helps NASA park shuttle in space
biggest test yet of Jose Granda's software will come sometime around
April, when a U.S. space shuttle docks with the International Space
That's when Granda will know how well his Computer Aided Modeling
Program (CAMP-G) helped engineers create computer models of the
flexible structure in space. Granda, a CSUS mechanical engineering
professor, was awarded a NASA Faculty Fellowship over the summer
to work with engineers and scientists who model the station.
If all goes well - and a battery of tests on Earth and in space
say it will - then the station will hardly quiver as the shuttle
attaches itself. If everything goes incredibly bad, the station
could shake itself into space debris. That isn't likely,
"When you do these simulations, the biggest question is what
happens at the time the shuttle attaches to the station, which has
a flexible structure," Granda explains. "Obviously, you
don't want to produce resonance - the vibrations could destroy the
Granda has been improving his software for nearly 20 years. He introduced
it to NASA over the summer, when he was at Langley Research Center
in Virginia and working with mission control operations at the Johnson
Space Center in Houston.
The software translates engineering ideas directly into computer
code, allowing engineers to more easily enter information into simulation
software such as MATLAB and SiMULINK.
Writing the code manually can require long, tedious hours of work,
and is subject to error. And in the space station's case, those
hours were multiplied several times over. It's still under construction
and changes weight and shape all the time, so NASA has had to complete
new mission simulations every time a space shuttle is scheduled
to attach to the station to drop off new parts.
"CAMP-G uses Bond Graph Modeling technology and produces the
code automatically. It's a way of making the step between reality
and the computer a quick step," Granda says.
Granda is internationally recognized for his research. He is the
chair of the Bond Graph Modeling Committee of the Society for Computer
Simulation and is chair of the upcoming ICBGM'2003 International
Conference on Bond Graph Modeling and Simulation.
NASA scientists were impressed enough with Granda's CAMP-G to look
into using the software for future missions. He and NASA scientist
Raymond Montgomery have begun testing models from Zvezda, the original
space station. Their goal is to continue through other space station
configurations until they reach mission A12, which is expected to
be in April.
NASA was also impressed when Granda made his presentation to a national
gathering of NASA scientists. After being just one of seven NASA
Summer Fellows chosen to compete with his research presentation,
Granda was awarded second place.