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.


Web Application for Resource Prospector is a mission control system for a future lunar rover mission called Resource Prospector. WARP is providing integrated situational awareness, health monitoring and telemetry display to many segments of the mission team, including rover operators, instrument specialists and strategic planners.


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 will support daily operations of the JASON-3 spacecraft starting February 2017, and is being evaluated for use on other missions.

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's Future

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.

We are also considering the ever-changing landscape of JavaScript libraries and the language itself. To the extent possible we will be reducing the requirement of developers to learn third party frameworks in order to extend Open MCT.

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.

Open MCT Roadmap


Early 2018

  • Upgraded Plot plugin
    • More options for plotting telemetry
    • Customizable colors, labels, etc.
    • Support for features such as min-max (depending on server-side support)
  • A new “Operator Notebook” with the ability to take notes, link to objects, capture and annotate screenshots.

Mid 2018

  • Improved timeline and activity planning plugin
  • Support for editing of sub-objects directly within layouts
  • Updates to persistence plugins (couchdb, elasticsearch) to provide a documented pathway for group-based access controls
  • Better support for multi-user concurrent editing

Late 2018

  • Open source server component that supports real-time and historical telemetry, and exposes a data dictionary
  • Additional end-user customization of Fixed Position displays
  • Persistent User Preferences
  • Tooling for scripted generation of displays

2019 and Beyond

  • Improved mobile and touch support
  • New real-time displays for status of telecom systems (frames, packets, etc)
  • New alarm and limit views
  • Improved user interface for session management and comparison of data across multiple datasets
  • New visualizations and platform tools
  • Better time synchronization between components (Time of Interest)


V1.0 - Early 2018

Initial stable release of the API, published via NPM, and available from our GitHub repository. Will provide API for:

  • Telemetry integration,
  • Custom views,
  • Status indicators.

V1.1 - Mid 2018

  • Finalization of the View API with added support for Toolbars, Object Inspectors, and other elements
  • Initial API support for
    • Actions
    • Object selection
    • Object persistence
    • Identity providers
  • Architectural overview with focus on how to assess performance of Open MCT as part of a mission’s ground data system

V1.2 - Late 2018

  • Finalize APIs for
    • Actions/Selections
    • Persistence
      • Identity providers
  • Improved support for object editing including form generation and validation in a framework-agnostic way