Special Coverage


Program Computes Pointing Corrections for a Radiotelescope

TLC is a computer program that determines corrections for radiotelescopepointing errors associated with tilts and elastic deformations. These errors occur because for rotation in azimuth, a radiotelescope is mounted on wheels that move on a circular track that deviates from perfect flatness. TLC processes radiotelescope field data through smoothing, filtering, segment-fitting, trend-removal, Fourier-transform, and high-passfiltering algorithms to generate a lookup table that contains the pointing corrections. The field data in question are readouts from four inclinometers, the relative positions of the inclinometers, and readouts from an azimuth-angle encoder. Written in the Matlab software system, TLC is a user-friendly program that provides a graphical user interface that enables even an unfamiliar user to proceed, step by step, to the final result.

Posted in: Mechanics, Mechanical Components, Briefs


Improved Lifetime for Stirling Cryogenic Coolers

Core-technology advances extend maintenance-free operating life of coolers to more than 50,000 hours. A Stirling cooler is a mechanical system that approximates the ideal gas cycle. Often associated with airborne or portable cooling applications that require compact design and low input power, Stirling coolers are suitable for such applications because of their high efficiency. Compared to Gifford-McMahon and Joule-Thomson cycles, Stirling offers more than twice the cooling performance in the capacity range from 1-100 W. The coolers have a variety of military and commercial applications in infrared receivers and thermal imaging equipment.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs


Software for Analyzing Root Causes of Process Anomalies

Root Cause Analysis (RoCA) is a computer program that assists analysts in understanding the root causes of process anomalies. As used here, “process anomalies” includes incidents that have caused, or that can potentially cause, injuries to personnel, damage to facilities, abnormal costs, or delays in processing. RoCA could be used, for example, in industry to investigate anomalies in production and by government agencies and airlines in investigating airplane accidents. Older software developed to aid such investigations offers limited capabilities for mapping the contribution of each root cause to a given process anomaly. Unlike the prior software, RoCA not only identifies root causes of process anomalies but also supports the identification of trends over multiple anomalies.

Posted in: Information Sciences, Briefs


Oscillating-Flow Heat-Transfer and Pressure-Drop Test Rig

Test specimens are plugs of material representative of regenerator matrices of Stirling engines. The figure illustrates an apparatus for measuring heat-transfer and pressure-drop characteristics of porous plug specimens in oscillating flows. The apparatus is built around an oscillating-flow test rig that was originally designed for pressure-drop (but not heat-transfer) measurements and has since been modified and refined. The flows and specimens are chosen to be representative of those encountered in the regenerators of Stirling engines.

Posted in: Physical Sciences, Briefs


Advanced Cryogenic Insulation System for Graphite/Organic Resin Composite Cryogenic-Tank Structures

Foam-filled honeycomb cores withstand tensile strain test in cryogenic conditions. Engineers at Rockwell International Corporation's Space System Division have developed a new method of insulating composite structural material that will stand up to the harsh environment of space. The new liquid-hydrogen cryogenic tankage proposed for advanced launch systems — such as the Reusable Launch Vehicle and the X-33 — will be made from a graphite/epoxy material. Although this composite material will produce a lighter-weight cryogenic insulation tank, current cryogenic insulation materials did not endure rigorous stress testing.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs


Update on Integrated Optical Design Analyzer

Updated information on the Integrated Optical Design Analyzer (IODA) computer program has become available. IODA was described in “Software for Multidisciplinary Concurrent Optical Design” (MFS-31452), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 25, No. 10 (October 2001), page 8a. To recapitulate: IODA facilitates multidisciplinary concurrent engineering of highly precise optical instruments. The architecture of IODA was developed by reviewing design processes and software in an effort to automate design procedures. IODA significantly reduces design iteration cycle time and eliminates many potential sources of error. IODA integrates the modeling efforts of a team of experts in different disciplines (e.g., optics, structural analysis, and heat transfer) working at different locations and provides seamless fusion of data among thermal, structural, and optical models used to design an instrument. IODA is compatible with data files generated by the NASTRAN™ structural-analysis program and the Code V® optical-analysis program, and can be used to couple analyses performed by these two programs. IODA supports multiple- load-case analysis for quickly accomplishing trade studies. IODA can also model the transient response of an instrument under the influence of dynamic loads and disturbances.

Posted in: Software, Briefs


Software for Sharing and Management of Information

DIAMS is a set of computer programs that implements a system of collaborative agents that serve multiple, geographically distributed users communicating via the Internet. DIAMS provides a user interface as a Java applet that runs on each user’s computer and that works within the context of the user’s Internet-browser software. DIAMS helps all its users to manage, gain access to, share, and exchange information in databases that they maintain on their computers. One of the DIAMS agents is a personal agent that helps its owner find information most relevant to current needs. It provides software tools and utilities for users to manage their information repositories with dynamic organization and virtual views. Capabilities for generating flexible hierarchical displays are integrated with capabilities for indexed- query searching to support effective access to information. Automatic indexing methods are employed to support users’ queries and communication between agents. The catalog of a repository is kept in object-oriented storage to facilitate sharing of information. Collaboration between users is aided by matchmaker agents and by automated exchange of information. The matchmaker agents are designed to establish connections between users who have similar interests and expertise.

Posted in: Software, Briefs