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Nanosatellite Launch Adapter System

Applications include CubeSats, nanosatellites, and launch vehicles. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California NASA has developed a Nanosatellite Launch Adapter System (NLAS) that maximizes the efficiency of satellite launch missions. NLAS increases access to space while simplifying the integration process of miniature satellites, called nanosats or CubeSats, onto launch vehicles. While a complete NLAS consists of an adapter integrated with four dispensers and a sequencer, its components can be used modularly with other adapter, deployer, and sequencer/actuator systems. The adapter is mounted to the upper surface of the launch vehicle at the separation plane and the lower deck of the primary spacecraft supporting its structural load. The dispensers are mounted inside the adapter and house a variety of CubeSats in fully enclosed bays. NLAS is stackable, allowing for the expansion of spacecraft deployments. An NLAS sequencer can initiate a secondary sequencer, allowing for the expansion of actuator and deployment capability.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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James Webb Space Telescope Microshutters Subsystem Project Thermal Chamber Ground Support Equipment Automated Control

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland An automated control system for the microshutter assembly (MSA) portion of the JWST MSS (James Webb Space Telescope Micro shutters Subsystem) was developed. This is a cryogenic device that operates at 35 K. Cooling down and warming back up is a critical activity since the arrays are very fragile. This process used to be manual. After seeing the difficulties of operating in this mode with the engineering test unit (ETU), a decision was made to develop a LabVIEW-based control system to monitor temperature sensors, and control the heater, cryocooler, and vacuum pumps. This system fully automated the process for warm-up and cool-down, and reduced the overall time it took in the process. A text message alert system was included so that members of a call tree were alerted if there were any violations of set constraints.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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Visual Environment for Remote Virtual Exploration (VERVE) v2

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California VERVE is a 3D visualization system that provides situational awareness, science analysis tools, and data understanding capabilities for robotics researchers and exploration science operations. VERVE includes telemetry views that show remote system status, and can be extended to support various types of robots. VERVE is highly modular, extensible, and includes a 3D scenegraph database, interactive 3D viewer, and associated graphical user interfaces (GUIs) to OSGI (Java standards organization) plug-in based applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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Optimal Alarm System Design and Implementation

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California An optimal alarm system can robustly predict a level-crossing event that is specified over a fixed prediction horizon. The code contained in this package provides the tools necessary to design an optimal alarm system for a simple stationary linear dynamic system driven by white Gaussian noise.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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Mars Science Laboratory Flight Software for Autonomous Drilling

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California One of the goals of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission is to collect powderized samples from the interior of rocks and deliver them to onboard science instruments. This goal is achieved using the algorithms and software that control the drill hardware to produce a system that can robustly, efficiently, and autonomously drill into rocks with a priori unknown, and widely varying properties.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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Morpheus Lander Vehicle Simulation/Vehicle Flight Software

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas The Morpheus simulation is a suite of software models that simulates the performance of a lander vehicle. The specific vehicle is a terrestrial lander used as a “vertical test bed” platform for developing technology, and proving hardware and software systems for use in space exploration. Morpheus software consists of three main components: flight software, ground software, and simulation software. While the emphasis in spacecraft development typically tends to be the flight software residing and running on the actual vehicle, both ground and simulation software components are equally essential in developing, testing, and operating the craft.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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Risk-Aware Mars Rover Operation Tool with Autonomous Terrain Classifier and Path Planner

This technology can reduce the risk of the loss of rovers by preventing oversight of terrain-related risks. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California The greatest single source of risks for Mars rovers is terrain. These risks are currently managed by a labor-intensive process in which rover operators carefully examine the terrain and plan a path to avoid any potential hazards. This poses a challenge, particularly for the operation of an MSL (Mars Science Laboratory)-class rover, because it must be very risk-averse in order not to lose the asset, while it already requires a significant amount of labor due to the complexity of the rover. Hence, it is important to develop a software tool that helps operators to detect and avoid terrain hazards efficiently and reliably.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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