2004 NIP Award Recipient
Science Data Analysis Tools for Ring Structure Research in the Cassini-Huygens Saturn Mission
Dr. Steve Roach, The University of Texas at El Paso
The Cassini spacecraft will orbit Saturn for six to eight years beginning in July of 2004. One of the goals of the Cassini mission includes making detailed observations of the ring system of Saturn. The orbiter carries several remote sensing instruments that rely on geometrical predictions from the project to determine the targeting of their instantaneous field of view. Science data analysis for Cassini is very complex because of the constantly changing viewing and solar illumination geometry and the continuously changing relative positions of features and structures in the rings. In order to analyze this data, scientists must be able to map each pixel in a footprint to its location in space. The Software Engineering Research Group at The University of Texas at El Paso is currently developing a suite of software tools to assist scientists in scene analysis. The goal is to provide a geometrical framework within which any Cassini dataset can be integrated. Since data formats are relatively well standardized across NASA missions, the tools would be applicable to any interplanetary space mission. The suite has two fundamental goals. First, it must assist the user in C-smithing the spacecraft kernels and generate a corrected C-kernels containing Cassini pointing vectors. Second, it must perform a variety of computations on and provide visual displays of science data from Cassini.