Apogy: the one-stop-shop solution for operating robots, satellites and beyond

Over the last few years, a small team of robotics experts at the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has developed a unique tool with the potential to simplify the way manufacturers and operators develop and run future missions.

Apogy, a fully integrated software, is compatible with various mobile platforms such as rovers and satellites. Although they come in various configurations, serve multiple goals and operate in very different environments, the thinking process behind each operation and command is highly similar. As such, Apogy can help manage, plan and test a variety of scenarios when it comes to controlling and operating them.

Did you know?

Apogy has the ability to send commands to a satellite to collect data regularly over a certain location in order to create an image. It can also help create better images by predicting where shadows are going to be at the time the data will be collected.

Saving time and investing in technologies wisely

The idea behind this technology was to allow companies to better invest their time and money. Instead of creating an operations software from scratch each time a new mobile platform was built, Apogy offers a one-stop-shop solution where all the basic functions needed to manage that platform are standardized and accessible from a single place. This enables manufacturers to focus their efforts on developing other aspects of their mission, such as adding more high-tech features.

Apogy has also revolutionized the world of multi-mission planning by making the coding available as an open-source software. This means that anyone who wants to have access to this software can do so, free of charge. Users can actually test potential operations through simulations before doing them in the real world.

Apogy's simulated view of a rover scanning its environment to collect ground samples. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency.)

A versatile software that can be adapted to any environment

Apogy is currently being used to control the Mars Exploration Science Rover (MESR) as part of a Mars sample return simulation taking place in the Utah desert. The science team, based out of Western University, Ontario, uses the software to prepare their daily science plan. In order to execute the plan, the CSA's robotics experts in Saint-Hubert, Quebec, issue daily commands to the MESR through Apogy.

Recently, Apogy was also put to use in the stratosphere and in space:

  • During the KASA 2016 stratospheric balloon campaign in Kiruna, Sweden, the software enabled users to stay in touch with their instruments from afar and to obtain real-time access to their scientific data.
  • The software demonstrated its ability to manage the orbital mechanics of a satellite when it was put to the test for the first time onboard GHGSat's first greenhouse gas monitoring satellite.

An evergreen initiative thanks to open-source

Interest in Apogy from the international space community has been growing over the past year. Thanks to its open architecture and its multiple components, the software provides a standard solution that can be adapted to multiple systems. Support from the open-source community will definitely help further improve the software.

Click here to access the Apogy software