Digital shuttle makes use of Web services

NASA Ames Research Center is combining visual imaging technology and Web services to create a virtual space shuttle.

The Moffett Field, Calif., center is using Lattice3D software from Lattice Technology USA Inc. of Los Altos, Calif., for the Digital Shuttle Project. The knowledge management project combines 3-D engineering designs with metadata about changes made to the space shuttles over the past 23 years, so that the virtual orbiters reflect the way the shuttles were actually built.

The project uses Extensible Markup Language to structure information, said Paul Keller, a research engineer and Digital Shuttle program manager at NASA Ames. Lattice3D's vocabulary, however, is a subset called XVL, or Extensible Virtual-World Description Language.

XVL maintains the integrity of the geometry during compression and decompression of large image files, Keller said.

Before Lattice3D, there was no good way to represent 3-D geometry with XML, Keller said.
The software works with so-called immersive technology such as stereo-vision goggles, but that's not on the space agency's agenda.

'The hard engineering is equations, functions and numbers,' Keller said, not flashy displays.

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