NASA JPL Excel VBA Project - The problem.
NASA JPL approached EMAGENIT with the following engineering problem: Develop a conceptual design environment in Microsoft Excel VBA for Windows and Excel VBA for Mac that would allow various NASA JPL programs written for the Mars Rover in C to have a better more flexible user interface and also be able to communicate with each other passing design information. These programs acting in unison along with the EMAGENIT Excel VBA interface were to allow NASA JPL to rapidly simulate, early in the conceptual design process, the power usage of future Mars rovers and the rover’s mission profile for each day. It was called the Mission Scenario Design Workbench.
NASA JPL Excel VBA Project - How we did it.
Using a combination of Microsoft Excel, Visual Basic for Applications, C, and Apple Script among other things, EMAGENIT and its associated JPL team were able to develop an integrated design environment in Microsoft Excel that allowed JPL mission planners to rapidly simulate conceptual Mars missions for future rovers. As you noticed from the list just presented, everything used in the program was “off the shelf” allowing it to be developed and tested rapidly. Most important, the program was designed to run in both Excel for Mac and Excel for Windows.
NASA JPL Excel VBA Project - Why did we use Microsoft Excel?
Simple, Microsoft Excel's unmatched versatility. Microsoft Excel in combination with Visual Basic for Applications has the capability to create dedicated applications that rival programs written in stand alone languages like C and Visual Basic. The strength’s of using Excel are everybody already knows how to use it; Excel’s environment provides a set of tools that allows sophisticated interfaces to be rapidly developed and tested; Excel has the unique capability to communicate with multiple data sources and computer languages at once; and an Excel VBA program can be rapidly upgraded in a short amount of time. Most of all, since Excel and its functionalities are pre-built; project development time and cost are substantially reduced. The JPL project just mentioned went from conception to finished product in about 4 ½ months.
Interested in the Perseverance Mars Rover?
Perseverance landed on Mars on February 18, 2021. Perseverance is a real hot rod cursing at a max speed of .074 mph across Mars and it even comes equipped with its very own drone. If you wish to read more about Percy click here >.
Overview: The Mars Perseverance rover mission is part of NASA's Mars Exploration Program and addresses high-priority science goals including whether life existed on Mars. The mission not only looks for signs if Mars was inhabitable in the ancient past, but also searches for signs of microbial life from the past as well.
The rover has many advanced features including a drill that can collect core samples of promising Martian rocks and soils and set them aside in a "cache" for later pickup. It will also demonstrate technologies that address the challenges of future human expeditions like producing oxygen from the Martian atmosphere. Percy will also work on identifying other resources like subsurface water; improving landing techniques; and determining environmental conditions that can affect future manned mission to Mars.
Interested in the Ingenuity Helicopter drone?
Ingenuity is a robotic helicopter drone that is designed to fly in the Martian atmosphere. In other words, go to about 100,000 ft in our atmosphere and those are its starting flight conditions on the Martian ground. If you wish to read more about Ingenuity click here >.
Overview: The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter is a technology demonstrator that tests powered, controlled flight on another world. It hitched a ride to Mars on the Perseverance rover which once it reached a suitable "airfield" location, it released Ingenuity to the surface so it could perform a series of test flights. Now that the demonstration phase is over, it will be testing how scouting and other functions can benefit future missions.
Interested in the Curiosity MSL?
Curiosity landed on Mars on August 6, 2012 and has been zooming at .0125 mph around making some awesome discoveries. You can read about them here >.
Overview: With its rover named Curiosity, Mars Science Laboratory mission is part of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort of robotic exploration of the red planet. Curiosity was designed to assess whether Mars ever had an environment able to support small life forms called microbes. In other words, its mission is to determine the planet's "habitability." (Source: NASA)