Special Coverage

Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water
Computer Chips Calculate and Store in an Integrated Unit
Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing
Mechanoresponsive Healing Polymers
Variable Permeability Magnetometer Systems and Methods for Aerospace Applications
Evaluation Standard for Robotic Research
Small Robot Has Outstanding Vertical Agility
Smart Optical Material Characterization System and Method
Lightweight, Flexible Thermal Protection System for Fire Protection

Flyby Geometry Optimization Tool

The Flyby Geometry Optimization Tool is a computer program for computing trajectories and trajectory-altering impulsive maneuvers for spacecraft used in radio relay of scientific data to Earth from an exploratory airplane flying in the atmosphere of Mars. This program implements a genetic algorithm (GA) to choose trajectories to maximize the volume of data relayed via at least one of three spacecraft: a main spacecraft in a hyperbolic orbit and two alternate spacecraft in elliptical orbits about Mars. [The GA approach is ideal for this type of optimization problem, wherein discrete data-transmission rates lead to discontinuities in data-collection volumes that one seeks to maximize. Such discontinuities are typically problematic for other optimization methods — especially, gradient search methods.]

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Trajectory control, Mathematical models, Computer software and hardware, Spacecraft


WMAP C&DH Software

The command- and-data- handling (C&DH) software of the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) spacecraft functions as the sole interface between (1) the spacecraft and its instrument subsystem and (2) ground operations equipment. This software includes a command-decoding and -distribution system, a telemetry/ datahandling system, and a data-storage-and- playback system. This software performs onboard processing of attitude sensor data and generates commands for attitude-control actuators in a closed-loop fashion. It also processes stored commands and monitors health and safety functions for the spacecraft and its instrument subsystems. The basic functionality of this software is the same of that of the older C&DH software of the Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) spacecraft, the main difference being the addition of the attitude-control functionality. Previously, the C&DH and attitude-control computations were performed by different processors because a single RXTE processor did not have enough processing power. The WMAP spacecraft includes a more-powerful processor capable of performing both computations. This program was written by Alan Cudmore, Tim Leath, Art Ferrer, Todd Miller, Mark Walters, Bruce Savadkin, and Ji-Wei Wu of Goddard Space Flight Center; Steve Slegel of Daedalian Systems Corp.; and Emory Stagmer of Litton/PRC.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Attitude control, Computer software and hardware, Spacecraft guidance, Data management


Automated Diagnosis and Control of Complex Systems

  Artist’s conception of the New Milennium Deep Space One Probe.Livingstone2 is a reusable, artificial intelligence (AI) software system designed to assist spacecraft, life support systems, chemical plants, or other complex systems by operating with minimal human supervision, even in the face of hardware failures or unexpected events. The software diagnoses the current state of the spacecraft or other system, and recommends commands or repair actions that will allow the system to continue operation. Livingstone2 is an enhancement of the Livingstone diagnosis system that was flight-tested onboard the Deep Space One spacecraft in 1999 (see figure). This version tracks multiple diagnostic hypotheses, rather than just a single hypothesis as in the previous version. It is also able to revise diagnostic decisions made in the past when additional observations become available. In such cases, Livingstone might arrive at an incorrect hypothesis.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Artificial intelligence, Computer software and hardware, On-board diagnostics, On-board diagnostics (OBD), Spacecraft


Modular Filter and Source-Management Upgrade of RADAC

In an upgrade of the Range Data Acquisition Computer (RADAC) software, a modular software object library was developed to implement required functionality for filtering of flight-vehicle- tracking data and management of tracking-data sources. (The RADAC software is used to process flight-vehicle metric data for real-time display in the Wallops Flight Facility Range Control Center and Mobile Control Center. This software is part of the Range Control/Range Safety System used to contain impacts of debris from flightvehicle operations.) The library includes implementations of tracking-data-editing and -filtering techniques that can be readily found in the literature and was constructed to facilitate future incorporation of implementations of other, more-exotic filtering techniques. A pragmatic technique is used to maintain statistics on differences between measurements and estimates of positions in order to compute a figure of merit for each radar, Global- Positioning- System, or inertial-navigation-system source of tracking data. An automatic source-qualification technique is implemented to enable optional replacement of a preexisting manual data-qualification function. The library was written in the C++ language and was designed to be hosted within an application program running on virtually any computing platform. This program was written by R. James Lanzi and Donna C. Smith of Goddard Space Flight Center.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Computer software and hardware, Navigation and guidance systems


CASPER Version 2.0

The Continuous Activity Scheduling Planning Execution and Replanning (CASPER) computer program has been updated to version 2.0. A prototype version was reported in “Software for Continuous Replanning During Execution” (NPO-20972), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 26, No. 7 (April 2002), page 67. To recapitulate: CASPER is designed to perform automated planning of interdependent activities within a system subject to requirements, constraints, and limitations on resources.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Computer software and hardware, Logistics, Automation


ISPATOM: A Generic Real-Time Data Processing Tool Without Programming

Information Sharing Protocol Advanced Tool of Math (ISPATOM) is an application program allowing for the streamlined generation of “comps,” which subscribe to streams of incoming telemetry data, perform any necessary computations on the data, then send the data to other programs for display and/or further processing in NASA mission control centers (see figure). Heretofore, the development of comps was difficult, expensive, and time-consuming: Each comp was custom written manually, in a low-level computing language, by a programmer attempting to follow requirements of flight controllers.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Computer software and hardware, Data exchange, Telemetry, Data management


Program Management Tool

The Program Management Tool (PMT) is a comprehensive, Web-enabled business intelligence software tool for assisting program and project managers within NASA enterprises in gathering, comprehending, and disseminating information on the progress of their programs and projects. The PMT provides planning and management support for implementing NASA programmatic and project management processes and requirements. It provides an online environment for program and line management to develop, communicate, and manage their programs, projects, and tasks in a comprehensive tool suite. The information managed by use of the PMT can include monthly reports as well as data on goals, deliverables, milestones, business processes, personnel, task plans, monthly reports, and budgetary allocations.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Data exchange, Internet, Collaboration and partnering, Logistics


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