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VMS LAB
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From the VMS Lab, engineers control, monitor, and record a simulation and communicate with the simulation pilot. Visiting researchers, whose needs shape a simulation experiment, work at this station in the VMS Lab.

Researchers control many aspects of a simulation. They often change the simulation's configuration. For example, they could present a shuttle pilot with different landing sites or conditions of visibility. They can also introduce failures to see how the pilot and the aircraft respond. Failures during a shuttle simulation might include the blowout of a tire during landing or the failure of the guidance system that helps astronauts locate a runway.

The VMS Lab provides many ways to monitor an experiment. Engineers can simultaneously view a computer-generated graphic of the exterior of the simulated aircraft, monitor the same out-the-window scene as the pilot, and even watch a video of the motion base.

To observe important information as the experiment occurs, researchers often use data display monitors. Data is displayed during a run (a particular flight task flown by the pilot) and can be updated with summary information at the end of each run. Data can be displayed as text or in graphic form, such as the gauges seen in this data display. In addition, a visual representation of the task can be created. In this case, researchers could see when the simulated helicopter, represented by the white circle in the lower right diagram, moved within specified bounds. In the lower left diagram, the red circle represented the position of the center stick flight control.

Researchers have two additional means to monitor data quickly. Eight strip chart recorders, like those at right, continuously display up to 128 variables as the simulation occurs, and they can be configured quickly to display different variables. In addition, the "end-of-run summary," which can be printed at the end of every run, is a more comprehensive listing of data than that shown on the data display monitor.

Researchers can record many aspects of a simulation for later analysis. At the end of every simulation experiment, compact discs with series data and summary data are made. Series data are variables recorded many times each second. Summary data are collected at the end of each run and include variables such as the conditions at the start of each run and selected minimum and maximum values. Up to 1300 variables each can be collected for series and summary data. This information can also be made available periodically during the simulation.

Some researchers make audio-video recordings. A common recording includes voice communications with the pilot and the front window of the out-the-window display. A head-up display can be included, if used. The data display monitor can also be recorded, and a video camera sometimes records the pilot's actions.

The VMS Lab provides numerous flexible tools for visiting researchers to control, monitor, and record simulations. The results of an experiment – the extensive data documenting the simulation – enable scientists to further their research, thereby advancing the field of aeronautics.

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Last Updated: April 5, 2017

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