Software

Rover Sequencing and Visualization Program

The Rover Sequencing and Visualization Program (RSVP) is the software tool for use in the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission for planning rover operations and generating command sequences for accomplishing those operations. RSVP combines three-dimensional (3D) visualization for immersive exploration of the operations area, stereoscopic image display for high-resolution examination of the downlinked imagery, and a sophisticated command-sequence editing tool for analysis and completion of the sequences. RSVP is linked with actual flight-code modules for operations rehearsal to provide feedback on the expected behavior of the rover prior to committing to a particular sequence. Playback tools allow for review of both rehearsed rover behavior and downlinked results of actual rover operations. These can be displayed simultaneously for comparison of rehearsed and actual activities for verification.

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Software Template for Instruction in Mathematics

Intelligent Math Tutor (IMT) is a software system that serves as a template for creating software for teaching mathematics. IMT can be easily connected to artificial-intelligence software and other analysis software through input and output of files. IMT provides an easy-to-use interface for generating courses that include tests that contain both multiplechoice and fill-in-the-blank questions, and enables tracking of test scores. IMT makes it easy to generate software for Web-based courses or to manufacture compact disks containing executable course software. IMT also can function as a Web-based application program, with features that run quickly on the Web, while retaining the intelligence of a high-level language application program with many graphics. IMT can be used to write application programs in text, graphics, and/or sound, so that the programs can be tailored to the needs of most handicapped persons. The course software generated by IMT follows a “back to basics” approach of teaching mathematics by inducing the student to apply creative mathematical techniques in the process of learning. Students are thereby made to discover mathematical fundamentals and thereby come to understand mathematics more deeply than they could through simple memorization.

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Support for User Interfaces for Distributed Systems

An extensible Java™ software framework supports the construction and operation of graphical user interfaces (GUIs) for distributed computing systems typified by ground control systems that send commands to, and receive telemetric data from, spacecraft. Heretofore, such GUIs have been custom built for each new system at considerable expense. In contrast, the present framework affords generic capabilities that can be shared by different distributed systems. Dynamic class loading, reflection, and other run-time capabilities of the Java language and JavaBeans component architecture enable the creation of a GUI for each new distributed computing system with a minimum of custom effort. By use of this framework, GUI components in control panels and menus can send commands to a particular distributed system with a minimum of system-specific code. The framework receives, decodes, processes, and displays telemetry data; custom telemetry data handling can be added for a particular system. The framework supports saving and later restoration of users’ configurations of control panels and telemetry displays with a minimum of effort in writing system-specific code. GUIs constructed within this framework can be deployed in any operating system with a Java runtime environment, without recompilation or code changes.

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Data-Driven Software Framework for Web-Based ISS Telescience

Software that enables authorized users to monitor and control scientific payloads aboard the International Space Station (ISS) from diverse terrestrial locations equipped with Internet connections is undergoing development. This software reflects a data-driven approach to distributed operations. A Web-based software framework leverages prior developments in Java and Extensible Markup Language (XML) to create portable code and portable data, to which one can gain access via Web-browser software on almost any common computer. Opensource software is used extensively to minimize cost; the framework also accommodates enterprise-class server software to satisfy needs for high performance and security. To accommodate the diversity of ISS experiments and users, the framework emphasizes openness and extensibility. Users can take advantage of available viewer software to create their own client programs according to their particular preferences, and can upload these programs for custom processing of data, generation of views, and planning of experiments. The same software system, possibly augmented with a subset of data and additional software tools, could be used for public outreach by enabling public users to replay telescience experiments, conduct their experiments with simulated payloads, and create their own client programs and other custom software.

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Software for Secondary-School Learning About Robotics

The ROVer Ranch is an interactive computer program designed to help secondary-school students learn about space-program robotics and related basic scientific concepts by involving the students in simplified design and programming tasks that exercise skills in mathematics and science. The tasks involve building simulated robots and then observing how they behave. The program furnishes (1) programming tools that a student can use to assemble and program a simulated robot and (2) a virtual three-dimensional mission simulator for testing the robot. First, the ROVer Ranch presents fundamental information about robotics, mission goals, and facts about the mission environment. On the basis of this information, and using the aforementioned tools, the student assembles a robot by selecting parts from such subsystems as propulsion, navigation, and scientific tools, the student builds a simulated robot to accomplish its mission. Once the robot is built, it is programmed and then placed in a three-dimensional simulated environment. Success or failure in the simulation depends on the planning and design of the robot. Data and results of the mission are available in a summary log once the mission is concluded.

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Fuzzy Logic Engine

The Fuzzy Logic Engine is a software package that enables users to embed fuzzy-logic modules into their application programs. Fuzzy logic is useful as a means of formulating human expert knowledge and translating it into software to solve problems. Fuzzy logic provides flexibility for modeling relationships between input and output information and is distinguished by its robustness with respect to noise and variations in system parameters. In addition, linguistic fuzzy sets and conditional statements allow systems to make decisions based on imprecise and incomplete information. The user of the Fuzzy Logic Engine need not be an expert in fuzzy logic: it suffices to have a basic understanding of how linguistic rules can be applied to the user's problem. The Fuzzy Logic Engine is divided into two modules: (1) a graphical-inter-face software tool for creating linguistic fuzzy sets and conditional statements and (2) a fuzzy-logic software library for embedding fuzzy processing capability into current application programs. The graphical-interface tool was developed using the Tcl/Tk programming language. The fuzzy-logic software library was written in the C programming language.

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Processing GPS Occultation Data To Characterize Atmosphere

GOAS [Global Positioning System (GPS) Occultation Analysis System] is a computer program that accepts signaloccultation data from GPS receivers aboard low-Earth-orbiting satellites and processes the data to characterize the terrestrial atmosphere and, in somewhat less comprehensive fashion, the ionosphere. GOAS is very robust and can be run in an unattended semi-operational processing mode. It features sophisticated retrieval algorithms that utilize the amplitudes and phases of the GPS signals. It incorporates a module that, using an assumed atmospheric refractivity profile, simulates the effects of the retrieval processing system, including the GPS receiver. GOAS utilizes the GIPSY software for precise determination of orbits as needed for calibration. The GOAS output for the Earth’s troposphere and mid-to-lower stratosphere consists of high-resolution (<1 km) profiles of density, temperature, pressure, atmospheric refractivity, bending angles of signals, and water-vapor content versus altitude from the Earth’s surface to an altitude of 30 km. The GOAS output for the ionosphere consists of electron-density profiles from an altitude of about 50 km to the altitude of a satellite, plus parameters related to the rapidly varying structure of the electron density, particularly in the E layer of the ionosphere.

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