Software

Architecture for Control of the K9 Rover

Software featuring a multilevel architecture is used to control the hardware on the K9 Rover, which is a mobile robot used in research on robots for scientific exploration and autonomous operation in general. The software consists of five types of modules: Device Drivers — These modules, at the lowest level of the architecture, directly control motors, cameras, data buses, and other hardware devices. Resource Managers — Each of these modules controls several device drivers. Resource managers can be commanded by either a remote operator or the pilot or conditional-executive modules described below. Behaviors and Data Processors — These modules perform computations for such functions as planning paths, avoiding obstacles, visual tracking, and stereoscopy. These modules can be commanded only by the pilot. Pilot — The pilot receives a possibly complex command from the remote operator or the conditional executive, then decomposes the command into (1) more-specific commands to the resource managers and (2) requests for information from the behaviors and data processors. Conditional Executive — This highest-level module interprets a command plan sent by the remote operator, determines whether resources required for execution of the plan are available, monitors execution, and, if necessary, selects an alternate branch of the plan.

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Satellite Image Mosaic Engine

A computer program automatically builds large, full-resolution mosaics of multispectral images of Earth landmasses from images acquired by Landsat 7, complete with matching of colors and blending between adjacent scenes. While the code has been used extensively for Landsat, it could also be used for other data sources. A single mosaic of as many as 8,000 scenes, represented by more than 5 terabytes of data and the largest set produced in this work, demonstrated what the code could do to provide global coverage. The program first statistically analyzes input images to determine areas of coverage and data-value distributions. It then transforms the input images from their original universal transverse Mercator coordinates to other geographical coordinates, with scaling. It applies a first-order polynomial brightness correction to each band in each scene. It uses a data-mask image for selecting data and blending of input scenes. Under control by a user, the program can be made to operate on small parts of the output image space, with check-point and restart capabilities. The program runs on SGI IRIX computers. It is capable of parallel processing using shared-memory code, large memories, and tens of central processing units. It can retrieve input data and store output data at locations remote from the processors on which it is executed.

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Utilizing AI in Temporal, Spatial, and Resource Scheduling

Aurora is a software system enabling the rapid, easy solution of complex scheduling problems involving spatial and temporal constraints among operations and scarce resources (such as equipment, workspace, and human experts). Although developed for use in the International Space Station Processing Facility, Aurora is flexible enough that it can be easily customized for application to other scheduling domains and adapted as the requirements change or become more precisely known over time. Aurora’s scheduling module utilizes artificial- intelligence (AI) techniques to make scheduling decisions on the basis of domain knowledge, including knowledge of constraints and their relative importance, interdependencies among operations, and possibly frequent changes in governing schedule requirements. Unlike many other scheduling software systems, Aurora focuses on resource requirements and temporal scheduling in combination. For example, Aurora can accommodate a domain requirement to schedule two subsequent operations to locations adjacent to a shared resource. The graphical interface allows the user to quickly visualize the schedule and perform changes reflecting additional knowledge or alterations in the situation. For example, the user might drag the activity corresponding to the start of operations to reflect a late delivery.

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Montage Version 3.0

The final version (3.0) of the Montage software has been released. To recapitulate from previous NASA Tech Briefs articles about Montage: This software generates custom, science-grade mosaics of astronomical images on demand from input files that comply with the Flexible Image Transport System (FITS) standard and contain image data registered on projections that comply with the World Coordinate System (WCS) standards. This software can be executed on singleprocessor computers, multi-processor computers, and such networks of geographically dispersed computers as the National Science Foundation’s TeraGrid or NASA’s Information Power Grid. The primary advantage of running Montage in a grid environment is that computations can be done on a remote supercomputer for efficiency. Multiple computers at different sites can be used for different parts of a computation — a significant advantage in cases of computations for large mosaics that demand more processor time than is available at any one site. Version 3.0 incorporates several improvements over prior versions. The most significant improvement is that this version is accessible to scientists located anywhere, through operational Web services that provide access to data from several large astronomical surveys and construct mosaics on either local workstations or remote computational grids as needed.

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Integrated System for Autonomous Science

The New Millennium Program Space Technology 6 Project Autonomous Sciencecraft software implements an integrated system for autonomous planning and execution of scientific, engineering, and spacecraft- coordination actions. A prior version of this software was reported in “The TechSat 21 Autonomous Sciencecraft Experiment” (NPO-30784), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 28, No. 3 (March 2004), page 33. This software is now in continuous use aboard the Earth Orbiter 1 (EO-1) spacecraft mission and is being adapted for use in the Mars Odyssey and Mars Exploration Rovers missions. This software enables EO-1 to detect and respond to such events of scientific interest as volcanic activity, flooding, and freezing and thawing of water. It uses classification algorithms to analyze imagery onboard to detect changes, including events of scientific interest. Detection of such events triggers acquisition of follow-up imagery. The mission-planning component of the software develops a response plan that accounts for visibility of targets and operational constraints. The plan is then executed under control by a task-execution component of the software that is capable of responding to anomalies.

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Estimating Total Electron Content Using 1,000+ GPS Receivers

A computer program uses data from more than 1,000 Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers in an Internetaccessible global network to generate daily estimates of the global distribution of vertical total electron content (VTEC) of the ionosphere. This program supersedes an older program capable of processing readings from only about 200 GPS receivers. This program downloads the data via the Internet, then processes the data in three stages. In the first stage, raw data from a global subnetwork of about 200 receivers are preprocessed, station by station, in a Kalman-filterbased least-squares estimation scheme that estimates satellite and receiver differential biases for these receivers and for satellites. In the second stage, an observation equation that incorporates the results from the first stage and the raw data from the remaining 800 receivers is solved to obtain the differential biases for these receivers. The only remaining error sources for which an account cannot be given are multipath and receiver noise contributions. The third stage is a postprocessing stage in which all the processed data are combined and used to generate new data products, including receiver differential biases and global and regional VTEC maps and animations.

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Ground Processing of Data From the Mars Exploration Rovers

A computer program implements the Earth side of the protocol that governs the transfer of data files generated by the Mars Exploration Rovers. It also provides tools for viewing data in these files and integrating data-product files into automated and manual processes. It reconstitutes files from telemetry data packets. Even if only one packet is received, metadata provide enough information to enable this program to identify and use partial data products. This software can generate commands to acknowledge received files and retransmit missed parts of files, or it can feed a manual process to make decisions about retransmission. The software uses an Extensible Markup Language (XML) data dictionary to provide a generic capability for displaying files of basic types, and uses external “plug-in” application programs to provide more sophisticated displays. This program makes data products available with very low latency, and can trigger automated actions when complete or partial products are received. The software is easy to install and use. The only system requirement for installing the software is a Java J2SE 1.4 platform. Several instances of the software can be executed simultaneously on the same machine.

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