Thursday Apr 11, 2013

NASA Mission Operations on the NetBeans Platform (Part 1 of 4)

The Deep Space Flight Dynamics Support System (DSFDSS) is a proposed prototype for auxiliary ground system support on Lagrange point missions. Lagrange point missions and similar deep space missions have different mission planning profiles than standard Low Earth Orbit missions. While COTS and custom ground system software exist that can provide this planning, standard data services available at most NASA Mission Operations centers are seldom integrated with the data products produced by these tools. The DSFDSS will bridge this gap reducing downstream complexity for offline scientific analysis.

The initial prototype was developed in support of the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR). The DSCOVR mission (PDF) is scheduled for a SpaceX launch in 2014. Mission planning proceeds at the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA. The software will be deployed in the NOAA Satellite Operations Center located in Suitland, MD, USA and backed up in the Flight Dynamics Facility at GSFC NASAA. Development of the DSFDSS is led by Aerospace Industry contractor ai Solutions.

Orbit Compare:

Performance Box Plots:

Thruster Scatter Plot Matrices:

What Does the Software Do?

The DSFDSS has been designed to not only support the DSCOVR mission but all similar deep space/Lagrange missions in the future. The DSFDSS provides a platform for leveraging existing analysis scripts, data file comparison and conversion tools using an assortment of wizards. Plugins have been developed that provide 3D rendering of orbital ephemeris data using NASA’s GOTS product WorldWind. Complex visualizations of day-in-the-life data products are developed as custom projects and then committed to team repositories.

How Does the NetBeans Platform Help?

The NetBeans Platform allowed for a rapid prototype to be bootstrapped on an otherwise thin mission budget. The wizard framework makes daily operational procedures simple and greatly reduces risk of failure. The docking system makes drag and drop actions simple allowing for highly interactive analyst workflow. The simplicity of JavaFX interop facilitated adding non-traditional web-based visualizations seamlessly for an enhanced overall analysis and understanding.

All the info and text above was provided by Sean Phillips (@SeanMiPhillips), who is a Software Engineer and NASA contractor with aerospace experts ai Solutions.


Geertjan Wielenga (@geertjanw) is a Principal Product Manager in the Oracle Developer Tools group living & working in Amsterdam. He is a Java technology enthusiast, evangelist, trainer, speaker, and writer. He blogs here daily.

The focus of this blog is mostly on NetBeans (a development tool primarily for Java programmers), with an occasional reference to NetBeans, and sometimes diverging to topics relating to NetBeans. And then there are days when NetBeans is mentioned, just for a change.


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