Special Coverage

Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines
Vibration Tables Shake Up Aerospace and Car Testing
Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water
Computer Chips Calculate and Store in an Integrated Unit
Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing

Visual Target Tracking on the Mars Exploration Rovers

Functional Flow of VTT integrated into MER flight software. VTT module functions (square boxes) are additions to the existing MER flight software (circles).Visual target tracking (VTT) software has been incorporated into Release 9.2 of the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) flight software, now running aboard the rovers Spirit and Opportunity. In the VTT operation (see figure), the rover is driven in short steps between stops and, at each stop, still images are acquired by actively aimed navigation cameras (navcams) on a mast on the rover (see artistic rendition). The VTT software processes the digitized navcam images so as to track a target reliably and to make it possible to approach the target accurately to within a few centimeters over a 10-m traverse.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Computer software and hardware, Imaging and visualization, Robotics, Autonomous vehicles, Spacecraft

Parametric-Studies and Data-Plotting Modules for the SOAP

“Parametric Studies” and “Data Table Plot View” are the names of software modules in the Satellite Orbit Analysis Program (SOAP). Parametric Studies enables parameterization of as many as three satellite or ground-station attributes across a range of values and computes the average, minimum, and maximum of a specified metric, the revisit time, or 21 other functions at each point in the parameter space. This computation produces a one-, two-, or three dimensional table of data representing statistical results across the parameter space. Inasmuch as the output of a parametric study in three dimensions can be a very large data set, visualization is a paramount means of discovering trends in the data (see figure).

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Computer software and hardware, Imaging and visualization, Satellites

Testing of Error-Correcting Sparse Permutation Channel Codes

A computer program performs Monte Carlo direct numerical simulations for testing sparse permutation channel codes, which offer strong error-correction capabilities at high code rates and are considered especially suitable for storage of digital data in holographic and volume memories. A word in a code of this type is characterized by, among other things, a sparseness parameter (M) and a fixed number (K) of 1 or “on” bits in a channel block length of N (see figure).

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Computer simulation, Computer software and hardware, Test equipment and instrumentation, Test procedures

SPICE Module for the Satellite Orbit Analysis Program (SOAP)

A SPICE module for the Satellite Orbit Analysis Program (SOAP) precisely represents complex motion and maneuvers in an interactive, 3D animated environment with support for user-defined quantitative outputs. (“SPICE” stands for Spacecraft, Planet, Instrument, Camera-matrix, and Events). This module enables the SOAP software to exploit NASA mission ephemeris represented in the JPL Ancillary Information Facility (NAIF) SPICE formats. Ephemeris types supported include position, velocity, and orientation for spacecraft and planetary bodies including the Sun, planets, natural satellites, comets, and asteroids. Entire missions can now be imported into SOAP for 3D visualization, playback, and analysis.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Computer simulation, Computer software and hardware, Data acquisition and handling, Satellites

Enhanced Reporting of Mars Exploration Rover Telemetry

Figure 1. This top view of a METERS Auto-Generated Main Web Pageincludes a motion summary in plain textMars Exploration Rover Enhanced Telemetry Extraction and Reporting System (METERS) is software that generates a human-readable representation of the state of the mobility and arm-related systems of the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) vehicles on each Martian solar day (sol). Data are received from the MER spacecraft in multiple streams having various formats including text messages, sparsely-sampled engineering quantities, images, and individual motorcommand histories. Typically, only parts of this data generated on Mars are received the same day they were created, so the summary report tools have to work well even when data is missing. All information is grouped by type into easilybrowsable Web pages (see Figure 1).

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Data acquisition and handling, Telemetry, Autonomous vehicles, Spacecraft

Facilitating Analysis of Multiple Partial Data Streams

Robotic Operations Automation: Mechanisms, Imaging, Navigation report Generation (ROAMING) is a set of computer programs that facilitates and accelerates both tactical and strategic analysis of time-sampled data — especially the disparate and often incomplete streams of Mars Explorer Rover (MER) telemetry data described in the immediately preceding article. As used here, “tactical” refers to the activities over a relatively short time (one Martian day in the original MER application) and “strategic” refers to a longer time (the entire multi-year MER missions in the original application).

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Analysis methodologies, Data acquisition and handling, Telemetry, Autonomous vehicles, Spacecraft

Service-Oriented Architecture for NVO and TeraGrid Computing

The National Virtual Observatory (NVO) Extensible Secure Scalable Service Infrastructure (NESSSI) is a Web service architecture and software framework (see figure) that enables Web-based astronomical data publish - ing and processing on grid computers such as the National Science Foun - dation’s TeraGrid. Charac ter istics of this architecture include the following:

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Architecture, Computer software and hardware, Data acquisition and handling

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Wrapper Script

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on the launch padThe MRO OLVM wrapper script software allows Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) sequence and spacecraft engineers to rapidly simulate a spacecraft command product through a tool that simulates the onboard sequence management software (OLVM). This script parses sequence files to determine the appropriate time boundaries for the sequence, and constructs the script file to be executed by OLVM to span the entirety of the designated sequence. It then constructs script files to be executed by OLVM, constructs the appropriate file directories, populates these directories with needed input files, initiates OLVM to simulate the actual command product that will be sent to the spacecraft, and captures the results of the simulation run to an external file for later review. Additionally, the tool allows a user to manually construct the script, if desired, and then execute the script with a simple command line.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Computer simulation, Computer software and hardware, Spacecraft

Immersive Display System Enables Virtual Reality in NASA Lab

Immersive CAVE™ display system Mechdyne Corp. Marshalltown, IA 641-754-4649 www.mechdyne.com

Mechdyne Corporation has installed a CAVE™ display system in the Fossett Laboratory for Virtual Planetary Exploration at Washington University St. Louis (WUSTL). WUSTL is home to the Geosciences Node of the NASA Planetary Data System, with responsibility for managing data related to the study of surfaces and interiors of terrestrial planetary bodies. The Laboratory will provide 3D imaging capability for visualization of data collected by national and international space exploration programs, including the ongoing Mars Exploration Program.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Imaging, Software, Virtual reality, Displays

Tool Suite Enables Software Testing for Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle

LDRA tool suite LDRA San Bruno, CA 650-583-8880 www.ldra.com

Aimed at safely transferring astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS), the Moon, Mars, and other destinations beyond low-Earth orbit (LEO), the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) is a state-of-the-art human spaceflight system. Lockheed Martin Corporation has selected the LDRA tool suite for software verification and automated testing on the Orion CEV program, and to enable developers to achieve the stringent safety-critical standards required to ensure safe transfer of the astronauts. NASA has awarded Lockheed Martin a multimillion-dollar contract for Orion’s development.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Software, Computer software and hardware, Tools and equipment

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