All the software aficionados out there, here’s a news that will brighten up your weekend. NASA has recently released its 2017-2018 software catalog, which contains an extensive portfolio of software products for a wide variety of technical applications. The cherry on the cake is, that all of this is being made available to the public totally free of charge, without any royalty or copyright fees.

While a lot of the released software is about launching a spaceship and stuff, which primarily wouldn’t be useful to regular people, but don’t worry, there’s plenty in store for tinkers and innovators, too.

Available in both hard copy and online, this is the third edition of the software catalog and has contributions from all the agency’s centers on data processing/storage, operations, propulsion, business systems and aeronautics. The catalog also includes many of the tools that NASA is currently using to explore space.

NASA first published its software catalog in April 2014. It was the first comprehensive listing of publicly available software to be compiled by a federal government agency — the largest creator of custom code. In a duration of just three years, NASA has shared thousands of its software programs with students, industry, individuals and other government agencies.


The 2017-2018 software catalog has a number of software packages are being presented for release for the first time. Each catalog entry carries with itself an easy to understand description of what it does.

Here’s a list of the software from the catalog that caught our attention:

Explore the Planets, the same way NASA Does

If you’re one of those who is extremely inquisitive about exploring the planet and solar system and learning more about simulation, then there’s a lot from NASA that you can put to use.

NASA has Global Reference Atmospheric Models for Earth, Mars, Venus, Neptune and Titan. If you’re considering going to an off-planet getaway, then these models can help you know about the exact pressure and temperature conditions there.

If you’re looking for something for practical, then you must explore NASA Forecast Model Web, or the Worldview Satellite Imagery Browsing and Downloading Tool, which is the most easy way available to browse through a treasure of Earth imagery from NASA satellites. It is capable of getting shots as latest as 4 hours after they’re taken.

There’s also an iOS app called HazPop that might interest you. The app allows its users to easily go through a constantly updated worldwide database of natural hazards like storms, fires, cyclones, whirlpools and earthquakes etc., and then combine that with data on populations to determine the number of people affected by a particular hazard and range of people who could come to immediate aid and so on.

If you’re one of those minds who thinks that they have got what is needed to prove the existence of Planet X, the Black Knight or any other crypto-object in the solar system, then it’s time to you get introduced to SNAP. It is a N-body high-fidelity propagation program that can model the trajectories of the Sun, the planets, and virtually any natural satellite that is present in the solar system.

Fly in the Sky and Look at Things, the way NASA Does

If you’re trying your hands at building a drone or maybe even a satellite from the scratch, you might want to get your hands first on the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems File Delivery Protocol, which is a standard tool used for getting large files to and from spacecraft.

Once the imagery has successfully landed on the ground, you can run it through PixelLearn, which will let you set rules about certain pixels and patterns, and make things easier and quicker for you by automatically categorising things like buildings, craters etc. If the imagery received is fancy multi-spectral imagery in nature, you might want to use the Lossless Hyper-/Multi-Spectral Data Compression Software, as well. Further, if you want help in setting up stereoscopic cameras, you should consider using JPL’s Stereo Vision Software Suite. In order to keep things steady during turbulences, don’t forget to make use of Video Image Stabilization and Registration.

You might want to prepare for turbulence situations by taking help of Cart3D, which is also known as Automated Triangle Geometry Processing for Surface Modeling and Cartesian Grid Generation. It helps in turbulences by visualising fluid dynamics problems.

When it’s time to head back to planet Earth, make use of NASA’s Autonomous Precision Landing Navigation System. It combines camera images with elevation maps using methods which are employed by cruise missiles for decades.

Further, if you’re aiming to put together a constellation of satellites or a flock of drones, then NASA’s Formation Flying System for UAVs and Satellites might come in handy for you. The mesh communication architecture allows multiple vehicles to maintain a formation and function in tandem with each other.

Hiring and Evaluation, the way NASA Does

If you’re working in HR or aspire to work in a related field, then you might want to give the Integrated Cognitive Assessment Tool: Combining Person, System, and Mission a try. The tool lets you know if a particular person vying for the job is even capable for doing it.

To be more sure, you can even submit them to the Fine Motor Skills iPad test. The test will help you in knowing if the person can skilfully operate a touchscreen interface without bringing the company to the ground.

If any of the above mentioned tools didn’t interest you, here’s a list of tools that might the common man might actually be able to use easily:

Knife, Version 1.0– It helps the user calculate the boolean subtraction of arbitrary watertight triangular polyhedral in order to make near-field sonic boom predictions.

The Space Weather App– If you’re an Android user, you can use the Space Weather app to easily check up on the latest coronal mass ejections and magnetosphere changes.

Unity-based Spacewalk Game– The game can be used to simulate various EVAs conducted by ISS astronauts. One can easily play it online on their computers.

Glenn Research Center: The Early Years– The iPad app lets its users take a tour of the
Glenn Research Center, which is an amazing R&D facility, in a bunch of interactive media from between 1941 and 1979.

In addition to all this, NASA also has an extensively impressive collection of 3D models, images and textures that one can put to use for educational or personal purposes.

[Image: Fossbytes.com]

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