Special Coverage

Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines
Vibration Tables Shake Up Aerospace and Car Testing
Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water
Computer Chips Calculate and Store in an Integrated Unit
Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing

Predicting Boundary-Layer Transition on Space-Shuttle Re-Entry

The BLT Prediction Tool (“BLT” signifies “Boundary Layer Transition”) is provided as part of the Damage Assessment Team analysis package, which is utilized for analyzing local aerothermodynamics environments of damaged or repaired space-shuttle thermal protection tiles. Such analyses are helpful in deciding whether to repair launch-induced damage before re-entering the terrestrial atmosphere. Given inputs that include re-entry trajectory and attitude parameters, air density, air temperature, and details of each damage or repair site, the BLT Prediction Tool calculates expected times of laminar-to-turbulent transition onset of the boundary-layer flow during re-entry. (These times help to define the proper aerothermodynamic environment to use in subsequent thermal and stress analyses of local structural components.)

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Failure modes and effects analysis, Mathematical models, Insulation, Entry, descent, and landing, Spacecraft
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Calculations for Calibration of a Mass Spectrometer

A computer program performs calculations to calibrate a quadrupole mass spectrometer in an instrumentation system for identifying trace amounts of organic chemicals in air. In the operation of the mass spectrometer, the massto- charge ratio (m/z) of ions being counted at a given instant of time is a function of the instantaneous value of a repeating ramp voltage waveform applied to electrodes. The count rate as a function of time can be converted to an m/z spectrum (equivalent to a mass spectrum for singly charged ions), provided that a calibration of m/z is available.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Calibration, Mathematical models, Computer software and hardware, Test equipment and instrumentation
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Simulating the Gradually Deteriorating Performance of an RTG

Degra (now in version 3) is a computer program that simulates the performance of a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) over its lifetime. Degra is provided with a graphical user interface that is used to edit input parameters that describe the initial state of the RTG and the time-varying loads and environment to which it will be exposed. Performance is computed by modeling the flows of heat from the radioactive source and through the thermocouples, also allowing for losses, to determine the temperature drop across the thermocouples. This temperature drop is used to determine the open-circuit voltage, electrical resistance, and thermal conductance of the thermocouples. Output power can then be computed by relating the open-circuit voltage and the electrical resistance of the thermocouples to a specified time-varying load voltage.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Computer simulation, Human machine interface (HMI), Electro-thermal engines, Performance tests, Test procedures
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2D/3D Synthetic Vision Navigation Display

Flight-deck display software was designed and developed at NASA Langley Research Center to provide two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) terrain, obstacle, and flightpath perspectives on a single navigation display. The objective was to optimize the presentation of synthetic vision (SV) system technology that permits pilots to view multiple perspectives of flight-deck display symbology and 3D terrain information. Research was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of the concept. The concept has numerous unique implementation features that would permit enhanced operational concepts and efficiencies in both current and future aircraft.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Aircraft displays, Spacecraft guidance, Human machine interface (HMI)
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Automated Camera Array Fine Calibration

Using aerial imagery, the JPL FineCalibration (JPL FineCal) software automatically tunes a set of existing CAHVOR camera models for an array of cameras. The software finds matching features in the overlap region between images from adjacent cameras, and uses these features to refine the camera models. It is not necessary to take special imagery of a known target and no surveying is required.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Calibration, Computer software and hardware, Optics
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Multichannel Networked Phasemeter Readout and Analysis

Netmeter software reads a data stream from up to 250 networked phasemeters, synchronizes the data, saves the reduced data to disk (after applying a low-pass filter), and provides a Web server interface for remote control. Unlike older phasemeter software that requires a special, real-time operating system, this program can run on any general-purpose computer. It needs about five percent of the CPU (central processing unit) to process 20 channels because it adds built-in data logging and network-based GUIs (graphical user interfaces) that are implemented in Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG).

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Computer software and hardware, Data management
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MISR Instrument Data Visualization

The MISR Interactive eXplorer (MINX) software functions both as a general-purpose tool to visualize Multiangle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument data, and as a specialized tool to analyze properties of smoke, dust, and volcanic plumes. It includes high-level options to create map views of MISR orbit locations; scrollable, single-camera RGB (redgreen- blue) images of MISR level 1B2 (L1B2) radiance data; and animations of the nine MISR camera images that provide a 3D perspective of the scenes that MISR has acquired.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Cartography, Computer software and hardware, Optics, Spectroscopy, Particulate matter (PM)
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Platform for Postprocessing Waveform-Based NDE

Taking advantage of the similarities that exist among all waveform-based non-destructive evaluation (NDE) methods, a common software platform has been developed containing multiple-signal and image-processing techniques for waveforms and images. The NASA NDE Signal and Image Processing software has been developed using the latest versions of LabVIEW, and its associated Advanced Signal Processing and Vision Toolkits. The software is useable on a PC with Windows XP and Windows Vista.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Computer software and hardware, Imaging and visualization, Displays, Non-destructive tests
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System for Continuous Delivery of MODIS Imagery to Internet Mapping Applications

This software represents a complete, unsupervised processing chain that generates a continuously updating global image of the Earth from the most recent available MODIS Level 1B scenes.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Cartography, Computer software and hardware, Data exchange, Imaging and visualization, Internet
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Automatic Rock Detection and Mapping from HiRISE Imagery

This system includes a C-code software program and a set of MATLAB software tools for statistical analysis and rock distribution mapping. The major functions include rock detection and rock detection validation. The rock detection code has been evolved into a production tool that can be used by engineers and geologists with minor training.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Cartography, Computer software and hardware, Terrain
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