Developers can take advantage of NASA’s web-based mission control framework for data visualization on mobile & desktop
Houston, we had a data visualization problem. Now, thanks to NASA’s Open MCT, developers can take advantage of this space-age web-based mission control framework for data visualization on mobile and desktop.
As a government agency aimed at scientific exploration, NASA regularly open sources its software and technical apps for the world to enjoy. After all, their goal is to do science for the benefit of all humanity! This week, they’ve open sourced Open MCT, a web-based mission control framework.
This digital version of NASA’s Mission Control Center is already in use by NASA for data analysis of spacecraft missions. It’s also integral to the planning and operation of experimental rover systems. So, for anyone who deeply identified with Mission Control in Apollo 11, now’s your chance.
Originally developed as desktop app at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, the agency currently has two deployments based on Open MCT running: WARP and VISTA.
Web Application for Resource Prospector (WARP) is a mission control system for a future lunar rover mission called Resource Prospector. This deployment provides integrated situational awareness, health monitoring and telemetry display to many segments of the mission team, including rover operators, instrument specialists and strategic planners.
Developed in collaboration with the Jet Propulsion Lab, VISualization for Telemetry Analysis (VISTA) is a multi-mission telemetry analysis tool. It currently supports the daily operations of the JASON-3 satellite. That’s right; you can use this tool that is being used in SPACE right now.
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Unless you’re working for Rocket Lab or SpaceX, it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll actually need any kind of spacecraft controlling software. (Sorry.) However, NASA is fairly optimistic that Open MCT can be adapted for any kind of system that produces telemetry.
Open MCT can display streaming and historical data, imagery, timelines, procedures, and other data visualizations, all in one place. There are a lot of applications for a program like that in fields like drones, cubesats, robotics, and high altitude balloons.
More importantly for DevOps engineers, it can also be used for things like electronic health monitoring, computer and network performance monitoring, enterprise data visualization, and process control monitoring.
The web-based framework is very cool indeed. There’s an Object Tree that contains all the objects you have access to, including telemetry objects, prebuilt displays, and user-created objects. The View Area shows the contents of a selected item. Different types of items provide different views of their contents.
The Inspection pane and Search options allow you to learn more about object. Of course, with the Editing tools, you can create a new object; add, position, and resize an object; experiment with different object types; and more! Feel free to experiment and come up with your own uses for this space-age tool.
Getting Open MCT
Open MCT is freely available via GitHub or the NASA website. However, developers should know that it requires Git, Node.js, and npm in order to function properly. There’s a very helpful telemetry adapter tutorial for those devs just starting to reach for the stars and a live demo here.
Feedback is especially welcome; report any issues on GitHub.