IV&V’s Contribution to JPSS-1

Update: (Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., Nov. 6, 2017) – The ULA Delta II rocket carrying the JPSS-1 mission for NASA and NOAA is delayed due to a faulty battery. The delay allows the team time to replace the battery on the Delta II booster. The vehicle and spacecraft remain stable. Launch of the JPSS-1 mission is scheduled for no earlier than Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017.

There isn’t just one satellite hovering above Earth that provides humans the ability to constantly monitor the potentially dangerous weather, but rather there are actually several of them. Soon, there will be one more hovering up there when the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) adds JPSS-1, the second of what will be a five-satellite JPSS constellation, when JPSS-1 launches on November 10, 2017. While the construction of the satellite itself was managed by NASA, once it is launched, it will belong to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA operates 16, soon to be 17, satellites in various orbits, ranging from low Earth orbits (LEO), starting at around 200 miles above the Earth, all the way out to geostationary orbits (GEO), which is around 22,000 miles above the Earth. The newest of NOAA’s fleet, JPSS-1, will be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, as Vandenberg provides the best US-based launch location to place JPSS-1 in its own unique LEO orbit, called a “polar sun-synchronous” orbit. This particular type of orbit will allow JPSS-1 to circle the Earth from pole-to-pole at an altitude of about 512 miles above the Earth’s surface, crossing the equator 14 times daily, and allowing for full global coverage with its five onboard weather-hunting instruments twice a day!

What do these instruments do and how do they help me?

The instruments on board JPSS-1 provide real-time environmental data that allow people around the world to make important decisions about protection of life and property, national security, economic interests and vital environmental resources like coasts, oceans and ecological habitats. Of course let’s not forget they also provide some of the essential data for those weather maps your local meteorologist uses on the nightly news. The Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS) and Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS) are two instruments that work together to provide profiles of atmospheric temperature, moisture and pressure. The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) provides daily high-resolution imagery and radiometry across the visible to long wave infrared spectrum (those weather maps that were just mentioned). The Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS) uses a spectrometer with UV bands for ozone measurements. Finally, the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) works as a scanning radiometer, which measures reflected sunlight and thermal radiation emitted by the Earth. Versions of all five of these instruments have flown on previous satellites, but all the instruments that are going up on JPSS-1 have been improved since they were last flown. That means that with these upgraded instruments, JPSS-1 will be more effective in forecasting flooding, tropical cyclones, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards and other high-impact weather events, providing more lead time to for Earth’s inhabitants to make important life and property decisions. JPSS-1 will also help in assessment of environmental hazards such as droughts, forest fires, poor air quality, and harmful coastal waters.

How did NASA Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) Program play a part in the development of the JPSS-1 satellite?

In short, our team worked on the “brains” of the satellite, the flight software (FSW). The primary activities in controlling the satellite were split into two different bins, each being handled by its own processor or computer. The computer that handles the control of the spacecraft, such as extending the solar panel, changing spacecraft attitude, or igniting the thrusters to change orbit, is called the Spacecraft Control Processor (SCP). The Command Data Processor (CDP) is the computer that handles the communications of the spacecraft, both externally to the ground network on Earth and internally to all of the spacecraft subsystems, like the instruments. The CDP is additionally responsible for collecting, storing and downloading to Earth the science data that was captured by the five onboard instruments.

IV&V also assessed the CDP interfacing to two of the instruments, VIIRS and CrIS, as those instruments were using a new-to-JPSS data interface, called SpaceWire, to create a connection from the CDP to those instruments. IV&V followed along with and assessed the development of the FSW from the point when requirements were being determined for what the computers needed to do to satisfy the mission objectives, all the way to the point where the completed FSW was loaded onto the computers, connected to other flight hardware, and was tested to see if it worked the way it was supposed to. IV&V made sure the JPSS-1 FSW works as it is supposed to, does not do what it is not supposed to do, and responds as expected when the spacecraft encounters adverse conditions.

Now with JPSS-1 soon to be watching over us all, we will all be able to watch our nightly weather forecast with much more confidence in determining if we will need our umbrella for the following workday.

Jeremy Fienhold
Systems Engineer

IV&V Intern Morgan Novak

Hi, my name is Morgan Novak. I am from a small town in southeast Texas called Hamshire. With Hamshire’s population of about 1500, my household takes up a whopping 1%. As the second oldest of way too many siblings, coming to West Virginia was a nice change in scenery. It is so beautiful here!

This year I will be a sophomore at the University of North Texas. I am double majoring in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and minoring in Math. I am interested in both the hardware and software side of things. I love learning more about new topics/ideas and showing that knowledge off in hackathons.

