Release Announcement on open.nasa.gov

This is a copy of a post I made earlier this week to the open.nasa.gov blog about our R2012a release.

Late last month, the Goddard-led GMAT team unveiled the General Mission Analysis Tool R2012a, the latest in a line of beta feature-development releases that we’ve been putting out for the past five years. This is an important milestone for the project: earlier this year our team switched almost entirely to validation, documentation, and QA in preparation for our first production-quality release, currently scheduled for early next year. R2012a represents a feature-complete preview of that release.

The General Mission Analysis Tool (GMAT) is a space trajectory simulation, analysis, and optimization system developed by a team made up of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and private industry partners. It is developed as open source under the NASA Open Source Agreement: not only is the source code for each release available for download, but the primary development repository is hosted publicly at SourceForge.net. Here at GSFC, it’s been used as a primary or secondary design tool on many of our most exciting missions: LCROSS, ARTEMIS, LRO, MMS, OSIRIS, and others. And externally, it’s been used by entities as varied as the Air Force Research Lab, Iowa State University, and the European Space Agency. Contributors to this release included NASA GSFC civil servants, Thinking Systems Inc., and A.I. Solutions.

The R2012a release offers some exciting improvements from the last year of development:

  • Ground track plot: GMAT can now show a two-dimensional ground track of your spacecraft on any planet or celestial body you choose.
  • Orbit Designer: Now you can design an (Earth-centered) orbit as easily as choosing a type and a small set of defining parameters. For example, a geostationary orbit can now be created with just one click.
  • Preview features: We’ve included previews of an eclipse locator feature, which can detect when a spacecraft will enter and exit shadow regions, and of a C-language interface to GMAT’s modeling features.
  • Many others: This version of GMAT includes many smaller improvements to its modeling capabilities, performance, and usability.

As mentioned above, this is the last of the feature-driven beta versions that we’ve been releasing since 2007. As of this spring, we’ve switched almost entirely to quality improvement. We’re making a full sweep through the system, going feature-by-feature and making sure everything is spec’d, tested, and documented, all leading to our first production release this winter. The coming year is going to be an important one for the project: the production version will open the doors for collaboration and public engagement far beyond their current levels, and we’re working hard to get ourselves into a position to take advantage of that. Look for many changes to GMAT’s public-facing infrastructure and community development efforts in the coming months.

We need your help to make GMAT a success: please subscribe to our beta testing mailing list if you are interested in participating. Or, as always, join us at our forums, blog, or wiki.

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Announcing GMAT R2012a

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is pleased to announce the release of the General Mission Analysis Tool (GMAT) Release 2012a Beta.  (Download Here:  Windows (Beta), Source).  R2012a is our feature-complete beta release in preparation for the first production release (non-beta) of GMAT scheduled for early 2013.   If you are interested or willing to help us in beta testing, please join the beta test mailing list. For a complete listing of new features, see our Release Notes.

GMAT is a space trajectory optimization and mission analysis system developed by NASA and private industry in the spirit of the NASA Vision.   GMAT is a collaboratively developed, open-source tool that enables the development of new mission concepts and provides capabilities that can improve current mission support in a transparent and verifiable way through release of source code.

The system has been used in support of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS), ARTEMIS (Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of the Moon’s Interaction with the Sun) , Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) Mission, and OSIRIS (Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer).

This release was developed with contributions by Thinking Systems, Inc., and a.i. solutions, Inc.  GMAT is offered free of charge to use, modify, and share as described under the terms of the NASA Open Source Agreement v1.3.

For further information, please visit the project web site: http://gmat.gsfc.nasa.gov/. To receive future announcements, please subscribe to the project mailing list: https://lists.sourceforge.net/lists/listinfo/gmat-info

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GMAT R2012a Release Plan

GMAT R2011a was the first of a new series that we intended to release on a 6-month schedule, with an “a” and a “b” version each spring and fall, respectively. Since then, though, we’ve embarked a major new effort to certify GMAT for actual operational use, and that’s taken a toll on our release schedule.

So here’s the new plan for the short term:

We’ll be releasing GMAT R2012a on May 18, 2012 or thereabouts, just in time for the International Conference on Astrodynamics Tools and Techniques (ICATT). This will be the first non-beta release of GMAT, and the goal is to have a quality set of features with near-full test coverage and rigorous testing of critical functionality. This will form the baseline for the version that goes through the formal certification process here at NASA.

In the meantime, we’ll be posting a few more sneak peaks of upcoming features that will appear in R2012a.

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What do you want in an astrodynamics toolkit?

For much of the past year, we’ve been working on an initial version of a C-language interface to GMAT’s base code. This was specifically in response to a need by the OD Toolbox project to use GMAT for its force modeling, so the interface we developed is limited to that. Basically, you use MATLAB (or raw C) to load a GMAT script, then query it for derivatives and state information.

If you’re curious, you can try it out with a self-compiled copy of GMAT: just make sure you build the CInterfacePlugin, and see the API docs for programming details. If you’re new to building GMAT, our Dev Blog can help with that.

