NASA Awards Ascending Node Technologies a SBIR Phase II Grant to Support Spaceline's Observation Planning Capabilities for Non-Surface and Astronomical Phenomena

Spaceline's science operations planning capability is expanding to support non-surface phenomena such as planetary atmospheres, magnetic and gravity fields, and eruptive volatile and particle plumes, as well as spacecraft-based astronomical observations. Spaceline's innovative design allows spacecraft mission personnel to create accessible, interactive visualizations of science data for easy sharing across the mission team.

Spaceline demo image

Spaceline's 3D, rotatable, interactive visualization capability will now allow the user to model phenomena located off-surface from a planetary body. This Spaceline visualization demonstrates the gravity field surrounding Earth, which can then be incorporated into mission planning models and designs. Credit: Ascending Node Technologies

TUCSON, Ariz. - Ascending Node Technologies, LLC., the maker of Spaceline mission planning software, announced that it has been awarded a second Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract from NASA. Spaceline is a web-based tool that provides user-friendly, telemetry-based visualizations of spacecraft data for mission planning. This Phase II contract will extend Spaceline's capabilities to support spacecraft observation planning of scientific phenomena located off the surface of a planetary body.

Spaceline provides mission teams with the capability to create 3D, interactive, visual representations of complex scientific data in a manageable, sharable format for all stages of mission operations. The web-based product allows for the rapid visualization of telemetry data derived from NAIF SPICE kernels and hypothetical scientific models for easy comparison, review, and feedback across the team. This product expansion will allow mission designers to incorporate 3D science data from a wider range of scientific phenomena, specifically non-surface phenomena like planetary atmospheres, magnetic and gravity fields, and eruptive volatile and particle plumes, as well as spacecraft-based astronomical observations.

"This expansion of Spaceline provides scientists and mission planners with the ability to visualize not just a mission's targeted planetary body, but also the exciting science that surrounds that body," said Sanford Selznick, Chief Software Architect for Ascending Node.

For science missions, Spaceline's new capabilities increase the accuracy of observation modeling by optimizing the operational impact of science data collection. The support for non-surface phenomena and astronomical observations also facilitates mission planning for commercial Earth-orbiting constellations and space domain awareness.

"A key advantage of Spaceline is that it allows anyone on the mission team to easily simulate the spacecraft's data collection of a wide range of phenomena - from the surface to the stars," said Carl Hergenrother, Chief Scientist of Ascending Node Technologies. "Being able to easily and accurately simulate a spacecraft mission's science objectives reduces mission risk and increases mission efficiency for every stage of planning and operations."

This is Ascending Node's fifth SBIR award, having previously received earlier Phase I and II contracts for Spaceline's development. These highly competitive awards are designed to advance NASA's capabilities by supporting innovation from small businesses. Ascending Node was selected in this round, following the receipt of a SBIR Phase I award in 2020, by successfully demonstrating the inclusion of 3D data types into Spaceline's models. With this new award, Ascending Node will continue developing Spaceline to further establish its scientific, technical, and commercial merit for use in future interplanetary exploration missions.

About Ascending Node Technologies

Ascending Node Technologies, LLC, is a Tucson-based company that develops technology to allow spacecraft mission designers and operators to work better together. Spaceline is the company’s new web-based application that creates telemetry-based, interactive 3D visualizations of spacecraft operations right in your browser, which can then be shared across the mission team for easy collaboration and feedback. Ascending Node’s founders have more than half a century’s combined experience planning, developing and operating interplanetary exploration missions. In 2019 NASA ignited the development of Spaceline and has since awarded Ascending Node Technologies multiple SBIR contracts. Learn more at www.ascendingnode.tech.

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