Features

Update on NASA’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

In the August issue of Defense Tech Briefs, we highlighted NASA’s Altair/Predator B unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for Earth science missions. A lot has happened in the past two months, so we’re providing an update on the latest aircraft and applications in NASA’s growing UAV program.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace
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SpaceWire: The Standard for Aerospace Communications

Developed in 1999 under the auspices of the European Space Agency, SpaceWire answered a longstanding spaceflight problem: no standard, high-speed communications protocol existed for flight electronics. Therefore, all spaceflight electronic payloads (such as processing units and onboard computers) were customdesigned, which resulted in long development periods, high costs, and elevated risks. The SpaceWire standard was developed as a network of nodes and routers interconnected through bidirectional, high-speed serial links, limiting the customdesign problem by designing a standard with flexibility, modularity, and reusability.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace
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Cell Technology Tackles 3D Medical Imaging Reconstruction Challenges

Medical imaging is an information processing technique that takes data samples from medical devices such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computer tomography (CT) scanners and translates them into 2D, 3D or even 4D images. Advances in sensor technology allow for the generation of an increasing number of images per procedure and per patient, posing a tremendous challenge for the efficient, in-time processing and visualization of the resulting images. In addition, sensor systems are now capable of acquiring thousands of projections per second, literally flooding the image reconstruction subsystem with several hundreds of Mbytes of data per second.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Imaging, Sensors and actuators, Medical equipment and supplies
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User Programmable FPGAs Power CompactRIO Embedded Systems

With a laundry list of design constraints, including a combination of real-time requirements, reliability/durability requests, and functionality and performance needs, it’s not surprising that engineers may find successfully building a competitive embedded solution difficult. To simplify the process, National Instruments developed a rugged, new high-performance embedded system, called CompactRIO, that combines the processing power and flexibility of a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) with the reliability of a real-time processor.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Integrated circuits, Product development, Reliability
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Using RapidIO® Technology as a System-Level Fabric

Both Serial RapidIO and Ethernet are being used as a backplane interconnect technology in a wide range of embedded applications. Many suppliers support both standards and let designers choose to work with whichever interconnect they feel is best. This neutral position provides interesting insights into both of these technologies. From a high-level point of view, it seems as if these two technologies are in stiff competition with each other. While Ethernet is certainly the incumbent technology, Serial RapidIO has had a huge uptake in adoption over the past year, with more silicon vendors supporting the standard than was originally anticipated.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Embedded software
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Ruggedized Hard Disk Drives Keep Data Safe In Harsh Environments

Conventional hard disk drives (HDDs) are designed to reliably operate in the hospitable physical surroundings of interior deployments, which are typically characterized by mild temperatures, stable humidity and modest levels of vibration. By contrast, outdoor and mobile storage environments can entail anything from sweltering heat or sub-zero frost to oppressive dampness and pounding vibration. And all may be encountered miles above sea level. So it’s no surprise that bringing the benefits of HDD-based storage to outdoor and mobile settings such as automotive, industrial PC, field computing, and military applications poses a formidable challenge to engineers.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Application Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Computer software / hardware, Durability
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Cyber-Training Today’s Fighting Forces

Dramatic changes are taking place in the way U.S. service men and women prepare for their assignments. Since 9/11, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is moving from a training cycle in which pre-deployment training events for units and staffs were predictable and occurred every 18-24 months, to one in which deployments are occurring every 10-to-12 months. The Department’s leadership views virtual simulation, where soldiers can experience a wider variety of realistic training scenarios more frequently, as one way to supplement live training to prepare its forces to go into harm's way

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Computer simulation, Virtual reality, Defense industry, Education
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