Special Coverage

Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat
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

Software for Designing Thermal Protection for Spacecraft

Traj and Traj.CGI are computer programs for designing thermal-protection systems (TPSs) for spacecraft that must survive re-entry into planetary atmospheres. Together with a separately developed program denoted FIAT, Traj and Traj.CGI are integral parts of NASA’s Entry Vehicle Integrated Design System. Traj simulates trajectories for a wide variety of spacecraft by use of a three-degreeof- freedom trajectory model coupled with a set of approximate functions for calculating heating effects caused by hypersonic passage through an atmosphere. Included within Traj are equilibrium thermodynamics tables, atmospheric tables for various planets, gravitational data, and aerodynamic data for a large set of spacecraft. Traj.CGI is a common-gatewayinterface code that enables users to gain access to Traj simultaneously through readily available Internet browser software, using dynamically generated Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) pages. Traj.CGI passes data generated by Traj to plotting software packages for immediate browser display or to postprocessing software (e.g., FIAT, which is used to size components of TPSs).

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, CAD / CAM / CAE, CAD, CAM, and CAE, Thermal management, Thermal management, Spacecraft
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Software for Validating Planetary Data Volumes

The PDS Validation Toolkit is an integrated set of scripts and computer programs for determining whether data recorded on compact disk (CD) or digital video disk (DVD) conform to the standards of the Planetary Data System (PDS). The software provides both command- line and graphical user interfaces, through which the user can direct the software to analyze the data, metadata, and volume structure of a given volume and determine adherence to the PDS validation standards. After analyzing the volume, this software generates a report that describes all the errors (deviations from the PDS standards) in the volume.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Data management, Standardization
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Java Version of Embedded Web Software Server

Tempest is a computer program that functions as a HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) server for embedded systems. Tempest enables remote command and control of embedded systems. Tempest accepts HTTP requests from standard Webbrowser programs running on remote client computers and returns HyperText Markup Language (HTML) files to the browsers. Tempest is capable of serving up a variety of Web-based data files and application programs, including HTML files; Java applets; Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) client programs; Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) files; static and dynamic video images in Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG), Graphic Image File (GIF), Moving Pictures Experts Group (MPEG), and Audio/Video Interleave (AVI) formats and in other common formats; audio files; and files in other formats specified by the Tempest user. Features, options, and capabilities of Tempest include encrypted identification and password challenges to remote clients, separate configuration files, exception handling, optional logging of client Internet Protocol (IP) access, optional debugging, optional connection of persistent clients, and optional assignment of listening ports. The present version of Tempest, written in the Java programming language, is designed to run on any operating system for which there exists a Java virtual machine.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Communication protocols, Embedded software, Internet, Communication protocols, Embedded software, Internet, Performance upgrades
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Image Display Component of JADE

A Java bean that offers high performance display of images has been developed as a component of the Java Advanced Display Environment (JADE) computer program.
This component works asynchronously, loading and/or computing image tiles as needed in background threads. In so doing, it enables a main graphical-user-interface (GUI) thread to remain responsive even while loading huge images: scrolling and other actions can occur while images are being read in and/or computed. This component performs well even when loading images larger than 2 gigabytes. Display of such large images would not be practical without background processing of tiles. Scrolling is fast, regardless of image size, because the GUI is not hung while waiting for tiles to be loaded. This component is written using Java Advanced Imaging (JAI) 1.1. It is neutral with respect to image file format, so it can display almost any Java image, and it is platform-independent because it is pure Java. It also supports overlay of user-supplied graphics on images — a capability that can be used for such purposes as annotation of images, generating tie-point plots, and painting of complex or dynamic cursor shapes.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Displays, Displays
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Software for Analyzing Scientific Data Aboard a Spacecraft

A computer program designed for execution aboard an exploratory spacecraft analyzes scientific data (espec- ially image data) in order to (1) enable the reservation of limited communication re- sources for transmission of data likely to be of significant scientific value and (2) enable automated, rapid response to take advantage of fleeting, unanticipated opportunities for important scientific observations. The program can also be executed on Earth to analyze data acquired in prior spacecraft missions. At its present state of development, the program implements changedetection and discovery algorithms that recognize scientifically interesting features in images of terrain of remote planets, moons, asteroids, and the like. These algorithms utilize examples of previously identified targets to generate efficient mathematical models for identifying new targets of the same type across a continuous range of scales. In tests thus far, the program recognized 80 percent of craters, with a false-alarm rate of 12 percent, in Lunar images larger than four pixels acquired by the Clementine spacecraft. The program has also been shown to be capable of discovering volcanoes on Venus, sand dunes on Mars, and ice geysers (cryovolcanoes) on Neptune’s moon Triton.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Mathematical models, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Data management, Spacecraft
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Variable Submillimeter-Wave Delay Line for Cryogenic Use

Stiffness, size, vacuum adhesion, range, and number of parts were considered in designing this device.

