Operations for autonomous spacecraft

IEEE Aerospace Conference

Onboard autonomy technologies such as planning and scheduling, identification of scientific targets, and content-based data summarization, will lead to exciting new space science missions. However, the challenge of operating missions with such onboard autonomous capabilities has not been studied to a level of detail sufficient for consideration in mission concepts. These autonomy capabilities will require changes to current operations processes, practices, and tools. We have developed a case study to assess the changes needed to enable operators and scientists to operate an autonomous spacecraft by adopting a common model between the ground personnel and the onboard algorithms. We assess the new operations tools and workflows necessary to enable operators and scientists to convey their desired intent to the spacecraft, and to be able to reconstruct and explain the decisions made onboard and the state of the spacecraft. Mock-ups of these tools were used in a user study to understand the effectiveness of the processes and tools in enabling a shared framework of understanding, and the ability of the operators and scientists to effectively achieve mission science objectives.

inproceedings{castano-et-al-ieeeaero2022 author={Castano, Rebecca and Vaquero, Tiago and Rossi, Federico and Verma, Vandi and Van Wyk, Ellen and Allard, Dan and Huffmann, Bennett and Murphy, Erin M. and Dhamani, Nihal and Hewitt, Robert A. and Davidoff, Scott and Amini, Rashied and Barrett, Anthony and Castillo-Rogez, Julie and Choukroun, Mathieu and Dadaian, Alain and Francis, Raymond and Gorr, Benjamin and Hofstadter, Mark and Ingham, Michel and Sorice, Cristina and Tierney, Iain}, booktitle={2022 IEEE Aerospace Conference (AERO)}, title={Operations for Autonomous Spacecraft}, year={2022}, volume={}, number={}, pages={1-20}, keywords={Space vehicles;Space missions;Prototypes;User interfaces;Predictive models;Planning;Personnel}, doi={10.1109/AERO53065.2022.9843352} }