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Software Aids Visualization of Computed Unsteady Flow

Unsteady Flow Analysis Toolkit (UFAT) is a computer program that synthesizes motions of time-dependent flows represented by very large sets of data generated in computational fluid dynamics simulations. Prior to the development of UFAT, it was necessary to rely on static, single-snapshot depictions of time-dependent flows generated by flow-visualization software designed for steady flows. Whereas it typically takes weeks to analyze the results of a largescale unsteady-flow simulation by use of steady-flow visualization software, the analysis time is reduced to hours when UFAT is used. UFAT can be used to generate graphical objects of flow visualization results using multi-block curvilinear grids in the format of a previously developed NASA data-visualization program, PLOT3D. These graphical objects can be rendered using FAST, another popular flow visualization software developed at NASA. Flow-visualization techniques that can be exploited by use of UFAT include time-dependent tracking of particles, detection of vortex cores, extractions of stream ribbons and surfaces, and tetrahedral decomposition for optimal particle tracking. Unique computational features of UFAT include capabilities for automatic (batch) processing, restart, memory mapping, and parallel processing. These capabilities significantly reduce analysis time and storage requirements, relative to those of prior flow-visualization software. UFAT can be executed on a variety of supercomputers.

Posted in: Software, Briefs, TSP

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Software for Managing Parametric Studies

The Information Power Grid Virtual Laboratory (ILab) is a Practical Extraction and Reporting Language (PERL) graphical-user-interface computer program that generates shell scripts to facilitate parametric studies performed on the Grid. (“The Grid” denotes a worldwide network of supercomputers used for scientific and engineering computations involving data sets too large to fit on desktop computers.) Heretofore, parametric studies on the Grid have been impeded by the need to create control language scripts and edit input data files — painstaking tasks that are necessary for managing multiple jobs on multiple computers. ILab reflects an object-oriented approach to automation of these tasks: All data and operations are organized into packages in order to accelerate development and debugging. A “container” or “document” object in ILab, called an “experiment,” contains all the information (data and file paths) necessary to define a complex series of repeated, sequenced, and/or branching processes. For convenience and to enable reuse, this object is serialized to and from disk storage. At run time, the current ILab experiment is used to generate required input files and shell scripts, create directories, copy data files, and then both initiate and monitor the execution of all computational processes.

Posted in: Software, Briefs

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Software for Partly Automated Recognition of Targets

The Feature Analyst is a computer program for assisted (partially automated) recognition of targets in images. This program was developed to accelerate the processing of high-resolution satellite image data for incorporation into geographic information systems (GIS). This program creates an advanced user interface that embeds proprietary machine-learning algorithms in commercial image-processing and GIS software. A human analyst provides samples of target features from multiple sets of data, then the software develops a data-fusion model that automatically extracts the remaining features from selected sets of data. The program thus leverages the natural ability of humans to recognize objects in complex scenes, without requiring the user to explain the human visual recognition process by means of lengthy software. Two major subprograms are the reactive agent and the thinking agent. The reactive agent strives to quickly learn the user’s tendencies while the user is selecting targets and to increase the user’s productivity by immediately suggesting the next set of pixels that the user may wish to select. The thinking agent utilizes all available resources, taking as much time as needed, to produce the most accurate autonomous feature-extraction model possible.

Posted in: Software, Briefs

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Software Searches for Better Spacecraft-Navigation Models

ADAPT is a computer program that searches for better mathematical models for spacecraft navigation. The task of tuning trajectory-determination models for interplanetary navigation is complex, requiring an intensive search of multiple dynamical and nondynamical models that yield trajectory solutions with minimal errors. By automating the search, ADAPT eases the task of human analysts and enables them to consider wider ranges of potential solutions. ADAPT uses genetic algorithms to search a range of relevant parameters in a userselected design space to arrive at values for those parameters that best fit the measured spacecraft-tracking data. The user’s guide for ADAPT reviews the theoretical basis of the program and presents two example applications. One example is that of selecting a solar-radiation model for the Mars Pathfinder (MPF) mission using MPF tracking data and an extended Kalman filter from prior spacecraft-navigation software. The second example is of the use of tracking data from the Stardust spacecraft mission combined with a pseudo-epoch-state batch filter and an empirical small-forces model to find improved impulse models for use during Stardust attitude adjustments.

Posted in: Software, Briefs, TSP

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Abstract-Reasoning Software for Coordinating Multiple Agents

A computer program for scheduling the activities of multiple agents that share limited resources has been incorporated into the Automated Scheduling and Planning Environment (ASPEN) software system, aspects of which have been reported in several previous NASA Tech Briefs articles. In the original intended application, the agents would be multiple spacecraft and/or robotic vehicles engaged in scientific exploration of distant planets. The program could also be used on Earth in such diverse settings as production lines and military maneuvers. This program includes a planning/scheduling subprogram of the iterative repair type that reasons about the activities of multiple agents at abstract levels in order to greatly improve the scheduling of their use of shared resources. The program summarizes the information about the constraints on, and resource requirements of, abstract activities on the basis of the constraints and requirements that pertain to their potential refinements (decomposition into less-abstract and ultimately to primitive activities). The advantage of reasoning about summary information is that time needed to find consistent schedules is exponentially smaller than the time that would be needed for reasoning about the same tasks at the primitive level.

Posted in: Software, Briefs, TSP

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Integrated Software for Analyzing Designs of Launch Vehicles

Launch Vehicle Analysis Tool (LVA) is a computer program for preliminary design structural analysis of launch vehicles. Before LVA was developed, in order to analyze the structure of a launch vehicle, it was necessary to estimate its weight, feed this estimate into a program to obtain prelaunch and flight loads, then feed these loads into structural and thermal analysis programs to obtain a second weight estimate. If the first and second weight estimates differed, it was necessary to reiterate these analyses until the solution converged. This process generally took six to twelve person-months of effort. LVA incorporates text to structural layout converter, configuration drawing, mass properties generation, pre-launch and flight loads analysis, loads output plotting, direct solution structural analysis, and thermal analysis subprograms. These subprograms are integrated in LVA so that solutions can be iterated automatically. LVA incorporates expert-system software that makes fundamental design decisions without intervention by the user. It also includes unique algorithms based on extensive research. The total integration of analysis modules drastically reduces the need for interaction with the user. A typical solution can be obtained in 30 to 60 minutes. Subsequent runs can be done in less than two minutes.

Posted in: Software, Briefs

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Tech Needs of the Week

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