In my free time I play soccer with my friends and family and last year I coached my little sister’s team. This year, however, I was low on free time due to starting my own company. I am currently testing the second prototype of my product before I pursue anything further.

Getting an internship here has been dream come true! I have wanted to work for NASA ever since I was little. In my junior year of high school, I participated in the Texas High school Aerospace Scholars (HAS) program where I got to stay at JSC for a week and work with real engineers. Participating in these two opportunities has sealed the deal; after graduating from UNT my goal is to get a full time position contributing to the advancement of space travel.

 

Space Flight Design Challenge ROCKSAT C-17 Update

SPFC Mission Patch-RSC-17In an effort to provide students with the stepping stones necessary to carry out the goals of the Space Flight Design Challenge, academic institutions have been provided with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience through RockSat-C. The NASA IV&V Space Flight Design Challenge is an initiative aimed towards engaging students of West Virginia in the STEM disciplines needed to successfully build and test critical systems. By enhancing the knowledge and capabilities of students through hands-on spacecraft development, they will be enabled to compete in the development of their own flight systems in space. Primarily, the overall goal of this initiative is to foster innovative advancements in both high school and college students across the nation. As a result, students will be equipped to compete in the fabrication & operation of flight systems in Low Earth Orbit via amateur radio operations.

Through RockSat-C, students and mentors can actively participate in the design & build phases of their own scientific payload. Inevitably, this payload will be launched on a sounding rocket out of Wallops Flight Facility at the close of the academic school year. The fall semester is comprised of engaging students in the full design & review process whilst the primary goal of spring semester is to prepare each team for the Launch Readiness Review. In order to do so successfully, each of the payloads will undergo multiple phases of testing and integration to ensure its suitability for flight.

This year’s Rock Sat-C mission statement:

   “To embark on a collaborative effort with academic institutions across the state of West Virginia for development and expansion of knowledge and practical experience in designing, building, launching, and operating space payloads.”

In order to accomplish this vision, our teams have developed a variety of experiments that will inevitably benefit the small sat community. Of those scientific payloads are:

  1. Bridge Valley Community Technical College Stain Gauge Experiment
    1. Objective: To measure strain on a series of material samples and model flight path
  2. West Virginia University Langmuir Probe Experiment
    1. Objective: Measure plasma density in upper atmosphere
  3. Blue Field State College Vehicle and Inertial Measurement and Tracking Experiment
    1. Objective: To gather real-time flight data & Use this data to determine the flight path, trajectory, altitude, and rotation of the rocket
  4. Fairmont State University Flight Dynamics Analysis Experiment
    1. Objective: To capture and store real-time flight data, then show the flight path.
  5. Blue Ridge Community Technical College PiGen (Piezo Electric Generator) Experiment
    1. Objective: To measure the output of 3 Piezoelectric generators on the X Y and Z axis with 2 ADCs.
  6. West Virginia Wesleyan College Harvest Energy Experiment

    1. Objective: To harvest energy by using a Thermocouple and Piezoelectric crystal on the rocket flight.

Isometric ViewDimetric View

Shown above is an Isometric (top) and Dimetric (bottom) view of the canister. (Image by Roger Targosky)

Throughout the Conceptual, Preliminary, and Critical Design review, WV-SPACE has displayed both scientific merit & a feasible implementation plan. At this point the payload has been largely cleared by COSGC and Wallops Flight Facility and has been selected to fly in canister #5 and share space Oregon Institute of Technology. The payload is projected to launch aboard a Terrier-Improved Orion sounding rocket on June 22nd 2017.

Manifest

We would also like to send ours thanks to NASA’s Independent Verification & Validation Program for supporting our student outreach initiatives and congratulate all of our dedicated teams for being a part of the Space Flight Design Challenge and cleared for launch.

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Emily Certain | Student Trainee
NASA’s Independent Verification & Validation Program

 

 

 

 

 

 

White Hall Elementary School Mighty Builders Team Wins West Virginia’s First Spacecraft LEGO Challenge

This fall, White Hall Elementary School in White Hall, W.Va., sponsored a First Lego League Junior (FLL Jr.) team.  Eleven fourth-grade team members and two coaches met twice a week for several months to develop a LEGO model, poster and presentation to illustrate what they learned as part of this year’s CREATURE CRAZE Challenge.  As part of their meetings, the Mighty Builders participated in West Virginia’s First Spacecraft LEGO Challenge.

Suder Blog Entry_STF1 Lego Winners
Image Credit: Mark Suder

The challenge fit naturally into the learning the students were doing as part of the CREATURE CRAZE Challenge.

