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

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
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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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Generating Scenarios When Data Are Missing

A computer program implements the algorithm described in “Hypothetical Scenario Generator for Fault-Tolerant Diagnosis” (NPO-42516), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 31, No. 6 (June 2007), page 71. To recapitulate: the Hypothetical Scenario Generator (HSG) is being developed in conjunction with other components of artificial-intelligence systems for automated diagnosis and prognosis of faults in spacecraft, aircraft, and other complex engineering systems. The HSG accepts, as input, possibly incomplete data on the current state of a system (see figure).

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Mathematical models, Artificial intelligence, Computer software and hardware, On-board diagnostics, On-board diagnostics (OBD)
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Automatic Command Sequence Generation

Automatic Sequence Generator (Autogen) Version 3.0 software automatically generates command sequences for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and several other JPL spacecraft operated by the multi-mission support team. Autogen uses standard JPL sequencing tools like APGEN, ASP, SEQGEN, and the DOM database to automate the generation of uplink command products, Spacecraft Command Message Format (SCMF) files, and the corresponding ground command products, DSN Keywords Files (DKF). Autogen supports all the major multimission mission phases including the cruise, aerobraking, mapping/science, and relay mission phases.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Computer software and hardware, Spacecraft
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Mission Simulation Toolkit

The Mission Simulation Toolkit (MST) is a flexible software system for autonomy research. It was developed as part of the Mission Simulation Facility (MSF) project that was started in 2001 to facilitate the development of autonomous planetary robotic missions. Autonomy is a key enabling factor for robotic exploration. There has been a large gap between autonomy software (at the research level), and software that is ready for insertion into near-term space missions. The MST bridges this gap by providing a simulation framework and a suite of tools for supporting research and maturation of autonomy.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Simulation and modeling, Robotics, Autonomous vehicles
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Model Checker for Java Programs

Java Pathfinder (JPF) is a verification and testing environment for Java that integrates model checking, program analysis, and testing. JPF consists of a custom-made Java Virtual Machine (JVM) that interprets bytecode, combined with a search interface to allow the complete behavior of a Java program to be analyzed, including interleavings of concurrent programs. JPF is implemented in Java, and its architecture is highly modular to support rapid prototyping of new features.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Computer software and hardware
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Parallel-Processing Software for Correlating Stereo Images

A computer program implements parallel-processing algorithms for correlating images of terrain acquired by stereoscopic pairs of digital stereo cameras on an exploratory robotic vehicle (e.g., a Mars rover). Such correlations are used to create three-dimensional computational models of the terrain for navigation. In this program, the scene viewed by the cameras is segmented into subimages. Each subimage is assigned to one of a number of central processing units (CPUs) operating simultaneously. Because each subimage is smaller than a full image, the correlation process takes less time than it would if full images were processed on one CPU. Segmentation and parallelization also make the process more robust in that the smaller subimages present fewer opportunities for a correlation algorithm to “get lost” and thereby fail to converge on a solution. The effectiveness of this program has been demonstrated on several parallel- processing computer systems. Whereas correlation processing of a typical stereoscopic pair of test images on a single CPU was found to take on the order of one hour, parallel processing of the same images on a 16-CPU cluster was found to take about 3 minutes. This program was written by Gerhard Klimeck, Robert Deen, Michael Mcauley, and Eric De Jong of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

This software is available for commercial licensing. Please contact Karina Edmonds of the California Institute of Technology at (626) 395-2322. Refer to NPO-30631.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Computer software and hardware, Imaging and visualization, Terrain, Robotics
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Parallel-Processing Software for Correlating Stereo Images

A computer program implements parallel-processing algorithms for correlating images of terrain acquired by stereoscopic pairs of digital stereo cameras on an exploratory robotic vehicle (e.g., a Mars rover). Such correlations are used to create three-dimensional computational models of the terrain for navigation. In this program, the scene viewed by the cameras is segmented into subimages. Each subimage is assigned to one of a number of central processing units (CPUs) operating simultaneously. Because each subimage is smaller than a full image, the correlation process takes less time than it would if full images were processed on one CPU. Segmentation and parallelization also make the process more robust in that the smaller subimages present fewer opportunities for a correlation algorithm to “get lost” and thereby fail to converge on a solution. The effectiveness of this program has been demonstrated on several parallel- processing computer systems. Whereas correlation processing of a typical stereoscopic pair of test images on a single CPU was found to take on the order of one hour, parallel processing of the same images on a 16-CPU cluster was found to take about 3 minutes.

This program was written by Gerhard Klimeck, Robert Deen, Michael Mcauley, and Eric De Jong of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

This software is available for commercial licensing. Please contact Karina Edmonds of the California Institute of Technology at (626) 395-2322. Refer to NPO-30631.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Computer software and hardware, Imaging and visualization, Terrain, Robotics
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Web-Based Environment for Maintaining Legacy Software

“Advanced Tool Integration Environment” (“ATIE”) is the name of both a software system and a Web-based environment created by the system for maintaining an archive of legacy software and expertise involved in developing the legacy software. ATIE can also be used in modifying legacy software and developing new software. The information that can be encapsulated in ATIE includes experts’ documentation, input and output data of tests cases, source code, and compilation scripts. All of this information is available within a common environment and retained in a database for ease of access and recovery by use of powerful search engines. ATIE also accommodates the embedment of supporting software that users require for their work, and even enables access to supporting commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) software within the flow of the experts’ work.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Computer software and hardware
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Mapped Landmark Algorithm for Precision Landing

A report discusses a computer vision algorithm for position estimation to enable precision landing during planetary descent. The Descent Image Motion Estimation System for the Mars Exploration Rovers has been used as a starting point for creating code for precision, terrain-relative navigation during planetary landing. The algorithm is designed to be general because it handles images taken at different scales and resolutions relative to the map, and can produce mapped landmark matches for any planetary terrain of sufficient texture. These matches provide a measurement of horizontal position relative to a known landing site specified on the surface map. Multiple mapped landmarks generated per image allow for automatic detection and elimination of bad matches. Attitude and position can be generated from each image; this image-based attitude measurement can be used by the onboard navigation filter to improve the attitude estimate, which will improve the position estimates.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Imaging and visualization, Entry, descent, and landing
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