85th AMS Annual Meeting

Wednesday, 12 January 2005
The Meteorological And Range Safety Support (MARSS) system: a GIS-based tool for launch area hazard prediction and visualization
Stephen L. Arnold, ENSCO, Inc., Santa Maria, CA; and A. V. Dianic and E. G. Magnuson
Poster PDF (649.6 kB)
The MARSS system provides the Air Force and NASA with a combined meteorological and toxic hazard support capability to protect personnel and property engaged in launch vehicle processing, propellant handling, launch preparation, and launch support activities, as well as the surrounding population. The primary users for MARSS are the Air Force and NASA, specifically the 45th and 30th Weather Squadrons and corresponding AF & NASA Flight Safety offices at Kennedy Space Center and Patrick Air Force Base (KSC/PAFB). These organizations provide joint base toxic and hazard support and emergency response activities for operational facilities, personnel, and surrounding communities.

The MARSS system is the result of a highly successful technology transfer from innovative research to operational product, and, as a cost-saving move, was recently ported from commercial Unix to an open source environment (Linux) on x86-compatible hardware. The system provides a combination of functions and software, including real-time data acquisition and display of 4 different lightning detection and prediction systems, and quality analysis and display of weather data from over 70 different instruments, including meteorological towers, acoustic sounders, and Doppler radar wind profilers. The system also provides an extensive set of meteorological and hazard prediction tools for 2 and 3-dimensional meteorological modeling, toxic material release, blast hazards, and risk estimation, as well as the use of expert systems technology to monitor real-time weather measurements in order to detect user specified hazardous conditions and alert when they are detected. The system is designed for continuous (24/7) availability, using a redundant primary/secondary ingest preprocessor, supporting a potentially large number of modeling/display clients. Recent additions for this project include integration with both local range weather systems and a modified AWIPS, as well as LAPS, and a local MM5 modeling cluster.

The current MARSS system integrates a combination of open source software, freely available scientific codes, and both new and legacy software, on commodity PC hardware. Since the overall system must be compliant with the Defense Information Infrastructure's Common Operating Environment/Joint Technical Architecture (DII COE/JTA), RedHat's Advanced Server 2.1 was selected as the base Linux operating system. The use of an open source operating system not only provides a freely available no-license fee option, but also includes a wealth of scientific tools and libraries such as the GRASS GIS software, UniData's NetCDF library (for data compatibility with LAPS and MM5), and a DOS emulator (required to run certain legacy safety models). The low-cost integration of both meteorological and hazard models provides operational weather and safety users access to the same tools and displays, thus maximizing accurate and consistent information flow to the appropriate organizations. The same tools are used for both mission planning and hazard analysis, as well as emergency response. The built-in fax capabilities further enhance communications between operational safety personnel and local, county and state emergency response planners and public health officials.

Supplementary URL: http://www.ensco.com/products/space/mrs/mrs_ovr.htm