“The team and building rules were similar to what we were doing for FLL Jr., and the kids needed to begin learning about our WeDo LEGO set, how the motors and sensors work, and how to program it, so this challenge seemed like a natural fit for our meetings,” coach Mark Suder said.

With the guidance of their coaches, the kids split into several teams to create LEGO satellite models, then chose one to add motors, sensors and a brain to.  Following the addition of and learning about these parts, the kids brainstormed about the questions that were posed to them for West Virginia’s First Spacecraft LEGO Challenge.  Those questions were:

  1. What you want to have in West Virginia’s second spacecraft and why?
  2. What is different from your LEGO STF-1 and NASA’s LEGO STF-1 and why?
  3. How do CubeSats affect space exploration around the world?
Suder Blog Entry_STF1 Lego Winners 2
Image Credit: Mark Suder

“Creative, energetic, smart, enthusiastic!  Those are the words I would use to describe the students,” Suder said. “As the coach, I have been both proud and inspired to be part of this team.  These kids are the future of the country, and with all the negative news these days it is neat to see that there is also a lot of hope for the future based on these inspirational young people of today.  Besides, who doesn’t like playing with LEGOs?”

The team was incredibly excited to learn that they had won the First Spacecraft LEGO Challenge and was excited to tour NASA IV&V and receive their first place prize.

In addition to the tour, and to both congratulate and celebrate the accomplishments of this team, NASA’s IV&V Program invited the students, their teachers, as well as the school’s principal to attend IV&V’s Internal Award Event. The students were presented with certificates of appreciation, and in return, presented IV&V’s Director Greg Blaney, as well as the program, with a thank you card from the team.

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Image Credit: Clayton Peachey
20161213-Christmas Auction Party_00037 Award group Mighty Builders
Image Credit: Clayton Peachey

Mark Suder | Systems Analyst
NASA’s Independent Verification & Validation Program

The Pluto Mission: “High Fives” for a Resounding Success

When Clyde Tombaugh (1906–1997) discovered a tiny object on a pair of photographic plates, one has to wonder if he could have foreseen that it would take 62 more years to find another object in the distant solar system or that it would lead to a yet to be discovered region of space.  In 1930, rocketry was still in its infancy and deep space travel was the work of popular science fiction. Therefore, it would have been a far off dream for Tombaugh to think about visiting his discovery, which we now know as Pluto. However, on July 14, 2015, that is exactly what he will do, when the New Horizons spacecraft makes a Flyby of the Pluto-Charon system. New Horizons is carrying a sample of Tombaugh’s ashes donated to the mission by his wife, Patricia Tombaugh (1912–2012), to commemorate his discovery of Pluto.

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Clyde Tombaugh: Discoverer of Pluto February 4, 1906 to January 17, 1997.

For people that grew up in the educational system of the United States prior to 1992, Pluto was always the Ninth planet from the Sun and an anomaly when compared to the rest of the planets in our solar system. The Inner planets are characterized by being similar rocky bodies that are relatively close to the sun. Next there were the Outer planets, consisting of large gaseous planets with tumultuous atmospheres. Then there was Pluto; a small planet rotating around the sun in an elliptical orbit that was out of plane with the rest of the planets. The questions of why Pluto was different were not able to be answered until technology allowed for better views of deep space. In 1992, The first trans-Neptunian object since Pluto and Charon was discovered in 1992 and since then more than 1,500 objects have been identified. This region is characterized by small ice worlds that orbit the sun in vast number of Astronomical Units beyond Pluto and has been called the Kuiper Belt.

The idea to send a probe to visit the region started to form in the early-1990’s. And although there were many proposals for missions that would visit the small planet, it wasn’t until NASA established as part of the New Frontiers program that a stable stream of funding was made available to fund such a mission. It was in this climate that the New Horizons mission was born. Led by Alan Stern as Principle Investigator, New Horizons is a joint effort between the South West Research Institute and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). APL provides for the mission management of the spacecraft.

New Horizons was launched from Kennedy Space Center on January 19, 2006 aboard an Atlas V rocket with second and third stages to provide it the necessary velocity to be the first spacecraft launched directly into a solar escape trajectory. The primary goals of the mission are to map the surface composition and to characterize the global geology and atmosphere of Pluto. This data will help provide context for the formulation of the Pluto system and establish some understanding of its role in the formation of the early solar system. Its extended mission is to encounter one or more objects in the Kuiper Belt beyond Pluto and conduct similar data collection exercises.

In order to accomplish these goals, the spacecraft has a suite of seven science instruments.

