The central pieces of this architecture are the visualization tools, support tools, and underlying programs that produce and manipulate the data needed by the rest of the tool sets. It combines both the software and unique hardware needed to support mission operations, including an operations test bed (OTB) and simulators. The simulators are all software applications, and the OTB combines simulators with spacecraft hardware where possible to mimic as closely as possible the reaction of the spacecraft to commands and operational states.
The basic philosophy behind the construction of this architecture is that its elements (tools and other programs) will be easy to port to a new location and to modify for operating with new satellites. This is enabled by being an “open architecture.” This approach means not only that the source code of its major elements and structure are available, but also that it is designed to accept external modules (which may not have source code available) as plug-ins through standard, well-defined interfaces in order to increase the overall capability of COSMOS for the desired application. However, it is recognized that there could be ITAR issues with COSMOS since it is designed to help control satellites. Therefore, we use a more limited definition of “open architecture” than the common one of having the source code in the public domain. We intend to provide COSMOS to only those entities (US government agencies, companies, or universities) which are allowable within ITAR restrictions. However, for those entities, the COSMOS source code will be available. Hopefully, in the future this restriction can be relaxed as ITAR restrictions are redefined or COSMOS obtains an ITAR clearance from the government.
As a fully functional COSMOS is an ambitious project, we have planned an evolutionary approach, where the software framework and primary tools needed to support a spacecraft missions are developed first, with additional tools and features added later as needed and resources allow. To date some of the basic elements of COSMOS have been developed at least to the prototype stage, while other elements are still in the conceptual stage and require extensive trade studies and design before development can begin. COSMOS is a suite of software and hardware tools that enables the Mission Operations Team (MOT) to interface with the spacecraft, ground control network, payload and other customers in order to perform the mission operations function. The basic COSMOS functional architecture is shown in the following figure. Within COSMOS the following major functions are performed/supported: mission planning and scheduling; contact operations; data management, mission analysis; simulations (including the operations testbed); ground network monitoring and control; payload operations, flight dynamics (including orbital and attitude); and support of system management and quality assurance. The description given here is for a full implementation of COSMOS to support flight operations, but some of the features may not be required by a particular MOC or mission
A computer can be provided at each mission ground station to provide the interface between COSMOS and the ground station for data management (both to and from the ground station), and to monitor and possibly control the operations of the ground station. The various tools of COSMOS provide the graphical interface between the MOT and the COSMOS functions. The MOT communicates with spacecraft engineers to assist in state-of-health (SOH) matters, such as anomaly resolution, and reports of the condition of the spacecraft and receives in return any constraints or tasking that may be required. The MOT also communicates with the various payload customers to receive reports on the status of the instruments and mission accomplishment goals, as well as to receive payload tasking requests. COSMOS will have websites or other means to allow the spacecraft engineers and customers to monitor the status of the mission directly without having to go through the MOT.
The functional flow block diagram of COSMOS is shown in the previous figure. There are four major processes in mission operations that are supported by COSMOS:
The figure also shows the primary tools that COSMOS provides for interfacing with the MOT to control these operations processes. The rest of COSMOS provides the underlying processes and engines that move, generate, and process the data used by COSMOS and the MOT. Each of the major software tools and programs that make up COSMOS will be described in the following sections along with our approach to developing them. The various tools, major agents/engines, and other software of the COSMOS system are shown in the following figure.</p>