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Aerospace and Electronic Systems Magazine, IEEE

Issue 10 • Date Oct. 2011

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  • [Front cover]

    Page(s): c1
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  • This month's covers …

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  • Table of content

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  • In this issue - technically

    Page(s): 2
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  • From the editor-in-chief

    Page(s): 3
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  • Tom swift and his electric airship

    Page(s): 4 - 11
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    Sooner or later, the practices we call “green” will have to expand from the token gestures we make today (turning down the thermostat and driving hybrids) to a nearly universal avoidance of oxidizing fossil carbon. In terms of aviation, it's time to start thinking about how to move people and goods, in commercial quantities, with a zero-carbon footprint; indeed there are several schemes afoot. The pioneering Boeing and Lange/DLR fuel-cell prototype airplanes are an encouraging sign up to a point, but it seems more than bold to suggest that these models can be scaled up to commercial adequacy. The USAF/DARPA high-altitude Intel blimp provides ample carrying capacity and a ceiling of 65,000 feet, but again, not much of a useful turn of speed. Popular Science has reported on multiple-gas vehicles like the Sanswire STS-111 Stratellite and airship concepts such as Igor Pasternak's Aeroscraft. Of these, only the last seems to be well-targeted toward the goal, according to some accounts. This undertakes to apply some of the perennial concerns participants to a global fleet of dirigibles featuring fuel-cell-powered propulsion. That is, it adopts a global-system view taking the development of suitable vehicles for granted, rather than focusing on the vehicle innovations as their developers must primarily do. Discussions include performance and safety requirements for the airships, new terminal area concepts, collaborative-autonomous situational awareness and collision avoidance, weather considerations, in-flight refueling and towing, and intermodal possibilities. View full abstract»

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  • Phased array weather / multipurpose radar

    Page(s): 12 - 15
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    The first phased array radar dedicated to weather observation and analysis is now instrumented with eight simultaneous digital receivers. The addition of these additional channels will enable the use of advanced signal processing to improve signal/clutter in an adaptive mode. Elimination of strone point and ground clutter returns from the low-level, volumetrically-distributed weather cell returns is a new application of adaptive processing. The NSF funded 8-channel receiver has been added to the National Weather Radar Testbed (NWRT) system in Norman, Oklahoma, to enable operation as a multi-function and/or adaptive processing system. Herein, we describe the system concept, system installation and early results from fielded weather data returns. View full abstract»

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  • System integration issues in Apollo 11

    Page(s): 16 - 24
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    “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Two obscure errors almost prevented these words from being spoken. The errors were not made by the crew of Apollo 11 or by the controllers in Houston, nor were they made during the mission. Rather, they were made by engineers and managers years before the flight. How they happened, and how they went substantially undetected and effectively ignored, is a pair of lessons in system integration that avionics engineers must never forget. The Apollo Program is justly famed as a giant leap for the techniques of management of complex system design and implementation. Nonetheless, these tools were used by human beings and so, necessarily, imperfectly. One of the most challenging tasks in any complex system is controlling and testing the interfaces between major components that are developed by different organizations. Among the management tools deployed by NASA were Interface Control Documents (ICDs). This author has not been able to determine whether this phrase was first coined for the Apollo program or the Mercury and Gemini programs that preceded it, but it was certainly a major tool in Apollo. One of the errors under discussion herein was caused by a blatant failure to update an ICD in response to an engineering change, which can be classed as a management error of omission. The other is much subtler, involving a question of how previously unsuspected vulnerabilities (to crew procedures, in this case) should be communicated when they fall outside the scope of an ICD, yet turn out to have relevance to the way the interface is used. This becomes a problem because an ICD is a top-level document limited to specifying the design parameters of one sub-system insofar as they are of concern to one other sub-system. It's not surprising that the symptoms caused by the latter problem have been totally misunderstood by almost everyone from President Nixon on down, and only partially understood even by Buzz Ald- - rin, who along with Neil Armstrong, had to deal with them at the time. This misunderstanding is so widespread that almost everyone with any acquaintance with the Program Alarms during the Apollo 11 landing believes that the LM's Primary Guidance Navigation System (PGNS) "failed" in some way and had to be rescued by human intervention. That is the exact opposite of the truth, which is that performance margins built into this very robust system quarantined the effects of the errors so that the landing could proceed with the designed level of human involvement, specifically dodging the "field of boulders" that the PGNS could know nothing about. This is largely a retelling of the higher-level parts of a paper, Tales from the Lunar Module Guidance Computer by this author's colleague Don Eyles [1], but with the orientation changed from a historical narrative to a cautionary tale with recommendations for modern avionics development management. Results of more recent research by this author and two colleagues are also incorporated. View full abstract»

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  • Keeping current with technology: Identifying re-host candidates

    Page(s): 25 - 29
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    How to identify when a static pattern digital test program should be re-hosted as a dynamic pattern set on the state-of-the-art ATE is complicated. However, there are critical issues that should be evaluated when making this decision. Issues include chip models, timing parameters, drive strength, logic levels, circuit complexity, I/O pins, automated diagnostics, portability, reuse, speed, optimal circuit coverage, schematics, and data availability. View full abstract»

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  • SuperDARN ionospheric space weather

    Page(s): 30 - 34
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    The Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) of high frequency radars monitors ionospheric space weather at middle- to high-latitudes in both hemispheres. SuperDARN is an international collaboration involving scientists and engineers from over a dozen countries. The backscatter targets of interest are irregularities in the ionospheric plasma density aligned along the geomagnetic field. The Doppler motion of the irregularities can be used to infer the strength and direction of the ionospheric electric field. These measurements, obtained continuously, provide valuable information about the electrodynamics of the coupled magnetosphere-ionosphere system over extended spatial scales and with high time resolution. Herein, the history of SuperDARN is briefly reviewed with a particular emphasis on the recent expansion of the network to middle- and higher-latitudes. A technique for assimilating multi-radar data to produce space weather maps of the hemispheric state of ionospheric plasma motion is also described. View full abstract»

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  • Avionics system design of a mini VTOL UAV

    Page(s): 35 - 40
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    Herein, the avionics system design of a mini Vertical Take-Off And Landing (VTOL) capable Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), namely a Quadrotor, will be described. The Turkish Air Force Academy personnel together with a team of cadets have been working on the design and development of an autonomous Quadrotor vehicle for educational purposes. The main emphasis was to study the flight dynamics of such a vehicle but the development of on-board electronics that consists of a sensor payload, embedded computer, and other hardware, along with the embedded software was such a critical work package under the project that required special emphasis and an innovative approach. A new avionic architecture that is derived from the rationale of Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA) architecture of today's larger platforms is proposed and currently being implemented within the framework of our project. The advantages of this approach for the development of mini/micro UAVs along with the academic education of our cadets will be discussed. View full abstract»

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  • 2012 AESS Pioneer Award call for nominations

    Page(s): 41
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  • The Pioneer Award

    Page(s): 42 - 43
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  • AESS published tutorials

    Page(s): 44
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  • Distinguished Lecturers & Tutorials

    Page(s): 45
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  • Directory of IEEE-AESS personnel

    Page(s): 46
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  • IEEE aerospace & electronic systems society organization

    Page(s): 47
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  • Membership application

    Page(s): 48
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  • Meetings calendar

    Page(s): c3
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  • [Back cover]

    Page(s): c4
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Aims & Scope

The IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Magazine publishes articles and tutorials concerned with the various aspects of systems for space, air, ocean, or ground environments.

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Meet Our Editors

Editor-in-Chief
Teresa Pace, PhD EE
Chief Engineer SenTech
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