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Using Fractional Clock-Period Delays in Telemetry Arraying

Special digital FIR filters help to increase accuracy. A set of special digital all-pass finite- impulse- response (FIR) filters produces phase shifts equivalent to delays that equal fractions of the sampling or clock period of a telemetry- data- processing system. These filters have been used to enhance the arraying of telemetry signals that have been received at multiple ground stations from spacecraft (see figure). Somewhat more specifically, these filters have been used to align, in the time domain, the telemetry-data sequences received by the various antennas, in order to maximize the signal-to-noise ratio of the composite telemetric signal obtained by summing the signals received by the antennas.

Posted in: Briefs

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Developing Generic Software for Spacecraft Avionics

A standardized functional model would facilitate cost-effective reuse of common software modules. A proposed approach to the development of software for spacecraft avionics is based partly on a concept of generic software that could be tailored to satisfy requirements for specific missions. The proposed approach would stand in contrast to the conventional approach of first defining avionics requirements for a specific mission, then developing software specific to those requirements. The proposed approach might also be adaptable to programming computers that control and monitor other complex equipment systems that range in scale from automobiles to factories.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Collaborative Software Development Approach Used To Deliver the New Shuttle Telemetry Ground Station

This software affords enhanced capabilities for utilizing telemetric data. United Space Alliance (USA) developed and used a new software development method to meet technical, schedule, and budget challenges faced during the development and delivery of the new Shuttle Telemetry Ground Station at Kennedy Space Center. This method, called Collaborative Software Development, enabled KSC to effectively leverage industrial software and build additional capabilities to meet shuttle system and operational requirements. Application of this method resulted in reduced time to market, reduced development cost, improved product quality, and improved programmer competence while developing technologies of benefit to a small company in California (AP Labs Inc.). Many modifications were made to the baseline software product (VMEwindow), which improved its quality and functionality. In addition, six new software capabilities were developed, which are the subject of this article and add useful functionality to the VMEwindow environment. These new software programs are written in C or VXWorks and are used in conjunction with other ground station software packages, such as VMEwindow, Matlab, Dataviews, and PVWave.

Posted in: Briefs

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Efficient Processing of Data for Locating Lightning Strikes

Time differences can be computed efficiently to subnanosecond resolution. Two algorithms have been devised to increase the efficiency of processing of data in lightning detection and ranging (LDAR) systems so as to enable the accurate location of lightning strikes in real time. In LDAR, the location of a lightning strike is calculated by solving equations for the differences among the times of arrival (DTOAs) of the lightning signals at multiple antennas as functions of the locations of the antennas and the speed of light. The most difficult part of the problem is computing the DTOAs from digitized versions of the signals received by the various antennas. One way (a time-domain approach) to determine the DTOAs is to compute cross-correlations among variously differentially delayed replicas of the digitized signals and to select, as the DTOAs, those differential delays that yield the maximum correlations. Another way (a frequency-domain approach) to determine the DTOAs involves the computation of cross-correlations among Fourier transforms of variously differentially phased replicas of the digitized signals, along with utilization of the relationship among phase difference, time delay, and frequency.

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Determining Direction of Arrival at a Y-Shaped Antenna Array

The direction is computed from differences among times of arrival of signals. An algorithm computes the direction of arrival (both azimuth and elevation angles) of a lightning-induced electromagnetic signal from differences among the times of arrival of the signal at four antennas in a Y-shaped array on the ground. In the original intended application of the algorithm, the baselines of the array are about 90 m long and the array is part of a lightning- detection-and- ranging (LDAR) system. The algorithm and its underlying equations can also be used to compute directions of arrival of impulsive phenomena other than lightning on arrays of sensors other than radio antennas: for example, of an acoustic pulse arriving at an array of microphones.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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P-Code-Enhanced Encryption-Mode Processing of GPS Signals

This is an improved method of processing without knowledge of the encryption code. A method of processing signals in a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver has been invented to enable the receiver to recover some of the information that is otherwise lost when GPS signals are encrypted at the transmitters. The need for this method arises because, at the option of the military, precision GPS code (P-code) is sometimes encrypted by a secret binary code, denoted the A code. Authorized users can recover the full signal with knowledge of the A-code. However, even in the absence of knowledge of the A-code, one can track the encrypted signal by use of an estimate of the A-code. The present invention is a method of making and using such an estimate. In comparison with prior such methods, this method makes it possible to recover more of the lost information and obtain greater accuracy.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Software for Automated Reading of STEP Files by I-DEAS™

A program called "readstep" enables the I-DEAS™ computer- aided-design (CAD) software to automatically read Standard for the Exchange of Product Model Data (STEP) files. (The STEP format is one of several used to transfer data between dissimilar CAD programs.) Prior to the development of "readstep," it was necessary to read STEP files into I-DEAS™ one at a time in a slow process that required repeated intervention by the user. In operation, "readstep" prompts the user for the location of the desired STEP files and the names of the I-DEAS™project and model file, then generates an I-DEAS™program file called "readstep.prg" and two Unix shell programs called "runner" and "controller." The program "runner" runs I-DEAS™ sessions that execute readstep.prg, while "controller" controls the execution of "runner" and edits readstep.prg if necessary. The user sets "runner" and "controller" into execution simultaneously, and then no further intervention by the user is required. When "runner" has finished, the user should see only parts from successfully read STEP files present in the model file. STEP files that could not be read successfully (e.g., because of format errors) should be regenerated before attempting to read them again.

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