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The NASA Ames Planning and Scheduling Group has developed and demonstrated techniques for automated planning, scheduling and control. In addition to extensive technical expertise, the group has extensive experience delivering planning and scheduling software to NASA missions involving ground, flight, and surface operations, across the spectrum of NASA endeavors on Earth, in space, and for planetary exploration.

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Core Technologies

The planning and scheduling group has developed two core technologies that are publicly available and used within many of the group's other projects:

Project Lead: Michael Iatauro
EUROPA is a framework to model and tackle problems in Planning, Scheduling and Constraint Programming. It has been used in a wide variety of projects within NASA and elswhere.

Project Lead: Michael Dalal
PLEXIL (Plan Execution Interchange Language) is a language for representing plans for automation, accompanied by an execution engine (executive) that implements efficiently the PLEXIL language and can provide interfaces to controlled systems as well as decision support systems.

Project Lead: Alfredo Bencomo
Website: OpenSPIFe Home
The Scheduling and Planning Interface for Exploration (SPIFe) is now an open source framework available on NASA GitHub. SPIFe is an integrated planning and scheduling toolkit based on hundreds of hours of expert observation, use, and refinement of state-of-the-art planning and scheduling technology for several NASA missions; which includes the Mars Exploration Rover, the Phoenix Mars Lander, and the Mars Science Laboratory. It has also been adapted as preflight planning and a real-time analysis console tool that supports all phases of planning on the International Space Station (ISS), as well as several other flight projects and analogs.


Autonomous Systems and Operations (ASO)
Project Lead: Jeremy Frank
NASA's Autonomous Mission Operations (AMO) develops advanced technologies for autonomous operation of spacecraft. Recently, the project conducted an empirical investigation of the impact of time delay on today’s mission operations, and of the effect of targeted organizational changes, processes and mission support tools designed to mitigate time-delay related impacts. The products of this study will be employed to create technologies that will be flight validated as part of experiments onboard the International Space Station, and as part of the upcomng Exploration Flight Test of the Orion capsule.

Edison Demonstration of Smallsat Networks (EDSN)
Project Lead: Michael Dalal
The Edison Demonstration of Smallsat Networks (EDSN) mission will deploy a swarm of eight cubesats into a loose formation orbiting approximately 400 kilometers above Earth. EDSN will demonstrate the potential value of multiple small satellites as tools for a wide array of scientific, commercial, and academic space research. Other goals of the project include reducing the cost and time required to design and build future small spacecraft as well as testing new software applications.

Project Lead: Leslie Keely-Meindorfer
Antares is a tool for visual planning of mission science operations, Antares allows an operations team on earth to develop command sequences for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover’s science cameras, Mastcam, MAHLI, and MARDI in an interactive 3D simulation of the remote Mars environment.

Planning for Quantum Computing
Project Lead: Minh Do
In this project, we investigate planning problems that can be solved more effectively by a quantum computer than a traditional computer. In particular, NASA-relevant planning problems which have certain properties or local search topology that make them suitable for quantum computing algorithms (quantum annealing in particular). We will conduct both theoretical and empirical evaluations on such candidate domains.

Emergency Landing Planner for Damaged Aircraft
Project Lead: David Smith
We have built a prototype emergency landing planner that takes the current position, direction, and speed of an aircraft, an estimate of the current flight envelope, weather and airport information, and produces an ordered list of recommended emergency landing sites. The system has been integrated into the cockpit environment in the Advanced Concepts Flight Simulator (ACFS) and used in experiments with commercial pilots.

Project Lead: Alfredo Bencomo
JPL's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) , known as Curiosity, is a NASA rover scheduled to be launched in Fall 2011 and land on Mars in Fall 2012. MSL's overarching science goal is to assess environmental conditions favorable to microbial life, both habitability and preservation. The Mars Science Laboratory Interface (MSLICE) is an application that provides support for the mission with science data visualization & analysis, roundtrip data tracking, scheduling of integrated activity plan, modeling, simulation, and validation of activity plan.

Optimal Acoustics Trajectory Design for Flight Operations
Project Lead: Robert Morris
As part of the Subsonic Rotary Wing (SRW) project, we are applying planning and optimization techniques to design trajectories for flight operations that minimize ground noise. We will verify these trajectories using a high fidelity noise simulator (Rotorcraft Noise Model) and in flight tests.