Next year, we’ll be expanding this into new territory: the goal is to create a full astrodynamics/mission design toolkit (in C and MATLAB) based on GMAT. This will end up similar to existing projects like AGI Components and Orekit, but will be native code and will have the power of GMAT behind it.

So we’re looking for your comments: what would you like to see in an astrodynamics toolkit? Easy access to coordinate system conversions? Time systems? State representations? Orbit propagation? Some special need that nothing else has been able to satisfy? We have limited development time this year, so we need to prioritize what goes in at the outset.

Please post your feedback below, or see our Contacts page for more ways to get in touch with us. Thanks!

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Sneak Peak: GroundTrackPlot

Work on the next release of GMAT has been progressing steadily since we released R2011a in April. I’ve been meaning to take some time each week or so to highlight some new development that we’ve been working on. That obviously hasn’t happened, but in the spirit of better-late-than-never, I’d like to present the first of our sneak peaks for the next version of GMAT: GroundTrackPlot!

GMAT R2011a offered two types of graphical views for mission data: XYPlot, which allows you to plot one or more parameter against another, and OrbitView, which shows a three-dimensional physical view of the mission. We got a lot of requests for an additional view that would show a two-dimensional map of a spacecraft’s central body along with an overlay of the spacecraft’s trajectory. This sort of thing is widely used to judge access and coverage metrics and to make quick judgements about the quality of a given solution.

Here’s a snippet of a GMAT script that uses the new GroundTrackPlot resource:

Create Spacecraft MySC
<...>


Create GroundTrackPlot MyGroundTrack
MyGroundTrack.Add = {MySC, Earth}
MyGroundTrack.CentralBody = Earth

And here’s the plot this script produces after propagating for 1 day (the spacecraft is over on the right):

GroundTrack example

You can show the same orbit with respect to Mars by changing the script above like so:

Create GroundTrackPlot MyGroundTrack
MyGroundTrack.Add = {MySC, Mars}
MyGroundTrack.CentralBody = Mars

GroundTrack Mars example

Notice that in this view, the ground track is a straight line at the latitude of Earth from Mars. The length of the line corresponds to the rotation of Mars for the duration of this mission (1 Earth day).

Here’s another interesting example, showing a geosynchronous (but not geostationary) orbit with a 45-degree inclination. If this orbit were geostationary, it would appear as a single point instead of a figure-8.

GroundTrack geosynchronous example

That’s it! Hopefully this is an interesting look into what’s in store for our next release. I’ll post more as we get closer.

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Welcome OSCON attendees!

Today I’m giving a talk about GMAT in the Citizen Science track at OSCON 2011. Thank you in advance to all the attendees!

If you’re interested in trying it out for yourself, here are some of the links I mention in my talk:

My slides will also available after the fact.

Thank you again! If you have questions, feel free to comment below.

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Release Notes: GMAT R2011a

The General Mission Analysis Tool (GMAT) version R2011a was released April 29, 2011 on the following platforms:

The GMAT source code is also available for download.

This is the first release since September 2008, and is the 4th public release for the project. In this release:

  • 100,000 lines of code were added
  • 798 bugs were opened and 733 were closed
  • Code was contributed by 9 developers from 4 organizations
  • 6216 system tests were written and run nightly

Continue reading

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Announcing the GMAT R2011a beta release

GMAT Mission Analysis Tool

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is pleased to announce the immediate availability of the General Mission Analysis Tool (GMAT) Release 2011a Beta.  (Download Here:  Windows (Beta), Mac (alpha), Linux (alpha), Source)

GMAT is a space trajectory optimization and mission analysis system developed by NASA and private industry in the spirit of the NASA Vision.   GMAT is a collaboratively developed, open-source tool that enables the development of new mission concepts and provides capabilities that can improve current mission support.  The system has been used in support of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS), ARTEMIS (Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of the Moon’s Interaction with the Sun) , Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) Mission.   GMAT’s state of the art features include high fidelity orbit propagation, impulsive and finite maneuver models,  parameter optimization solvers, boundary solvers, MATLAB integration,  command line and GUI interfaces, 2-D and 3D graphics, custom scripting and plug-ins, among many others and it provides these features in a transparent and verifiable way through release of source code.

This release was developed with contributions by AFRL, Thinking Systems, Inc., The Schafer Corporation, and a.i.-solutions, Inc.  GMAT is offered free of charge to use, modify, and share as described under the terms of the NASA Open Source Agreement v1.3.  GMAT runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux.  While GMAT has undergone extensive testing and is mature software, we consider the software to be in Beta form (alpha on Mac and Linux). The GMAT team is currently preparing GMAT for operational use and is investigating orbit estimation functionality to replace GSFC heritage OD systems.

This is a one-time announcement. For further information, please visit the project web site: http://gmat.gsfc.nasa.gov/.

To receive future announcements, please subscribe to the project mailing list: https://lists.sourceforge.net/lists/listinfo/gmat-info

GMAT Logo

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