Features

OpenVPX

Putting a New Spin on an Old Standard

For 25 years, the VME architecture defined COTS systems that met the demand for increases in computing and connectivity. Successive generations of new processors provided more and more compute cycles, while VME bandwidth evolved in a similar fashion from 40 Mbytes/s on the original VMEbus to 80 Mbytes/s, then 160 Mbytes/s and finally 320 Mbytes/s on 2eSST.

Posted in: Articles, Articles
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Secure Software Flashing

More and more devices in our modern world come with a multitude and variety of embedded systems. An obvious example of this trend is today’s vehicles, which have dozens of electronic control units (ECUs) that control everything from the air conditioning and electric windows to the engine and brake system. Several ECUs allow downloading of updated program and data code via a boot loader. Such software might be a control unit firmware update for fixing bugs, for improving features, or for downloading data such as additional multimedia files. The first case is also called a software download or simply flashing (since flash memory is updated). The download might be performed directly over a diagnostic channel or another available communication channel such as Bluetooth and GSM.

Posted in: Articles, Articles
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Cloud Computing: What Are the Networking Implications?

The growth of data centers and the concept of infrastructure as a service is leading to significant focus on cloud computing architectures. Pundits have proclaimed cloud computing as the ultimate merger of information technology with communication. The promise of cloud computing is immense — it aims to create a virtual world of applications, giving the user an unparalleled computational power using a simple front-end and a decently fast broadband connection.

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Wafer Level Camera Technology

Film cameras were traditionally manufactured by discrete assembly, which means each component was fabricated as an individual item, tested if necessary, and then assembled into the final working product. The advent of solid state imaging did little to change this approach. The film was merely replaced by a light-sensitive electronic component. The only significant change was that the mechanical shutter was rendered obsolete and its action generated electronically within the imager die.

Posted in: Articles, Features, ptb catchall, Photonics, Electronic control units, Optics, Sensors and actuators, Product development
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Dr. Scott Barthelmy, Research Scientist, Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD

Dr. Scott Barthelmy is the principal investigator for the Burst Alert Telescope (BAT), a sophisticated instrument that detects and precisely locates elusive gamma-ray bursts in the universe. Developed as part of NASA’s Swift mission, the instrument technology is now being considered for a variety of homeland security applications because of its ability to pinpoint and identify nuclear materials – both legal and illegal – in transit or storage. Dr. Barthelmy also created the Gamma-Ray Bursts Coordinates Network (GCN) to distribute data collected on gamma-ray bursts to researchers throughout the world in real time.

Posted in: Who's Who
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Laser Tracker Ensures Accurate Alignment of Ares I Components

FARO® Laser Tracker FARO Technologies Lake Mary, FL 800-736-0234 www.faro.com

Making its first flights to the International Space Station by the middle of the next decade, the Orion crew exploration vehicle is part of the Constellation Program, which will send human explorers back to the Moon, and then to Mars and other destinations in the solar system. Future astronauts will ride into orbit on Ares I, Orion’s launch vehicle, which uses a single, five-segment solid rocket booster. NASA’s first test flight, called Ares I-X, will provide NASA with an early opportunity to test and prove the hardware, facilities, and ground operations associated with the Ares I.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Lasers & Laser Systems, Calibration, Lasers
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Tape Backup Systems Help NASA Archive Enterprise Data

Spectra® T950 tape libraries Spectra Logic Federal Boulder, CO 303-449-6400 www.spectralogic.com

NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA, installed two Spectra® T950 tape libraries with LTO-4 drives and media, which together offer approximately 20,000 data storage slots and up to 32 petabytes of storage capacity, with data compression. By replacing multiple, outdated silos, NASA Ames has freed more than 1,400 square feet of valuable data center floor space.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Data management, Historical reference, Spacecraft
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The Physics of Failure: Predicting Reliability in Electronic Components

A lot has been written about Moore’s Law and the potential limitations of semiconductor design and manufacturing in the future. Can we really continue to double the number of transistors on a given-sized die every eighteen months? For the last 30 years, Moore’s Law has held, but, we may be seeing the real limitations to future semiconductor development and to Moore’s Law — severely shortened operational lifetimes of advanced chips. That, in turn, creates massive reliability problems for critical embedded systems in the future.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Application Briefs
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Measuring the Color and Appearance of Special-Effect Paint

Manufacturers that design, formulate and apply coatings have struggled for years to find a rigorous and easy-to-use method that reliably measures the color and appearance of special-effect paints. Companies tried to relate measurements taken with handheld spectrophotometers that collect colorimetric data from several in-plane angles to events that occurred in production processes, but these instruments, by their nature, could not collect the essential data points to yield reliable results. Other companies have tried to skirt the problem by creating a coarseness index or “sparkle” metric that relies on photographic images taken in-plane, but this method is easily confused and insufficient for rigorous analysis.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Applications, ptb catchall, Photonics, Measurements, Coatings, colorants, and finishes
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NASA Celebrates Apollo’s 40th Anniversary

Forty years ago this month, on July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong stepped out of the lunar module and took “one small step” in the Sea of Tranquility, calling it “a giant leap for mankind.”

Posted in: UpFront
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