Robotic spacecraft will play a critical role in the future of space exploration. Increasing the efficiency of their operation will allow for a more rapid exploration of the solar system. Efficiency is inherently limited by the time delay induced by the distance between operator and spacecraft. Traditional control systems become unpredictable and unresponsive in the presence of time delay. Our system decreases perceived time delay by allowing the user to control the spacecraft at a predicted future state. By predicting and displaying a range of expected future states, safe operation is possible within the modeled uncertainty of the spacecrafts' behavior. Work includes the RAPID, a Default-Tolerant Networking protocol.
Curiosity is a multi-billion dollar robot pushing the forefront of human knowledge on another planet. We can't physically repair the robot, so we must rely on software to operate the robot safely and efficiently. The time delay of sending signals millions of miles makes realtime operations impossible; instead we must plan ahead and send up a large batch of commands once per day. Additionally, the robot is a large and complex creature with data and power limitations as well as many instruments, not all of which can be operated in parallel with each other. The Curiosity mission operations interface combines image browsing, high-level planning and low-level commanding and validation all in one tightly-integrated tool.
In the News: Science Operations
Earth science gives us a way to better understand our planet and its short and long term changes. By generating hypotheses and creating models, we can improve our ability to predict natural disasters, respond more effectively to current changes, and build our knowledge about the complex interactions between atmosphere, vegetation, ice sheets, volcanic activity, tectonic activity, soil moisture, and many other components of our environment. The Human Interfaces Group is developing a system in which Earth science data processing workflows are run in a cloud computing environment, with a web-based interface for managing, creating, and monitoring the computational processes. Our goal is to decrease total processing time, significantly lower the barriers to participation, and provide a common platform for collaboration.
The Deep Space Network (DSN) is the worldwide antenna array that NASA uses to communicate with all active space missions. Network operators have to manage every bit from every space mission 24x7x365 through the 15 antennae. The Human Interfaces group develops the system that allows operators to manage this extraordinary flow of data.
Working with the Mars Outreach team at NASA, we have created a suite of interactive 3D experiences for the public (starting with the Spirit MER rover and extending to the Curiosity MSL rover and beyond). Partnering with Microsoft Studios, we have released the first NASA console game for free on Xbox Live: Mars Rover Landing
We bring together computation, interaction and visual communication to investigate the Universe. The data to discovery symposium data to discover symposium is one outlet for this trans-disciplinary collaboration.