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Mars Cube One and Arcsecond Space Telescope Missions Utilizing Open Mission Control Technologies Software Platform
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Mars Cube One and Arcsecond Space Telescope Missions Utilizing Open Mission Control Technologies Software Platform

The Mars Cube One (MarCO) missions are using Open Mission Control Technologies (Open MCT) to visualize and analyze telemetry data. The twin CubeSats, built and operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), were launched to Mars alongside the InSight Mars Lander. The MarCO missions are the first interplanetary CubeSats. The operations team is using Open MCT to build telemetry displays. Open MCT’s composition capability allows the operations team to build their own display layouts, which allow for flexible user composition of display without writing code.

The Arcsecond Space Telescope Enabling Research In Astrophysics (ASTERIA) CubeSat, built and operated by JPL, is also using Open MCT to visualize and analyze telemetry data and build display layouts. ASTERIA was deployed from the International Space Station.

BACKGROUND: Open MCT is a next-generation mission control framework for visualization of mission data on desktop and mobile devices. Developed at NASA's Ames Research Center in collaboration with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Open MCT is deployed at NASA JPL as the VISualization for Telemetry Analysis (VISTA) software, and would have been utilized by NASA Ames as the Web Applications for Resource Prospector (WARP). Open MCT is open source software available on GitHub; more information and a demo can be viewed online.

The MarsCo missions (MarCO-A and B) are our first and second interplanetary CubeSats designed to monitor the InSight Mars Lander for a short period around landing. These CubeSat missions are not needed for InSight’s mission success, but are a demonstration of potential future capability. The MarCO pair will carry their own communications and navigation experiments as they fly independently to the red planet. The MarCO's will deploy two radio antennas and two solar panels. The high-gain, X-band antenna is a flat panel engineered to direct radio waves the way a parabolic dish antenna does. If the MarCO demonstration mission succeeds, it could allow for a "bring-your-own" communications relay option for use by future Mars missions in the critical few minutes between Martian atmospheric entry and touchdown. By verifying CubeSats are a viable technology for interplanetary missions, and feasible on a short development timeline, this technology demonstration could lead to many other applications to explore and study our solar system.

The Arcsecond Space Telescope Enabling Research In Astrophysics (ASTERIA) is a technology demonstration of astrophysical measurements using a Cubesat, with a primary goal of training early-career engineers, under the guidance of experienced mentors, with real, rapid, hands-on exposure to the multiple disciplines and phases of a flight project. ASTERIA's technical goal is to achieve arcsecond-level line-of-sight pointing error and highly stable focal plane temperature control. These technologies are important for precision photometry, i.e., the measurement of stellar brightness over time. Precision photometry, in turn, provides a way to study stellar activity, transiting exoplanets, and other astrophysical phenomena.

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: Open MCT is co-funded by the Advanced Multi-Mission Operations System (AMMOS) and the NASA Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) program; the VISualization for Telemetry Analysis (VISTA) software is funded by AMMOS.

OPEN MCT TEAM: Charles Hacskaylo, Andrew Henry, Pete Richards, Pegah Sarram, Mark Shirley, Deep Tailor, and Jay Trimble


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