Tech Briefs

Representation-Independent Iteration of Sparse Data Arrays

An approach is defined that describes a method of iterating over massively large arrays containing sparse data using an approach that is implementation independent of how the contents of the sparse arrays are laid out in memory. What is unique and important here is the decoupling of the iteration over the sparse set of array elements from how they are internally represented in memory. This enables this approach to be backward compatible with existing schemes for representing sparse arrays as well as new approaches. What is novel here is a new approach for efficiently iterating over sparse arrays that is independent of the underlying memory layout representation of the array. A functional interface is defined for implementing sparse arrays in any modern programming language with a particular focus for the Chapel programming language. Examples are provided that show the translation of a loop that computes a matrix vector product into this representation for both the distributed and not-distributed cases. This work is directly applicable to NASA and its High Productivity Computing Systems (HPCS) program that JPL and our current program are engaged in. The goal of this program is to create powerful, scalable, and economically viable high-powered computer systems suitable for use in national security and industry by 2010. This is important to NASA for its computationally intensive requirements for analyzing and understanding the volumes of science data from our returned missions.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Information Sciences, Computer software and hardware

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Mission Operations of the Mars Exploration Rovers

A document describes a system of processes involved in planning, commanding, and monitoring operations of the rovers Spirit and Opportunity of the Mars Exploration Rover mission. The system is designed to minimize command turnaround time, given that inherent uncertainties in terrain conditions and in successful completion of planned landed spacecraft motions preclude planning of some spacecraft activities until the results of prior activities are known by the ground-based operations team. The processes are partitioned into those (designated as tactical) that must be tied to the Martian clock and those (designated strategic) that can, without loss, be completed in a more leisurely fashion. The tactical processes include assessment of downlinked data, refinement and validation of activity plans, sequencing of commands, and integration and validation of sequences. Strategic processes include communications planning and generation of long-term activity plans. The primary benefit of this partition is to enable the tactical portion of the team to focus solely on tasks that contribute directly to meeting the deadlines for commanding the rover’s each sol (1 sol = 1 Martian day) — achieving a turnaround time of 18 hours or less, while facilitating strategic team interactions with other organizations that do not work on a Mars time schedule.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Information Sciences, Autonomous vehicles, Spacecraft

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More About Software for No-Loss Computing

A document presents some additional information on the subject matter of “Integrated Hardware and Software for No-Loss Computing” (NPO-42554), which appears elsewhere in this issue of NASA Tech Briefs. To recapitulate: The hardware and software designs of a developmental parallel computing system are integrated to effectuate a concept of noloss computing (NLC). The system is designed to reconfigure an application program such that it can be monitored in real time and further reconfigured to continue a computation in the event of failure of one of the computers. The design provides for (1) a distributed class of NLC computation agents, denoted introspection agents, that effects hierarchical detection of anomalies; (2) enhancement of the compiler of the parallel computing system to cause generation of state vectors that can be used to continue a computation in the event of a failure; and (3) activation of a recovery component when an anomaly is detected.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Information Sciences, Computer software and hardware

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Instrumented Spindle Improves Manufacturing of Optical Materials

Sensors and data acquisition system provide real-time visibility of grinding system operation. High-performance materials such as ceramics, optics, and alloy steels are manufactured using abrasive grinding technology. Until now, the grinding wheel and process conditions have been difficult to measure in production.

Posted in: Briefs, ptb catchall, Tech Briefs, Photonics, Optics, Manufacturing processes, Ceramics, Steel

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Flexible Laser Design Targets Low-Volume Material Processing Needs

A flexible approach to diode-pumped laser design combines customized performance with costeffective manufacturing. Q-switched, diode-pumped solid-state lasers with an end-pumped cavity design are now widely used in micromachining, materials processing, marking, and related applications. They are used to process a broad range of materials including metals, glass, plastics, and semiconductors. But this application diversity creates a concomitant need for laser diversity. Namely, while each application requires superior reliability and performance, the definition of “superior performance” is very application-specific. For example, some metal ablation applications may benefit from a long laser pulse, whereas semiconductor scribing needs a short pulse and a very high pulse repetition rate.

Posted in: Briefs, ptb catchall, Tech Briefs, Photonics, Lasers

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Aligning Optical Fibers by Means of Actuated MEMS Wedges

Wedges would be fabricated using gray-scale exposure of photoresist.Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) of a proposed type would be designed and fabricated to effect lateral and vertical alignment of optical fibers with respect to optical, electro-optical, optoelectronic, and/or photonic devices on integrated circuit chips and similar monolithic device structures. A MEMS device of this type would consist of a pair of oppositely sloped alignment wedges attached to linear actuators that would translate the wedges in the plane of a substrate, causing an optical fiber in contact with the sloping wedge surfaces to undergo various displacements parallel and perpendicular to the plane. In making it possible to accurately align optical fibers individually during the packaging stages of fabrication of the affected devices, this MEMS device would also make it possible to relax tolerances in other stages of fabrication, thereby potentially reducing costs and increasing yields.

Posted in: Briefs, ptb catchall, Tech Briefs, Photonics, Fiber optics, Integrated circuits, Microelectromechanical devices, Fabrication

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Optical Characterization of Molecular Contaminant Films

A theoretical model is correlated with measured spectral transmittances and VUV exposures of spacecraft optics. A semi-empirical method of optical characterization of thin contaminant films on surfaces of optical components has been conceived. The method was originally intended for application to films that become photochemically deposited on such optical components as science windows, lenses, prisms, thinfilm radiators, and glass solar-cell covers aboard spacecraft and satellites in orbit. The method should also be applicable, with suitable modifications, to thin optical films (whether deposited deliberately or formed as contaminants) on optical components used on Earth in the computer microchip laser communications and thin-film industries.

Posted in: Briefs, ptb catchall, Tech Briefs, Photonics, Optics, Coatings, colorants, and finishes

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