Articles

IonoSTAGE Ensures Accuracy of Pilots’ GPS

FAA software relies on NASA-developed programs to help pilots avoid ionospheric storms. To permit safe and reliable aircraft navigation over North America using the Global Positioning System (GPS), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has developed the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS), which improves the accuracy, availability, continuity, and integrity of GPS positioning enough to ensure its safe use by pilots to determine their locations. The early development of WAAS relied on software developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL); particularly, the GPS-Inferred Positioning System (GIPSY) and the Global Ionospheric Mapping (GIM) software packages. More recently, the continued development of WAAS has relied on companion software also developed at JPL. The SuperTruth and IonoSTAGE packages allow the system to address the threat to accurate positioning posed by code delays and phase advances due to refraction in Earth’s ionosphere.

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3D Machine Vision Using Laser Triangulation

Applications for 3D machine vision are rapidly expanding in a variety of industries for several reasons. The first is that vision systems can lower production costs by increasing yields and/or reducing scrap product and wasted raw material. One example of this would be extruded products from various materials (rubber, plastic, metal), where it’s vital to know as soon as the process goes out of specification.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Articles, Applications, Photonics

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Hyperspectral Sensing for Defense and Security Applications

The successful exploitation of hyperspectral imaging sensors depends on the availability of accurate and complete spectral signature libraries. Coupled with the appropriate spectral signature library, images collected with hyperspectral sensors provide the means to survey large areas identifying and characterizing materials, detecting a wide range of camouflaged targets, and detecting disturbed surfaces.

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Ion Thruster System Powers Spacecraft to Deep-Space Destinations

Ion thruster system and power processing units Aerojet Rocketdyne Sacramento, CA 916-355-4000 www.rocket.com Aerojet Rocketdyne is developing NASA’s Evolutionary Xenon Thruster-Commercial (NEXT-C) Gridded Ion Thruster System. Managed at NASA’s John H. Glenn Research Center, the NEXT-C Gridded Ion Thruster System is designed to power government and commercial spacecraft to deep-space destinations faster, farther, and more fuel efficiently than any other propulsion technology currently available.

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System Tests Flight Control of Dream Chaser Spacecraft

DynoLAB™ data acquisition and control system SAKOR Technologies Okemos, MI 517-332-7256 www.sakor.com SAKOR Technologies has supplied a test system to Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®) to be used to test the atmospheric flight control system for the Dream Chaser® spacecraft. Dream Chaser is a lifting-body, reusable, crewed or uncrewed vehicle. It is owned and operated by Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), and is designed as a space utility vehicle for low-Earth orbit.

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High-Performance Data Acquisition on USB

A common belief among engineers is that in order to get the best performance, a PC-based data acquisition module must plug into the PCI bus. Properly implemented, however, a data acquisition module can use the PC’s USB port to pump data into a PC as fast as PCI-based cards. The keys to achieving this performance are a hardware USB interface on the module, and optimized driver software for the host system.

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Generating Broadband Terahertz Radiation from Microplasma in Air

Researchers at the University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics have shown that a laser-generated microplasma in air can be used as a source of broadband terahertz radiation. Fabrizio Buccheri and Xi-Cheng Zhang recently demonstrated that an approach for generating terahertz waves using intense laser pulses in air – first pioneered in 1993 – can be done with much lower power lasers, a major challenge until now.

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