Application Briefs

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.

Posted in: ptb catchall, Applications, Photonics, Application Briefs

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High-Integrity Java Targets Safety-Critical Systems

High-integrity software plays critical roles in telecommunications, transportation, defense systems, industrial automation, and power management. Because human lives may be lost and tremendous economic costs may result if the software fails, the development of high-integrity software adopts practices that impose greater rigor on the software development processes. This rigor includes documentation of system requirements, architecture, design, test plan, and source code; development accountability audit trails; independent peer review of all development artifacts; full traceability analysis; and extensive test coverage. The goal of this increased rigor is to assure correct operation and reliability of the software. As computer automation expands its reach and influence, the size and complexity of high-integrity software is expanding as well. To deal with the increased development workload resulting from the ever-expanding role of high-integrity software, military and aerospace industries are leading the way towards the use of a safety-critical subset of the Java programming language to help increase developer productivity and reduce the maintenance costs associated with highintegrity software.

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Laser Scanning System Helps Validate Method for Repairing Space Shuttle Heat Shield

SLP-330 Laser Scanning Probe Laser Design Minneapolis, MN 952-884-9648 www.laserdesign.com The loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia because of damage to its thermal protection system (TPS) during launch spurred a search for methods of repairing the TPS in space; specifically, repairing the Reinforced Carbon-Carbon (RCC) material used to protect the nose cap and wing leading edge panels that experience the most extreme heating — more than 3,000° F — during the return to Earth. In testing possible repair methods, it is critical to accurately measure the complex freeform 3D RCC panel shape after the damage, after the repair, and after tests that simulate re-entry. NASA used the SLP-330 laser scanning probe from Laser Design, integrated with Romer portable coordinate measuring machine (CMM) arms for this task.

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Shortwave Infrared (SWIR) Imaging Aids Laser Tracking, Detection

As warfare becomes more asymmetric, civilians and other non-combatants become a larger percentage of the casualties, along with unintended property damage. The military, of course, hopes to avoid these types of casualties and destruction. With advancing technologies that enable more precision from their weapons, they also need better pointing and targeting capabilities, while remaining covert. Improved targeting technologies that allow detection and identification at longer standoff distances from the designators also are needed. For instance, lasers are excellent at precision pointing, but it is important that others be able to covertly image the scene as well.

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Hydraulic Safety Catchers Protect Spallation Neutron Source Shutter Operation

At full power, the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS), part of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL, Oak Ridge, TN), will produce the world’s most intense pulsed neutron beams for neutron scattering research methods. With a full-power capability of 1.4 megawatts, the SNS is used for scientific research and industrial development. While neutrons are abundant in the universe, for the detailed images researchers require, only a neutron of the right “brightness” can be used; SNS provides these brighter neutrons. The neutron delivery system consists of shutters composed of tungsten and steel, weighing 18 and 30 tons and two meters thick, and which are raised and lowered vertically by stainless steel hydraulic cylinders. The shutters are used to maintain position integrity and control the flow of neutrons of the SNS. Employed at each shutter are two specially designed hydraulic release stainless steel Sitema Safety Catchers designed by Advanced Machine & Engineering (AME, Rockford, IL).

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