Applicability of the Open Source Software Methodology to Space Thermal Engineering

ESA Contract 17162/03/NL/CP


Thermal Analysis, ESTEC/ESA


The objective of this study was to investigate the state of the art in Open Source Software development, and how it could be applied to the development of a European Space Thermal Analysis tool. The main activities of the study were:

  • to review suitable OSS packages, determine whether there were particular licence requirements or restrictions, establish whether they were still under active development, and estimate the size of the user base.
  • to develop a prototype tool using open source components.
  • to establish a project web site where members of the community would be able to download the source code for the prototype tool, and interact to contribute to further development of the web site and tool.

Material available for download

The source code for the prototype tool is not available for download for two reasons:

  1. The internal data structures of the tool were based on a preliminary snapshot of the STEP-TAS protocol and supporting software libraries. Since that snapshot was taken, the protocol has undergone significant revision, and extensive changes have been made to the libraries. Other software initiatives are now in progress which use the latest versions, so distributing the outdated protocol and source code would only lead to confusion, and the effort to upgrade the prototype tool would take resources away from those other initiatives.
  2. As mentioned in the final report, one outcome of the study was the identification of a lack of a suitable licence agreement for the distribution of the software. There was a conflict between the existing open source licences used by external packages that required “free” distribution, and the terms and conditions associated with the funding of the contract. So although a ThermOSS web site was established during the execution of the contract, access was restricted to the developers within the project. The web site has closed since the end of the contract.

The following documents are available for download from this web site:

Document Id Title
ThermOss_Final_Report Executive Summary and Final Report
Therm-OSS-001 Software Development Guidelines
Therm-OSS-002 Review of existing OSS for orbit propagation and raytracing/radiosity
Therm-OSS-003 Survey of suitable OSS
Therm-OSS-004 Definition of Target Application, Intrastructure and Product
Therm-OSS-005 User Requirements Document / Software User Manual
Therm-OSS-006 Software Specification Manual
Therm-OSS-007 Detailed Design Document
Therm-OSS-008 ThermOSS Web Application – User Manual
Therm-OSS-009 ThermOSS Web Application – Administrator Manual
Therm-OSS-010 ThermOSS Web Application – Installation Manual
Therm-OSS-011 ThermOSS Web Application – User Requirements Document
Therm-OSS-012 ThermOSS Web Application – Configuration Manual
Therm-OSS-013 Configuration list of deliverable codes and software transfer document

Please note that an updated survey will be provided as one of the deliverables of another project, expected at the end of 2006

The downloads require a valid username and password, subject to the terms and conditions outlined below. To obtain a username and password, please register here with  your name, occupation, organisation and the area: Thermoss. You should receive an answer within 7 working days.

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Terms and Conditions

		The subject material was produced under GSP (General Studies Programme) contract of the European Space Agency. Therefore it is freely available to organisations and individuals located in one of the Agency's member or cooperating states according to the criteria set out in Article II (3) of Annex V of the European Space Agency Convention [*].

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