A design and a partially developed application framework were presented for improving localization and targeting for surface spacecraft. The program has value for the Mars Science Laboratory mission, and has been delivered to support the Mars Exploration Rovers as part of the latest version of the Maestro science planning tool. It also has applications for future missions involving either surface-based or low-altitude atmospheric robotic vehicles.

The targeting and localization solutions solve the problem of how to integrate localization estimate updates into operational planning tools, operational data product generalizations, and flight software by adding expanded flexibility to flight software, the operations data product pipeline, and operations planning tools based on coordinate frame updates during a planning cycle. When acquiring points of interest (targets) for the rover, instead of using a temporal method for reusing previously acquired targets, this system uses a spatial method to avoid tedious and repetitive target re-designation needed to keep target relevance accurate. Instead of creating a target that is reusable only for a sol (Martian day), the target is defined in a way to make it reusable for a planning position (the vehicle position indicated by a Site and Drive index pair) from which the vehicle will begin a command cycle.

This work was done by Mark W. Powell, Thomas Crockett, Jason M. Fox, Joseph C. Joswig, Jeffrey S. Norris, and Kenneth J. Rabe of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The software used in this innovation is available for commercial licensing. Please contact Karina Edmonds of the California Institute of Technology at (626) 395-2322. Refer to NPO-43847.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the November, 2008 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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