A tool developed by researchers from NASA‘s Goddard Space Flight Center is now available as an open-source program to help private industry and other agency centers plot a mission’s path to interplanetary destinations.
NASA said Wednesday the Evolutionary Mission Trajectory Generator software tool was updated to support the space agency’s Asteroid Redirect Mission that will send a robot towards a large near-Earth asteroid to collect samples from the asteroid’s surface.
Jacob Englander, EMTG developer, worked with Matthew Vavrina, an a.i. solutions orbital researcher, to boost the tool’s capacity which can now help simultaneously optimize the trajectory and the spacecraft’s hardware, the space agency noted.
“The design of the spacecraft and its trajectory are intertwined — especially those that are electrically propelled,” said Englander.
NASA added the updated tool can help determine trajectories and design characteristics of electrically propelled or low-thrust spacecraft and planners can utilize EMTG to define aspects of high-thrust missions that use chemical propellants as fuel.
Englander also said EMTG has been downloaded thousands of times by NASA centers and private companies that needed a tool to help run preliminary trajectories.