Software

Robust Control for the Mercury Laser Altimeter

Mercury Laser Altimeter Science Algorithms is a software system for controlling the laser altimeter aboard the Messenger spacecraft, which is to enter into orbit about Mercury in 2011. The software will control the altimeter by dynamically modifying hardware inputs for gain, threshold, channel- disable flags, range- window start location, and range- window width, by using ranging information provided by the spacecraft and noise counts from instrument hardware. In addition, because of severe bandwidth restrictions, the software also selects returns for downlink. To reduce mission risk, the software incorporates three different modes of operation. The three modes are denoted as fixed, range-driven, and closedloop (or adaptive). The fixed mode provides fixed hardware inputs for all but the threshold. The range-driven mode receives and utilizes ranging information from the spacecraft regarding its slant range to the planet or asteroid. The adaptive mode is capable of improving upon the ranging information provided by the spacecraft by use of a closed-loop range-estimation algorithm. The software is sufficiently robust that it could be used on other missions, and in fact, this has already been proposed.

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JavaGenes Molecular Evolution

JavaGenes is a general-purpose, evolutionary software system written in Java. It implements several versions of a genetic algorithm, simulated annealing, stochastic hill climbing, and other search techniques. This software has been used to evolve molecules, atomic force field parameters, digital circuits, Earth Observing Satellite schedules, and antennas. This version differs from version 0.7.28 in that it includes the molecule evolution code and other improvements. Except for the antenna code, JaveGenes is available for NASA Open Source distribution.

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World Wind 3D Earth Viewing

World Wind allows users to zoom from satellite altitude down to any place on Earth, leveraging high-resolution LandSat imagery and SRTM (Shuttle Radar Topography Mission) elevation data to experience Earth in visually rich 3D. In addition to Earth, World Wind can also visualize other planets, and there are already comprehensive data sets for Mars and the Earth’s moon, which are as easily accessible as those of Earth.

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Ground-Based Correction of Remote-Sensing Spectral Imagery

Software has been developed for an improved method of correcting for the atmospheric optical effects (primarily, effects of aerosols and water vapor) in spectral images of the surface of the Earth acquired by airborne and spaceborne remote-sensing instruments. In this method, the variables needed for the corrections are extracted from the readings of a radiometer located on the ground in the vicinity of the scene of interest. The software includes algorithms that analyze measurement data acquired from a shadow-band radiometer. These algorithms are based on a prior radiation transport software model, called MODTRAN™, that has been developed through several versions up to what are now known as MODTRAN4™ and MODTRAN5™. These components have been integrated with a user-friendly Interactive Data Language (IDL) front end and an advanced version of MODTRAN4™. Software tools for handling general data formats, performing a Langleytype calibration, and generating an output file of retrieved atmospheric parameters for use in another atmospheric- correction computer program known as “FLAASH” have also been incorporated into the present software. Concomitantly with the software described thus far, there has been developed a version of FLAASH that utilizes the retrieved atmospheric parameters to process spectral image data.

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Pointing History Engine for the Spitzer Space Telescope

The Pointing History Engine (PHE) is a computer program that provides mathematical transformations needed to reconstruct, from downlinked telemetry data, the attitude of the Spitzer Space Telescope (formerly known as the Space Infrared Telescope Facility) as a function of time. The PHE also serves as an example for development of similar pointing reconstruction software for future space telescopes. The transformations implemented in the PHE take account of the unique geometry of the Spitzer telescope-pointing chain, including all data on relative alignments of components, and all information available from attitude-determination instruments. The PHE makes it possible to coordinate attitude data with observational data acquired at the same time, so that any observed astronomical object can be located for future reference and re-observation. The PHE is implemented as a subroutine used in conjunction with telemetry-formatting services of the Mission Image Processing Laboratory of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to generate the Boresight Pointing History File (BPHF). The BPHF is an archival database designed to serve as Spitzer’s primary astronomical reference documenting where the telescope was pointed at any time during its mission.

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State-Chart Autocoder

A computer program translates Unified Modeling Language (UML) representations of state charts into source code in the C, C++, and Python computing languages. (“State charts” signifies graphical descriptions of states and state transitions of a spacecraft or other complex system.) The UML representations constituting the input to this program are generated by using a UML-compliant graphical design program to draw the state charts. The generated source code is consistent with the “quantum programming” approach, which is so named because it involves discrete states and state transitions that have features in common with states and state transitions in quantum mechanics. Quantum programming enables efficient implementation of state charts, suitable for real-time embedded flight software. In addition to source code, the autocoder program generates a graphical- user-interface (GUI) program that, in turn, generates a display of state transitions in response to events triggered by the user. The GUI program is wrapped around, and can be used to exercise the state-chart behavior of, the generated source code. Once the expected state-chart behavior is confirmed, the generated source code can be augmented with a software interface to the rest of the software with which the source code is required to interact.

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Reducing a Knowledge-Base Search Space When Data Are Missing

This software addresses the problem of how to efficiently execute a knowledge base in the presence of missing data. Computationally, this is an exponentially expensive operation that without heuristics generates a search space of 1 + 2n possible scenarios, where n is the number of rules in the knowledge base. Even for a knowledge base of the most modest size, say 16 rules, it would produce 65,537 possible scenarios. The purpose of this software is to reduce the complexity of this operation to a more manageable size. The problem that this system solves is to develop an automated approach that can reason in the presence of missing data. This is a meta-reasoning capability that repeatedly calls a diagnostic engine/model to provide prognoses and prognosis tracking. In the big picture, the scenario generator takes as its input the current state of a system, including probabilistic information from Data Forecasting. Using model-based reasoning techniques, it returns an ordered list of fault scenarios that could be generated from the current state, i.e., the plausible future failure modes of the system as it presently stands. The scenario generator models a Potential Fault Scenario (PFS) as a black box, the input of which is a set of states tagged with priorities and the output of which is one or more potential fault scenarios tagged by a confidence factor. The results from the system are used by a model-based diagnostician to predict the future health of the monitored system.

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