Special Coverage

Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat
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

Rock Segmentation Through Edge Regrouping

Rockster is an algorithm that automatically identifies the locations and boundaries of rocks imaged by the rover hazard cameras (hazcams), navigation cameras (navcams), or panoramic cameras (pancams). The software uses edge detection and edge regrouping to identify closed contours that separate the rocks from the background (see figure). The algorithm has applications both in ground-based data analysis, for example, to examine large quantities of images returned by the Mars Exploration Rovers, and in onboard (on-rover) opportunistic science applications such as construction of rock maps during traverse, identification of unusual or otherwise high-value science targets that warrant additional investigation, and detection of certain types of geologic contact zones.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Terrain
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DSN Array Simulator

The DSN Array Simulator (wherein “DSN” signifies NASA’s Deep Space Network) is an updated version of software previously denoted the DSN Receive Array Technology Assessment Simulation. This software (see figure) is used for computational modeling of a proposed DSN facility comprising userdefined arrays of antennas and transmitting and receiving equipment for microwave communication with spacecraft on interplanetary missions. The simulation includes variations in spacecraft tracked and communication demand changes for up to several decades of future operation. Such modeling is performed to estimate facility performance, evaluate requirements that govern facility design, and evaluate proposed improvements in hardware and/or software.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Computer simulation, Antennas, Telecommunications, Antennas, Telecommunications, Spacecraft
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Estimating Software-Development Costs With Greater Accuracy

COCOMOST is a computer program for use in estimating software development costs. The goal in the development of COCOMOST was to increase estimation accuracy in three ways: (1) develop a set of sensitivity software tools that return not only estimates of costs but also the estimation error; (2) using the sensitivity software tools, precisely define the quantities of data needed to adequately tune cost estimation models; and (3) build a repository of software-cost-estimation information that NASA managers can retrieve to improve the estimates of costs of developing software for their project (see figure).

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Cost analysis, Product development
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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 / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Robotics, Autonomous vehicles, Spacecraft
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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 / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Satellites
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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 / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Test equipment and instrumentation, Test procedures
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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 / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Data acquisition and handling, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Data acquisition and handling, Satellites
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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, Data acquisition and handling, Telemetry, Autonomous vehicles, Spacecraft
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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, Data acquisition and handling, Telemetry, Autonomous vehicles, Spacecraft
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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 / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Data acquisition and handling, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Data acquisition and handling
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