Information Science

Designing Facilities for Collaborative Operations

A methodology is emerging from efforts to design a mission operations facility. A methodology for designing operational facilities for collaboration by multiple experts has begun to take shape as an outgrowth of a project to design such facilities for scientific operations of the planned 2003 Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission. The methodology could also be applicable to the design of military "situation rooms" and other facilities for terrestrial missions.

Posted in: Information Sciences, Briefs, TSP

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Optimal Feedback Control of Thermal Networks

A systematic approach to design has been devised. An improved approach to the mathematical modeling of feedback control of thermal networks has been devised. Heretofore software for feedback control of thermal networks has been developed by time-consuming trial-and-error methods that depend on engineers' expertise. In contrast, the present approach is a systematic means of developing algorithms for feedback control that is optimal in the sense that it combines performance with low cost of implementation. An additional advantage of the present approach is that a thermal engineer need not be expert in control theory.

Posted in: Information Sciences, Briefs, TSP

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"Virtual Cockpit Window" for a Windowless Aerospacecraft

A software system processes navigational and sensory information in real time to generate a three- dimensional- appearing image of the external environment for viewing by crewmembers of a windowless aerospacecraft. The design of the particular aerospacecraft (the X-38) is such that the addition of a real transparent cockpit window to the airframe would have resulted in unacceptably large increases in weight and cost.

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Java Library for Input and Output of Image Data and Metadata

A Java-language library supports input and output (I/O) of image data and metadata (label data) in the format of the Video Image Communication and Retrieval (VICAR) image-processing software and in several similar formats, including a subset of the Planetary Data System (PDS) image file format. The library does the following:

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CLARAty Functional-Layer Software

Functional-layer software for the Coupled Layer Architecture for Robotics Autonomy (CLARAty) is being developed. [CLARAty was described in "Coupled-Layer Architecture for Advanced Software for Robots" (NPO-21218), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 26, No. 12 (December 2002), page 48. To recapitulate: CLARAty was proposed to improve the modularity of robotic software while tightening the coupling between planning/execution and control subsystems. Whereas prior robotic software architectures have typically contained three levels, the CLARAty architecture contains two layers: a decision layer and a functional layer.] Just as an operating system provides abstraction from computational hardware, the CLARAty functional-layer software provides for abstraction for the different robotic systems. The functional-layer software establishes interrelated, object-oriented hierarchies that contain active and passive objects that represent the different levels of system abstractions and components. The functional-layer software is decomposed into a set of reusable core components and a set of extended components that adapt the reusable set to specific hardware implementations. The reusable components (a) provide behavior and interface definitions and implementations of basic functionality, (b) provide local executive capabilities, (c) manage local resources, and (d) support state and resource queries by the decision layer. Software for robotic systems can be built by use of these components.

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Software for Building Models of 3D Objects via the Internet

The Virtual EDF Builder (where "EDF" signifies Electronic Development Fixture) is a computer program that facilitates the use of the Internet for building and displaying digital models of three- dimensional (3D) objects that ordinarily comprise assemblies of solid models created previously by use of computer-aided-design (CAD) programs. The Virtual EDF Builder resides on a UNIX- based server computer. It is used in conjunction with a commercially available Web-based plug-in viewer program that runs on a client computer. The Virtual EDF Builder acts as a translator between the viewer program and a database stored on the server. The translation function includes the provision of uniform resource locator (URL) links to other Web-based computer systems and databases. The Virtual EDF builder can be used in two ways: (1) If the client computer is UNIX-based, then it can assemble a model locally; the computational load is transferred from the server to the client computer. (2) Alternatively, the server can be made to build the model, in which case the server bears the computational load and the results are downloaded to the client computer or workstation upon completion.

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Software for Estimating Costs of Testing Rocket Engines

A high-level parametric mathematical model for estimating the costs of testing rocket engines and components at Stennis Space Center has been implemented as a Microsoft Excel program that generates multiple spreadsheets. The model and the program are both denoted, simply, the Cost Estimating Model (CEM). The inputs to the CEM are the parameters that describe particular tests, including test types (component or engine test), numbers and duration of tests, thrust levels, and other parameters. The CEM estimates anticipated total project costs for a specific test. Estimates are broken down into testing categories based on a work-breakdown structure and a cost-element structure. A notable historical assumption incorporated into the CEM is that total labor times depend mainly on thrust levels. As a result of a recent modification of the CEM to increase the accuracy of predicted labor times, the dependence of labor time on thrust level is now embodied in third- and fourth-order polynomials.

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