Software

Arbitrating Control of Control and Display Units

The ARINC 739 Switch is a computer program that arbitrates control of two multi-function control and display units (MCDUs) between (1) a commercial flight-management computer (FMC) and (2) NASA software used in research on transport aircraft. (MCDUs are the primary interfaces between pilots and FMCs on many commercial aircraft.) This program was recently redesigned into a software library that can be embedded in research application programs. As part of the redesign, this software was combined with software for creating custom pages of information to be displayed on a CDU. This software commands independent switching of the left (pilot’s) and right (copilot’s) MCDUs. For example, a custom CDU page can control the left CDU while the FMC controls the right CDU. The software uses menu keys to switch control of the CDU between the FMC or a custom CDU page. The software provides an interface that enables custom CDU pages to insert keystrokes into the FMC’s CDU input interface. This feature allows the custom CDU pages to manipulate the FMC as if it were a pilot.

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Machine Aided Indexing and the NASA Thesaurus

Machine Aided Indexing (MAI) is a Web-based application program for aiding the indexing of literature in the NASA Scientific and Technical Information (STI) Database. MAI was designed to be a convenient, fully interactive tool for determining the subject matter of documents and identifying keywords. The heart of MAI is a natural-language processor that accepts, as input, any user-supplied text, including abstracts, full documents, and Web pages. Within seconds, the text is analyzed and a ranked list of terms is generated. The 17,800 terms of the NASA Thesaurus serve as the foundation of the knowledge base used by MAI. The NASA Thesaurus defines a standard vocabulary, the use of which enables MAI to assist in ensuring that STI documents are uniformly and consistently accessible. Of particular interest to traditional users of the NASA Thesaurus, MAI incorporates a fully searchable thesaurus display module that affords wordsearch and hierarchy-navigation capabilities that make it much easier and less time-consuming to look up terms and browse, relative to lookup and browsing in older print and Portable Document Format (PDF) digital versions of the Thesaurus. In addition, because MAI is centrally hosted, the Thesaurus data are always current.

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Control Code for Bearingless Switched-Reluctance Motor

A computer program has been devised for controlling a machine that is an integral combination of magnetic bearings and a switched-reluctance motor. The motor contains an eightpole stator and a hybrid rotor, which has both (1) a circular lamination stack for levitation and (2) a six-pole lamination stack for rotation. The program computes drive and levitation currents for the stator windings with real-time feedback control. During normal operation, two of the four pairs of opposing stator poles (each pair at right angles to the other pair) levitate the rotor. The remaining two pairs of stator poles exert torque on the six-pole rotor lamination stack to produce rotation. This version is executable in a control-loop time of 40 μs on a Pentium (or equivalent) processor that operates at a clock speed of 400 MHz. The program can be expanded, by addition of logic blocks, to enable control of position along additional axes. The code enables adjustment of operational parameters (e.g., motor speed and stiffness, and damping parameters of magnetic bearings) through computer keyboard key presses.

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Simulating Flights of Future Launch Vehicles and Spacecraft

Marshall Aerospace Vehicle Representation in C (MAVERIC) is a computer program for generic, low-to-high-fidelity simulation of the flight(s) of one or more launch vehicle(s) or spacecraft. MAVERIC is designed to accommodate multi-staged vehicles, powered serially or in parallel, with multiple engines, tanks, and cargo elements. Engines can be of jet or conventional rocket types, using either liquid or solid propellants.

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TMS for Instantiating a Knowledge Base With Incomplete Data

A computer program that belongs to the class known among software experts as output truth-maintenance systems (output TMSs) has been devised as one of a number of software tools for reducing the size of the knowledge base that must be searched during execution of artificial-intelligence software of the rule-based inference engine type in a case in which data are missing. This program determines whether the consequences of activation of two or more rules can be combined without causing a logical inconsistency. For example, in a case involving hypothetical scenarios that could lead to turning a given device on or off, the program determines whether a scenario involving a given combination of rules could lead to turning the device both on and off at the same time, in which case that combination of rules would not be included in the scenario.

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Automated Design of Restraint Layer of an Inflatable Vessel

A Mathcad computer program largely automates the design and analysis of the restraint layer (the primary load-bearing layer) of an inflatable vessel that consists of one or more sections having cylindrical, toroidal, and/or spherical shape(s). A restraint layer typically comprises webbing in the form of multiple straps. The design task includes choosing indexing locations along the straps, computing the load at every location in each strap, computing the resulting stretch at each location, and computing the amount of undersizing required of each strap so that, once the vessel is inflated and the straps thus stretched, the vessel can be expected to assume the desired shape.

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Computational Workbench for Multibody Dynamics

PyCraft is a computer program that provides an interactive, workbench-like computing environment for developing and testing algorithms for multibody dynamics. Examples of multibody dynamic systems amenable to analysis with the help of PyCraft include land vehicles, spacecraft, robots, and molecular models. PyCraft is based on the Spatial-Operator-Algebra (SOA) formulation for multibody dynamics. The SOA operators enable construction of simple and compact representations of complex multibody dynamical equations. Within the PyCraft computational workbench, users can, essentially, use the high-level SOA operator notation to represent the variety of dynamical quantities and algorithms and to perform computations interactively. PyCraft provides a Python-language interface to underlying C++ code. Working with SOA concepts, a user can create and manipulate Python-level operator classes in order to implement and evaluate new dynamical quantities and algorithms. During use of PyCraft, virtually all SOA-based algorithms are available for computational experiments.

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