MPI are the two most common software libraries used for applications that involve passing of messages among parallel computers. Since about 1996, MPI has been the de facto standard. Codes written when PVM was popular often feature patterns of and calls. In many cases, these calls are not contiguous and one set of calls may even exist over multiple subroutines. These characteristics make it difficult to obtain equivalent functionality via a single MPI "send" call. Because PVM Wrapper is written to run with MPI 1.2, some PVM functions are not permitted and must be replaced — a task that requires some programming expertise. The "pvm_spawn" and "pvm_parent" function calls are not replaced, but a programmer can use "mpirun" and knowledge of the ranks of parent and child tasks with supplied macroinstructions to enable execution of codes that use "pvm_spawn" and "pvm_parent."

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Simulation of Hyperspectral Images

A software package generates simulated hyperspectral imagery for use in validating algorithms that generate estimates of Earth- surface spectral reflectance from hyperspectral images acquired by airborne and spaceborne instruments. This software is based on a direct simulation Monte Carlo approach for modeling three- dimensional atmospheric radiative transport, as well as reflections from surfaces characterized by spatially inhomogeneous bidirectional reflectance distribution functions. In this approach, “ground truth” is accurately known through input specification of surface and atmospheric properties, and it is practical to consider wide variations of these properties. The software can treat both land and ocean surfaces, as well as the effects of finite clouds with surface shadowing. The spectral/ spatial data cubes computed by use of this software can serve both as a substitute for, and a supplement to, field validation data.

Posted in: Briefs

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