MicroGLOBE is designed to aid the engineer or scientist in creating plots representing the celestial sphere and drawing figures on it. It is an invaluable tool in performing conceptual analysis for mission planning, systems engineering, spacecraft design, and sensor placement, to name just a few applications. By accurately representing the celestial sphere or the Earth’s surface, it greatly facilitates the utilization of global geometry techniques which allow the user to obtain quick, rigorous, and often conceptually elegant solutions to engineering problems with greatly enhanced physical insight.

Some measure of the versatility of MicroGLOBE can be seen in the nature of the spheres it is commonly used to represent and their typical applications:

  • Spacecraft-centered celestial sphere in inertial coordinates
    • attitude analysis for spinning spacecraft
    • eclipse analysis
    • measurement loci
    • singularity conditions
    • measurement bias observability
    • sensor coverage in elliptical orbits
    • launch window constraints
  • Spacecraft-centered celestial sphere in spacecraft fixed coordinates
    • attitude analysis for 3-axis stabilized spacecraft
    • sensor placement and coverage
    • Sun, Moon, and appendage interference conditions
    • Earth viewing conditions (as seen from spacecraft)
    • conditions for viewing other spacecraft
  • The Earth’s surface
    • Earth coverage
    • ground station coverage
    • interference potential
    • system efficiency assessments
  • Earth-centered celestial sphere
    • apparent satellite motion
    • Sun or other spacecraft interference
  • Earth-centered sphere containing the spacecraft
    • satellite constellation analysis
    • relative spacecraft motion
    • spacecraft-to-spacecraft viewing conditions

In many cases, global geometry analysis using MicroGLOBE can replace a system simulation that is 1 to 2 orders of magnitude more expensive. In addition, global geometry can provide greater insight and more flexibility than system simulations.