Software

Software for Collaborative Use of Large Interactive Displays

The MERBoard Collaborative Workspace, which is currently being deployed to support the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Missions, is the first instantiation of a new computing architecture designed to support collaborative and group computing using computing devices situated in NASA mission operations rooms. It is a software system for generation of large-screen interactive displays by multiple users. The architecture provides a platform and applications programming interface (API) for the development of collaborative applications for NASA mission operations. The standard deployment configuration provides an integrated whiteboard, Web browser, remote viewing and control for collaboration over distance, and personal and group storage spaces that provide ubiquitous access and sharing of data. Customization for specific domains is provided through plug-ins. For the MER mission, plug-ins include a flow-charting tool for strategic rover operations and mission planning, 3D visualization of the Martian terrain, a data navigator to navigate the mission database, and situational awareness tools. The MERBoard software is designed to run on large plasma displays with touch-screen overlays, thus providing an immersive and interactive environment for teams to view, annotate, and share data. The MERBoard overcomes the obstacles to communication, retention, and collaborative modification of information in diverse forms that can include text, data (including images) from scientific instruments, handwritten notes, hand drawings, and computer graphics. The MERBoard provides a unifying interface for the integration of heterogeneous applications, and provides those applications with a consistent model for saving and retrieving data. All applications may be viewed and controlled from any location that has a MERBoard. A personal client provides integration of a user’s personal computing environment with the MERBoard environment.

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Statistical Evaluation of Utilization of the ISS

PayLoad Utilization Modeler (PLUM) is a statistical-modeling computer program used to evaluate the effectiveness of utilization of the International Space Station (ISS) in terms of the number of research facilities that can be operated within a specified interval of time. PLUM is designed to balance the requirements of research facilities aboard the ISS against the resources available on the ISS. PLUM comprises three parts: an interface for the entry of data on constraints and on required and available resources, a database that stores these data as well as the program output, and a modeler. The modeler comprises two subparts: one that generates tens of thousands of random combinations of research facilities and another that calculates the usage of resources for each of those combinations. The results of these calculations are used to generate graphical and tabular reports to determine which facilities are most likely to be operable on the ISS, to identify which ISS resources are inadequate to satisfy the demands upon them, and to generate other data useful in allocation of and planning of resources.

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Shuttle Data Center File- Processing Tool in Java

A Java-language computer program has been written to facilitate mining of data in files in the Shuttle Data Center (SDC) archives. This program can be executed on a variety of workstations or via Web-browser programs. This program is partly similar to prior C-language programs used for the same purpose, while differing from those programs in that it exploits the platform neutrality of Java in implementing several features that are important for analysis of large sets of time-series data. The program supports regular expression queries of SDC archive files, reads the files, interleaves the time-stamped samples according to a chosen output, then transforms the results into that format. A user can choose among a variety of output file formats that are useful for diverse purposes, including plotting, Markov modeling, multivariate density estimation, and wavelet multiresolution analysis, as well as for playback of data in support of simulation and testing.

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X-Windows PVT Widget Class

The X-Windows Process Validation Table (PVT) Widget Class (“Class” is used here in the object oriented programming sense of the word) was devised to simplify the task of implementing network registration services for Information Sharing Protocol (ISP) graphical user interface (GUI) computer programs. Heretofore, ISP PVT programming tasks have required many method calls to identify, query, and interpret the connections and messages exchanged between a client and a PVT server. Normally, programmers have utilized direct access to UNIX socket libraries to implement the PVT protocol queries, necessitating the use of many lines of source code to perform frequent tasks. Now, the X-Windows PVT Widget Class encapsulates ISP client server network registration management tasks within the framework of an X Windows widget. Use of the widget framework enables an X Windows GUI program to interact with PVT services in an abstract way and in the same manner as that of other graphical widgets, making it easier to program PVT clients. Wrapping the PVT services inside the widget framework enables a programmer to treat a PVT server interface as though it were a GUI. Moreover, an alternate subclass could implement another service in a widget of the same type.

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Using Dissimilarity Metrics to Identify Interesting Designs

A computer program helps to blend the power of automated-search software, which is able to generate large numbers of design solutions, with the insight of expert designers, who are able to identify preferred designs but do not have time to examine all the solutions. From among the many automated solutions to a given design problem, the program selects a smaller number of solutions that are worthy of scrutiny by the experts in the sense that they are sufficiently dissimilar from each other. The program makes the selection in an interactive process that involves a sequence of datamining steps interspersed with visual displays of results of these steps to the experts. At crucial points between steps, the experts provide directives to guide the process. The program uses heuristic search techniques to identify nearly optimal design solutions and uses dissimilarity metrics defined by the experts to characterize the degree to which solutions are interestingly different. The search, data-mining, and visualization features of the program were derived from previously developed risk-management software used to support a risk-centric design methodology.

Posted in: Software, Briefs, TSP

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Coordinating an Autonomous Earth- Observing Sensorweb

A system of software has been developed to coordinate the operation of an autonomous Earth-observing sensorweb. Sensorwebs are collections of sensor units scattered over large regions to gather data on spatial and temporal patterns of physical, chemical, or biological phenomena in those regions. Each sensor unit is a node in a data-gathering/ data-communication network that spans a region of interest. In this case, the region is the entire Earth, and the sensorweb includes multiple terrestrial and spaceborne sensor units. In addition to acquiring data for scientific study, the sensorweb is required to give timely notice of volcanic eruptions, floods, and other hazardous natural events. In keeping with the inherently modular nature of the sensory, communication, and data-processing hardware, the software features a flexible, modular architecture that facilitates expansion of the network, customization of conditions that trigger alarms of hazardous natural events, and customization of responses to alarms. The software facilitates access to multiple sources of data on an event of scientific interest, enables coordinated use of multiple sensors in rapid reaction to detection of an event, and facilitates the tracking of spacecraft operations, including tracking of the acquisition, processing, and downlinking of requested data.

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Adding Hierarchical Objects to Relational Database General-Purpose XML-Based Information Managements

NETMARK is a flexible, high-throughput software system for managing, storing, and rapid searching of unstructured and semi-structured documents. NETMARK transforms such documents from their original highly complex, constantly changing, heterogeneous data formats into well structured, common data formats in using Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and/or Extensible Markup Language (XML). The software implements an object-relational database system that combines the best practices of the relational model utilizing Structured Query Language (SQL) with those of the object oriented, semantic database model for creating complex data. In particular, NETMARK takes advantage of the Oracle 8i object-relational database model using physical-address data types for very efficient keyword searches of records across both context and content. NETMARK also supports multiple international standards such as WEBDAV for drag-and-drop file management and SOAP for integrated information management using Web services. The document-organization and -searching capabilities afforded by NETMARK are likely to make this software attractive for use in disciplines as diverse as science, auditing, and law enforcement.

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