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On-Board Autonomy for Decreased Satellite Response Time


OBJECTIVE: Research and develop architectures for autonomous flight software to support on-board event detection, planning, and task execution in order to enhance satellite responsiveness. DESCRIPTION: Today's Air Force satellites are not equipped to respond to real-time events whether those are due to component failure, environmental, or man-made. The state of the art (SOTA) in existence today largely requires ground operations to identify, isolate, and mitigate most threats or to respond to opportunistic scenarios. Without embedded flight autonomy the time to identify and respond to events can be on the order of days. In addition, some surveillance missions are less than effective with increased timelines resulting in the inability of Warfighters to respond to observations. In support of future Space Superiority missions, monitoring and command and control functionality which traditionally has been hosted on the ground needs to be migrated on-board the satellite. Investments have been made in developing specialized sensors to detect specific events. What is needed is to improve the SOA in existence today and to create a more robust on-board capability that will detect and isolate non-deterministic events, plan resulting actions, and then execute activities. Events can be determined from either on-board sensors or as a result of on-board processing of sensor data. This requirement leads to several challenges. Detecting and correctly identifying events via telemetry, on-board sensors and/or environmental conditions is made difficult due to the difficulty in characterizing these events. Once identified correct courses of action must be determined. To correctly perform this function embedded knowledge of satellite state, operating constraints and mission objectives must be very accurately maintained. This on-board knowledge base is necessary to robustly plan resulting actions. Once these activities are determined they must then be properly executed in the correct sequence and at the appropriate times. This topic seeks to develop and demonstrate technologies for embedded satellite autonomy. Example technologies to achieve desired objectives would include but not be limited to model based and constraint based detection and planning systems. PHASE I: For selected scenarios develop and demonstrate on-board software technologies to perform autonomous flight operations. To the extent possible the research should leverage off of previous research in FDIR, autonomous planning, and task execution. Particular emphasis should be placed on scalability and accuracy. PHASE II: Build on the architecture developed in Phase I and incorporate higher fidelity components at all levels. This phase will target a set of realistic scenarios and operating constraints. Phase II will culminate in a high fidelity prototype demonstration of the system that clearly shows the utility to Space Superiority missions. PHASE III: This topic is addressing Space Superiority Space missions. The associated technologies would be applicable to NASA missions particularly those that are in deep space where bandwidth is a limitation. REFERENCES: 1. R. Sherwood, S. Chien, D. Tran, B. Cichy, R. Castano, A. Davies, G. Rabideau,"The E0-1 Autonomous Sciencecraft", Small Satellite Conference. Logan, UT. August 2007. 2. S. Frye, D. Mandl,"Sensor Webs; Autonomous Rapid Response to Monitor Transient Science Events", AMS Conference, 2005.
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