  1. Alice is an ultraviolet spectrometer used for measuring gas composition
  2. Ralph combines an infrared spectrometer (LEISA) for mapping surface composition with a color optical imager (MVIC) for mapping surface structure and composition
  3. REX is a radio experiment for measuring atmospheric composition and temperature
  4. LORRI is an optical telescope that provides the highest resolution imaging of the surface
  5. PEPSSI is a plasma-sensing instrument for measuring particles escaping from Pluto’s atmosphere
  6. SWAP is a plasma-sensing instrument for measuring the properties of the solar wind at Pluto, Pluto’s atmospheric escape rate, and for searching for a magnetosphere around Pluto. The “solar wind” is a stream of charged particles streaming away from the Sun at high speed.
  7. SDC, an instrument used to measure dust impacts at the New Horizons spacecraft during its entire trajectory, was built by students at the University of Colorado!
New_Horizons_Instruments
New Horizons spacecraft instrument layout.

To get a sense of the size of the spacecraft, it is possible to see a scale model of it hanging in the Udvar-Hazy Center, which is the National Air & Space Museum Annex at Dulles International Airport. The spacecraft has been compared to the size of a baby grand piano.

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Model of New Horizons hanging in the Udvar-Hazy National Air & Space Annex.

Subsequent to the launch of New Horizons, the International Astronomical Union reclassified Pluto from planet to dwarf planet status. However, this does not diminish the historical nature of the mission. The science data collected will greatly enhance the science communities understanding of Pluto, be able to validate assumptions and speculations about its surface features and compositions, and hopefully inspire the next generation of deep space scientists.

My Recollections of New Horizons IV&V

The IV&V planning and scoping efforts for the New Horizons mission began in late 2002. The CARA process was used in establishing the scope of the analyses performed. It was determined that Command and Data Handling (C&DH), Guidance, Navigation & Control (GN&C) and the Ralph instrument were to receive full life-cycle IV&V. There were two instruments which were determined to be of sufficiently low risk and not significant contributors to the primary science goals and therefore were not provided any IV&V coverage.  Those were the REX and SDC instruments. The remainder of the instruments suite were addressed via IV&V requirements and test analysis activities. There was also some initial work performed on the Ground Software, but it was high reuse and it was determined that further work in that area would not be productive use of IV&V efforts.

One of the tasks performed during the New Horizons test campaign was an analysis of the Comprehensive Performance tests. This required additional IV&V analysis resources to be added to support the timely analysis of that large set of test artifacts. This type of analysis was needed due to the way that APL had structured their acceptance testing, for which IV&V had generated a risk. They had placed requirements verification into the system test world where it was exercised in a more day in the life kind of way.

Due to the tight constraints that were placed on the launch window, APL decided to slip functionality to a post-launch upload. They had one period that extended in January 2006 and allowed for the Jupiter Gravitational Assist and one that was in February 2006 that was a direct to Pluto launch and would have added four years to the time line (missing those two would have been a significant launch delay). They ended up making the window for the gravitational assist. Therefore, we performed C&DH and GN&C analysis post-launch, primarily this was code analysis and final test analysis. I believe there were two in-flight issues with the GN&C processor, which we supported. Ultimately, one was determined to be in the Detection and Correction Code (EDAC) hardware and the other was a problem with the autocoder.

Over the 9 year history of the mission, there were only two safe mode entries, that I am aware of. One occurred back in 2007 and was similar to the GN&C reset related to EDAC hardware. The other happened July 4th and appeared to come from trying to use the software differently than originally intended. The original operations philosophy was that they would start N number of weeks prior to the fly-by and start taking data. They would keep taking data until about the same N number of weeks past the fly-by (part of that was the occultation data collection and some radio experiment), then compress, then downlink. Downlink was to take on the order of nine months. Over the years, it seems they have revamped their operational plans based on the lessons learned from their Jupiter fly-by and from yearly encounter planning meetings. So when the safe mode entry happened, they were uploading a command sequence, while taking data and compressing data, so the sequencing got overwhelmed.

The bright heart shape area is possibly covered with a frost of frozen methane, nitrogen, and/or carbon monoxide
The bright heart shape area is possibly covered with a frost of frozen methane, nitrogen, and/or carbon monoxide

I find this mission fascinating. In the time that New Horizons has been cruising to Pluto, I was married, my son was born, I watched him learn to crawl, learn to talk, learn to walk, lost my wife, and have seen my son complete nearly a quarter of his schooling.  I hope this event inspires kids of his age to aspire to be the next generation of discovery leaders.

Van Casdorph
Systems Engineer
NASA’s Independent Verification & Validation Program