Thursday, December 08, 2005

JPL NASA Antennas New Technology Concepts

NASA Deep Space Network DSN

We have all seen the pictures of the deep space antennas with large monster reflector dishes and massive supporting structures.

NASA Deep Space Network - or DSN - is an international network of antennas that supports interplanetary spacecraft missions and radio and radar astronomy observations for the exploration of the solar system and the universe. The network also supports selected Earth-orbiting missions.

Now take a look at some new types of antennas being manufactured.

JPL And NASA New Antenna Projects

Space Fed Lens Antennas
These antennas consist of a focal surface and a planar lens array. Which means that there is a membrane or membranes which are the main signal collection points. From there, the signals are focused onto another surface, where the signals are processed through a digital control unit. These units are all linked together and electronically steered together in an array to increase the signal processing capabilities and the antenna gain. See the example picture for an idea of the overall size of this space fed lens antenna versus the deep space one.

Etched Antenna Pictures Courtesy of E-FAB, Inc.
Space Fed Lens Antenna
Pictured above is a space fed lens, 3 meter panel which has 4 photo chemically etched sections all integrated into one unit.

The way this particular antenna system is to be used is quite high tech. See:

Linking Satellites Via Earth "Hot Spots" and the Internet to Form Ad Hoc Constellations

As more assets are placed in orbit, opportunities emerge to combine various sets of satellites in temporary constellations to perform collaborative image collections. Often, new operations concepts for a satellite or set of satellites emerge after launch. To the degree with which new space assets can be inexpensively and rapidly integrated into temporary or "ad hoc" constellations, will determine whether these new ideas will be implemented or not. On the Earth Observing 1 (EO-1) satellite, a New Millennium Program mission, a number of experiments were conducted and are being conducted to demonstrate various aspects of an architecture that, when taken as a whole, will enable progressive mission autonomy. In particular, the target architecture will use adaptive ground antenna arrays to form, as close as possible, the equivalent of wireless access points for low earth orbiting satellites. Coupled with various ground and flight software and the Internet, the architecture enables progressive mission autonomy. Thus, new collaborative sensing techniques can be implemented post-launch. SPIE paper on Hotspots 2004 11-18-04

JPL KA-Band Spaceborne Antennas

This is just one of 16 etched membrane strips that will be formed into a 3.2 meter antenna. There is even experimentation with inflatable antennas using membranes. See:
Design and Development of an Inflatable Reflectarray Antenna

With the development of inflatable technologies, inflatable structures used as large space antennas are becoming very possible for near-term space missions. This article discusses the development of an inflatable/self-rigidizable structure for a 3-m 32-GHz (Ka-band) reflectarray antenna. This reflectarray antenna uses a beamscanning reflectarray antenna with circular-polarization technology. This technology uses a flat surface instead of a parabolic surface for the radio frequency component. A flat "natural" thin-membrane surface is much easier to accomplish and maintain than is a curved "non-natural" parabolic surface.

Antenna manufacturing certainly has evolved over the years. With the new precision photo chemical machining and etching process advantages, very tight tolerance items can be fabricated.

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Geo Targeting

Radiotelemetry triangulation of transmitters was done early in the twentieth century during times of war to track down the enemy.

Now a new type of triangulation method has been patented for the said purpose of targeting online advertising specifically to individuals in certain locales. The way it works is, the latency of the connection by an individual is measured from at least several points on the Internet. Triangulation can then be applied through the algorithm to determine the approximate location of the individual.

The following link was forwarded to me by a reader.
NSA granted Net location-tracking patent

The technology has much broader applications appeal then just targeted online advertising.

Geo-location, sometimes called "geo-targeting" when used to deliver advertising, is an increasingly attractive area for Internet businesses. DoubleClick has licensed geo-location technology to deliver location-dependent advertising, and Visa has signed a deal to use the concept to identify possible credit card fraud in online orders.

It appears as though companies have been using Geo-location targeting for quite some time on the Internet. As with any new technology developed, there are certainly altruistic, and security uses, but at the same time the possibilities exist for someone to abuse the power of these new technologies.

If you would like to see some computer technology matter discussed online, feel free to forward your Internet links today.

