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The DARTS Simulation Laboratory

The Mobility and Robotic Systems Section's Dynamics And Real-Time Simulation (DARTS) Laboratory develops advanced high-fidelity, multi-mission simulation tools for the closed-loop development and testing of spaceflight systems. The lab supports the surface and near-surface mission domains, and also adapts its tools to specific missions, projects, and technology development activities. The lab's equipment includes Beowulf clusters, graphics workstations, and a meeting area with dual projectors.

DARTS Lab tools can typically be used in workstation environments as well as for real-time, hardware-in-the-loop simulations for the testing and verification of flight software and hardware. The DARTS Lab simulation capabilities have been widely used by various missions, including Galileo, Cassini, Deep Space 1, Stardust, Space Interferometry Mission, Terrestrial Planet Finder, Mars Exploration Rover, and Mars Science Laboratory. The simulation capabilities are also in active use for a variety of advanced technology-development activities.

Key tools available at the DARTS Lab include the following:

  • DARTS - A high-performance computational engine for flexible multibody dynamics. (Winner of 1997 NASA Software Award).
  • Dshell - A multi-mission simulation framework for real-time, hardware-in-the-loop spacecraft simulations.
  • ROAMS - A Dshell-based planetary rover simulator for surface exploration.
  • DSENDS - A Dshell-based simulator for entry, descent and landing (EDL) scenarios.
  • SimScape - A software tool kit for planetary-terrain-environment models.
  • NEIMO - A DARTS-based package for internal-coordinates molecular-dynamics simulations.
  • Dspace - A 3D graphics tool for real-time, closed-loop simulation visualization.
  • YaM - A software-development tool kit for the concurrent development of reusable software.

More information may be found at the DARTS Lab website.

Fig. 1: ROAMS simulation for surface mission with mobile robots.
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Fig. 1: ROAMS simulation for surface mission with mobile robots.
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Fig. 2: DSENDS simulation of Entry, Descent, and Landing on Mars.
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Fig. 2: DSENDS simulation of Entry, Descent, and Landing on Mars.
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Fig. 3: DARTS simulation of rendezvous and sample capture.
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Fig. 3: DARTS simulation of rendezvous and sample capture.
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