Planetary Science Operations Center (SOC)
Simulation is being used to support the planning of the experiments of several planetary science missions, i.e. Rosetta, Smart-1, MarsExpress and VenusExpress. The modelling and simulation section has been developing a suite of tools, currently being utilised by the above mentioned planetary mission SOCs during the various planning tasks. The tools that have been developed are described below.
Experiment Planning System (EPS)
The EPS software is mainly a low-level library that provides the basic functionality to perform the verification of experiment timelines. To be able to do this, it defines a configurable model of the scientific experiments including their resource usage and constraints. In EPS, it is possible to execute experiment timelines. Furthermore, EPS provides the support to many file formats (timelines, pointing, event file, spacecraft database, etc) and can convert between internal SOC formats and external formats, e.g. used by the ESOC Flight Control Team (FCT) or Flight Dynamics (FD). EPS is integrated both in the PTB as well as in MAPPS, which are described below.
When the software developments for planetary SOCs were started, a generic prototype Project Test Bed (PTB) simulator was already available, which included 3D graphics displays and 2D mapping tools. This technology has been used as a starting point to quickly create PTB simulators for the different science missions. The PTB can be used for analysing the spacecraft environment. It may generate events that can be used during the planning of the science operations. Furthermore, it may generate environmental data and other parameters that can potentially support the planning process. Because the EPS software is integrated inside the PTB, it is possible to run the planned experiment operations in a simulation with the spacecraft in its expected environment. The results can be displayed in an intuitive 3D graphics front-end, where the spacecraft attitude and any geometric constraints can be interpreted by users which do not have to be flight dynamics experts.
The MAPPS tool has originally been developed to visualise the coverage of the MarsExpress experiments onto the Martian surface. Detailed terrain data in included in MAPPS, which provides an optimised image display, allowing the user to zoom in to specific areas of the surface at high detail. During its development, numerous capabilities have been added for other missions such as VenusExpress, including a timeline visualisation window to display the operational modes of the experiments, any environmental events and data (e.g. geometric parameters, experiment power consumptions and mass memory usage), pointing and slew manoeuvres, and any conflicts that have been detected. With the integration of the EPS software as described above, MAPPS allows the user to execute individual experiment timelines and pointing request files (PTR files), or to merge experiment timelines into a consolidated timeline that can be used (after verification) as the actual timeline to be uplinked to the spacecraft.
Last update: 20 September 2006