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Automated Detection of Events of Scientific Interest

A report presents a slightly different perspective of the subject matter of “Fusing Symbolic and Numerical Diagnostic Computations” (NPO-42512), which appears elsewhere in this issue of NASA Tech Briefs. Briefly, the subject matter is the X-2000 Anomaly Detection Language, which is a developmental computing language for fusing two diagnostic computer programs — one implementing a numerical analysis method, the other implementing a symbolic analysis method — into a unified event-based decision analysis software system for realtime detection of events. In the case of the cited companion NASA Tech Briefs article, the contemplated events that one seeks to detect would be primarily failures or other changes that could adversely affect the safety or success of a spacecraft mission. In the case of the instant report, the events to be detected could also include natural phenomena that could be of scientific interest. Hence, the use of X-2000 Anomaly Detection Language could contribute to a capability for automated, coordinated use of multiple sensors and sensor-output-data-processing hardware and software to effect opportunistic collection and analysis of scientific data.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Representation-Independent Iteration of Sparse Data Arrays

An approach is defined that describes a method of iterating over massively large arrays containing sparse data using an approach that is implementation independent of how the contents of the sparse arrays are laid out in memory. What is unique and important here is the decoupling of the iteration over the sparse set of array elements from how they are internally represented in memory. This enables this approach to be backward compatible with existing schemes for representing sparse arrays as well as new approaches. What is novel here is a new approach for efficiently iterating over sparse arrays that is independent of the underlying memory layout representation of the array. A functional interface is defined for implementing sparse arrays in any modern programming language with a particular focus for the Chapel programming language. Examples are provided that show the translation of a loop that computes a matrix vector product into this representation for both the distributed and not-distributed cases. This work is directly applicable to NASA and its High Productivity Computing Systems (HPCS) program that JPL and our current program are engaged in. The goal of this program is to create powerful, scalable, and economically viable high-powered computer systems suitable for use in national security and industry by 2010. This is important to NASA for its computationally intensive requirements for analyzing and understanding the volumes of science data from our returned missions.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Mission Operations of the Mars Exploration Rovers

A document describes a system of processes involved in planning, commanding, and monitoring operations of the rovers Spirit and Opportunity of the Mars Exploration Rover mission. The system is designed to minimize command turnaround time, given that inherent uncertainties in terrain conditions and in successful completion of planned landed spacecraft motions preclude planning of some spacecraft activities until the results of prior activities are known by the ground-based operations team. The processes are partitioned into those (designated as tactical) that must be tied to the Martian clock and those (designated strategic) that can, without loss, be completed in a more leisurely fashion. The tactical processes include assessment of downlinked data, refinement and validation of activity plans, sequencing of commands, and integration and validation of sequences. Strategic processes include communications planning and generation of long-term activity plans. The primary benefit of this partition is to enable the tactical portion of the team to focus solely on tasks that contribute directly to meeting the deadlines for commanding the rover’s each sol (1 sol = 1 Martian day) — achieving a turnaround time of 18 hours or less, while facilitating strategic team interactions with other organizations that do not work on a Mars time schedule.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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More About Software for No-Loss Computing

A document presents some additional information on the subject matter of “Integrated Hardware and Software for No-Loss Computing” (NPO-42554), which appears elsewhere in this issue of NASA Tech Briefs. To recapitulate: The hardware and software designs of a developmental parallel computing system are integrated to effectuate a concept of noloss computing (NLC). The system is designed to reconfigure an application program such that it can be monitored in real time and further reconfigured to continue a computation in the event of failure of one of the computers. The design provides for (1) a distributed class of NLC computation agents, denoted introspection agents, that effects hierarchical detection of anomalies; (2) enhancement of the compiler of the parallel computing system to cause generation of state vectors that can be used to continue a computation in the event of a failure; and (3) activation of a recovery component when an anomaly is detected.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Deformable Mirror to Help NASA Search for New Planets

Boston Micromachines, a provider of MEMS-based deformable mirror products for adaptive optics systems, is developing a deformable mirror that will aid NASA in the search for extra-solar planets. The mirror comprises a micromirror array consisting of 331 closely packed ultra-flat hexagonal mirror elements. Each element is capable of tip, tilt, and piston motion with nanometer precision as required for a space-based, hyper-contrast coronagraph imaging telescope.

Posted in: Application Briefs

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NASA Institute Studies and Identifies Martian Land Formations

The Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) in Houston is part of the Universities Space Research Association, and is a NASAfunded institute that conducts research in the lunar, planetary, and terrestrial sciences on behalf of university science departments and NASA. The most recent project between the University of Houston (UH) and the LPI seeks to identify and characterize the natural landscape structures of Mars, such as the inside of craters, valley networks, and the outside and inside rims of craters and inter-crater plains. Identifying these structures is important because rocks, minerals, and geologic landforms hold clues to past water activity on Mars. Understanding the history of water on Mars is a part of NASA’s long-term Mars Exploration Project.

Posted in: Application Briefs

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Ingestible Thermometer Pill Aids Athletes in Beating the Heat

From the football turf to high above the Earth, heat exhaustion is a life-threatening concern. Heat exhaustion, or hyperthermia, is an acute condition caused by excessive exposure to heat and dehydration. It occurs when the body can no longer dissipate heat adequately because of extreme environmental conditions or increased heat production from within. Heat exhaustion may progress to heatstroke when the body’s thermoregulatory mechanisms become overwhelmed and fail, ultimately leading to brain and organ damage or even death.

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