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

Analyzing Radio-Frequency Coverage for the ISS

The Interactive Coverage Analysis Tool (iCAT) is an interactive desktopcomputer program serving to (1) support planning of coverage, and management of usage of frequencies, of current and proposed radio communication systems on and near the International Space Station (ISS) and (2) enable definition of requirements for development of future such systems. The iCAT can also be used in design trade studies for other (both outerspace and terrestrial) communication systems.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Computer software and hardware, Radio equipment, Telecommunications systems
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Soft Real-Time PID Control on a VME Computer

microPID (μPID) is a computer program for real-time proportional + integral + derivative (PID) control of a translation stage in a Fourier-transform ultraviolet spectrometer. μPID implements a PID control loop over a position profile at sampling rate of 8 kHz (sampling period 125 μs). The software runs in a stripped-down Linux operating system on a VersaModule Eurocard (VME) computer operating in real-time priority queue using an embedded controller, a 16-bit digital-to-analog converter (D/A) board, and a laser-positioning board (LPB).

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Computer software and hardware
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Space-Shuttle Emulator Software

A package of software has been developed to execute a raw binary image of the space shuttle flight software for simulation of the computational effects of operation of space shuttle avionics. This software can be run on inexpensive computer workstations. Heretofore, it was necessary to use real flight computers to perform such tests and simulations.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Computer simulation, Avionics, Computer software and hardware, Spacecraft
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Robust, Flexible Motion Control for the Mars Explorer Rovers

The Mobility Flight Software, running on computers aboard the Mars Explorer Rover (MER) robotic vehicles Spirit and Opportunity, affords the robustness and flexibility of control to enable safe and effective operation of these vehicles in traversing natural terrain. It can make the vehicles perform specific maneuvers commanded from Earth, and/or can autonomously administer multiple aspects of mobility, including choice of motion, measurement of actual motion, and even selection of targets to be approached. Motion of a vehicle can be commanded by use of multiple layers of control, ranging from motor control at a low level, direct drive operations (e.g., motion along a circular arc, motion along a straight line, or turn in place) at an intermediate level to goal-position driving (that is, driving to a specified location) at a high level.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Steer-by-wire, Computer software and hardware, Autonomous vehicles, Spacecraft
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Improved Path Planning Onboard the Mars Exploration Rovers

A revised version of the AutoNav (autonomous navigation with hazard avoidance) software running onboard each Mars Exploration Rover (MER) affords better obstacle avoidance than does the previous version. Both versions include GESTALT (Grid-based Estimation of Surface Traversability Applied to Local Terrain), a navigation program that generates local-terrain models from stereoscopic image pairs captured by onboard rover cameras; uses this information to evaluate candidate arcs that extend across the terrain from the current rover location; ranks the arcs with respect to hazard avoidance, minimization of steering time, and the direction towards the goal; and combines the rankings in a weighted vote to select an arc, along which the rover is then driven.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Computer software and hardware, Navigation and guidance systems, Autonomous vehicles, Spacecraft
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Inertial Measurements for Aero-assisted Navigation (IMAN)

IMAN is a Python tool that provides inertial sensor-based estimates of spacecraft trajectories within an atmospheric influence. It provides Kalman filterderived spacecraft state estimates based upon data collected onboard, and is shown to perform at a level comparable to the conventional methods of spacecraft navigation in terms of accuracy and at a higher level with regard to the availability of results immediately after completion of an atmospheric drag pass. A benefit of this architecture is that this technology is conducive to onboard data processing and estimation and thus can compute near realtime spacecraft state estimates making it suitable for autonomous operations and/or closed-loop guidance, navigation, and control strategies.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Architecture, Spacecraft guidance
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Solar Sail Spaceflight Simulation

The Solar Sail Spaceflight Simulation Software (S5) toolkit provides solar-sail designers with an integrated environment for designing optimal solar-sail trajectories, and then studying the attitude dynamics/ control, navigation, and trajectory control/ correction of sails during realistic mission simulations. Unique features include a high-fidelity solar radiation pressure model suitable for arbitrarily-shaped solar sails, a solarsail trajectory optimizer, capability to develop solar-sail navigation filter simulations, solar-sail attitude control models, and solar-sail high-fidelity force models.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Computer simulation, Computer software and hardware, Solar energy, Spacecraft
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Deep Space Network Antenna Logic Controller

The Antenna Logic Controller (ALC) software controls and monitors the motion control equipment of the 4,000- metric-ton structure of the Deep Space Network 70-meter antenna. This program coordinates the control of 42 hydraulic pumps, while monitoring several interlocks for personnel and equipment safety. Remote operation of the ALC runs via the Antenna Monitor & Control (AMC) computer, which orchestrates the tracking functions of the entire antenna.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Antennas, Computer software and hardware, Electronic control systems
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Modeling Magnetic Properties in EZTB

A software module that calculates magnetic properties of a semiconducting material has been written for incorporation into, and execution within, the Easy (Modular) Tight-Binding (EZTB) software infrastructure. [EZTB is designed to model the electronic structures of semiconductor devices ranging from bulk semiconductors, to quantum wells, quantum wires, and quantum dots. EZTB implements an empirical tight-binding mathematical model of the underlying physics.]

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Mathematical models, Computer software and hardware, Conductivity, Semiconductors
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Modeling Carbon and Hydrocarbon Molecular Structures in EZTB

A software module that models the electronic and mechanical aspects of hydrocarbon molecules and carbon molecular structures on the basis of first principles has been written for incorporation into, and execution within, the Easy (Modular) Tight-Binding (EZTB) software infrastructure, which is summarized briefly in the immediately preceding article. Of particular interest, this module can model carbon crystals and nanotubes characterized by various coordinates and containing defects, without need to adjust parameters of the physical model.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Simulation and modeling, Computer software and hardware, Hydrocarbons, Nanomaterials
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