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Thursday, June 23, 2005


Say HI - Click Picture
The image
Solve The Problems
Index of Computer Images

The online search engines have their computer algorithms but so do we. Read this article on search algorithms and computer semantics analysis.

However, we use algorithms everyday in our lives too — our minds.

Our lives are based on decision making and step by step problem solving. An algorithm is a procedure for problem solving or an ordered step by step process for coming up with a solution.

Sometimes the problems we face are simple in nature. For instance deciding what you are going to have for dinner or what show you want to watch on television. Your mind absorbs all the variables and spits out an answer based on likes and dislikes or what a friend or spouse would like also. Other times, problems are much more complex and difficult because of lack of experience, lack of education, or variables beyond your control. But even then the mind takes into account what is at hand, and delivers an answer based on the inputs.

Mathematical algorithms are routines that can be run as computer software programs to come up with a answer based on a given set of variables.

Now imagine taking this to another level. Suppose we develop a software training program to train individuals based on a given set of variables. Actually we do having training programs that as a person responds in a positive or negative way the software will then branch out to the next level or go into more detail for the application. Online gaming and other computer games throughout the later part of the 20'th century we're and still are very popular for getting to the end of a quest. Each level gets harder and harder, but skills are improved and tools are acquired along the way in your ever quest to become victorious.

There is a great game called mastermind.

In this game of mastermind, one player builds a pattern of 4 or 5 pegs with 8 potential colors and/or blank spots. Then another player tries to figure out the pattern in the least amount of tries as possible. This second person builds a pattern and then the other player gives indicators on the number of right colors and the number in the right spots. This game is a great logical problem solving lesson because the person has to learn from the previous patterns.

Personal learning algorithms function in the same way as mastermind. This can be applied to any part of our lives. There could also be some amazing outcomes using algorithms for teaching without a student actually aware of this going on. A program could be built to not only train a person, but by building into the program a means of self learning, one could improve the underlying foundation of the program itself, while also training the individual using it.

Another example of a learning algorithm is the yes no game, where an individual tells a story without giving any details and then asks the audience how did it happen. The story teller can only give yes or no answers with the person having to logically figure out what happened. Sometimes it may require giving occasional tips to help prompt the thinking process. This game was adapted to the small hand held gaming device called twenty questions. Radica 20Q Artificial Intelligence Game

So, how do learning algorithms really affect us in our everyday lives?

First off, as the technology world becomes more and more complex, it requires individuals and businesses to develop their skills at problem solving. Sometimes the only way to advance dramatically, is to probe and move forward in a direction and make a decision. The fastest way to get an answer is not by standing still, but by trying a move and see what the results are. Doing things exclusively the old way may be the safe way, but will not be as rewarding as a new move, with the potential for even better business results. Sometimes new thinking in 3d can achieve exponentially more than 2d.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The First Solar Sail Spacecraft

Cosmos 1: First Solar Sail Launched June 21, 2005

Image Courtesy of The Planetary Society
Picture shows the spacecraft with the sails deployed.

In what would once be considered science fiction out of some Jules Verne novel is now a reality.

The first solar sail was launched today on a mission to orbit the earth. The project is a joint venture from the Americans and Russians. The craft will be pushed along by a steady stream of photons from the sun which will propel the craft on its mission.

Future spacecrafts will be able to do interplanetary travel by adjusting the angle of the sails in relation to the sun.

The acceleration will be very slow but at a constant rate of acceleration. As the speed increases over a period of days, weeks, and months the speeds that can be attained will be much faster than any conventional means, propelling a spacecraft out of orbit onto other planets.

Go to the Planetary Society for current solarsail updates.

An additional interesting note is the spacecraft should be visible to the naked eye. It will be orbiting the earth about every one hundred minutes.


NASA spacecraft on a collision course for comet Temple 1 rendezvous on July 4, 2005

NASA's Deep Impact Posted by Hello

This is a two module spacecraft with one module colliding with the comet Temple 1 surface causing a large crater to be formed. As it collides with the comet surface, another spacecraft will be doing a fly-by while collecting data.

Photo Courtesy of NASA