Application Briefs

Clustered Storage System Enables Image Geoprocessing of Earth’s Surface

Isilon IQ Clustered Storage System Isilon Systems Seattle, WA 206-315-7500 www.isilon.com NASA World Wind is an open-source, virtual globe software enabling users to zoom from satellite altitude into any place on Earth, providing an eye-level view of the Earth’s surface. World Wind works with i-cubed, a geoprocessing service organization in Colorado that performs the geoprocessing required to convert raw satellite data into high-resolution imagery of the Earth’s terrain. The data is then returned to World Wind for integration into Microsoft.NET-based application, staging, and online delivery.

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Multi-Bit-Rate Switcher Is Part of High-Definition Upgrade at NASA

HANABI HVS-3800HS Multi-Bit Rate Switcher FOR-A Waltham, MA 714-867-3311 www.for-a.com NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt, MD, manages the Hubble Space Telescope that has, since its launch in 1990, recorded more than 700,000 images in its quest to explore the solar system. Recently, NASA announced plans for a fifth servicing mission to the Hubble in which the FOR-A HANABI switcher was used in a live press conference to produce and record the news in high-definition (HD). The images were then converted for distribution to the public via NASA-TV. “Given that the Hubble is so important, we wanted to be able to announce this in HD for historical purposes,” said Patrick Kennedy, GSFC’s TV production manager.

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Multicores Affect Algorithm Choices

Design engineers soon will need to bridge the growing gap between hardware reality and software capabilities in the highperformance computing (HPC) realm as the use of multicore microprocessors grows. If your software development or sourcing plans haven’t anticipated these development situations, your applications may have a shorter life than you had planned. The 2006 version of technical computing “reality” is an inexpensive dual-core processor from AMD or Intel on a desktop system, or a dual- or quad-core RISC processor from Sun or IBM running on a server. In 2007, we should expect to see inexpensive quad-core processors from AMD and Intel, and processors with up to eight or more cores in 2008. These small symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) systems will be a far cry from the proprietary $500,000+ SMP systems of a few years ago. This technology transition has big implications for the “democratization” of computing power. On the horizon are four- to eightcore systems that cost only a few thousand dollars and sit on the desk of every design engineer.

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Data-Centric Network Integration Takes Headaches Out of Avionic Upgrades

Avionics systems are becoming more powerful and more dependent upon data exchanged between instruments. These instruments and subsystems reside on a network and must share time-critical data to achieve their mission. For example, targeting systems require real-time input of aircraft speed and attitude, as well as position and velocity data of the target. At the same time, additional bandwidth is required for data from onboard systems, such as GPS, airspeed and directional gyro, flight control systems, and dozens of other instruments and subsystems. As a result, network traffic is high, and potential data interactions can be highly complex. This complexity makes real-time integration of the data from disparate instruments during operational missions a significant challenge. Furthermore, upgrades of avionics and software applications during the useful life of the airframe means that new subsystems must be seamlessly integrated with legacy subsystems. In other words, data paths, interactions, and integration are not fixed forever. Today, aircraft systems typically are constructed to provide point-to-point communications between instruments and control systems that require realtime data. This approach has a significant impact on the complexity of the system and its subsequent maintainability. If an instrument is upgraded or replaced, the interfaces between it and other directly connected devices have the potential to change, requiring significant recoding and retesting.

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Open-Standard Software Helps Operate James Webb Space Telescope

Rational Rose Real-time visual modeling development software IBM Armonk, NY 914-766-1362 www.ibm.com/software/rational Set to launch by 2013, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will succeed the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to study galaxy, star, and planet formation in the universe. Nearly 20 years ago, when the components and instruments on the HST were developed, software was built by multiple organizations using proprietary software for systems development. This approach meant that maintenance, changes, and repairs made to components and instruments required multiple tools. Because separate space agencies from several countries around the world are developing the software that will operate the JWST’s Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GNC) systems, Command and Data Handling (CNDH), and the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) that houses the JWST’s four primary instruments, it was imperative for NASA to weave a common thread throughout the project that would circumvent expensive and time-consuming software issues.

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Computing Platform Improves Stellar Imaging Applications

Star-P interactive parallel computing platform Interactive Supercomputing (ISC) Waltham, MA 781-419-5050 www.interactivesupercomputing.com NASA’s Optical Systems Characterization and Analysis Research (OSCAR) is modeling software used to design and analyze large space-based imaging systems. Because systems of this type require large, high-fidelity optical modeling, NASA runs OSCAR on Beowulf parallel computing clusters to handle the large datasets and meet the memory requirements. To facilitate parallel computing, OSCAR is written entirely in C, with message passing interface (MPI) handling the computations across many processor nodes. OSCAR was instrumental in solving the optical flaws of the Hubble Space Telescope.

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FPGAs Yield Virtual Laser Valves for Microfluidics

In today’s “micro world,” complex electrical systems, including analog and digital components, can fit on integrated circuits smaller than a fingernail. Microfluidics, a subset of microelectro-mechanical systems (MEMS) technology, is emerging as a new technical niche within microelectronics with widespread application in the health, chemical, and food industries.

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