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In the future, we will want to operate remote planetary landers and robots from manned orbiting space-stations. This will be a lot easier than having to remotely control them from far away here on Earth…

An example is for instance a rover on Mars controlled by a manned vehicle in orbit above Mars. Communication and interaction with that rover will be a lot more efficient than controlling from earth, and we could even envisage bi-lateral control and total immersive telepresence.p>


Meteron Final 001.jpgMETERON(Multi-User End-To-End Robotic Operations Network) is an ISS-based experiment approach and architecture which will validate end-to-end robotic operations of planetary landers controlled from a manned station in orbit. The programme is an international collaboration comprising ESA, NASA, DLR, Roskosmos and led by ESA. One of the goals is to operate landers on Earth from the ISS to prove the concept and technology behind it. Novel communications techniques such as DTN (Delay Tolerant Network) are being used as part of the experiment.

Plug and Play

Telespazio VEGA has been developing the METERON Operations Environment (MOE) for ESA/ESOC. The MOE is a ‘plug and play’ operations environment to exercise operational scenarios. It comprises the data systems to support the METERON operations on Ground and simulates elements of the configuration that are not available. This presents realistic conditions to the experiment team to monitor the execution of scenarios.

Made for Astronauts

One critical element of the programme is executing real experiments with Astronauts on the ISS. Strong constraints apply since software on-board the ISS need to undergo a long validation and qualification process, time with Astronauts is very limited due to their busy schedules, and communication network toward the ISS are very restricted. To make up for this, the MOE allows running with a simulated orbiter on ground to allow monitoring of operational scenario experiments when connection with the ISS is not available. The simulation provides realistic interfacing (data rates, delay and latency, data structures) as if it were the actual station communicating with the robotic system.


GSTVI Logo 2.pngThe software environment used by Telespazio VEGA to create the MOE is the innovative plug and play infrastructure called GSTVi (Ground System Test and Validation Infrastructure.

Test, test and test

GSTVi is an ESA toolkit, developed by Telespazio VEGA, which enables testing of ground segment systems. Each element of the ground segment can be ‘plugged-in’ and tested either stand-alone (with simulated elements for the other systems), or in a complete configuration with the other elements included. The system provides a set of simulation models which can be customised for specific missions and allows simulation of the complete telecommand and telemetry chain from the Mission Control System (MCS) to the spacecraft and vice versa. In the early phases of new missions, there is often the need to have a system, with limited effort and investment, allowing validation and checking of the suitability of innovative operation concepts, new technologies and protocols.

Following the protocol

GSTVi is perfect for the METERON MOE as it already provides certain simulated elements which are needed for the MOE (such as the MCS element). It includes standard CCSDS spacelink and ground communications protocol, and it also provides a DTN protocol implementation. GSTVi represents a very powerful system which can be easily extended tin order to allow validation of operations concepts, and to test novel communications protocols, such as those being used in the METERON programme.

METERON rebuilt with Lego, a task that our project team delivered with a lot of passion to ESOC
 - Copyright Telespazio VEGA Deutschland

STVi Logo
- Copyright Telespazio VEGA Deutschland


No problem! Just contact us to find out more what we can do for you in robotic operations.

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Copyright 2013 Telespazio VEGA Deutschland GmbH

Telespazio Vega Deutschland GmbH