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IP Engine Helps NASA Crew Visually Inspect Shuttle's Heat Tiles

ImageiPORT PT1000-CL IP Engine
Pleora Technologies
Ottawa, ON, Canada
613-270-0625
www.pleora.com

The Space Shuttle Discovery and its crew safely landed on July 17, 2006 after a 13-day, five-million-mile journey in space. The Discovery flight was the most photographed shuttle mission, with more than 100 high-definition digital, video, and film cameras documenting the shuttle’s launch and climb to orbit. Data from these images helped assess whether the shuttle’s orbiter sustained any damage, and whether that damage posed any risk to Discovery’s return to Earth. The mission succeeded in testing shuttle safety improvements, repairing a rail car on the International Space Station (ISS), and producing images of the shuttle during and after its launch.

The iPORT product allows most types of imaging data — digital or analog — to stream in real time from cameras to PCs over standard Gigabit Ethernet links or LANs. To aid in assessing the structural integrity of Discovery during its mission to the ISS, the iPORT IP Engine and high-resolution cameras from Adimec (Stoneham, MA) were mounted at the end of the shuttle’s 50-foot robotic arm. The flight crew used the equipment to visually inspect the shuttle’s heat tiles for signs of damage before returning to Earth.

“The iPORT engine worked as expected during the mission,” said Joel Busa, software lead for the shuttle’s Integrated Sensor Inspection System. “Even though the Ethernet connection experienced mismatched impedance, ghosting, and crosstalk, the engine was able to overcome these problems and our flight software worked flawlessly.”

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