Visualization of complex spacecraft orbits and multi-instrument observations

Date and Time: 
Monday 2018 Apr 2nd
CG Auditorium
Alexandria DeWole

Complex spacecraft orbits and multi-instrument observations can be challenging to visualize with traditional 2D plots. To facilitate the exploration of planetary science data, we have developed a set of web-based interactive 3D visualizations for the MAVEN and MMS missions using the free CesiumJS library. The Mars Atmospheric and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission has been collecting data at Mars since September 2014. The MAVEN3D project allows playback of one day’s orbit at a time, displaying the spacecraft’s position and orientation. Selected science data sets can be overplotted on the orbit track, including vectors for magnetic field and ion flow velocities. We also provide an overlay the M-GITM model on the planet itself. MAVEN3D is available at the MAVEN public website at:

The Magnetospheric MultiScale Mission (MMS) consists of one hundred instruments on four spacecraft flying in formation around Earth, investigating the interactions between the solar wind and Earth’s magnetic field. While the highest temporal resolution data isn’t received and processed until later, continuous daily observations of the particle and field environments are made available as soon as they are received. Traditional ‘quick-look’ static plots have long been the first interaction with data from a mission of this nature. Our new 3D Quicklook viewer allows data from all four spacecraft to be viewed in an interactive web application as soon as the data is ingested into the MMS Science Data Center, less than one day after collection, in order to better help identify scientifically interesting data.

Speaker Description: 

Alex DeWolfe manages the Science Data Centers for NASA’s MAVEN mission to Mars and the Emirates Mars Mission. She coordinates the design, development, implementation, and operation of science data processing systems for missions and instrument teams. She has a particular interest in scientific data visualization and oversees several projects related to developing visualization software.

PDF icon seaconf2018_DeWolfe.pdf16.47 MB

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