"My father's job was to navigate to the moon, and as he told me, this was a very difficult problem," said Greg Schmidt, Stanley's son and director of NASA's Virtual Institute for Solar System Exploration at Ames. "You did not have a math solution to it, it was about using a number of different sources of information and optimally combining them to get the best possible estimate of where your spacecraft is at any given time, how fast you are, and others Variables. "
The computers aboard the Apollo 11 mission would have to allow the trajectory to the Moon and back, the reentry angle, and complicated maneuvers in between. But today they were no longer comparable to computers and lacked computing power.
When the elder Schmidt studied the upcoming moon mission, he thought of mathematician Rudolf Kalman.
"My father invited Rudy Kalman to a lecture in Ames, and when he did, Father had a revelation," said Greg Schmidt. Kalman had written a paper on a theoretical linear solution for estimating the position and speed of a vehicle, the problem being that this was a fundamentally nonlinear problem, it is like that Difference in complexity between the downward movement of a sluggish river and the crossing of a waterfall, where your movement becomes chaotic and unpredictable, and my father developed the equations to solve this nonlinear problem ̵
The same math known as the Schmidt-Kalman filter is used today to improve the efficiency of air traffic control.
NASA is working with the Federal Aviation Administration to explore the best ways to manage takeoff, cruise and landing of aircraft across the country.
For example, the Schmidt-Kalman filter can help to determine the most accurate estimate of the position of an aircraft by combining the expected trajectory the aircraft with real-time measurements, the agency said. The filter essentially eliminates all other data that is not needed.
"In air traffic management, keeping airplanes safe and separate," said Jeremy Coupe, Aviation Aerospace Engineer at Ames. "If you have a very good idea of where each aircraft is, you can increase the number of flights in a particular area, but if you do not have a good idea, you can not be sure how to pack more safely. " in the airspace. "
Like many innovations that improved space exploration during the Apollo era, this filter still has no effect today.
" I'm extremely proud of what my father did, "said Greg Schmidt "Before he died, I remember talking to him about his work at the hospital. He was barely able to speak, but told all equations as clearly as 50 years ago. He was a really amazing man. "19659016]