About Open MCT

What is Open MCT?

Open MCT (Mission Control Technologies) is a next-generation mission control framework for visualization of data on desktop and mobile devices. It is developed at NASA's Ames Research Center in collaboration with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and is being used by NASA for data analysis of spacecraft missions, as well as planning and operation of experimental rover systems. As a generalizable and open source framework, Open MCT could be used as the basis for building applications for planning, operation, and analysis of any systems producing telemetry data.

Open MCT is designed to meet the rapidly evolving needs of mission control systems. At NASA, the requirements for Open MCT are being driven by a need to support distributed operations, access to data anywhere, data visualization for spacecraft analysis that spans multiple data sources, and flexible reconfiguration to support multiple missions and operator use cases. Open MCT brings together many of the functions of mission operations, alleviating the need for operators to switch between different applications to view all necessary data.

To find out how to start using and extending Open MCT, please see our getting started page, and our documentation.

Open MCT Layout

Web-based, responsive design

Open MCT is a responsive web-based application framework providing data visualization and mission control, from anywhere, on desktop or mobile platforms. Being web-based simplifies support, removing the need to deliver updates to multiple machines. Supporting mobile enables off-duty operators to remotely monitor system state, and shortens the handover period when they come on-duty by allowing them to quickly get up to speed.

A screen shot of Open MCT running on the iPhone

Object-oriented, user-composable

Open MCT represents data and views as objects which can be composed in different ways. For example, activities can be composed to build timelines, telemetry points can be composed into plots, tables, and other views. Views themselves can be composed to create layouts of multiple display elements that are sized and placed by the user. Data can be displayed with rich graphical views such as plots and imagery. Composition uses direct and intuitive drag and drop operations.

A screen shot showing the Open MCT object tree

Extensible and Flexible Architecture

The need to support multiple missions has driven a software architecture that emphasizes reusability, modularity, and extensibility. The core functionality of Open MCT can be customized with plugins to support the specific needs of missions, across multiple domains. In addition to the features provided by the Open MCT framework itself, Open MCT provides an extensible public API to enable the development of new visualizations, integration with telemetry sources, and other new features.

A diagram showing that an application built on Open MCT is a collection of plugins that call the core API.

How NASA is using Open MCT

Open MCT was originally developed as a desktop application for the mission control center at Johnson Space Center in Houston. Today, Open MCT has moved to the web in order to better support distributed spacecraft operations across multiple locations. NASA has two deployments built on the Open MCT platform: WARP and VISTA. This website will be updated soon with more detailed case studies of users both within and outside of NASA.

VISTA

VISualization for Telemetry Analysis is a multi-mission telemetry analysis tool developed in collaboration with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and built on Open MCT. It supports several JPL missions, including Jason-3, MarCO, Mars 2020, ASTERIA, and others.

WARP

WARP is a mission control system that is used at NASA's Ames Research Center to support the development of lunar rover mission concepts. WARP provides integrated situational awareness, health monitoring and telemetry display to many segments of mission teams, including rover operators, instrument specialists and strategic planners.

Screenshot of the WARP software showing a layout that includes plots, images, and other display elements

Open MCT Possibilities

Open MCT can be adapted for planning and operations of any system that produces telemetry. While the framework is developed to support space missions, its core concepts are not unique to that domain. It can display streaming and historical data, imagery, timelines, procedures, and other data visualizations in one place.

To use Open MCT, see our getting started guide. In order to integrate Open MCT with sources of telemetry data, please see our tutorial on creating a telemetry adaptor.

Open MCT could be adapted for applications as diverse as:

  • Monitoring of IOT devices
  • Drones
  • Cubesats
  • Robotics
  • High altitude balloons
  • Electronic health monitoring
  • Computer and network performance monitoring
  • Enterprise data visualization
  • Process control monitoring

Open MCT Roadmap

Development of the Open MCT platform is for the most part driven by the requirements of the missions who use Open MCT. Most of this development is done on the core open source platform so that the community at large benefits. Open MCT is, and will continue to be developed as the basis for situational awareness and data analysis tools supporting multiple missions at several NASA centers.

Below is an overview of improvements to functionality and public API that are planned for calendar year 2019.

Features

2019 Q1 (Jan - Mar)

  • Improvements to display layouts to support drawing of lines, boxes, text, static images, etc. This functionality is being merged in from the existing "fixed position" layouts.
  • Support for resizing and reordering of table columns.
  • Provisional support for editing of objects directly within layouts.
  • A tabbed view to allow quick switching between different telemetry views.
  • A new layout type supporting composition of multiple views into columns or rows.
  • A refactored codebase with general performance improvements.
  • Support for dynamic object composition, allowing for object trees that can change in real time.
  • New "gauge" telemetry visualization type

2019 Q2 (Apr - Jun)

  • Additional plot customizations

2019 Q3 (Jul - Sept)

  • Conditional display elements that allow customization of telemetry displays based on user-defined rules.
  • Python library for scripted generation of Open MCT displays to support automation of display generation and migration of displays from other mission control systems.
  • Improvements to "conditionals" functionality to support dynamic conditionals and other advanced conditional types
  • Global and per-view staleness indicators
  • Improvements to tables to persist filters, row selection and marking, export of selected rows.

2019 Q4 (Oct - Dec)

  • Open MCT Telemetry Server - An open source server implementation that provides realtime and historical telemetry capabilities to simplify the process of building a ground system with Open MCT.

API Improvements

2019 Q1 (Jan - Mar)

  • Creation of custom telemetry visualizations
  • Add new actions to context menus

2019 Q2 (Apr - Jun)

  • Creation and editing of objects from custom object providers.
  • Mutation and synchronization of shared user object state

2019 Q3 (Jul - Sept)

  • Support for custom toolbar elements
  • Form generation and validation in a framework agnostic way