Features

RapidIO vs. Ethernet A Practical Technical Comparison

Ethernet is currently the incumbent backplane technology across a wide range of storage, wireless, wireline, military, industrial, and other embedded applications as developers move away from proprietary implementations in an effort to reduce development time and cost while increasing performance and functionality. However, as data rates increase, it has become apparent that many high-performance applications exceed the limits of this traditional protocol. Designing an efficient embedded backplane interconnect with excellent performance requires addressing a number of key design challenges, including header efficiency, protocol processing efficiency, effective bandwidth, and quality of service while strictly managing cost. To meet these challenges, many developers are turning to RapidIO® technology as an alternative to Ethernet.

Posted in: Articles, Articles

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Designing Software Radio Systems With FPGAs

Software defined radio technology has been widely adopted for new military and aerospace platforms, government signal intelligence and homeland security systems, and now more extensively in commercial wireless voice and data networks as well. These modern communication systems need to squeeze more channels of traffic into an expensive slice of precious radio spectrum. Military and government requirements for secure communications mandate real-time encryption and decryption schemes that must be increasingly more resistant to interception. In multinational theater of war combat operations, communications systems must selectively ensure certain specific links and reliably deny others.

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Using Laser Vibrometry to Validate Gossamer Space Structures

NASA has been developing large ultra-lightweight structures commonly referred to as Gossamer space structures for many years to reduce launch costs and to exploit the unique capabilities of particular concepts. For instance, dish antennas are currently being pursued because they can be inflated in space to sizes as large as 30 meters and then rigidized to enable high data rate communications.

Posted in: Articles, Features, ptb catchall, Photonics

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Infrared Radiation Detectors for Thermographic Imaging

Thermographic imaging is accomplished with a camera that converts infrared radiation (IR) into a visual image that depicts temperature variations across an object or scene. The main IR camera components are a lens, a detector in the form of a focal plane array (FPA), possibly a cooler for the detector, and the electronics and software for processing and displaying images (see Figure 1). Most detectors have a response curve that is narrower than the full IR range (900 to 14,000 nanometers or 0.9 to 14 μm). Therefore, a detector (or camera) must be selected that has the appropriate response for the IR range of a user’s application. In addition to wavelength response, other important detector characteristics include sensitivity, the ease of creating it as a focal plane array with micrometer-size pixels, and the degree of cooling required, if any.

Posted in: Articles, Imaging

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Dr. Anthony Colaprete, LCROSS Principal Investigator, Ames Research Center

LCROSS (Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite), which will travel to the moon aboard the launch vehicle for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), will test for the presence of water beneath the lunar surface by crashing a pair of heavy impactors into one of the permanently shadowed craters at the Moon’s South Pole. The impact will create a plume of debris that can be analyzed for the presence of water using specialized instruments. Dr. Anthony Colaprete, who is an expert on the Martian climate system, is principal investigator for the LCROSS mission.

Posted in: Who's Who

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Image Sensors Provide Mission-Critical Data for Space Flight

Kodak CCD image sensors Eastman Kodak, Image Sensor Solutions Rochester, NY 585-722-4385 www.kodak.com/go/imagers Kodak digital technology was used on the Space Shuttle Discovery, which was launched on May 28, to capture critical images and help safeguard the well-being of shuttle astronauts during re-entry back to Earth. The image sensors are a key component of the Orbiter Boom Sensor System (OBSS), an inflight imaging system attached to the end of a 50-foot robotic arm used by shuttle astronauts to scan the underside of the orbiter for possible damage before landing.

Posted in: Application Briefs

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Image of Spacecraft Landing on Mars Captured by Image Sensors

e2v CCD image sensors e2v technologies plc Elmsford, NY 914-592-6050 www.e2v.com NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) is currently on Mars using the probe’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) instrument to gather data on the planet’s climate, composition, and surface features. On May 25, 2008, e2v CCD image sensors incorporated into the HiRISE captured an image of NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander suspended from its parachute, as the lander successfully arrived on Mars. This is the first time a spacecraft has captured an image of another spacecraft landing on a planetary body. HiRISE normally points downwards, but the whole orbiter was tilted up in order to capture the image of the lander as it approached Mars.

Posted in: Application Briefs

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