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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Open MCT could be adapted for applications as diverse as:
The Open MCT platform is relatively new, and as the requirements of our missions drive the capabilities of the platform we will try and feed as many of these new features back into the open platform as we can. Open MCT will continue to be developed as the basis for situational awareness and data analysis tools being used at multiple NASA centers.
In order to share our development goals with the open source community, we have published a rough roadmap to the right. The features and dates shown may change as priorities shift. In broad terms, our near-term roadmap focuses on improving the developer and user experience, as well as making performance and robustness as major priority.
The list to the right is only the features that will be added in the short-term. There is a long list of features that will be added to our own internal systems that are built on Open MCT, that will feed into the open-source version.