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Self-Healing Wire Insulation
Thermomechanical Methodology for Stabilizing Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) Response
Space Optical Communications Using Laser Beams
High Field Superconducting Magnets
Active Response Gravity Offload and Method
Strat-X
Sonar Inspection Robot System
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600-GHz Electronically Tunable Vector Measurement System

The design satisfies a complex set of technical and economic requirements. A compact, high-dynamic-range, electronically tunable vector measurement system that operates in the frequency range from ≈560 to ≈635 GHz has been developed as a prototype of vector measurement systems that would be suitable for use in nearly-real- time active submillimeter-wave imaging. A judicious choice of intermediate frequencies makes it possible to utilize a significant amount of commercial off-the-shelf communication hardware in this system to keep its cost relatively low. The electronic tunability of this system has been proposed to be utilized in a yet-to-bedeveloped imaging system in which a frequency- dispersive lens would be used to steer transmitted and received beams in one dimension as a function of frequency. Then acquisition of a complete image could be effected by a combination of frequency sweeping for scanning in the aforesaid dimension and mechanical scanning in the perpendicular dimension.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Test & Measurement

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Pseudo-Waypoint Guidance for Proximity Spacecraft Maneuvers

A paper describes algorithms for guidance and control (G&C) of a spacecraft maneuvering near a planet, moon, asteroid, comet, or other small astronomical body. The algorithms were developed following a model- predictive-control approach along with a convexification of the governing dynamical equations, control constraints, and trajectory and state constraints. The open-loop guidance problem is solved in advance or in real time by use of the pseudo-waypoint generation (PWG) method, which is a blend of classical waypoint and state-of-theart, real-time trajectory-generation methods. The PWG method includes satisfaction of required thruster silent times during maneuvers. Feedback control is implemented to track PWG trajectories in a manner that guarantees the resolvability of the open-loop-control problem, enabling updating of G&C in a provably robust, model-predictive manner. Thruster firing times and models of the gravitational field of the body are incorporated into discretized versions of the dynamical equations that are solved as part of an optimal-control problem to minimize consumption of fuel or energy. The optimal- control problem is cast as a linear matrix inequality (specifically a secondorder cone program), then solved through semi-definite-programming techniques in a computationally efficient manner that guarantees convergence and satisfaction of constraints.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components

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Update on Controlling Herds of Cooperative Robots

A document presents further information on the subject matter of “Controlling Herds of Cooperative Robots” (NPO-40723), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 30, No. 4 (April 2006), page 81. To recapitulate: A methodology for controlling a herd of cooperative and autonomous mobile robots exploring the surface of a remote planet or moon (specifically, Titan or Titan-like) is undergoing development. The proposed configuration of mobile robots consists of a blimp and a herd of surface sondes. The blimp is the leader of the herd, and it commands the other robots to move to locations on the surface or below the surface to conduct science operations. Once a target is chosen, the sondes cooperatively aim sensors at the target to maximize scientific return. This hierarchical and cooperative behavior is necessary in the face of such unpredictable factors as terrain obstacles and uncertainties in the model of the environment.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components

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Simulation and Testing of Maneuvering of a Planetary Rover

A report discusses the development of a computational model of a Mars Explorer Rover maneuvering across terrain under varying conditions. The model is used to increase understanding of the rover dynamics. Increased understanding is helpful in planning further tests and in extending the operational range of the rover to terrain conditions that would otherwise have to be avoided in a conservative approach. The model is implemented within MSC.ADAMS®, a commercial suite of computer programs for simulating a variety of automotive and aeronautical mechanical systems. Following its initial formulation, the model has been successively refined in an iterative process of simulation, testing on simulated terrain, correlation of simulation results with test results, and adjustment of model parameters to increase degrees of matching between simulation and test results. In particular, three aspects of the model have been refined, as follows:

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components

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Improved On-Chip Measurement of Delay in an FPGA or ASIC

Input and output buffers and the associated delays are eliminated. An improved design has been devised for on-chip-circuitry for measuring the delay through a chain of combinational logic elements in a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) or application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC). Heretofore, it has been the usual practice to use either of two other types of on-chip delay-measuring circuits: A delay chain of inverters is incorporated into the FPGA or ASIC chip along with an input port for feeding the inverter chain and an output port for feeding a signal to off-chip measurement circuitry. The disadvantage of this design is that the measurement is inaccurate because it includes delays in buffers that are parts of the input and output ports. The delay chain is arranged as a ring oscillator. The disadvantage of this design is that the delay chain does not always oscillate as expected.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Semiconductors & ICs

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Resource Selection and Ranking

Surfer is an extensible framework for selecting and ranking grid resources. A resource is defined as anything that needs selecting such as compute resources, storage resources, and data resources. The user specifies the set of resource types desired, the constraints that must hold over all the resources, and the ranking function to be used to order the resources. For each request received, Surfer returns a set of resource tuples, where each tuple contains a resource instance for each resource type requested, each tuple satisfies the specified constraints, and tuples are ordered by descending values of the given ranking function. Constraints and ranking functions are Boolean and numeric expressions, respectively, using a set of built-in arithmetic, Boolean and relational operators, and a set of functions supplied by information providers, which are implemented independently of the framework and integrated into the system using a single configuration line.

Posted in: Briefs, Software

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Accident/Mishap Investigation System

InvestigationOrganizer (IO) is a Webbased collaborative information system that integrates the generic functionality of a database, a document repository, a semantic hypermedia browser, and a rulebased inference system with specialized modeling and visualization functionality to support accident/mishap investigation teams. This accessible, online structure is designed to support investigators by allowing them to make explicit, shared, and meaningful links among evidence, causal models, findings, and recommendations.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software

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