Software

New Software for Predicting Charging of Spacecraft

The NASA/Air Force Spacecraft Charging System Analyzer Program (Nascap-2K) is a comprehensive update, revision, and extension of several NASA and Air Force codes for predicting electrical charging of spacecraft. Nascap-2K integrates the capabilities and models included in four independent programs: NASCAP/LEO for low-Earth orbits, NASCAP/GEO for geosynchronous orbits, POLAR for auroral charging in polar orbits, and DynaPAC (Dynamic Plasma Analysis Code) for time-dependent plasma interactions. While each of the earlier codes works well for the range of problems for which it was designed, by today’s standards these codes are difficult to learn, cumbersome to use, and overly restrictive in their geometric modeling capabilities. Nascap-2K incorporates these models into a single software package that includes spacecraft surface modeling, spatial gridding, environmental specifications, calculating scripting, and post-processing analysis and visualization. The provided material properties database includes values from earlier programs as well as values from recent measurements. Development of Nascap-2K continues with future capabilities to include interactions with dense plasma such as those produced by electric propulsion.

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PixelLearn

PixelLearn is an integrated user-interface computer program for classifying pixels in scientific images. Heretofore, training a machine-learning algorithm to classify pixels in images has been tedious and difficult. PixelLearn provides a graphical user interface that makes it faster and more intuitive, leading to more interactive exploration of image data sets. PixelLearn also provides image-enhancement controls to make it easier to see subtle details in images. PixelLearn opens images or sets of images in a variety of common scientific file formats and enables the user to interact with several supervised or unsupervised machine-learning pixel-classifying algorithms while the user continues to browse through the images. The machinelearning algorithms in PixelLearn use advanced clustering and classification methods that enable accuracy much higher than is achievable by most other software previously available for this purpose. PixelLearn is written in portable C++ and runs natively on computers running Linux, Windows, or Mac OS X.

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High-Speed Recording of Test Data on Hard Disks

Disk Recording System (DRS) is a systems- integration computer program for a direct-to-disk (DTD) high-speed data-acquisition system (HDAS) that records rocket-engine test data. The HDAS consists partly of equipment originally designed for recording the data on tapes. The tape recorders were replaced with hard-disk drives, necessitating the development of DRS to provide an operating environment that ties two computers, a set of five DTD recorders, and signal-processing circuits from the original tape-recording version of the HDAS into one working system. DRS includes three subsystems: (1) one that generates a graphical user interface (GUI), on one of the computers, that serves as a main control panel; (2) one that generates a GUI, on the other computer, that serves as a remote control panel; and (3) a data-processing subsystem that performs tasks on the DTD recorders according to instructions sent from the main control panel. The software affords capabilities for dynamic configuration to record single or multiple channels from a remote source, remote starting and stopping of the recorders, indexing to prevent overwriting of data, and production of filtered frequency data from an original time-series data file.

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Cross-Compiler for Modeling Space-Flight Systems

Ripples is a computer program that makes it possible to specify arbitrarily complex space-flight systems in an easy-tolearn, high-level programming language and to have the specification automatically translated into LibSim, which is a textbased computing language in which such simulations are implemented. LibSim is a very powerful simulation language, but learning it takes considerable time, and it requires that models of systems and their components be described at a very low level of abstraction. To construct a model in LibSim, it is necessary to go through a time-consuming process that includes modeling each subsystem, including defining its fault-injection states, input and output conditions, and the topology of its connections to other subsystems. Ripples makes it possible to describe the same models at a much higher level of abstraction, thereby enabling the user to build models faster and with fewer errors. Ripples can be executed in a variety of computers and operating systems, and can be supplied in either source code or binary form. It must be run in conjunction with a Lisp compiler.

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XML Flight/Ground Data Dictionary Management

A computer program generates Extensible Markup Language (XML) files that effect coupling between the command- and telemetry-handling software running aboard a spacecraft and the corresponding software running in ground support systems. The XML files are produced by use of information from the flight software and from flight-system engineering. The XML files are converted to legacy ground-system data formats for command and telemetry, transformed into Web-based and printed documentation, and used in developing new ground system data-handling software. Previously, the information about telemetry and command was scattered in various paper documents that were not synchronized. The process of searching and reading the documents was time-consuming and introduced errors. In contrast, the XML files contain all of the information in one place. XML structures can evolve in such a manner as to enable the addition, to the XML files, of the metadata necessary to track the changes and the associated documentation. The use of this software has reduced the extent of manual operations in developing a ground data system, thereby saving considerable time and removing errors that previously arose in the translation and transcription of software information from the flight to the ground system.

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JMS Proxy and C/C++ Client SDK

JMS Proxy and C/C++ Client SDK (“JMS” signifies “Java messaging service” and “SDK” signifies “software development kit”) is a software package for developing interfaces that enable legacy programs (here denoted “clients”) written in the C and C++ languages to communicate with each other via a JMS broker. This package consists of two main components: the JMS proxy server component and the client C library SDK component. The JMS proxy server component implements a native Java process that receives and responds to requests from clients. This component can run on any computer that supports Java and a JMS client. The client C library SDK component is used to develop a JMS client program running in each affected C or C++ environment, without need for running a Java virtual machine in the affected computer. A C client program developed by use of this SDK has most of the quality-of-service characteristics of standard Java-based client programs, including the following:

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Short-Term Forecasting of Radiation Belt and Ring Current

A computer program implements a mathematical model of the radiation-belt and ring-current plasmas resulting from interactions between the solar wind and the Earth’s magnetic field, for the purpose of predicting fluxes of energetic electrons (10 keV to 5 MeV) and protons (10 keV to 1 MeV), which are hazardous to humans and spacecraft. Given solar-wind and interplanetary- magnetic-field data as inputs, the program solves the convection-diffusion equations of plasma distribution functions in the range of 2 to 10 Earth radii. Phenomena represented in the model include particle drifts resulting from the gradient and curvature of the magnetic field; electric fields associated with the rotation of the Earth, convection, and temporal variation of the magnetic field; and losses along particle-drift paths. The model can readily accommodate new magnetic- and electric-field submodels and new information regarding physical processes that drive the radiation-belt and ring-current plasmas. Despite the complexity of the model, the program can be run in real time on ordinary computers. At present, the program can calculate present electron and proton fluxes; after further development, it should be able to predict the fluxes 24 hours in advance.

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