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

Automatic Localization of MSL Rover Mosaics in HiRISE Imagery

Applications include localization of autonomous vehicles in GPS-denied environments for military applications.

Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) surface operations require precise and accurate knowledge of rover position. A key means of establishing/verifying position is to match ortho-rectified mosaics from the MSL onboard cameras to orbital data. Manual localization by matching mosaics to HiRISE imagery can be laborious and somewhat subjective. Ortho-rectified mosaics and orbital images differ dramatically in appearance, due to the extreme viewpoint change as well as occlusions (i.e. objects must be in line of sight) in the mosaics. A straightforward intensity-based matcher using correlation or local feature descriptors cannot cope with this difference. Instead, an information theoretic matcher was used that measures the mutual information between the mosaic and trial positions in the HiRISE imagery.

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

SAM/MSL Terrestrial Background Spectral Library

The SAM/MSL Terrestrial Background Spectral Library is one of the tools developed for identifying known terrestrial background for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) mission. The SAM instrument suite can detect trace elements in the ppb range and therefore requires a robust library and informational structure to aid it in identification of source origin. It is unique in that it is the first spectral library developed containing spectra of more than 800 gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS) files generated from analysis of actual rover materials. The terrestrial background library will help ensure that the spectral identifications remain accurate, and also determine whether the spectra arise from the Mars or Earth environment.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Software, Analysis methodologies, Computer software and hardware, Data management

Efficient Spectral Endmember Detection Onboard Spacecraft

Hyperspectral image analysis is useful for remote sensing or industrial applications, such as automated detection of manufacturing defects or food safety inspection.

Spaceflight and planetary exploration place severe constraints on the available bandwidth for downlinking large hyperspectral images. Communications with spacecraft often occur intermittently, so mission-relevant hyperspectral data must wait for analysis on the ground before it can inform spacecraft activity planning.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Software, Computer software and hardware, Imaging and visualization, Telecommunications, Spacecraft

Ray Tracing Model and Software for a Focused IR Lamp Heating System

This development assists in the design of an IR heat projection system consisting of halogen light bulbs and parabolic reflectors.

When the space shuttle’s external tank (ET) was being filled with the cryogenic fuel components LOX and LH2, moisture from the surrounding atmosphere could condense onto the ET’s sprayed-on foam insulation (SOFI). This condensation could drip onto components, such as the LOX feed line bellows, where it would freeze, forming a potentially dangerous ice block.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Software, Mathematical models, Computer software and hardware, Spacecraft fuel

Using the Web Sockets Full-Duplex Communication Channel to Display Real-Time Sensor Data via Standard Web Browser

Web Sockets is a network full-duplex communication channel that allows Javascript programs embedded in Web pages to establish connections to applications running on the server that provided the Web pages. Two-way communication is possible between the Javascript program and the server-based application. This allows the Javascript program to display real-time data received from the server on the Web page without the need for refreshing the page. The Web Sockets communication channel has been utilized to display real-time measurements and health information from temperature and pressure smart sensors that were developed as part of the Advanced Ground Systems Maintenance (AGSM) project. The embedded processor in the smart sensors serves Javascript-based Web pages that establish Web Sockets connections back to the sensors. This connection allows real-time updates to be displayed on the workstation using a standard Web browser.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Software, Communication protocols, Computer software and hardware, Sensors and actuators

Earth Now Mobile Phone App

A mobile device application created by NASA visualizes recent global climate data from Earth science satellites, including air temperature, sea surface salinity, carbon monoxide, ozone, and water vapor, as well as gravity and sea level variations. This app is an Open GL simple 3D object viewer for the Apple IOS and Android that leverages the “Eyes on the Earth” Earth science data processing pipeline to reformat the images into mobile phone compatibility.

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

PACIFIC: Process Algebra Capture of Intent from Information Content

Mixed-initiative teams of robots and humans working side-by-side in close proximity to each other need to be capable of reasoning about the actions and activities of each other within a mission context. This capability requires the robotic agents to have a sense of self, and their roles and responsibilities.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Software, Computer software and hardware, Human factors, Robotics

Analytical Expression of Elevation-Dependent Relative Air Mass for Atmospheric Extinction Simulations

This software enables one to calculate elevation-dependent relative air mass. When imaging a setting or rising Sun on the ground or from space, the shape and the intensity distribution of a captured image are affected by the following three factors: limb-darkening of the solar-disk, atmospheric extinction, and atmospheric refraction. This method is about the relative air mass needed in the estimation of atmospheric extinction.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Software, Mathematical analysis, Simulation and modeling, Computer software and hardware, Imaging and visualization

Quantification of Trace Chemicals Using the Vehicle Cabin Atmosphere Monitor

A software program analyzes data measured by the Vehicle Cabin Atmosphere Monitor (VCAM) and quantifies the concentrations of trace chemicals detected by VCAM. The software contains a unique way to quantify the signal measured by VCAM, to establish the concentration curve, and to decide which gain mode data to use for concentration estimation. It solves the problem of quantifying the concentration of trace chemicals in the International Space Station (ISS) internal air using the VCAM miniature gas-chromatograph/mass spectrometer instrument.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Software, Analysis methodologies, Computer software and hardware, Passenger compartments, Chemicals, Spacecraft

Improved Math Model for Multiphoto Measurement Systems

Enhanced bundle adjustment demonstrates improved reliability and accuracy with reduced total processor time.

The bundle adjustment, or more specifically, the colinearity math model it is based on, is undisputedly the most accurate method to perform 3D scene reconstruction from multiple images. It has been the gold standard since first developed in 1957–1959. The limitations of the method have motivated this investigation into how it could be improved.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Software, Mathematical models, Computer software and hardware, Imaging and visualization, Test equipment and instrumentation

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