The Morpheus simulation is a suite of software models that simulates the performance of a lander vehicle. The specific vehicle is a terrestrial lander used as a “vertical test bed” platform for developing technology, and proving hardware and software systems for use in space exploration. Morpheus software consists of three main components: flight software, ground software, and simulation software. While the emphasis in spacecraft development typically tends to be the flight software residing and running on the actual vehicle, both ground and simulation software components are equally essential in developing, testing, and operating the craft.

The Morpheus flight software is a complete set of vehicle software including propulsion, guidance, navigation, and control; space-like command and telemetry communication; and all support systems necessary to fly an autonomous, closed-loop vehicle mission. Novel approaches to

this software included embracing the operating system abstraction layer/publish-subscribe architecture and core software developed by Goddard Space Flight Center; componentizing guidance, navigation, and control (GNC) into a plug-and-play architecture; using an open-source development environment housing the software triad needed for integration of flight, ground, and simulation; and embedding the flight software within a vehicle simulation.

This operating system abstraction layer coupled with open-source software tools allowed for a flexible and readily available development and integration environment on each developer’s desktop. The software bus message passing facility is a key element of this architecture, and it provides a publish-subscribe communication mechanism between components.The strategy of using the software bus allows for a componentized approach to software development, and aids in the compartmentalization of GNC functions.

This work was done by Lorraine Williams, Kent Dekome, Louis Nguyen, Perry Piplani, Scott Tamblyn, Nina Patel, Tim Crain, John Christian, Robert Shelton, Zach Crues, Alexander Lin, Teming Tse, Brian Butcher, Wyatt Johnson, Chad Hanak, Frank Delgado, Bebe Ly, Tam Ngo, Renee Hugger, Dan Freund, Jeevan Perera, Todd Heino, Bob Goode, Steve Duran, James Carvajal, Jonathan Wilmot, Robert Hirsh, Eddie Eskola, and Robert Ling of Johnson Space Center; Lucas Ward, Luong Nguyen, Joel Busa, Hung Nguyen, Luis Cordova, Steve Korkowski, and Brian Birge of L-3 Communications; Shaun Stewart, Thomas Campbell, Joel Getchius, and Kyle Ottinger for Jacobs Engineering; and Steven Paschall, Pat Battstone, Ian Garcia, and Matt Fritz of Charles Stark Draper Laboratory. MSC-25240-1/56-1

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the September, 2015 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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