Application Briefs

Connectors Provide Signal Reliability for Mars Science Laboratory

Compact PCI (cPCI) ConnectorsHypertronics CorporationHudson, MA978-568-0451www.hypertronics.com Hypertronics’ space-grade Compact PCI (cPCI) connectors were selected by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for use on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), which is scheduled to launch in 2009. Incorporating the Hypertac® “Basket of Wires” contact technology, the connectors will be instrumental in all phases of the mission including lift-off, navigation, entry, descent, landing, roaming, and geological survey. Behind these embedded systems are single-board computers connected together through common back planes that handle all control functions and analysis for the MSL rover. All systems and components must exceed the long and difficult journey to Mars, as well as the extreme surface operation of one Martian year, equal to two Earth years.

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Wireless Video Surveillance System Secures Aircraft

AgileMesh/Firetide surveillance systemAgileMeshDallas, TX972-231-2122www.agilemesh.comNASA Dryden Flight Research Center now protects several of its highly specialized research aircraft at its satellite facility with a wireless video surveillance system. The system is a product of AgileMesh, a provider of rapidly deployable video surveillance, and Firetide, a developer of wireless mesh and access networks. The AgileMesh/Firetide system secures a recently leased hangar that houses NASA’s SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) and DC- 8 Airborne Laboratory aircraft, both of which are unique to the nation.The rapidly deployable, solar-powered, and high-resolution wireless system transmits evidence-grade video from the perimeter of the hangar to the on-site security operations center. The video is monitored in real time, allowing personnel patrolling the perimeter to communicate with the operations center and respond to incidents within seconds. Using embedded Firetide mesh technology, the AgileMesh units wirelessly transmit video signals to a head-end node located in the security operations center. The video is stored for 30 days for incident review and investigation. The AgileMesh units were secured to the ground using 20- gallon water containers as anchors, since winds can reach 60 miles per hour in the high desert. The research center is currently deploying a fixed video surveillance system in and around the hangar, and once that system is in place, the AgileMesh units will be used for securing crash scene investigations and during special events such as nearby air shows. For Free Info

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Computational Fluid Dynamics Aids Aerospace Apps

Just a few years ago, the use of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) in most aerospace companies was restricted to pure research or troubleshooting problems with existing designs. But in the past few years, newly available CFD tools are fully embedded in the mainstream mechanical design environment and hence much easier, faster and less expensive to use.

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System Provides Critical Communications Among Stennis Rocket Test Team Members

Subsystem Multiplexer (Sub-MUX) Quintron Systems Santa Maria, CA 805-928-4343 www.quintron.com NASA has awarded Quintron Systems an Indefinite-Delivery- Indefinite-Quantity (IDIQ) contract, and the first task order is for a command and control communications system that will be used at the rocket engine test stands at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Alabama. This task order includes approximately 250 multi-channel communication key sets, of which 160 are certified for use within hazardous fuel areas.

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Coded Mask Instruments Key to HETE-2 Satellite’s Gamma-Ray Burst Discoveries

Coded optic mask foil Dynamics Research Corp. (DRC) Andover, MA 978-475-9090 www.drc.com The High Energy Transient Explorer (HETE-2) satellite was launched into Earth orbit on October 9, 2000, and has been tracking and studying high-energy gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) from deep space. First discovered in 1967, GRBs had been difficult phenomena to observe, as they occur at random locations in the sky, last only a few seconds, and leave virtually no trace for ground-based observers. HETE-2’s ability to rapidly disseminate very precise positions of where the GRB was detected has allowed ground telescopes to catch and observe the event, leading to discoveries such as one that links GRBs with supernovas. Most of the satellite assembly occurred at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), but many subassemblies and critical components were manufactured by other institutions throughout the world.

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Seven Practical Steps for Designing Networking Enclosures

The design of enclosures to house networking servers and components should be guided by one overriding concern — heat. Servers, in particular, generate a great deal of heat, so an enclosure must be capable of dissipating that heat to ensure that the components deliver their expected life.

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Tactile Feedback for Touch-input Devices

As products become more featurerich, manufacturers are looking at ways to improve the human-computer interface (HCI). Touchscreens, with intuitive operation and software flexibility, and screen-printed touch surfaces, with refined aesthetics and better sealing, have become extremely popular. But what these touch-input devices do not supply is tactile confirmation of (1) a button’s location and (2) pressing it. The loss of this tactile information can be detrimental to user engagement and understanding, productivity, completion of transactions, safety, and satisfaction. In some applications, the lack of tactile feedback has been enough of a problem to prevent the conversion from mechanical switches to digital controls. The solution is simple — add tactile feedback to secure the best features of touch-input devices.

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