content 16-January-2018 20:05:16


The Highly Integrated Payload SIMulator (HIPSIM) is a software tool that is designed to simulate the scientific performance of instruments aboard spacecraft for planetary exploration missions.

The simulator tool comprises instruments for

  • the description of the topography of the target (high resolution camera, stereo camera, laser altimeter)
  • and the description of the morphology of the target (visual and near infrared spectrometer, thermal infrared spectrometer, x-ray fluorescence spectrometer, gamma-ray spectrometer)

The BepiColombo spacecraft

These instruments closely resemble most of the instruments selected for the Mercury Planetary Orbiter of ESA's BepiColombo mission to Mercury. It is designed in such a flexible way that it can easily be adapted for the observation of different bodies in our Solar System.

With this simulator one can predict the science performance of each instrument in terms of signal-to-noise ratio or integration time needed to detect a certain species, but it is not suited to calculate data rate and power consumption.

The simulator code is written in C++ and available to be used on Linux and Solaris platforms. It can be operated via the command line or a graphic user interface (GUI, see Figure 1). The input parameters are defined in a configuration file and simulation parameters, such as start date of simulation. Input spectra can be entered either using the GUI or the command line.

Figure 1: Snapshot of the graphical user interface of HIPSIM

The output common for all instruments comprises: time, distance to Sun, Sun elevation angle at sub-satellite point, longitude and latitude of space craft (S/C), S/C height. Depending on the individual instrument there are additional output files available. For the spectrometers, for example, output spectra are generated and for the laser altimeter values such as height measurement precision are added.

Figure 2: Signal-to-noise ratios for a high resolution camera with different albedo values A


Dr. Anamarija Stankov
Planetary Exploration Studies (SCI-AP)
Science Payload & Advanced Concepts Office
European Space Agency, ESA-ESTEC
Postbus 299, NL-2200 AG Noordwijk, The Netherlands
tel: +31 71 565 5196

Last Update: 13 March 2009

For further information please contact:

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