Mars Software Honored by NASA

Aug 13, 2004
Screen image of

NASA has selected a data visualization and simulation software package used by Mars rovers and landers, and a software package that can be used in aerospace and industrial flow fluid applications, as the "best of the best" software developed by the agency this year.

The "Science Activity Planner" developed by a team of experts at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., combines cutting-edge visualization with sophisticated planning and simulation capabilities to provide an intuitive interface to Mars rovers and landers. It is a multi-mission, multi-purpose tool that has achieved three simultaneous successes in mission operations, public outreach and technology development.

The software comes in two versions. The first is used in mission operations and contains the official mission activity dictionary. The second version was released under the name "Maestro" to the public for education and outreach. Maestro includes additional training features that make it a more effective tool for public engagement.

The software is used heavily in the Mars Exploration Rover Mission on a daily basis. Scientists on the rover missions depend on the Science Activity Planner as their primary interface to the Spirit and Opportunity rovers. Every day, mission scientists and engineers use it to plan the next actions of the rovers and analyze the data arriving from Mars. The software has completed over 350 Mars days of successful mission operations of the Spirit and Opportunity rovers without a single critical failure and will continue to serve this role until the end of the mission.

"We are thrilled to receive this award and honored to have been a part of the amazing team behind the Mars Exploration Rover mission," said Jeff Norris, the software team leader at JPL.

NASA also selected the TetrUSS 2004 software as an award winner. TetrUSS 2004 is a suite of computer programs used for fluid dynamics and aerodynamics analysis. Originally developed for NASA internal applications, TetrUSS 2004 has evolved into an efficient and versatile computer fluid dynamics tool used by engineers and scientists throughout the nation. The software is widely used in other government organizations, the aerospace industry, academia and non-aerospace industries such as automotive, biomedical and civil engineering.

Increased use of TetrUSS 2004 has occurred in critical NASA, government and industry programs. TetrUSS 2004 is now in use at over 500 sites for all classes of aerospace and industrial fluid flow applications, inside and outside of NASA, worth many billions of dollars. The TetrUSS 2004 team leader is Neal Frink of NASA's Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.

NASA began the competition in 1994, designed to reward outstanding software at the agency, as measured by the following criteria.
-- The science and technology significance of the software and its impact on NASA's mission
-- The extent of current and potential use
-- The usability of the software
-- The quality factors considered in the software
-- Intellectual property factors such as patents and copyrights
-- Innovation of the software


Software eligible for this award must have NASA intellectual property interest, be of commercial grade, and be available to appropriate commercial users or dedicated to a NASA mission.

For more information about the Software of the Year award on the Internet, visit: http: //icb.nasa.gov/nasaswy.html

Source: NASA

Explore further: NASA's reliance on outsourcing launches causes a dilemma for the space agency

Related Stories

Me and my world: The human factor in space

Jul 01, 2015

The world around us is defined by how we interact with it. But what if our world was out of this world? As part of NASA's One-Year Mission, researchers are studying how astronauts interact with the "world" ...

Building a smarter rover

Jun 04, 2015

The next mission to Mars could carry a smarter rover that is able to make better decisions absent instructions from Earth. Engineers are looking to automate some of the simple decision-making steps undertaken ...

Recommended for you

Hubble view: Wolf-Rayet stars, intense and short-lived

23 hours ago

This NASA/European Space Agency (ESA) Hubble Space Telescope picture shows a galaxy named SBS 1415+437 (also called SDSS CGB 12067.1), located about 45 million light-years from Earth. SBS 1415+437 is a Wolf-Rayet ...

Crash test assesses plane emergency locator transmitters

Jul 03, 2015

The Cessna 172 airplane dangled 82 feet in the air – looking almost like it was coming in for a landing, except for the cables attaching it to a huge gantry at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, ...

NASA image: Curiosity's stars and stripes

Jul 03, 2015

This view of the American flag medallion on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity was taken by the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) during the 44th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars (Sept. 19, 2012). ...

NASA image: Stellar sparklers that last

Jul 03, 2015

While fireworks only last a short time here on Earth, a bundle of cosmic sparklers in a nearby cluster of stars will be going off for a very long time. NGC 1333 is a star cluster populated with many young ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.