Special Coverage

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
Mechanoresponsive Healing Polymers
Variable Permeability Magnetometer Systems and Methods for Aerospace Applications
Evaluation Standard for Robotic Research

Institutional Budgeting Tool (IBT)

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Institutional Budgeting Tool (IBT) was designed and developed to meet the needs of JPL's budget planners, numbering 1,600, who required a robust and state-of-the-art budgeting application. JPL's budgeting process had been constrained by legacy tools that presented usability and performance issues and lacked critical innovative budgeting features. IBT delivered superior user experience, system performance, and modern features necessary for essential laboratory budgeting.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Information Sciences, Software, Computer software and hardware, Financial management

Tubes Standards-Compliant C Header Library

Due to limitations imposed by transistor physics as device geometries continue to get finer and finer, the time when each new generation of processors was clocked faster than its predecessors is largely over. Nevertheless, as individual processor cores get smaller, chip manufacturers have turned instead to cramming a large number of cores onto a single die. Consequently, nearly all commercially available CPUs (central processing units), even those used in smartphones, already depend upon a multicore architecture. Unfortunately, the programming languages used for nearly all commercial software projects are really intended for generating code for a single CPU core. Though extensions exist that support multiple cores, it is something that is essentially tacked on, not part of the core language's constructs.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Information Sciences, Software, Architecture, Computer software and hardware, Transistors, Terminology

Techniques for Conducting Effective Concept Design and Design-to-Cost Trade Studies

Concept design plays a central role in project success for space missions, as the product of concept design effectively locks in the majority of system lifecycle cost. It involves a concurrent investigation of requirements and multiple mission characteristics such as flight dynamics, design, performance, concept of operations, technology, verification approach, launch and ground interfaces, cost, schedule, and risk.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Information Sciences, Software, Life cycle analysis, Cost analysis, Systems engineering

HyDE Model-Based Diagnosis Engine for Stochastic Hybrid Systems

Model-based diagnosis deals with the problem of diagnosing faults in systems using a model of the system for guidance. This problem is complicated by the presence of hybrid dynamics in the system (continuous evolution of the system interspersed with discrete events like commands to change configuration), as well as uncertainties in the form of model approximations and sensor noise. Several model-based technologies have been developed and successfully demonstrated using discrete abstractions of the system as models. These techniques are severely restricted in model expressiveness due to the discrete nature of the models. Moreover, sophisticated model abstraction techniques, as well as algorithms to convert continuous data to discrete form, need to be developed for such an approach to work. Recently, there have been efforts to develop diagnostic engines for hybrid and stochastic systems. However, these techniques have either focused on parametric faults, or use a probabilistic approach to fault identification. Consistency-based approaches that have been successfully demonstrated using discrete models have not been extended to work with stochastic and hybrid models.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Information Sciences, Software, Computer simulation, Failure analysis, Scale models, Diagnostics

Lunar Thin Section Particle Identification and Analysis Algorithm

Particle shape is a very important property in many fields of research, and with many practical, diverse, and commercially important applications including pharmaceuticals, civil engineering, metallurgy, health, and food processing. Many of the methods used to evaluate the shapes of solid particles employ a plane section through the particles. This mode may be termed Plane of Section. Plane of Section abstracts three-dimensional (3D) objects to two dimensions (2D).

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Information Sciences, Software, Mathematical models, Particulate matter (PM), Identification


Libibvpp provides a C++ wrapper API to the libibverbs library. Libibverbs is the OpenIB library that provides the Verbs API for programming Infiniband hardware. It is written in C and provides a C API. Because the API is in C, it is up to the library user to do explicit resource management for the objects created through the API.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Information Sciences, Software, Computer software and hardware, Data management, Terminology

Analytical Methodology to Predict the Radiometric Emissivity of a Parabolic Mesh Reflector

The demands for high-sensitivity and high-resolution radiometry have recently led the science community to examine the use of large deployable mesh reflectors, which have heretofore only been used in telecommunications applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Information Sciences, Software, Mathematical analysis, Telecommunications, Emissions, Radiation

Detection and Characterization of Recurring Slope Lineae

Recurring Slope Lineae (RSL) are low-albedo features that appear and disappear seasonally on Martian slopes. They provide distinct surface markers that are thought to result from the activity of subsurface water. Reliable characterizations of RSL activity are needed to test this hypothesis. RSL are of high scientific interest, and could inform future mission planning priorities beyond sample return.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Information Sciences, Software, Terrain, Water, Identification

Streams: A Hyper-Responsive Telemetry Interaction Tool on the Web

A new search database provides a hyper-responsive interface that allows operators to rapidly search for only the datapoints of interest.

JPL Operations Engineers (Operators) need to interact with their telemetry to assess the health of and successfully operate a spacecraft or rover. Operators must analyze the immediate data for health and understand the current state of these complex systems, but they also must be able to evaluate the long-term engineering data to identify trends and potential pitfalls that develop over time. Whether starting with long-term trends or short-term data, operators have large amounts of data and need a tool so that their expertise is spent analyzing the data and trends, rather than working to tease these trends from outdated toolsets not equipped to handle large data sets. Existing tools pre-compute either long-term trends or short-term plots, but further ad-hoc analysis is prohibitively difficult, can take many hours per query, and queries necessitate either special access or that the operator be on a specific network to access data and to correlate it to models.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Information Sciences, Software, Computer software and hardware, Internet, Telemetry, Data management

Auto-Coding Flight Software Hybrid Controllers Synthesized from Formal Specifications

The technique of synthesizing state-machine-based hybrid controller flight software (FSW) from formal specifications is demonstrated utilizing two simple controller examples (i.e. a simple thermostat and a simple autonomous vehicle). Formal requirements for these controllers are specified using linear temporal logic (LTL) expressions, expressions describing the system dynamics, and numerical bounds on the control inputs and disturbances (or constraints). A new interface between the Temporal Logic Planning (TuLiP) toolbox — a hybrid controller synthesis software — and the JPL Statechart Autocoder (SCA) — a tool for mapping UML Statecharts to implementation code — was developed. The interface is still under development, but has reached sufficient maturity for demonstration. Results from preliminary prototype demonstrations encourage further collaboration between JPL and Caltech to develop a new capability for synthesizing hybrid controllers to be implemented within JPL Flight Software.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Information Sciences, Software, Computer software and hardware, Flight control systems, Collaboration and partnering

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