One of the biggest steps of any mission starts right here on Earth at a computer desk – NASA runs on software, period. Rovers can’t move, spacecraft can’t fly, even rockets can’t blast off without the software codes that run them all.
We’ve compiled hundreds of these powerful codes into one location atsoftware.nasa.gov. And guess what? You can start downloading them right now for free! Here are just a few you can use:
1. TetrUSS (Tetrahedral Unstructured Software System)
TetrUSS has been used extensively for space launch vehicle analysis and design, like on the Space Launch System, which is planned to take humans to Mars.
You really could say it’s helping us to “blast off.” Outside of NASA, this software has been used to analyze Mars planetary entry vehicles, ballistics and even high-altitude sky diver aerodynamics. Basically if anything has moved through any planetary atmosphere, this software has played a role.
2. KNIFE (part of the FUN3D software and released as a package)
The name may be a bit intimidating, but with good reason – KNIFE packs a powerful punch.
It was created to help us learn more about the sonic booms that resonate when planes break the sound barrier, but it has also helped develop green energy sources such as wind turbines and techniques to minimize drag for long-haul trucking. Maybe we should re-name this versatile and handy code, “Swiss Army KNIFE?”
3. Cart3D (Automated Triangle Geometry Processing for Surface Modeling and Cartesian Grid Generation)
If software codes went to high school, Cart3D would be Prom Queen. This software is so popular, it is being used in almost every mission area here at NASA.
Engineers and scientists are currently using it to model everything from advanced drones to quieter supersonic aircraft.
4. FACET (Future Air Traffic Management Concepts Evaluation Tool)
Frequent flyers: this may be your favorite code without even knowing it. FACET was developed to evaluate futuristic concepts in air traffic management, and it has served as a testbed for assessing today’s regular operations.
To sum it up, this software code helps airports keep planes organized in the air and on the ground.
GIPSY-OASIS is part of the GPS system to end all GPS systems. It’s so accurate, John Deere used it to help create self-driving tractors.
How? John Deere already had a navigation system in the works, but it could only be used in certain parts of the world.
Our ground stations are all across the globe, and our software ensures accuracy down to a few inches. And so, a new breed of tractor was born! Did we mention this software is free?
These are just a few examples of the software NASA has available for free public and consumer use. To browse the catalog online, check out software.nasa.gov.