Observation planning for any NASA mission is essential for demonstrating a spacecraft’s ability to achieve goals, whether the target is Earth or any other astronomical body. As demands have grown, so has the fidelity, complexity, and precision of spacecraft observations. In addition, modern spacecraft communications bandwidth allows for the transmission of more data than ever. These increased capabilities have placed extra demands on spacecraft science observations. Although creating observation plans is usually relegated to the flight operations period of a mission, teams can benefit by considering these observation designs during early stages of mission planning as well. Collaboration between science teams and operations teams requires a complex web of cumbersome technology for sharing and integrating observation plans and their resulting data. This significant complexity hinders the ability of responsible parties to make informed, sensible, and rapid decisions. Spaceline solves this problem with an application that every party involved can access. Additionally, Spaceline’s flexible access allows users of both browser-based GUI or WebAPI to work with Spaceline directly or link Spaceline to their own tools, maintaining a known provenance for every kernel.
We propose to extend the core functionality of Spaceline from supporting only pre-compiled observation plans to allowing users to create observation plans directly within Spaceline. The expanded capability will require an additional user interface. Users will define a collection of components including points, vectors, and coordinate frames that define the explicit attitude targets of an observation plan.
Our proposed addition of observation planning in the Spaceline ecosystem will directly 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. By allowing users to experiment with observation designs earlier in the design cycle of a mission, teams have the opportunity to develop a more advanced ConOps, supporting mission success.
Spaceline would support commercial Earth orbiting constellations as well as Space Situational Awareness applications. Spaceline can test the efficacy of constellation-based sensors which monitor the activities of other spacecraft and provide a training tool for operations team members. The visualization portions of Spaceline will be easy to insert into third-party web sites or museum kiosks.