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Artificial Hair Cells for Sensing Flows

Small, robust sensors can be fabricated on a variety of substrates. The purpose of this article is to present additional information about the flow-velocity sensors described briefly in the immediately preceding article. As noted therein, these sensors can be characterized as artificial hair cells that implement an approximation of the sensory principle of flow-sensing cilia of fish: A cilium is bent by an amount proportional to the flow to which it is exposed. A nerve cell at the base of the cilium senses the flow by sensing the bending of the cilium. In an artificial hair cell, the artificial cilium is a microscopic cantilever beam, and the bending of an artificial cilium is measured by means of a strain gauge at its base (see Figure 1).

Posted in: Briefs

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Modernizing Fortran 77 Legacy Codes

The investment in established codes is preserved as modern capabilities are added. An incremental approach to modernization of scientific software written in the Fortran 77 computing language has been developed. This approach makes it possible to preserve the investment in legacy Fortran software while augmenting the software with modern capabilities to satisfy expanded requirements. This approach could be advantageous (1) in situations in which major rewriting of application programs is undesirable or impossible, or (2) as a means of transition to major rewriting.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Active State Model for Autonomous Systems

Autonomous systems would be able to diagnose themselves and respond accordingly. The concept of the active state model (ASM) is an architecture for the development of advanced integrated fault-detection- and-isolation (FDI) systems for robotic land vehicles, pilotless aircraft, exploratory spacecraft, or other complex engineering systems that will be capable of autonomous operation. An FDI system based on the ASM concept would not only provide traditional diagnostic capabilities, but also integrate the FDI system under a unified framework and provide mechanism for sharing of information between FDI subsystems to fully assess the overall "health" of the system.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Flexible Skins Containing Integrated Sensors and Circuitry

Densely arrayed tactile sensors measure multiple, spatially registered physical quantities simultaneously. Artificial sensor skins modeled partly in imitation of biological sensor skins are undergoing development. These sensor skins comprise flexible polymer substrates that contain and/or support dense one- and two-dimensional arrays of microscopic sensors and associated microelectronic circuits. They afford multiple tactile sensing modalities for measuring physical phenomena that can include contact forces; hardnesses, temperatures, and thermal conductivities of objects with which they are in contact; and pressures, shear stresses, and flow velocities in fluids. The sensor skins are mechanically robust, and, because of their flexibility, they can be readily attached to curved and possibly moving and flexing surfaces of robots, wind-tunnel models, and other objects that one might seek to equip for tactile sensing.

Posted in: Briefs

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Cassini Archive Tracking System

The Cassini Archive Tracking System (CATS) is a computer program that enables tracking of scientific data transfers from originators to the Planetary Data System (PDS) archives. Without CATS, there is no systematic means of locating products in the archive process or ensuring their completeness. By keeping a database of transfer communications and status, CATS enables the Cassini Project and the PDS to efficiently and accurately report on archive status. More importantly, problem areas are easily identified through customized reports that can be generated on the fly from any Web-enabled computer. A Web-browser interface and clearly defined authorization scheme provide safe distributed access to the system, where users can perform functions such as create customized reports, record a transfer, and respond to a transfer. CATS ensures that Cassini provides complete science archives to the PDS on schedule and that those archives are available to the science community by the PDS. The three-tier architecture is loosely coupled and designed for simple adaptation to multi-mission use. Written in the Java programming language, it is portable and can be run on any Java-enabled Web server.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Mercury Shopping Cart

Mercury Shopping Cart Interface (MSCI) is a reusable component of the Power User Interface 5.0 (PUI) program described in the immediately preceding article. MSCI is a means of encapsulating the logic and information needed to describe an orderable item consistent with Mercury Shopping Cart service protocol. Designed to be used with Web-browser software, MSCI generates Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) pages on which ordering information can be entered. MSCI comprises two types of Practical Extraction and Report Language (PERL) modules: template modules and shopping-cart logic modules. Template modules generate HTML pages for entering the required ordering details and enable submission of the order via a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) post. Shopping-cart modules encapsulate the logic and data needed to describe an individual orderable item to the Mercury Shopping Cart service. These modules evaluate information entered by the user to determine whether it is sufficient for the Shopping Cart service to process the order. Once an order has been passed from MSCI to a deployed Mercury Shopping Cart server, there is no further interaction with the user.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Earth Observing System Data Gateway

The Earth Observing System Data Gateway (EDG) software provides a “onestop-shopping” standard interface for exploring and ordering Earth-science data stored at geographically distributed sites. EDG enables a user to do the following:

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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