Tech Briefs

Software for Refining or Coarsening Computational Grids

A computer program performs calculations for refinement or coar- sening of computational grids of the type called “structured” (signifying that they are geo- metrically regular and/or are specified by relatively simple algebraic expressions). This program is designed to facilitate analysis of the numerical effects of changing structured grids utilized in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software. Unlike prior grid-refinement and -coarsening programs, this program is not limited to doubling or halving: the user can specify any refinement or coarsening ratio, which can have a noninteger value. In addition to this ratio, the program accepts, as input, a grid file and the associated restart file, which is basically a file containing the most recent iteration of flow-field variables computed on the grid. The program then refines or coarsens the grid as specified, while maintaining the geometry and the stretching characteristics of the original grid. The program can interpolate from the input restart file to create a restart file for the refined or coarsened grid. The program provides a graphical user interface that facilitates the entry of input data for the gridgeneration and restart-interpolation routines.

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Software For Displaying Data From Planetary Rovers

Science Activity Planner (SAP) DownlinkBrowser is a computer program that assists in the visualization of processed telemetric data [principally images, image cubes (that is, multispectral images), and spectra] that have been transmitted to Earth from exploratory robotic vehicles (rovers) on remote planets. It is undergoing adaptation to (1) the Field Integrated Design and Operations (FIDO) rover (a prototype Mars-exploration rover operated on Earth as a test bed) and (2) the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission. This program has evolved from its predecessor — the Web Interface for Telescience (WITS) software — and surpasses WITS in the processing, organization, and plotting of data. SAP DownlinkBrowser creates Extensible Markup Language (XML) files that organize data files, on the basis of content, into a sortable, searchable product database, without the overhead of a relational database. The data-display components of SAP DownlinkBrowser (descriptively named ImageView, 3DView, OrbitalView, PanoramaView, ImageCubeView, and SpectrumView) are designed to run in a memory footprint of at least 256MB on computers that utilize the Windows, Linux, and Solaris operating systems.

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Fluorescent Quantum Dots for Biological Labeling

Fluorescence is effectively turned on by enzymes specific to cells of interest. Fluorescent semiconductor quantum dots that can serve as "on/off" labels for bacteria and other living cells are undergoing development. The "on/off" characterization of these quantum dots refers to the fact that, when properly designed and manufactured, they do not fluoresce until and unless they come into contact with viable cells of biological species that one seeks to detect. In comparison with prior fluorescence-based means of detecting biological species, fluorescent quantum dots show promise for greater speed, less complexity, greater sensitivity, and greater selectivity for species of interest. There are numerous potential applications in medicine, environmental monitoring, and detection of bioterrorism.

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Growing Three-Dimensional Corneal Tissue in a Bioreactor

This method could help overcome the shortage of donated corneal tissue. Spheroids of corneal tissue about 5 mm in diameter have been grown in a bioreactor from an in vitro culture of primary rabbit corneal cells to illustrate the production of optic cells from aggregates and tissue. In comparison with corneal tissues previously grown in vitro by other techniques, this tissue approximates intact corneal tissue more closely in both size and structure. This novel three-dimensional tissue can be used to model cell structures and functions in normal and abnormal corneas. Efforts continue to refine the present in vitro method into one for producing human corneal tissue to overcome the chronic shortage of donors for corneal transplants: The method would be used to prepare corneal tissues, either from in vitro cultures of a patient's own cells or from a well-defined culture from another human donor known to be healthy.

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Finite-Element Methods for Real-Time Simulation of Surgery

Some accuracy is traded for computational speed. Two finite-element methods have been developed for mathematical modeling of the time-dependent behaviors of deformable objects and, more specifically, the mechanical responses of soft tissues and organs in contact with surgical tools. These methods may afford the computational efficiency needed to satisfy the requirement to obtain computational results in real time for simulating surgical procedures as described in "Simulation System for Training in Laparoscopic Surgery" (NPO-21192) on page 31 in this issue of NASA Tech Briefs.

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Detecting Moving Targets by Use of Soliton Resonances

Faint targets moving uniformly would be distinguished from background clutter. A proposed method of detecting moving targets in scenes that include cluttered or noisy backgrounds is based on a soliton-resonance mathematical model. The model is derived from asymptotic solutions of the cubic Schroedinger equation for a one-dimensional system excited by a position-and-time- dependent externally applied potential. The cubic Schroedinger equation has general significance for time-dependent dispersive waves. It has been used to approximate several phenomena in classical as well as quantum physics, including modulated beams in nonlinear optics, and superfluids (in particular, Bose-Einstein condensates). In the proposed method, one would take advantage of resonant interactions between (1) a soliton excited by the position-and-time-dependent potential associated with a moving target and (2) "eigen-solitons," which represent dispersive waves and are solutions of the cubic Schroedinger equation for a time-independent potential.

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Multiaxial Temperature- and Time-Dependent Failure Model

This model should be applicable to a variety of materials. A temperature- and time-dependent mathematical model predicts the conditions for failure of a material subjected to multiaxial stress. The model was initially applied to a filled epoxy below its glass-transition temperature, and is expected to be applicable to other materials, at least below their glass-transition temperatures. The model is justified simply by the fact that it closely approximates the experimentally observed failure behavior of this material: The multiaxiality of the model has been confirmed (see figure) and the model has been shown to be applicable at temperatures from —20 to 115 °F (–29 to 46 °C) and to predict tensile failures of constant-load and constant-load-rate specimens with failure times ranging from minutes to months.

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