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Designing COTS Computers for Harsh Environments

The need for commercial off the shelf (COTS) single board computer (SBC) products continues to grow as higher processing, smaller footprints and lower power requirements become more critical. For design engineers in medical, military, industrial, aeronautics and other fields, the desire for reduced size and heat also parallels an additional requirement for fanless operation. In this environment, engineers are constantly faced with the challenge of trading off various aspects of functionality to stay within a particular form factor. Finding COTS products that have all the desired characteristics and are also rated to perform in extreme harsh environments creates an additional challenge. However, there are a number of industrial grade SBC manufacturers who have been successful in designing and manufacturing COTS products specifically for use in harsh environments.

Posted in: Articles

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Estimating Mixing Heights Using Microwave Temperature Profiler

A paper describes the Microwave Temperature Profiler (MTP) for making measurements of the planetary boundary layer thermal structure — data necessary for air quality forecasting as the Mixing Layer (ML) height determines the volume in which daytime pollution is primarily concentrated. This is the first time that an airborne temperature profiler has been used to measure the mixing layer height. Normally, this is done using a radar wind profiler, which is both noisy and large.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs

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Multiple-Cone Sunshade for a Spaceborne Telescope

A document describes a sunshade assembly for the spaceborne telescope of the Terrestrial Planet Finder Coronagraph mission. During operation, the telescope is aimed at target stars in the semi-hemisphere away from the Earth’s Sun. The observatory rotates about its pointing axis during a single star observation, resulting in relative movement of the Sun. The sunshade assembly protects the telescope against excessive solar-induced thermal distortions for times long enough to complete observations.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs, TSP

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Project Integration Architecture

All information of technological processes can be readily originated, manipulated, shared, propagated to other processes, and viewed by man or machine. The Project Integration Architecture (PIA) is a distributed, object- oriented, conceptual, software framework for the generation, organization, publication, integration, and consumption of all information involved in any complex technological process in a manner that is intelligible to both computers and humans. As used here, “all information” signifies, more specifically, all information that has been or could be coded in digital form. This includes not only experimental data, design data, results of simulations and analyses, organizational and financial data, and the like, but also sets of rules, computer programs, processes, and methods of solution.

Posted in: Information Sciences, Briefs, TSP

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Algorithm Optimally Orders Forward-Chaining Inference Rules

Requirements for exhaustive data-flow analysis are relaxed. People typically develop knowledge bases in a somewhat ad hoc manner by incrementally adding rules with no specific organization. This often results in a very inefficient execution of those rules since they are so often order sensitive. This is relevant to tasks like Deep Space Network in that it allows the knowledge base to be incrementally developed and have it automatically ordered for efficiency.

Posted in: Information Sciences, Briefs, TSP

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Utilizing Ion-Mobility Data To Estimate Molecular Masses

Potential applications include detecting biochemicals in pharmaceutical settings. A method is being developed for utilizing readings of an ion-mobility spectrometer (IMS) to estimate molecular masses of ions that have passed through the spectrometer. The method involves the use of (1) some feature-based descriptors of structures of molecules of interest and (2) reduced ion mobilities calculated from IMS readings as inputs to (3) a neural network. This development is part of a larger effort to enable the use of IMSs as relatively inexpensive, robust, lightweight instruments to identify, via molecular masses, individual compounds or groups of compounds (especially organic compounds) that may be present in specific environments or samples. Potential applications include detection of organic molecules as signs of life on remote planets, modeling and detection of biochemicals of interest in the pharmaceutical and agricultural industries, and detection of chemical and biological hazards in industrial, homeland security, and industrial settings.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs, TSP

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Nuclear-Spin Gyroscope Based on an Atomic Co-Magnetometer

Sensitivity to magnetic fields is eliminated. An experimental nuclear-spin gyroscope is based on an alkali-metal/noblegas co-magnetometer, which automatically cancels the effects of magnetic fields. Whereas the performances of prior nuclear-spin gyroscopes are limited by sensitivity to magnetic fields, this gyroscope is insensitive to magnetic fields and to other external perturbations. In addition, relative to prior nuclear-spin gyroscopes, this one exhibits greater sensitivity to rotation. There is commercial interest in development of small, highly sensitive gyroscopes. The present experimental device could be a prototype for development of nuclear-spin gyroscopes suitable for navigation. In comparison with fiberoptic gyroscopes, these gyroscopes would draw less power and would be smaller, lighter, more sensitive, and less costly.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs, TSP

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