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

Expert System To Develop Job Standards

The Job Standards Development System is a user-friendly expert system that (1) helps users select an appropriate work measurement methodology to develop job standards (or the less formal job time estimates) and (2) leads the users through the steps necessary to use a work time estimating technique to develop job standards for long-duration, low-repetition work. The computer program comprises three parts, the first being a system-administration subprogram, in which an administrator sets values of parameters that are not changeable by a job standards developer. The second part is a subprogram that assists the job standards developer in the selection of an appropriate work measurement technique. The third part supports the application of a work time and resource requirement estimating technique that relies on domain expertise to describe human work, collects work time and resource requirement data from the domain expert, and computes a job standard. The program is expected to be useful for the management of organizations devoted to performing functions consisting of long-duration, low-repetition work. Illustrations of this type include facility and equipment maintenance and the knowledge work of service firms and federal, state, and local governments. The program is written for use with the Windows operating systems on IBM PC and compatible computers.

Posted in: Briefs, Information Sciences, Computer software and hardware, Logistics, Personnel, Product development, Standardization
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Further Developments in Web Interactive Training

Displays, simulations, and quizzes are customized for each trainee.

Three innovative computer programs for training and testing personnel at Kennedy Space Center have been developed under the aegis of the Web Interactive Training (WIT) project. The WIT project exploits the capabilities afforded by the Internet and by state-of-the-art multimedia data-presentation techniques. The World Wide Web is used to deliver training from server computers to client desktop computers on demand. Training can involve multimedia data of various types (text, audio, graphics, and animated video images). Training can be interactive, enabling trainees to tailor lessons to their individual needs; a trainee can select a lesson or segment any time, anywhere, and can repeat a segment as many times as necessary. Interactivity can also be exploited to provide for testing and recording of a trainee's progress.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Information Sciences, Internet, Displays, Technician training
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Using Narrow-Band Data Links in Locating Lightning Strikes

Electric-field waveforms are preprocessed to extract selected characteristics.

A method of preprocessing lightning-measurement waveforms has been devised to reduce the bandwidth needed to transmit data for computing the locations of lightning strikes. The method is used in a system in which electric fields and electric-field derivatives induced by lightning are measured at remote stations and the measurement data are transmitted to a central station. At the central station, the location of each lightning strike is computed from the known positions of the stations, the speed of light, and the differences among times of arrival of common waveform features at the remote stations. Prior to the development of the present method, in order to achieve a required spatial resolution of tens of meters, it was necessary to transmit full measurement data from each remote station to the central station in real time at a bandwidth of 10 MHz.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Data exchange, Weather and climate, Lightning, Test equipment and instrumentation
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Centralized Electronic Reporting of Material-Science Tasks

Expensive and time-consuming distribution of, and searches among, paper documents are no longer necessary.

The Materials Science Division (MSD) at Kennedy Space Center is developing a computer system to maintain a material-science data base coupled with a user-friendly interface on the World Wide Web. The system is designed to eliminate the need for time-consuming and expensive distribution of, and searches among, paper documents.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Internet, Human machine interface (HMI), Data management, Documentation, Materials properties
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Nonintrusive Flow-Measurement System

Flow is measured ultrasonically, from outside the pipe.

A nonintrusive flow-measurement system based on ultrasonics has been developed to replace a system based on turbine flowmeters. A turbine flowmeter must be mounted in line with a pipe; this raises the possibility of leakage at the flowmeter/pipe joints, and the flowmeter unavoidably perturbs the flow. Moreover, a turbine flowmeter is vulnerable to mechanical malfunction and can be vulnerable to corrosion or clogging, depending on the nature of the fluid. In contrast, the ultrasonic flow-measurement system does not contain any rotating or sliding mechanisms that could fail, and does not involve any penetration of the pipe, so that the flow is not perturbed and there is no risk of leakage, clogging, or corrosion.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Mechanics, Computational fluid dynamics, Measurements, Product development, Acoustics, Reliability
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Composite-Material Heat Sink for Printed-Circuit Boards

This is a lightweight alternative to an aluminum heat sink.

A laminated composite-material plate has been developed for use as a lightweight heat sink and mechanical support for rigid printed-circuit boards (PCBs) that hold surface-mounted electronic components. This composite-material plate is intended to replace a conventional aluminum heat-sink plate. The aluminum plate weighs 0.63 lb (0.29 kg), whereas the composite-material plate weighs only 0.36 lb (0.16 kg).

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials, Integrated circuits, Composite materials
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Post-Processing Satellite Image Data in Secondary Schools

Direct experience helps prepare children for participation in an increasingly technological world.

Never before have secondary schools been able to post-process raw satellite data, and now they can do it in real time. This is credited to advances in technology that have recently made the necessary equipment simple, inexpensive, powerful, and available enough for any school to fit into their technology-education curricula. This equipment couples ideally with the emerging utilization of the Internet in secondary schools.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Information Sciences, Computer software and hardware, Imaging and visualization, Internet, Education, Education and training, Satellites
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Return-Link Processor PCI Card

Relative to prior return-link circuitry, this card is smaller, less power-hungry, higher performance, more versatile, and much cheaper.

The return-link processor card (RLP) performs all of the fundamental data-processing functions involved in the return of satellite telemetry, in real time at rates up to 400 Mb/s, using industry-standard interface circuitry and connectors with standard sizes and shapes. Previously, four cards, each containing a central processing unit (CPU), were needed to do what the RLP now does. CPU-based cards are complex; are expensive to build, operate, and maintain; are susceptible to malfunction; and require a great deal of power and cooling.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Connectors and terminals, Integrated circuits, Satellite communications, Telemetry, Product development, Reliability
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GFSSP — Program for Analyzing Flows in a Complex Network

The Generalized Fluid System Simulation Program (GFSSP) version 2.01 is a general-purpose computer program for analyzing steady-state and time-dependent flowrates, pressures, temperatures, and concentrations in a complex flow network. The program is capable of modeling phase changes, compressibility, mixture thermodynamics, and external body forces, such as gravity and centrifugal.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Computational fluid dynamics, Thermodynamics
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Optically Transparent Patch Antennas

Antennas on transparent films can be bent to conform to curved supports.

Optically transparent patch antennas have been invented for use in communication systems at frequencies of the order of a few gigahertz. These antennas can be mounted on windows of buildings and vehicles, on computer video monitors, on solar photovoltaic panels, and on other convenient supports; this is an advantage in situations in which the reuse of such supports for radio communication is dictated by a lack of room for adding separate antenna-supporting structures. Another advantage of the optically transparent patch antennas is that they weigh less than conventional antennas do.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Antennas, Wireless communication systems, Materials properties, Lightweighting
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