A variable delay line is being developed as part of a far-infrared or submillimeter- wavelength interferometer that would operate in a vacuum in the cryogenic temperature range. No such delay line for spatial interferometry has previously been built for operation under these conditions.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Mechanics, Optics, Waveguides, Optics, Waveguides, Product development
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Precise Air Bearings Redesigned

A simplified design affords low friction at minimum airflow.

Highly precise air bearings for suspending objects over an epoxy flat floor in a laboratory have been developed. These bearings float on airgaps 3 to 5 mil (about 0.08 to 0.13 mm) thick. They are modern versions of precise air bearings, developed during the 1960s, that offer a working coefficient of friction of only 1/16,000. The basic design of these bearings can be scaled easily for different loads and airflows.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Mechanics, Bearings
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User’s Guide for ENSAERO

A report summarizes the development, applications, and procedures for use of ENSAERO, a computer program for simulating aeroelastic phenomena (e.g., wing flutter) of aircraft and spacecraft. ENSAERO computes aeroelastic responses by simultaneously numerically integrating Euler and/or Navier-Stokes equations of airflow and modal finite-element equations of structural dynamics on aeroelastically adaptive dynamic grids. The numerical integrations are performed by time-accurate finitedifference schemes. The report describes the coupling of the governing equations of flow with the governing equations of structural dynamics and with equations that describe active controls and thermal loads. The criteria and procedures for generation of zonal adaptive grids are discussed. Results of simulations performed by use of ENSAERO are presented for examples that involve, variously, steady or unsteady flow about rigid full aircraft or elastic wing/body assemblies.

This work was done by Guru P. Guruswamy of Ames Research Center.

This invention is owned by NASA, and a patent application has been filed. Inquiries concerning nonexclusive or exclusive license for its commercial development should be addressed to the Patent Counsel, Ames Research Center, (650) 604-5104. Refer to ARC-14239.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Mechanics, Computer simulation, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Aerodynamics, Aircraft, Spacecraft
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Minimally Actuated Hopping Robot

This robot can traverse terrain that is too cluttered for wheeled vehicles.

A small robot that travels by hopping has been built and tested. This is a prototype of hopping robots that would carry video cameras and possibly other sensory devices and that are under consideration for use in exploring cluttered, unpredictable terrain on distant planets. On Earth, robots like this one might have value for entertainment and civilian and military reconnoitering of hazardous areas.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Mechanics, Springs, Optics, Sensors and actuators, Optics, Sensors and actuators, Robotics
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Mobile Robot With Foveal Machine Vision

The Foveal Extra-Vehicular Activity Helper-Retriever (FEVAHR) is a mobile robot that features a hierarchical foveal machine-vision system (HFMV). The FEVAHR is a prototype of future robots that could detect, recognize, track, and pursue objects and avoid obstacles while operating autonomously, controlled by human operators via natural-language commands, or both. The design of the FEVAHR merges high- and low-level anthropomorphic designs. The high-level anthropomorphism is represented by (1) the Semantic Network Processing System (SNePS) software for semantic representation of information, inference, and natural-language interaction, and (2) the Grounded Layered Architecture With Integrated Reasoning (GLAIR) software, which acts as an interface between SNePS on the one hand and subconscious processes and sensors on the other hand. The low-level anthropomorphism is represented by the HFMV hardware and software, which exploit the neuromorphic multiacuity sensing and information processing prevalent among vertebrates to achieve an effective visual information-acquisition power that is higher than that of uniform-acuity active vision. SNePS, GLAIR, and HFMV work in unison, each driving and being controlled by the others, to accomplish physical tasks with constrained resources and maintain a high level perception necessary for autonomous interaction with humans.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Mechanics, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Sensors and actuators, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Sensors and actuators, Human machine interface (HMI), Robotics
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