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ICESat-2 Mission Instrument Support Facility Utilizing Open Mission Control Technologies Software Platform
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ICESat-2 Mission Instrument Support Facility Utilizing Open Mission Control Technologies Software Platform

The second Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat-2), a NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Mission, launched successfully on September 15th. ICESat-2 is the benchmark Earth Observing System mission for measuring ice sheet mass balance, cloud, and aerosol heights, as well as land topography and vegetation characteristics. The ICESat-2 mission instrument support facility is using the Open Mission Control Technologies (Open MCT) software platform to monitor telemetry.

BACKGROUND: The Open MCT platform 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) and NASA’s Advanced Multi-Mission Operations System (AMMOS), Open MCT is being used by NASA for data analysis of spacecraft missions, including the Mars Cube One (MarCO) missions, the first interplanetary CubeSats launched alongside the InSight Mars Lander; the Arcsecond Space Telescope, a technology demonstration of astrophysical measurements using a Cubesat with a focus on engineer training; and the Mars 2020 rover testbed, part of a mission that will addresses high-priority science goals for Mars exploration, including key questions about the potential for life on Mars. Open MCT is open source software; more information and a demo can be viewed on GitHub.

ICESat-2 will provide scientists with height measurements that create a global portrait of Earth’s 3rd dimension, gathering data that can precisely track changes of terrain, including glaciers, sea ice, forests and more. While many of ICESat-2’s discoveries are yet to be imagined, the satellite mission has four science objectives:

  • Measure melting ice sheets and investigate how this effects sea level rise
  • Measure and investigate changes in the mass of ice sheets and glaciers
  • Estimate and study sea ice thickness
  • Measure the height of vegetation in forests and other ecosystems worldwide

From 2003 to 2009, the ICESat mission provided multi-year elevation data needed to determine ice sheet mass balance as well as cloud property information, especially for stratospheric clouds common over polar areas. It also provided topography and vegetation data around the globe, in addition to the polar-specific coverage over the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: Open MCT is co-funded by the Advanced Multi-Mission Operations System (AMMOS) and the NASA Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) program.

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


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