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

Net Radiation and Evapotranspiration (Rn/ET) Download Product Tools and Interfaces

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

This toolset automates downloads of global, multi-year Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and related data necessary for performing net radiation and evapotranspiration (Rn/ET) modeling, and provides an application programming interface (API) for simple and reliable access of these data from Python or MATLAB applications. Several useful utilities for validating and curating/indexing the downloaded data are also included.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Computer software and hardware, Data acquisition and handling, Spectroscopy, Radiation
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Software Tools for Fault Management Technologies

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama

Several key areas of improvement in effect design, development, verification, and validation of fault management processes have been identified in NASA’s Fault Management Handbook. The majority of these guidelines are focused on making the modeling tools more user friendly and reducing the modeling cost and time, as well as enhancing the analytic capabilities.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Computer simulation, Failure analysis, Technical review
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Tool to Analyze a Leaking Source of Saturated Ammonia

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas

Containers of ammonia are used to supply cooling to different modules of the International Space Station. Each container has an attachment piece used to extract the ammonia. The attachment piece may allow ammonia to exit when not connected, and may also allow ammonia to exit to an outside area even when connected. The ammonia that has exited the container may accumulate in different compartments of the spacecraft. The ammonia is not desirable when accumulated in a compartment with a certain concentration.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Containers, Gases, Hazardous materials, Test equipment and instrumentation, Spacecraft
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Mixed-Integer Convex Programming Algorithm for Constrained Attitude Guidance

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

A general problem in spaceflight since its beginning is attitude guidance: how to turn a spacecraft — also called a slew — so as to point science instruments at their targets. The slew must be done while avoiding pointing sensitive science instruments (e.g., a camera) and attitude sensors (e.g., a star tracker) at bright objects in the sky (e.g., the Sun or the Moon).

Posted in: Briefs, Information Sciences, Sensors and actuators, Spacecraft guidance, Test equipment and instrumentation
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A Robust, Real-Time Collaboration Technology for Decision Support using Common Operating Picture (COP) Environments

This software provides remote geobrowser control for collaborative decision-making.

Stennis Space Center, Mississippi

StormCenter Communications, Inc. software takes advantage of cloud computing solutions to solve the growing need for real-time collaboration when accessing a Common Operating Picture (COP) from any device without having to give up all the vital tools and display functionality; all this is performed without disrupting current workflows. A COP is a platform shared by multiple stakeholders to provide a single, identical display of relevant operational information (i.e., mapping information, network operations and cyber security, sensors, weather, critical infrastructure) and tools to mark and manipulate the data. In the era of Big Data and the need for improved decision-making with the presence of multiple stakeholders across different disciplines, collaboration when using a COP is essential to success. This is especially important when dealing with decision-makers who are frequently non-data experts who need to take action immediately based on their situational awareness.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Information Sciences, Big data, Cloud computing, Collaboration and partnering
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Rigorous Antenna Noise Temperature Calculation Method for International Space Station Visiting Spacecraft

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas

The temperature of the orbiting space station’s Sun-facing side could be up to 250 °F (≈120 °C) and will be a significant antenna noise temperature contributor for visiting spacecraft communication and tracking systems during rendezvous. The conventional antenna noise temperature calculation does not take into account the space station reflection effects, and results in an underestimated antenna and system noise temperature. Thus, the visiting spacecraft communication and tracking system performance could be overestimated during rendezvous.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Electronics & Computers, Software, Antennas, Telecommunications, Thermodynamics, Noise, Spacecraft
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Recurring Anomaly Detection System (ReADS)

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California

NASA Engineering & Safety Center (NESC) subject matter experts analyze records in various International Space Station and shuttle databases to identify recurring anomalies. The key problems these experts face in analyzing such database records are:

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Electronics & Computers, Software, Analysis methodologies, Data acquisition and handling, Spacecraft
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Method for Automatic Optimization of Yaw Maneuvers for Orbiting Space Vehicles

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas

A new method for optimizing yaw attitude maneuvers on the International Space Station (ISS) was developed. Docking and undocking operations often require 180° yaw rotations, which are the most common large maneuvers on the ISS. When optimized, some large maneuvers, previously performed using thrusters, could be performed using control moment gyroscopes (CMGs) or with significantly reduced thruster firings. The ability to perform a non-propulsive or low-propulsive 180° yaw maneuver on the ISS has been proven through the zero propellant maneuver (ZPM) and the optimal propellant maneuver (OPM). The ZPM and OPM were created by Draper Laboratory using the computational approach. Each maneuver is unique, and can only be calculated on the ground because significant computer resources are needed for the calculations.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Electronics & Computers, Software, Optimization, Simulation and modeling, Attitude control, Spacecraft guidance, Spacecraft
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Architecture Framework for Fault Management Assessment and Design

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama

Modern spacecraft, aircraft, and surface vehicles support complex science missions in harsh environments. These spacecraft and vehicles provide diverse functionality that is deployed on increasingly complex and heterogeneous hardware and mechanical systems, with stringent dependability requirements.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Electronics & Computers, Software, Failure analysis, Architecture, Reliability, Spacecraft
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Spacecraft Parameter Database Tool

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

The GOES-R Program has requirements to maintain knowledge of the GOES-R satellite onboard memory contents, including managing general satellite operations tables; processor memory dumps for memory verification; creating command loads, memory (table) loads, and command sequences to operate the satellite; verifying stored command and memory (table) loads; and to provide for operator-initiated memory dumps from satellite processors. The principal limitation is the tie to specific spacecraft architecture.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Electronics & Computers, Software, Computer software and hardware, Data management, Spacecraft
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