Monday, August 8, 2011

Life and Times of a NASA International Visitor

Monday, 1st of August 2011, I officially signed in as a NASA visitor. Patrick gave me a grand tour of the place. Since photography would get us into trouble in most of the places I resorted to sketching things up. First stop was the Vertical Motion Simulator, which was simulating a VTOL aircraft (tilt-rotor) when we got there. We saw Hangar one (big blimp hangar), the uber Wind tunnel with hockey playing equipment strewn in front of it. We then discussed the past, present and future of WorldWind, Globe viewing client, scalable + distributed data serving, porting to Android platforms and much much more. We finally had a small timeslot to catch up with Mars Rover software team, heavy users of the Ardor3D Java based game engine. I have been building OSGi manifests into Ardor3D and I was preaching the use of the manifest enabled jars in their projects - Antares and Verve. I also discussed the differences between Clipmapped terrain (as in Ardor3d) and Chunked LOD (as in WorldWind) with Leslie and how we can merge the 2 techniques for large terrain rendering to make something scalable, accurate and aesthetically pleasing.
Day two I sat in on one of the WorldWind team telecons and got wind of the developments on Android and challenges of a multitouch interface user semantics, as well as scalability required to proxy and deploy Microsoft Virtual Earth datasets.
On Friday I had a joint showing with Bruce from Emxsys and caught up with Vince Ambrosia and team from the WRAP project. We discussed coupled fire models (terrain + fuel + wind + fire) and UAV derived information assimilation for training and operational fire fighting purposes. Another show-n-tell in NASA hangars followed (including ogling at Google Jets parked in there). We saw the mostly moulded carbon fibre hull SIERRA and discussed air-space management during fires to allow use of UAV's.

Over all it was a highly enlightening trip. One I would like to repeat as soon as possible.
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