JWST Team Earns Honorable Mention in NASA Software of the Year Competition

IV&V SOY_2016
Image Credit: Bailee Miller

The NASA Software of the Year competition is an annual competition sponsored by the Offices of the Chief Engineer, Safety and Mission Assurance (SMA), and the Chief Information Officer.  Software teams across each of the NASA centers submit software applications and suites submit an extensive application detailing their software, all software project documentation, reference letters, SMA documentation, and associated publications. The teams give a presentation at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. and then the applications and presentations are reviewed by a special Software Panel with representatives from across the agency. The applications are reviewed on the software’s innovativeness, impact, and usability. 

In 2016, the Jon McBride Software Testing and Research (JSTAR) team submitted the James Webb Space Telescope Integration Simulation and Test (JIST) software for consideration and was the sole representative for Goddard Space Flight Center and IV&V Program. JIST is a software-only simulation environment of the JWST Spacecraft that provides the capability to exercise the unmodified flight software binaries as delivered from the JWST development organizations.  JIST is comprised of software from multiple organizations and includes software from nine separate development teams. To demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of a JIST-like solution, a new instance of JIST can be deployed for approximately $10,400; whereas to deploy a hardware-equivalent environment, the cost would be approximately $1,019,087, a cost reduction of 99%.

In 2016, seven centers competed in the competition. JIST received honorable mention in the competition and the co-winners were from Langley Research Center (Traffic Awareness Planner) and Ames Research Center (Pegasus 5.2: Software for Automated Pre-Processing of Overset CFD Grids). 

A special thank you goes to everyone who supported the team through JIST usage, reference letters, and peer reviews of application materials and presentations. In addition, thank you to Enidia Santiago and Sia Argue from the GSFC technology office for supporting the nomination and the team in its submission. It is a great honor, and we were proud to represent GSFC and IV&V. 

 

Justin Morris
Computer Engineer
NASA’s Independent Verification & Validation Program

IV&V ERC's Use of Ground-Penetrating Radar

Pam Casto is an education specialist in NASA IV&V’s Educator Resource Center. She is also a freelance archeology technician.

Many are surprised to learn that Googling the term “NASA Archaeology” will return 6,060 hits.

NASA, while developing remote sensing technology to examine far off places, has made life much easier for archaeologists on Earth. In the past searching for a lost tomb, lost city or even an entire lost civilization could take months or years. Now, it often only takes days.

With instruments on many different types of spacecraft, NASA examines the universe in many wavelengths of light: radio waves, microwaves, infrared waves, visible light waves, ultraviolet waves, x-rays and gamma rays. NASA also studies earth with some of these wavelengths and that has made archaeologists very happy.

For example, Dr. Compton Tucker, senior Earth scientist at NASA’s Biospheric Sciences Laboratory at Goddard Space Flight Center, used cutting-edge NASA technology, including magnetometers and ground-penetrating radar (GPR), to assist the government of Turkey in the location and excavation of ancient tombs. Tucker and his teams were racing against tomb robbers to find undisturbed tombs filled with archaeological treasures.

Thanks to NASA IV&V, educators in W.Va. also had the opportunity to use GPR to try to locate missing graves. With contributions from IV&V, WV Space Grant Consortium, Fairmont State University, Ohio Valley Archaeology and the Morgantown History Museum, W.Va. educators at a week-long 2011 summer camp explored how NASA uses wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum to study features of outer space and features here on Earth. One day was spent in an attempt to verify and validate stories of missing graves by doing a GPR survey to look for features at Kern’s Fort, a pre-Revolutionary War fort in Morgantown. GPR uses electromagnetic radiation in the microwave band to detect the reflected signals from subsurface structures. Graves typically reflect the waves differently than the surrounding soil.

Kern’s Fort was built in 1772 as a fortified cabin. Around 1774, a stockade wall was added. According to early records, it was one of the largest private forts in the area. There are sources from the late 1700’s and early 1800’s that refer to eleven burials at or near the fort. These include two children and six slaves who died of smallpox, two men killed in a skirmish with Native Americans (who were siding with the British), and Michael Kern’s himself, believed to be buried within one hundred yards of the fort. After the Revolutionary War, the stockade and various outbuildings inside it were taken down. The city of Morgantown grew up around the remaining cabin which was covered over with wooden lapboards in the 1800’s and still remains standing today on a small corner lot.

Under the direction of Dr. Jarrod Burk, a leading eastern US geophysical archaeologist, and the staff of IV&V’s Educator Resource Center, a GPR survey was performed around the fort itself and in some of the neighboring yards. Various anomalies were located and recorded. Interestingly, these anomalies appeared to start at a depth consistent with 1700’s artifacts recovered in a single 50 cm diameter shovel test pit excavated a few feet from the back wall of the fort. Last summer educators dug more test pits in neighboring yards and uncovered handmade clay marbles, post-Civil War pharmaceutical glass and an interesting unidentified ceramic object.  To determine if any of the anomalies are indeed the missing graves, an excavation would need to be conducted with the approval of the State Historical and Preservation Office. But it is now known, thanks to IV&V’s ERC, places to begin the excavations!

Pictured below: Just a few of the more than 100 artifacts recovered from a small shovel test pit.

Bone, Ceramic Artifacts

Pam Casto
Education Specialist
NASA’s Independent Verification & Validation Program

IV&V's Independent Test Capability Team Competes in 2012 NASA Software of the Year

The IV&V Program’s Independent Test Capability team is chartered to acquire, develop and maintain simulation and test environments for NASA’s IV&V Program to enable dynamic analysis of NASA IV&V-supported projects. The team has worked with Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM), James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), International Space Station, Juno, Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV), Autonomous Flight Safety System (AFSS) and Goddard Mission Services Evolution Center (GMSEC). 

The IV&V Program’s Independent Test Capability team had the opportunity to compete in the 2012 NASA Software of the Year competition. The competition is sponsored by the NASA Chief Engineer, the NASA Chief Information Officer and the NASA Office of Safety and Mission Assurance. The purpose of the competition is to allow the agency to recognize and appreciate NASA’s team members who set high standards for significant software that is creative, usable, transferable and possesses inherent quality.

The competition requires that teams prepare and submit a significantly large packet of information detailing the characteristics of the software including commercialization potential, uniqueness and creativity, to name a few. In addition to the packet submission, each team prepares and gives a 30 minute presentation on the software. Initial submissions are evaluated at each respective NASA center and final submissions are evaluated by a software advisory panel, with representatives from across the agency. 

It was an honor for the Independent Test Capability team to be involved in this competition and to represent the IV&V Program and Goddard Space Flight Center. The team received honorable mention recognition and was the first submission from the IV&V Program. Thank you to everyone that supported the submission and especially those who provided peer reviews and letters of support. The team looks forward to its next opportunity to compete!

Independent Test Capability Team
NASA’s Independent Verification & Validation Program