Special Coverage

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
Computer Chips Calculate and Store in an Integrated Unit
Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing

Reducing the Volume of NASA Earth-Science Data

A computer program reduces data generated by NASA Earth-science missions into representative clusters characterized by centroids and membership information, thereby reducing the large volume of data to a level more amenable to analysis. The program effects an autonomous data-reduction/clustering process to produce a representative distribution and joint relationships of the data, without assuming a specific type of distribution and relationship and without resorting to domain-specific knowledge about the data.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Information Sciences, Computer software and hardware, Data management

Reception of Multiple Telemetry Signals via One Dish Antenna

Telemetry signals coming from slightly different directions can be separated.

A microwave aeronautical-telemetry receiver system includes an antenna comprising a seven-element planar array of receiving feed horns centered at the focal point of a paraboloidal dish reflector that is nominally aimed at a single aircraft or at multiple aircraft flying in formation. Through digital processing of the signals received by the seven feed horns, the system implements a method of enhanced cancellation of interference, such that it becomes possible to receive telemetry signals in the same frequency channel simultaneously from either or both of two aircraft at slightly different angular positions within the field of view of the antenna, even in the presence of multipath propagation.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronics & Computers, Antennas, Architecture, Radar, Telemetry

Space-Qualified Traveling-Wave Tube

TWT was developed for use as a high-power microwave amplifier for high-rate transmission of data.

The L-3 Communications Electron Technologies, Inc. Model 999HA traveling-wave tube (TWT), was developed for use as a high-power microwave amplifier for high-rate transmission of data and video signals from deep space to Earth (see figure). The 999HA is a successor to the 999H — a non-space-qualified TWT described in “High-Power, High-Efficiency Ka-Band Traveling-Wave Tube” (LEW-17900-1), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 31, No. 2 (February 2007), page 32. Operating in the 31.8-to-32.3 GHz frequency band, the 999HA has been shown to generate 252 W of continuous-wave output power at 62 percent overall power efficiency — a 75-percent increase in output power over the 999H.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Amplifiers, Radar, Wireless communication systems

Smart Power Supply for Battery-Powered Systems

This power supply can be used in remote vehicles, or for any application requiring battery power or battery charging.

A power supply for battery-powered systems has been designed with an embedded controller that is capable of monitoring and maintaining batteries, charging hardware, while maintaining output power. The power supply is primarily designed for rovers and other remote science and engineering vehicles, but it can be used in any battery alone, or battery and charging source applications. The supply can function autonomously, or can be connected to a host processor through a serial communications link. It can be programmed a priori or on the fly to return current and voltage readings to a host.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Batteries, Electric power, On-board energy sources, Robotics

Parallel Processing of Broad-Band PPM Signals

Timing-error correction is independent of timing-error estimation.

A parallel-processing algorithm and a hardware architecture to implement the algorithm have been devised for timeslot synchronization in the reception of pulse-position-modulated (PPM) optical or radio signals. As in the cases of some prior algorithms and architectures for parallel, discrete-time, digital processing of signals other than PPM, an incoming broadband signal is divided into multiple parallel narrower-band signals by means of sub-sampling and filtering. The number of parallel streams is chosen so that the frequency content of the narrower-band signals is low enough to enable processing by relatively-low-speed complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) electronic circuitry.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Mathematical models, Architecture, Semiconductor devices, Wireless communication systems

Inexpensive Implementation of Many Strain Gauges

Arrays of metal film resistors would sense strains at multiple locations.

It has been proposed to develop arrays of strain gauges as arrays of ordinary metal film resistors and associated electronic readout circuitry on printed-circuit boards or other suitable substrates. This proposal is a by-product of a development of instrumentation utilizing metal film resistors on printed-circuit boards to measure temperatures at multiple locations. In the course of that development, it was observed that in addition to being sensitive to temperature, the metal film resistors were also sensitive to strains in the printed-circuit boards to which they were attached. Because of the low cost of ordinary metal film resistors (typically

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Integrated circuits, Sensors and actuators, Metals

Processing AIRS Scientific Data Through Level 3

The Atmospheric Infra-Red Sounder (AIRS) Science Processing System (SPS) is a collection of computer programs, known as product generation executives (PGEs). The AIRS SPS PGEs are used for processing measurements received from the AIRS suite of infrared and microwave instruments orbiting the Earth onboard NASA’s Aqua spacecraft. Early stages of the AIRS SPS development were described in a prior NASA Tech Briefs article: “Initial Processing of Infrared Spectral Data” (NPO-35243), Vol. 28, No. 11 (November 2004), page 39.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Measurements, Computer software and hardware, Radar, Spacecraft

Web-Based Requesting and Scheduling Use of Facilities

Automated User’s Training Operations Facility Utilization Request (AutoFUR) is prototype software that administers a Web-based system for requesting and allocating facilities and equipment for astronaut-training classes in conjunction with scheduling the classes. AutoFUR also has potential for similar use in such applications as scheduling flight-simulation equipment and instructors in commercial airplane-pilot training, managing preventive-maintenance facilities, and scheduling operating rooms, doctors, nurses, and medical equipment for surgery.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Computer software and hardware, Internet, Logistics, Automation

AutoGen Version 5.0

Version 5.0 of the AutoGen software has been released. Previous versions, variously denoted “Autogen” and “autogen,” were reported in two articles: “Automated Sequence Generation Process and Software” (NPO-30746), Software Tech Briefs (Special Supplement to NASA Tech Briefs), September 2007, page 30, and “Autogen Version 2.0” (NPO-41501), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 31, No. 10 (October 2007), page 58.

Posted in: Briefs, Information Sciences, Computer software and hardware, Automation, Spacecraft

Time-Tag Generation Script

Time-Tag Generation Script (TTaGS) is an application program, written in the AWK scripting language, for generating commands for aiming one Ku-band antenna and two S-band antennas for communicating with spacecraft. TTaGS saves between 2 and 4 person-hours per every 24 hours by automating the repetitious process of building between 150 and 180 antenna-control commands. TTaGS reads a text database of communication-satellite schedules and a text database of satellite rise and set times and cross-references items in the two databases. It then compares the scheduled start and stop with the geometric rise and set to compute the times to execute antenna control commands. While so doing, TTaGS determines whether to generate commands for guidance, navigation, and control computers to tell them which satellites to track.

Posted in: Briefs, Information Sciences, Antennas, Communication protocols, Computer software and hardware, Spacecraft

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