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HIGHLIGHTS ARCHIVE
08.03.11
Division Highlights

Contents
Drosophila melanogaster
Common fruit fly

Measuring Fruit Fly Behavior in Reduced Gravity on the Vertical Motion Simulator (VMS)
Researchers from the Biomodel Permanence and Behavior Lab and the Fluid Mechanics Lab used the Vertical Motion Simulator (VMS) to observe the flight behavior of fruit flies under reduced gravity. This information will be used to develop an experiment to be performed on the International Space Station. The study was conducted on two mornings before the start of a previously scheduled simulation on the VMS. The fruit fly habitat and measurement equipment were attached inside the cockpit of the VMS and subject to positive and negative vertical accelerations. Prior to each run the fruit flies were agitated using a seat shaker to make them fly. Gravity levels of approximately 0.3 G's were achieved and the researchers stated that: “Our labs have already drawn significant conclusions from the observational data gathered during the VMS run, and are working to optimize the method of agitation, fly habitat, and age of the flies for increased experimental data collection.” (POC: Steve Beard)

Testing of Vertical Resolutions for Terminal TSAFE Research (T-TSAFE)
To prepare for the upcoming experiment that will evaluate the conflict detection and resolution tool (T-TSAFE), Subject Matter Experts (Controllers) evaluated the vertical resolutions and expanded controller interface for Terminal Tactical Separation Assured Flight Environment (T-TSAFE) on July 14th. Pseudo pilot training will be held on August 3-4, 2011, to prepare for the test. The T-TSAFE concept takes TSAFE, as developed for use in En route airspace, and adapts it for use in Terminal airspace. Terminal airspace is crowded and has more complicated separation criteria than high altitude airspace, and current day tools flag too many false conflicts which lowers controller trust in the automation and decreases it's usefulness. T-TSAFE is designed to reduce false alerts in this complex airspace, and provide controllers with suggested conflict resolutions. The current implementation of T-TSAFE is now providing controllers with alerts for possible losses of separation, and suggesting conflict resolutions based on altitude changes. Suggested resolutions based on speed and heading changes will be added later this year. The focus of this evaluation was to validate the reasonableness of the T-TSAFE altitude resolutions, and to get controller feedback on the expanded interface. Data Collection with retired controllers and pilots is scheduled for the week of August 8th and 15th. (POC: Savita Verma)

Photo of participants during a PDRC evaluation at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.
Participants in a PDRC evaluation at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

NASA Conducts Field Demonstration of Technology to Improve Departure Release Management
NASA Ames researchers in collaboration with the FAA, American Airlines, and DFW airport have completed a multi-week field evaluation of the Precision Departure Release Capability (PDRC). PDRC uses trajectory-based takeoff time estimates from a surface automation system to improve en route tactical departure scheduling into constrained overhead flows. This initial field evaluation began on July 13th and ended on July 29th. PDRC user interfaces and NASA observers were stationed at four locations: the Fort Worth Air Route Traffic Control Center's Traffic Management Unit, the DFW East air traffic control tower, American Airlines' DFW ramp tower, and NASA's North Texas (NTX) research station. The first week was devoted to system shakedown and controller training. During the second week, the system was used in a shadow mode that evaluated PDRC advisories without affecting actual operations. The 12-day test period concluded with several operational evaluations where controllers successfully used PDRC advisories to schedule actual DFW departures. Anecdotal feedback from these initial evaluations indicated that PDRC takeoff time estimates and en route departure schedules were usable and shows promise of providing the expected benefits. Detailed results are forthcoming. NASA's PDRC research activity is on track for technology transfer to the FAA in June 2012. (POC: Shawn Engelland)

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