Geertjan's Blog

  • April 11, 2013

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

Geertjan Wielenga
Product Manager
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
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

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

Join the discussion

Comments ( 9 )
  • Mircea Thursday, April 11, 2013

    Great. Amazing for NetBeans.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Sean Phillips Friday, April 12, 2013

    Thanks for the comment and Thanks Geertjan for publishing our tool. I'm the lead developer for the DSCOVR tool. We use the JavaFX webkit support to render the embedded D3.JS based visualizations. I was inspired by some of your blog entries from last year with Java/JavaFX interacting with Javascript.

  • guest Friday, April 12, 2013

    The DSFDSS project is great; it is very extensible and as someone who has seen it firsthand I can attest to its ease of use and its usability. The developers at ai Solutions have done a great job and I'm glad they've gotten some recognition for their hard work.

  • Gustav Friday, April 12, 2013

    Looks very versatile- I'd be interested to know what is powering the Earth-view and orbit track renderings?

  • Sean Phillips Friday, April 12, 2013

    Hi Gustav. The 3D rendering is WorldWind. We've made a few custom plugins that provide the WorldWind view as a Panel that can be dropped into a NetBeans Platform TopComponent.

    We've then created a TopComponent that encapsulates a JDesktop component and a tertiary drag and drop handler for Ephemeris type data. Analysts can Drag and drop ephemeris data and files into your different WorldWind windows for quick visuals.

    This tool doesn't typically generate the ephemeris data, that is reserved for other components within the Ground System. (With this mission, STK, but other missions it might be FreeFlyer, GMAT, GEONS, etc)

  • Dave Staelens Friday, April 12, 2013

    Very nice work Sean. Very cool stuff.

  • Larry Saturday, April 13, 2013

    Great work on this plugin Sean, I'm really excited to see some of the possibilities of WorldWind and NetBeans together.

  • Sean Phillips Sunday, April 14, 2013


    Fast forward through the next few days of GJ's Blog. He's posting a group of our applications and we reuse the WorldWind plugin in another tool as well.

  • Daglees Sunday, April 14, 2013

    Great news. I'm always excited to see new uses for NetBeans, although I've only used the NetBeans IDE myself.

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