XFDS provides an easily adaptable automation platform. To date it has been used to support flight dynamics operations. It coordinates the execution of other applications such as Satellite TookKit, FreeFlyer, MATLAB, and Perl code. It provides a mechanism for passing messages among a collection of XFDS processes, and allows sending and receiving of GMSEC messages. A unified and consistent graphical user interface (GUI) is used for the various tools. Its automation configuration is stored in text files, and can be edited either directly or using the GUI.

XFDS is implemented as a group of cooperating processes. One process coordinates communications, another drives an optional GUI (not needed if running in batch mode), and the rest carry out automation tasks. The software is designed around three concepts: (1) an “action” controls an automation step; (2) a “variable” allows information to be shared among actions; and (3) a “form” corresponds to a GUI widget, which can be reused between action editors.

A significant strength of this approach is to provide a high-level abstraction to the procedures that need to be carried out. Frequently changed parameters are readily available for modification, while the rest are hidden. Additional programs that provide a batch interface can be added to this system.

This work was done by Robert E. Wiegand, Timothy C. Esposito, John S. Watson, Linda Jun, Wendy Shoan, and Carla Matusow of Goddard Space Flight Center and Wayne McCullough of Computer Sciences Corp. For further information, contact the Goddard Innovative Partnerships Office at (301) 286-5810. GSC-15618-1.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the December, 2010 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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