A free 3D globe for engineers is on its way

Today, we are announcing some exciting news. For the upcoming release of STK 10, we’ve changed the name of Satellite Tool Kit to Systems Tool Kit and we’re including our 3D framework  in the free version of STK. Believe me, there is a lot more to the v10 release than that … but let’s focus on 3D today.

You might be thinking, another 3D globe for free, so what? Well, we think it is a big deal. Granted, we won’t get you to the best pizza place as easily as some of those other 3D tools (although I’d love to see them find out the next imaging opportunity of that pizza place as fast as STK can); but we’ve built our tool for engineers, real engineers that have real problems – and there is a big difference. I am not an aerospace engineer, so I am going to keep this in pretty simple terms, if anything piques your curiosity, let me know and I’ll call in the big guns.

Time. First of all, we use the actual time standard as our foundation – leap second and all – to operate in simulated historical time, simulated future time or, of course, in real time. So when STK is stepping through time and various assets are dynamically updating, we are not just animating a scene by advancing fixed time steps relative to a zero epoch or T0 – we really are computing  everything in the system based on actual global conditions associated with that time.

Getting the right position and orientation above the ground or on the ground. If it’s a fixed location on the ground, like a pizza place, well time isn’t so critical. But if something is moving around – you need to manage time correctly. If you don’t have time modeled correctly, you don’t have a basis for your coordinate system. Because we came from space, this is a foundational element of our software; determining accurate position for spacecraft orbiting a deep space asteroid does not leave much room for error. We’ve brought that fidelity of position and orientation to all the elements of your system – ground-, air- and space-based.

Open API for built-in flexibility. External data, user interface plugins, automation, integration with KML or GIS data, visualizing complex STK scenarios published by in-house experts, making HTML GUIs or an entire new custom interface – this is all possible right out of the box with the free version of STK.

Ability to analyze a system. Ok, so now your world has lots of interesting assets flying around in it, and everything looks really nice since we provide you with hundreds of realistic 3D models to help you visualize your system. You’ve also made all of the inputs just the way like them. Now you have to start actually doing something. The foundation of all of our analysis is based on two basic concepts – what can assets “see” independently and what is the dynamic relationship between assets (when can they “see” each other). Then the rest of the STK product line takes your system design, analysis and operations to whole new levels of fidelity – RF modeling, radar modeling, parametric analysis, collision modeling, collection planning and on and on.  The real strength of STK is in the implementation of our basic concepts along with the environment around it. Reports, graphs, dynamic displays, movie production, extensive catalogs of data models and 3D visual cues all allow you to analyze and optimize your system to new levels.

Hopefully, by now you are thinking great, what’s the catch? No catch, our free version of STK now includes 3D. If you are familiar with STK from previous versions, it is the real deal with respect to the 3D implementation (and even better than before). We did not cut any corners for the free version; it’s all in there. 

Obviously we want to build a stronger STK community and we want to maximize performance within the industry. We believe that by offering free STK with 3D, more users across all domains will be empowered and the community will get much broader leverage from the results generated by the rest of the STK product line.

Learn more about the rest of the great features coming in Systems Tool Kit v10, plus our anticipated release date, here.

About frank

Frank Linsalata is AGI's chief operating officer. He has been with AGI since 1991.
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