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

Monte Carlo Simulation To Estimate Likelihood of Direct Lightning Strikes

A software tool has been designed to quantify the lightning exposure at launch sites of the stack at the pads under different configurations. In order to predict lightning strikes to generic structures, this model uses leaders whose origins (in the x–y plane) are obtained from a 2D random, normal distribution. The striking distance is a function of the stroke peak current, which is obtained from a random state machine that extracts the stroke peak current from a lognormal distribution. The height in which the leaders are originated is fixed and chosen to be several “strike distances” greater than the tallest object under study.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Computer simulation, Lightning, Risk assessments

Adaptive MGS Phase Retrieval

Adaptive MGS Phase Retrieval software uses the Modified Gerchberg-Saxton (MGS) algorithm, an image-based sensing method that can turn any focal plane science instrument into a wavefront sensor, avoiding the need to use external metrology equipment. Knowledge of the wavefront enables intelligent control of active optical systems.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Mathematical models, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Optics, Sensors and actuators, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Optics, Sensors and actuators

Predicting Boundary-Layer Transition on Space-Shuttle Re-Entry

The BLT Prediction Tool (“BLT” signifies “Boundary Layer Transition”) is provided as part of the Damage Assessment Team analysis package, which is utilized for analyzing local aerothermodynamics environments of damaged or repaired space-shuttle thermal protection tiles. Such analyses are helpful in deciding whether to repair launch-induced damage before re-entering the terrestrial atmosphere. Given inputs that include re-entry trajectory and attitude parameters, air density, air temperature, and details of each damage or repair site, the BLT Prediction Tool calculates expected times of laminar-to-turbulent transition onset of the boundary-layer flow during re-entry. (These times help to define the proper aerothermodynamic environment to use in subsequent thermal and stress analyses of local structural components.)

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Failure modes and effects analysis, Mathematical models, Insulation, Entry, descent, and landing, Spacecraft

Calculations for Calibration of a Mass Spectrometer

A computer program performs calculations to calibrate a quadrupole mass spectrometer in an instrumentation system for identifying trace amounts of organic chemicals in air. In the operation of the mass spectrometer, the massto- charge ratio (m/z) of ions being counted at a given instant of time is a function of the instantaneous value of a repeating ramp voltage waveform applied to electrodes. The count rate as a function of time can be converted to an m/z spectrum (equivalent to a mass spectrum for singly charged ions), provided that a calibration of m/z is available.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Calibration, Mathematical models, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Test equipment and instrumentation

Simulating the Gradually Deteriorating Performance of an RTG

Degra (now in version 3) is a computer program that simulates the performance of a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) over its lifetime. Degra is provided with a graphical user interface that is used to edit input parameters that describe the initial state of the RTG and the time-varying loads and environment to which it will be exposed. Performance is computed by modeling the flows of heat from the radioactive source and through the thermocouples, also allowing for losses, to determine the temperature drop across the thermocouples. This temperature drop is used to determine the open-circuit voltage, electrical resistance, and thermal conductance of the thermocouples. Output power can then be computed by relating the open-circuit voltage and the electrical resistance of the thermocouples to a specified time-varying load voltage.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Computer simulation, Human machine interface (HMI), Electro-thermal engines, Performance tests, Test procedures

2D/3D Synthetic Vision Navigation Display

Flight-deck display software was designed and developed at NASA Langley Research Center to provide two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) terrain, obstacle, and flightpath perspectives on a single navigation display. The objective was to optimize the presentation of synthetic vision (SV) system technology that permits pilots to view multiple perspectives of flight-deck display symbology and 3D terrain information. Research was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of the concept. The concept has numerous unique implementation features that would permit enhanced operational concepts and efficiencies in both current and future aircraft.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Aircraft displays, Spacecraft guidance, Aircraft displays, Spacecraft guidance, Human machine interface (HMI)

Automated Camera Array Fine Calibration

Using aerial imagery, the JPL FineCalibration (JPL FineCal) software automatically tunes a set of existing CAHVOR camera models for an array of cameras. The software finds matching features in the overlap region between images from adjacent cameras, and uses these features to refine the camera models. It is not necessary to take special imagery of a known target and no surveying is required.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Calibration, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Optics, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Optics

Multichannel Networked Phasemeter Readout and Analysis

Netmeter software reads a data stream from up to 250 networked phasemeters, synchronizes the data, saves the reduced data to disk (after applying a low-pass filter), and provides a Web server interface for remote control. Unlike older phasemeter software that requires a special, real-time operating system, this program can run on any general-purpose computer. It needs about five percent of the CPU (central processing unit) to process 20 channels because it adds built-in data logging and network-based GUIs (graphical user interfaces) that are implemented in Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG).

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

MISR Instrument Data Visualization

The MISR Interactive eXplorer (MINX) software functions both as a general-purpose tool to visualize Multiangle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument data, and as a specialized tool to analyze properties of smoke, dust, and volcanic plumes. It includes high-level options to create map views of MISR orbit locations; scrollable, single-camera RGB (redgreen- blue) images of MISR level 1B2 (L1B2) radiance data; and animations of the nine MISR camera images that provide a 3D perspective of the scenes that MISR has acquired.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Cartography, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Optics, Spectroscopy, Cartography, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Optics, Spectroscopy, Particulate matter (PM)

Platform for Postprocessing Waveform-Based NDE

Taking advantage of the similarities that exist among all waveform-based non-destructive evaluation (NDE) methods, a common software platform has been developed containing multiple-signal and image-processing techniques for waveforms and images. The NASA NDE Signal and Image Processing software has been developed using the latest versions of LabVIEW, and its associated Advanced Signal Processing and Vision Toolkits. The software is useable on a PC with Windows XP and Windows Vista.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Displays, Displays, Non-destructive tests

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