Special Coverage

Lightweight Internal Device to Measure Tension in Hollow- Braided Cordage
System, Apparatus, and Method for Pedal Control
Dust Tolerant Connectors
Foldable and Deployable Power Collection System
Iodine-Compatible Hall Effect Thruster
Development of a Novel Electrospinning System with Automated Positioning and Control Software
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Mission Scenario Development Workbench

The Mission Scenario Development Workbench (MSDW) is a multidisciplinary performance analysis software tool for planning and optimizing space missions. It provides a number of new capabilities that are particularly useful for planning the surface activities on other planets. MSDW enables rapid planning of a space mission and supports flight-system and scientific- instrumentation trades. It also provides an estimate of the ability of flight, ground, and science systems to meet high-level mission goals and provides means of evaluating expected mission performance at an early stage of planning in the project life cycle. In MSDW, activity plans and equipment-list spreadsheets are integrated with validated parameterized simulation models of spacecraft systems. In contrast to traditional approaches involving worst-case estimates with large margins, the approach embodied in MSDW affords more flexibility and more credible results early in the lifecycle through the use of validated, variable-fidelity models of spacecraft systems. MSDW is expected to help maximize the scientific return on investment for space missions by understanding early the performance required to have a successful mission while reducing the risk of costly design changes made at late stages in the project life cycle.

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Marsviewer

Marsviewer is a multi-platform application designed to aid in quality control, browsing, and analysis of original science product images (Experiment Data Records, or EDRs) and derived image data products (Reduced Data Records, or RDRs) returned by the Mars Explorer Rover (MER) mission. Marsviewer offers an abstraction of the products’ organization via a “file finder.” For example, the application “understands” the file structure and filename conventions of the MER Operational Storage Server, helping the user to navigate this complex file system to find desired images. Marsviewer also works with a flat file system, remote-operations file systems, image-archive file systems, and others. All EDRs found for a given solar day (Sol) are displayed in a list, optionally with thumbnail images. Once the user selects an image from the list, a tabbed pane conveniently displays the original source image and all associated RDRs. Marsviewer provides the option of overlaying derived images upon the source image, resulting in an easier-to-interpret color representation of the data. Display manipulations such as zoom, data range adjustment, contrast enhancement, and contour control are available. Image metadata (labels) from the current image can be displayed and searched. The architecture of the program is extensible: new types of RDRs can be installed and new file finders can be added to adapt the program to different file structures and different filename conventions. This keeps the application flexible and provides an opportunity for reuse with future rover missions.

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Tool for Analysis and Reduction of Scientific Data

The Automated Virtual Laboratory Tool (AVLT) is designed to be an intelligent scientific analysis assistant (SAA) system, dedicated to facilitating analysis and reduction of data collected by spaceborne scientific instruments. Within the SAA, a variety of conventional and artificial-intelligence software tools are integrated into a uniform system architecture. The AVLT interfaces with the user through a sophisticated graphical user interface that is part of the SAA environment. Functions of the AVLT include the following:

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ASPEN Version 3.0

The Automated Scheduling and Planning Environment (ASPEN) computer program has been updated to version 3.0. ASPEN as a whole (up to version 2.0) has been summarized, and selected aspects of ASPEN have been discussed in several previous NASA Tech Briefs articles. Restated briefly, ASPEN is a modular, reconfigurable, application software framework for solving batch problems that involve reasoning about time, activities, states, and resources. Applications of ASPEN can include planning spacecraft missions, scheduling of personnel, and managing supply chains, inventories, and production lines. ASPEN 3.0 can be customized for a wide range of applications and for a variety of computing environments that include various central processing units and random-access memories. Domain-specific reasoning modules (e.g., modules for determining orbits for spacecraft) can easily be plugged into ASPEN 3.0. Improvements over other, similar software that have been incorporated into ASPEN 3.0 include a provision for more expressive time-line values, new parsing capabilities afforded by an ASPEN language based on Extensible Markup Language, improved search capabilities, and improved interfaces to other, utility-type software (notably including MATLAB).

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Secure Display of Space-Exploration Images

Java EDR Display Interface (JEDI) is software for either local display or secure Internet distribution, to authorized clients, of image data acquired from cameras aboard spacecraft engaged in exploration of remote planets. (“EDR” signifies “experimental data record,” which, in effect, signifies image data.) Processed at NASA’s Multimission Image Processing Laboratory (MIPL), the data can be from either near-real-time processing streams or stored files. JEDI uses the Java Advanced Imaging application program interface, plus input/output packages that are parts of the Video Image Communication and Retrieval software of the MIPL, to display images. JEDI can be run as either a standalone application program or within a Web browser as a servlet with an applet front end. In either operating mode, JEDI communicates using the HTTP(s) protocol( s). In the Web-browser case, the user must provide a password to gain access. For each user and/or image data type, there is a configuration file, called a “personality file,” containing parameters that control the layout of the displays and the information to be included in them. Once JEDI has accepted the user’s password, it processes the requested EDR (provided that user is authorized to receive the specific EDR) to create a display according to the user’s personality file.

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Multiphysics Modeling Helps SONAR “Listen” to Material

Researchers use mathematical models in studying how low-frequency echoes can determine what an object is made of. SONAR (SOund NAvigation Ranging) has been in use for decades to detect submerged objects, but researchers are finding how to extract new information from its echoes. With the help of multiphysics modeling software, a group of researchers at the NATO Undersea Research Centre in La Spezia, Italy, are studying how lowfrequency echoes can determine what an object is made of.

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Rotating-Pump Design Code

Pump Design (PUMPDES) is a computer program for designing a rotating pump for liquid hydrogen, liquid oxygen, liquid nitrogen, water, methane, or ethane. Using realistic properties of these fluids provided by another program called “GASPAK,” this code performs a station-by-station, mean-line analysis along the pump flow path, obtaining thermodynamic properties of the pumped fluid at each station and evaluating hydraulic losses along the flow path. The variables at each station are obtained under constraints that are consistent with the underlying physical principles. The code evaluates the performance of each stage and the overall pump. In addition, by judiciously choosing the givens and the unknowns, the code can perform a geometric inverse design function: that is, it can compute a pump geometry that yields a closest approximation of given design point. The code contains two major parts: one for an axial-rotor/inducer and one for a multistage centrifugal pump. The inducer and the centrifugal pump are functionally integrated. The code can be used in designing and/or evaluating the inducer/centrifugal-pump combination or the centrifugal pump alone. The code is written in standard Fortran 77.

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