The Aerial Onboard Autonomous Science Investigation System (AerOASIS) system provides autonomous planning and execution capabilities for aerial vehicles (see figure). The system is capable of generating high-quality operations plans that integrate observation requests from ground planning teams, as well as opportunistic science events detected onboard the vehicle while respecting mission and resource constraints.

The AerOASIS provides a number of functions in airborne planetary exploration.

AerOASIS allows an airborne planetary exploration vehicle to summarize and prioritize the most scientifically relevant data; identify and select high-value science sites for additional investigation; and dynamically plan, schedule, and monitor the various science activities being performed, even during extended communications blackout periods with Earth.

AerOASIS system is composed of three main subsystems: Feature Extraction, which processes sensor imagery and other types of data (such as atmospheric pressure, temperature, wind speeds, etc.) and performs data segmentation and feature extraction; Data Analysis and Prioritization, which matches the extracted feature vectors against scientist-defined signatures. The results are used to detect novelty, perform science data prioritization, and summarization for downlink, and identify and select high-value science sites for in-situ studies; and Planning and Scheduling, which generates operations plans to achieve observation requests submitted from Earth and from onboard data analysis. These science requests can include low-altitude, high-resolution surveys, in-situ sonde deployment, and/or surface sample acquisition for onboard analysis.

This work was done by Daniel M. Gaines, Tara A. Estlin, Steven R. Schaffer, and Caroline M. Chouinard of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, contact iaoffice@jpl.

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-46895.

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This article first appeared in the September, 2010 issue of Software Tech Briefs Magazine.

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