focusLEO Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) flight dynamics software
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The Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO), managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA, is a mission to measure carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere. Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, VA, will provide the OCO project’s spacecraft and real-time mission operations.

Orbital Sciences recently selected focusLEO Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) flight dynamics software to provide support to constellation flying, which is important for OCO because it will fly in loose formation with a series of other Earth-orbiting satellites known as the Earth Observing System Afternoon Constellation, or the A-train. This coordinated flight formation will enable researchers to correlate OCO data with data acquired by other instruments on Earth-observing spacecraft. In particular, Earth scientists will compare OCO data with nearly simultaneous measurements acquired by the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument. The AIRS instrument files on the Earth Observing System Aqua platform.

ImageThe software provides lifetime support of LEO satellite flight dynamics operations, with attitude and orbit propagation and determination, maneuver planning and calibration, flight dynamics events generation, and satellite end-of-life planning.

After its 2008 launch, the OCO mission will collect global measurements of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere. Scientists will analyze OCO data to improve the understanding of natural processes and human activities that regulate the abundance and distribution of this greenhouse gas. This research hopefully will enable more reliable forecasts of future changes in the abundance and distribution of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and the effect that these changes may have on Earth’s climate.

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