2011

Autonomous Coordination of Science Observations Using Multiple Spacecraft

This software provides capabilities for autonomous cross-cueing and coordinated observations between multiple orbital and landed assets. Previous work has been done in re-tasking a single Earth orbiter or a Mars rover in response to that craft detecting a science event. This work enables multiple spacecraft to communicate (over a network designed for deep-space communications) and autonomously coordinate the characterization of such a science event.

This work investigates a new paradigm of space science campaigns where opportunistic science observations are autonomously coordinated among multiple spacecraft. In this paradigm, opportunistic science detections can be cued by multiple assets where a second asset is requested to take additional observations characterizing the identified surface feature or event. To support this new paradigm, an autonomous science system for multiple spacecraft assets was integrated with the Interplanetary Network DTN (Delay Tolerant Network) to provide communication between spacecraft assets.

This technology enables new mission concepts that are not feasible with current technology. The ability to rapidly coordinate activities across spacecraft without requiring ground in the loop enables rapid reaction to dynamic events across platforms, such as a survey instrument followed by a targeted high-resolution instrument, as well as regular simultaneous observations.

This work was done by Tara A. Estlin, Steve A. Chien, Rebecca Castano, Daniel M. Gaines, Joshua R. Doubleday, Joshua B. Schoolcraft, Amalaye Oyake, Ashton G. Vaughs, and Jordan L. Torgerson of Caltech and Charles de Granville for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This software is available for commercial licensing. Please contact Daniel Broderick of the California Institute of Technology at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Refer to NPO-47398.