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Using XML and Java Technologies for Astronomical Instrument ControlTraditionally, instrument command and control systems have been highly specialized, consisting mostly of custom code that is difficult to develop, maintain, and extend. Such solutions are initially very costly and are inflexible to subsequent engineering change requests, increasing software maintenance costs. Instrument description is too tightly coupled with details of implementation. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, under the Instrument Remote Control (IRC) project, is developing a general and highly extensible framework that applies to any kind of instrument that can be controlled by a computer. The software architecture combines the platform independent processing capabilities of Java with the power of the Extensible Markup Language (XML), a human readable and machine understandable way to describe structured data. A key aspect of the object-oriented architecture is that the software is driven by an instrument description, written using the Instrument Markup Language (IML), a dialect of XML. IML is used to describe the command sets and command formats of the instrument, communication mechanisms, format of the data coming from the instrument, and characteristics of the graphical user interface to control and monitor the instrument. The IRC framework allows the users to define a data analysis pipeline which converts data coming out of the instrument. The data can be used in visualizations in order for the user to assess the data in real-time, if necessary. The data analysis pipeline algorithms can be supplied by the user in a variety of forms or programming languages. Although the current integration effort is targeted for the High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera (HAWC) and the Submillimeter and Far Infrared Experiment (SAFIRE), first-light instruments of the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), the framework is designed to be generic and extensible so that it can be applied to any instrument. Plans are underway to test the framework with other types of instruments, such as remote sensing earth science instruments.
Document ID
Document Type
Preprint (Draft being sent to journal)
Ames, Troy (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Case, Lynne (Commerce One Laurel, MD United States)
Powers, Edward I.
Date Acquired
August 20, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2001
Subject Category
Documentation and Information Science
Meeting Information
Ground Sys. Arch.(CA)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.