SCIFLI’s missions require an extensive amount of planning, and ViDI (Virtual Diagnostics Interface) is an indispensable piece of software for this. It was developed primarily by SCIFLI’s Technical Lead, Richard Schwartz, who had been using the three-dimensional environment in Autodesk 3D Studio for wind tunnel testing. Upon joining HYTHIRM, he saw its potential for mission planning. He wrote custom programs in Visual Basic that interface with 3D Studio, allowing the team to model the intricate interplay of the target, airborne and ground-based imaging systems, weather, external environmental obstacles, political boundaries, and other complexities. ViDI is an excellent tool for manipulating large amounts of data, which was especially useful for missions with several unknown factors and large families of trajectories.

Virtual cameras can be created inside of ViDI which generate simulated imagery. They mimic the specifications of the planned optical systems such that simulated imagery is spatially accurate down to the pixel level. Using this capability, mission planners can find optimal hardware configurations and locations for the imaging equipment. This can help give realistic expectations for data collection.

ViDI is NASA-owned, and since it was largely created in-house, it is well-optimized for SCIFLI missions, making it a vital piece of the team’s work flow.