Sensors/Data Acquisition

Position Sensing and Formation Flying Using Optical Beacons

Two beacons on the starshade do the job. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California One way of imaging exoplanets around nearby stars is to use a starshade in conjunction with a space telescope. Typically, the starshade, which resembles a sunflower in outline, is ~ 30 meters in diameter. The starshade is flown about 50,000 km in front of the telescope, and when positioned directly in the telescope’s line of sight to the star, blocks the starlight, casting a deep shadow onto the telescope. Exoplanets orbiting the star and having a small angle to the line of sight will be visible because the starlight is extinguished. During the observation period, the position of the telescope needs to be maintained within about 1 m of the center of the shadow for maximum shading of the starlight.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors

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Multiple-Frequency-Band Software-Defined Radiometer

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland Remote sensing — the use of spacebased satellite technologies to obtain information on environmental variables — in combination with other types of data, can provide information on changes in the Earth’s surface and atmosphere that are critical for weather forecasting and responding to human welfare issues (disease outbreaks, food shortages, and floods). Satellites and other remote sensing tools have gathered a great deal of useful data on the Earth’s climate systems, drainage systems, geologic structures, thermal anomalies, geomorphologic features, and distribution of vegetation.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Sensors

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Gamma-Ray Spectroscope Supports Asteroid Mining Missions

A new gamma-ray spectroscope detects the veins of gold, platinum, and rare earths hidden within the asteroids, moons, and other airless objects floating around the solar system. The sensor, developed by teams at Vanderbilt and Fisk Universities, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the Planetary Science Institute, will allow miners to find valuable materials beyond Earth.

Posted in: News, Detectors

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Dynamic Weather Routes (DWR)

Recent test results indicate an estimated actual savings of 3,729 minutes for 575 AA flights. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California Convective weather systems, i.e., thunderstorms, are the leading cause of flight delay in U.S. airspace. Airline dispatchers must file their flight plans 1 to 2 hours before takeoff, and are often required to incorporate large buffers to forecast weather. Weather changes as flights progress, and airline dispatchers, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) traffic managers, and air traffic controllers are especially busy during weather events. Workable opportunities for more efficient routes around bad weather are often missed, and automation does not exist to help operators determine when weather avoidance routes have become stale and could be updated to reduce delay.

Posted in: Briefs, Data Acquisition

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ATMS Antenna Beam Analysis Software

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland The Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS) Antenna Beam Analysis Software uses a suite of test data to calculate the ATMS instrument beam pointing, and secondarily, the polarization state, in the coordinates of the onboard optical cube. The software uses measurement inputs of RF radiation pattern performance made at multiple rotational viewpoints and across a range of frequencies, rotation matrices to characterize physical rotation between the instrument measurement states and the optical cube, and correction rotation matrices used to eliminate gravity effects through an independent characterization.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Data Acquisition

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LabNotes Mobile App for Instrument Control and Data Collection

This application greatly reduces the cost and size of data acquisition components. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland Most instruments under development rely on a traditional computer or laptop, LabVIEW software, and data acquisition (DAQ) components (which interface between the instrument and the computer) to operate an instrument and collect data. While this solution is extremely versatile, it is an overly complicated, bulky, and expensive solution to relatively simple problems such as sending commands to a laser controller or recording voltages.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Data Acquisition

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GRAVITE Incinerator

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland Government Resource for Algorithm Verification, Independent Test, and Evaluation (GRAVITE) system is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) system, developed and deployed by Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) Ground Project to support Calibration and Validation (Cal/Val), Data Quality Monitoring, and Algorithm Investigation, Tuning and Integration. GRAVITE enables novice and expert users to discover and obtain data easily by using standard protocols. The Incinerator is a component of the GRAVITE version 3.0 (GV3.0) system. It is responsible for system maintenance tasks and deletes expired files, expired subscription links, expired PGE execution directories, and generates statistics periodically.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Data Acquisition

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