Special Coverage

Soft Robot “Walks” on Any Terrain
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Using Microwaves to Produce High-Quality Graphene
Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat
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

Data Acquisition System for Multi-Frequency Radar Flight Operations Preparation

A three-channel data acquisition system was developed for the NASA Multi-Frequency Radar (MFR) system. The system is based on a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) industrial PC (personal computer) and two dual-channel 14-bit digital receiver cards. The decimated complex envelope representaions of the three radar signals are passed to the host PC via the PCI bus, and then processed in parallel by multiple cores of the PC CPU (central processing unit). The innovation is this parallelization of the radar data processing using multiple cores of a standard COTS multi-core CPU.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Antennas, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Data acquisition and handling, Radar, Antennas, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Data acquisition and handling, Radar

Integrating Radar Image Data With Google Maps

A public Web site has been developed as a method for displaying the multitude of radar imagery collected by NASA’s Airborne Synthetic Aperture Radar (AIR-SAR) instrument during its 16-year mission. Utilizing NASA’s internal AIRSAR site, the new Web site features more sophisticated visualization tools that enable the general public to have access to these images.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Cartography, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Internet, Radar, Cartography, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Internet, Radar

Mercury Toolset for Spatiotemporal Metadata

Mercury http://mercury.ornl.gov is a set of tools for federated harvesting, searching, and retrieving metadata, particularly spatiotemporal metadata. Version 3.0 of the Mercury toolset provides orders of magnitude improvements in search speed, support for additional metadata formats, integration with Google Maps for spatial queries, facetted type search, support for RSS (Really Simple Syndication) delivery of search results, and enhanced customization to meet the needs of the multiple projects that use Mercury. It provides a single portal to very quickly search for data and information contained in disparate data management systems, each of which may use different metadata formats. Mercury harvests metadata and key data from contributing project servers distributed around the world and builds a centralized index. The search interfaces then allow the users to perform a variety of fielded, spatial, and temporal searches across these metadata sources. This centralized repository of metadata with distributed data sources provides extremely fast search results to the user, while allowing data providers to advertise the availability of their data and maintain complete control and ownership of that data.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Customization, Data management

Social Tagging of Mission Data

Mars missions will generate a large amount of data in various forms, such as daily plans, images, and scientific information. Often, there is a semantic linkage between images that cannot be captured automatically. Software is needed that will provide a method for creating arbitrary tags for this mission data so that items with a similar tag can be related to each other. The tags should be visible and searchable for all users.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Cloud computing, Data exchange, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Cloud computing, Data exchange, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Identification, Spacecraft

Interface Supports Lightweight Subsystem Routing for Flight Applications

A wireless avionics interface exploits the constrained nature of data networks in flight systems to use a lightweight routing method. This simplified routing means that a processor is not required, and the logic can be implemented as an intellectual property (IP) core in a field-programmable gate array (FPGA). The FPGA can be shared with the flight subsystem application. In addition, the router is aware of redundant subsystems, and can be configured to provide hot standby support as part of the interface. This simplifies implementation of flight applications requiring hot standby support.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Avionics, Flight management systems, Integrated circuits, Wireless communication systems, Avionics, Flight management systems, Integrated circuits, Wireless communication systems, Lightweighting

Demonstration of a Submillimeter-Wave HEMT Oscillator Module at 330 GHz

This low-mass, low-power module may be useful for hidden weapons detection and airport security.

In this work, radial transitions have been successfully mated with a HEMT-based MMIC (high-electron-mobility-transistor-based monolithic microwave integrated circuit) oscillator circuit. The chip has been assembled into a WR2.2 waveguide module for the basic implementation with radial E-plane probe transitions to convert the waveguide mode to the MMIC coplanar waveguide mode. The E-plane transitions have been directly integrated onto the InP substrate to couple the submillimeter-wave energy directly to the waveguides, thus avoiding wirebonds in the RF path. The oscillator demonstrates a measured 1.7 percent DC-RF efficiency at the module level.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Integrated circuits, Transistors, Waveguides, Architecture, Integrated circuits, Transistors, Waveguides

Flexible Peripheral Component Interconnect Input/Output Card

The card has applications in quality and testing systems for product design verification and manufacturing testing.

The Flexible Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) Input/Output (I/O) Card is an innovative circuit board that provides functionality to interface between a variety of devices. It supports user-defined interrupts for interface synchronization, tracks system faults and failures, and includes checksum and parity evaluation of interface data. The card supports up to 16 channels of high-speed, half-duplex, low-voltage digital signaling (LVDS) serial data, and can interface combinations of serial and parallel devices. Placement of a processor within the field programmable gate array (FPGA) controls an embedded application with links to host memory over its PCI bus. The FPGA also provides protocol stacking and quick digital signal processor (DSP) functions to improve host performance. Hardware timers, counters, state machines, and other glue logic support interface communications.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Data exchange, Integrated circuits, Architecture, Data exchange, Integrated circuits

MMIC Amplifiers and Wafer Probes for 350 to 500 GHz

Amplifiers like these are needed for submillimeter-wavelength imagers and scientific instruments.

Several different experimental monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) amplifiers have been designed to operate in frequency bands ranging from 350 to 500 GHz and were undergoing fabrication at the time of reporting the information for this article. Probes for on-wafer measurement of electrical parameters [principally, the standard scattering parameters (“S” parameters)] of these amplifiers have been built and tested as essential components of systems to be used in quantifying the performances of the amplifiers. These accomplishments are intermediate products of a continuing effort to develop solid-state electronic amplifiers capable of producing gain at ever-higher frequencies, now envisioned to range up to 800 GHz. Such amplifiers are needed for further development of compact, portable imaging systems and scientific instruments for a variety of potential applications that include detection of hidden weapons, measuring winds, and measuring atmospheric concentrations of certain molecular species.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronics & Computers, Amplifiers, Integrated circuits, Amplifiers, Integrated circuits

Public Risk Assessment Program

The Public Entry Risk Assessment (PERA) program addresses risk to the public from shuttle or other spacecraft re-entry trajectories. Managing public risk to acceptable levels is a major component of safe spacecraft operation. PERA is given scenario inputs of vehicle trajectory, probability of failure along that trajectory, the resulting debris characteristics, and field size and distribution, and returns risk metrics that quantify the individual and collective risk posed by that scenario. Due to the large volume of data required to perform such a risk analysis, PERA was designed to streamline the analysis process by using innovative mathematical analysis of the risk assessment equations. Real-time analysis in the event of a shuttle contingency operation, such as damage to the Orbiter, is possible because PERA allows for a change to the probability of failure models, therefore providing a much quicker estimation of public risk.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Mathematical models, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Risk assessments, Entry, descent, and landing, Spacecraft

Particle Swarm Optimization Toolbox

The Particle Swarm Optimization Toolbox is a library of evolutionary optimization tools developed in the MAT-LAB environment. The algorithms contained in the library include a genetic algorithm (GA), a single-objective particle swarm optimizer (SOPSO), and a multi-objective particle swarm optimizer (MOPSO). Development focused on both the SOPSO and MOPSO. A GA was included mainly for comparison purposes, and the particle swarm optimizers appeared to perform better for a wide variety of optimization problems. All algorithms are capable of performing unconstrained and constrained optimization. The particle swarm optimizers are capable of performing single and multi-objective optimization. The SOPSO and MOPSO algorithms are based on swarming theory and bird-flocking patterns to search the trade space for the optimal solution or optimal trade in competing objectives. The MOPSO generates Pareto fronts for objectives that are in competition.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, CAD / CAM / CAE, CAD, CAM, and CAE, Mathematical models, Optimization

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