2008

Scripting Module for the Satellite Orbit Analysis Program (SOAP)

This add-on module to the SOAP software can perform changes to simulation objects based on the occurrence of specific conditions. This allows the software to encompass simulation response of scheduled or physical events. Users can manipulate objects in the simulation environment under programmatic control. Inputs to the scripting module are Actions, Conditions, and the Script. Actions are arbitrary modifications to constructs such as Platform Objects (i.e. satellites), Sensor Objects (representing instruments or communication links), or Analysis Objects (user-defined logical or numeric variables). Examples of actions include changes to a satellite orbit ( v), changing a sensor-pointing direction, and the manipulation of a numerical expression. Conditions represent the circumstances under which Actions are performed and can be couched in If-Then-Else logic, like performing v at specific times or adding to the spacecraft power only when it is being illuminated by the Sun.

The SOAP script represents the entire set of conditions being considered over a specific time interval. The output of the scripting module is a series of events, which are changes to objects at specific times. As the SOAP simulation clock runs forward, the scheduled events are performed. If the user sets the clock back in time, the events within that interval are automatically undone.

This script offers an interface for defining scripts where the user does not have to remember the vocabulary of various keywords. Actions can be captured by employing the same user interface that is used to define the objects themselves. Conditions can be set to invoke Actions by selecting them from pull-down lists. Users define the script by selecting from the pool of defined conditions. Many space systems have to react to arbitrary events that can occur from scheduling or from the environment. For example, an instrument may cease to draw power when the area that it is tasked to observe is not in view. The contingency of the planetary body blocking the line of sight is a condition upon which the power being drawn is set to zero. It remains at zero until the observation objective is again in view. Computing the total power drawn by the instrument over a period of days or weeks can now take such factors into consideration. What makes the architecture especially powerful is that the scripting module can look ahead and behind in simulation time, and this temporal versatility can be leveraged in displays such as xy plots. For example, a plot of a satellite’s altitude as a function of time can take changes to the orbit into account.

This work was done by Robert Carnright of Caltech and David Stodden, John Coggi, and Jim Paget of The Aerospace Corporation for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The release of this software is controlled by the Air Force at Space and Missiles Center (SMC) in Los Angeles, California. The point of contact at SMC is 1Lt Matthew Nelson ( e-mail address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ). The use of this software is restricted to U.S.Government programs.