A software system has been developed for prioritizing newly acquired geological data onboard a planetary rover. The system has been designed to enable efficient use of limited communication resources by transmitting the data likely to have the most scientific value. This software operates onboard a rover by analyzing collected data, identifying potential scientific targets, and then using that information to prioritize data for transmission to Earth. Currently, the system is focused on the analysis of acquired images, although the general techniques are applicable to a wide range of data modalities. Image prioritization is performed using two main steps. In the first step, the software detects features of interest from each image. In its current application, the system is focused on visual properties of rocks. Thus, rocks are located in each image and rock properties, such as shape, texture, and albedo, are extracted from the identified rocks. In the second step, the features extracted from a group of images are used to prioritize the images using three different methods: (1) identification of key target signature (finding specific rock features the scientist has identified as important), (2) novelty detection (finding rocks we haven't seen before), and (3) representative rock sampling (finding the most average sample of each rock type). These methods use techniques such as K-means unsupervised clustering and a discrimination-based kernel classifier to rank images based on their interest level.

This program was written by Rebecca Castano, Robert Anderson, Tara Estlin, Dennis DeCoste, Daniel Gaines, Dominic Mazzoni, Forest Fisher, and Michele Judd of Caltech for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

This software is available for commercial licensing. Please contact Don Hart of the California Institute of Technology at (818) 393-3425. Refer to NPO-40265.