Java, JavaFX, and Life on Jupiter’s Europa

Track: Tools and techniques
NASA’s deep space Clipper mission will launch in 2024 and travel to Jupiter’s icy moon Europa searching for the conditions and evidence of organic life. The mission’s success hinges on innumerable technical trials, from evaluating spacecraft trajectories to prioritizing surface observation targets. To help the Europa Clipper team navigate these complex challenges, we developed a Java-based visualization, planning, and analysis tool, named Cadmus.

The planning and analysis of the Europa Clipper mission requires highly precise spatial geometries, as the spacecraft will be flying at a speed of kilometers per seconds, while targeting small features on the Europa surface. At nearly 1 billion kilometers away from Earth, precision in planning is paramount. For this, the Cadmus tool uses a combination of Java spatial geometry toolkits and JavaFX to display the precise positions of the spacecraft, planets, moons, stars, surface features, flyby paths, and many more. This effect must be both high performance and interactive so that scientists and engineers can quickly prioritize and plan upcoming observations.

To achieve this, we created an infrastructure in Java that allows us to responsively render and interact with maps and space views by combining JavaFX and AWT in a multi-threaded approach. This approach has been extremely successful, and now supports missions outside of Europa Clipper, analyzing spacecraft and data around Saturn, Venus, the Moon, and all the way back to Earth. This presentation will review the NASA Clipper use case, provide a live demo of the software while discussing code segments that are insightful or tricky for such an implementation.
Jordi Turner
Jordi E. Turner has been converting Java code into space mission tools at APL for 6 years now. His priority is making good library code that can constantly grow and be reused to do anything from planning the Europa Clipper mission, to collecting and analyzing radar data around the Moon and Earth.
Colleen O'Shea
Analyst and Software Developer with 5+ years experience with mission planning and commanding, trajectory analysis, and visualization for various missions and proposed missions in space science.