Simulating science objectives is an essential component of NASA missions to reduce risk. As technology has improved, so has the fidelity, complexity, and precision of scientific instrumentation. In addition, the communications bandwidth of the modern spacecraft allows for the transmission of more data than ever. These increased capabilities have placed extra demands on science data generation. Simulated science data for use in planning are required for a successful mission, not only in flight, but through all stages of mission planning as well. Unprecedented collaboration between science and operations teams requires large swaths of cumbersome technology for sharing, integrating, and visualizing simulated data. This significant complexity hinders the ability of responsible parties to make informed, sensible, and rapid decisions.
Spaceline is a server- and web-based application developed under an in-progress NASA SBIR Phase II contract. The Spaceline application consists of three core capabilities: SPICE kernel management, 3D interactive display of a scene, and simulation of science data for any onboard instrument for a given instant in time. We propose to extend this core functionality further by extending Spaceline’s features from supporting just planetary surface imagers to supporting a wide range of different sensors that would interact with a variety of different target models. Each target model in turn represents different scientific phenomena ranging from planetary atmospheres to magnetic and gravity fields to the eruptive emission of volatiles and particles. Spaceline will also support the design and planning of astronomical observations.
This work will be a welcome addition to any NASA mission looking to reduce costs and risks involved with science planning. Users will have access to an environment in which they can analyze and measure the impact of proposed observation plans against complex scientific phenomena. This work will facilitate NASA in their goal of developing Mission Design Analysis tools to increase the accuracy of science modeling and enable design of future observing systems by predicting and optimizing their impacts on science data collection.
The expansion of Spaceline to support planetary and astronomical models across non-surface phenomena would also facilitate mission planning for commercial Earth-orbiting constellations and Space Domain Awareness. Spaceline can also be used in classrooms, allowing students to explore a variety of data models for a planet, even adding their own models created from source data.