Tech Briefs

GIS Methodology for Planning Planetary-Rover Operations

A document describes a methodology for utilizing image data downlinked from cameras aboard a robotic ground vehicle (rover) on a remote planet for analyzing and planning operations of the vehicle and of any associated spacecraft. Traditionally, the cataloging and presentation of large numbers of downlinked planetary-exploration images have been done by use of two organizational methods: temporal organization and correlation between activity plans and images. In contrast, the present methodology involves spatial indexing of image data by use of the computational discipline of geographic information systems (GIS), which has been maturing in terrestrial applications for decades, but, until now, has not been widely used in support of exploration of remote planets. The use of GIS to catalog data products for analysis is intended to increase efficiency and effectiveness in planning rover operations, just as GIS has proven to be a source of powerful computational tools in such terrestrial endeavors as law enforcement, military strategic planning, surveying, political science, and epidemiology. The use of GIS also satisfies the need for a map-based user interface that is intuitive to rover-activity planners, many of whom are deeply familiar with maps and know how to use them effectively in field geology.

This work was done by Mark Powell, Jeffrey Norris, Jason Fox, Kenneth Rabe, and IHsiang Shu of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Information Sciences category.

This software is available for commercial licensing. Please contact Karina Edmonds of the California Institute of Technology at (626) 395-2322. Refer to NPO-41812.

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GIS Methodology for Planning Planetary-Rover Operations (reference NPO-41812) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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