Astrophysicists at JPL use an intensely computational process to plan spacecraft flight paths and navigate them. The computing involves determining orbital motion, precise clock timings and other aspects of the space environment and spacecraft performance. 

Finding the most efficient and effective trajectories in the high dimensional data is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Not only is it challenging to compute, it’s also challenging for the astrophysicists to work with intuitively. 

To make their engagement with the data more tractable, we worked with our collaborators in JPL’s Mission Design and Navigation (MDNav) group to design an astrodynamics visualization package to integrate with their existing trajectory design and navigation tools.

We developed Trajector Sketch, a visual tool that gives the trajectory and navigation teams the ability to intuitively interact with 3D and 2D visual representations of trajectories and query the quantitative data to analyse and validate the paths.

Recognition and Follow-On Funding

In 2017, Jeffrey Stuart and co-workers received funding of $470k to further develop the project for integration into the Advanced Multi-Mission Operations System (AMMOS) within the Mission Ground System and Services Program (MGSS). AMMOS is a NASA-wide program that develops the tools used across NASA centers to run even non-JPL missions.

Some of the projects were featured in Pasadena Now, in an article titled, “Caltech’s Visualization Program Brings Data to Life.