Project Lead: John Bresina
The LADEE Activity Scheduling System (LASS) is a tool to construct and validate plans at the “orbit” and the “activity” level. The primary components of an activity plan are a set of instantiated activities and a set of temporal constraints between activities. In order for the plan to be valid, these constraints must be satisfied. LASS allows both the science team and engineering team to more quickly plan out what they would like to occur on the spacecraft. This enables the analysis of resource utilization and flight rule compliance before command loads are generated and simulated; thus catching and resolving problems earlier in the operations process.

Past Projects

Solar Array Constraint Engine (SACE)
Project Lead: John Chachere
The SACE software helps International Space Station (ISS) flight controllers safely and effectively operate ISS solar arrays. Flight controllers must position the arrays to collect adequate power for life and experiments on the station, yet avoid numerous hazards, including thruster firings, environmental contamination, communications interference, and extra-vehicular activities. SACE provides flight controllers with awareness of operational constraints that are in danger of being violated either at the current time or in the immediate future, and gives them the ability to plan solar array activities for periods of weeks into the future.

Next Generation Planning System
Project Lead: Alfredo Bencomo
The Next Generation Planning System (NGPS) is a suite of planning tools being developed as a collaboration between Johnson Space Center (JSC), Ames Research Center (ARC), the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) which will address planning needs for both ISS and future Mission Operations Directive (MOD) missions. Score is the planning interface to be used by NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for authoring the operations schedule and validating it against flight rules and constraints. Score also provides an interface for planning collaboration between remote planners as well as a plugin-based architecture for partners from Marshall Space and Flight Center (MSFC), ESA, and JAXA to contribute their own custom tools.
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Project Lead: Alfredo Bencomo
The Power Planning and Analysis Tool (PLATO), is a preflight planning and a real-time analysis console tool that supports all phases of the International Space Station (ISS) power resource planning. Through consolidation of existing and new power resource planning tools into a single application, PLATO simplifies the power resource planning task, thereby reducing the number of analysts and flight control personnel required to manage the ISS Electrical Power Systems (EPS). Its express purpose is to simplify the power resource planning task and to reduce the number of off-console personnel required for power prediction generation. PLATO provides the capability to allow a SPARTAN Specialist to be able to generate all of the standard Short Term Plan (STP) power planning products, flight specific power planning products, long-range look-ahead power planning products, and any additional what-if scenarios. Additionally, it will permit a SPARTAN Operator, who is managing the electrical power systems and the external thermal control systems, the ability to perform reactive real-time analysis updates without backroom or office support.

ADCO Planning Exchange Tool (APEX)
Project Lead: Michael McCurdy
The objective of APEX is to streamline the existing manual and time-intensive planning tools into a more automated, user-friendly application that interfaces with existing products and allows the Attitude Determination and Control Officer (ADCO) to produce accurate products and timelines more efficiently.

Remote Agent
The Remote Agent Experiment was the first instance of state of the art artificial intelligence system being given primary command of a spacecraft. The Remote Agent software operated NASA's Deep Space 1 spacecraft and its futuristic ion engine during two experiments that started on Monday, May 17, 1999. For two days Remote Agent ran on the on-board computer of Deep Space 1, more than 60,000,000 miles (96,500,000 kilometers) from Earth.

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Decision Theoretic Planning for Planetary Exploration
Project Lead: Nicolas Meuleau
This project aimed at producing high-quality contingency planning and re-planning solutions by scaling-up decision theoretic techniques to real NASA problems. We used planetary rovers as a test-bed and focused on these issues: structured and concurrent planning domains, continuous uncertain state variables, and oversubscription.

Constraint and Flight Rule Management (ConFRM)
Project Lead: Jeremy Frank
ConFRM centralizes the creation, maintenance, and validation of the thousands of operational constraints that govern human spaceflight operations.

Game Theoretic Scheduling of the Deep Space Network
Project Lead: Jeremy Frank
NASA missions over the next two decades will require communications bandwidth that exceeds current Deep Space Network capacity by an order of magnitude or more. We explored the use of game theory to extend scheduling technology to negotiate schedules for the Deep Space Network to improve the overall effectiveness of the schedules while reducing the staffing requirements needed to produce and maintain schedules.

Mixed-Initiative Planning
Project Lead: John Bresina
This research explored fundamental issues of mixed-initiative planning and scheduling. We focused on enabling the user to specify preferred solution characteristics, providing effective summarizations and comparisons of solutions, and providing explanations of planning decisions and failures.

SOFIA Observation Scheduling
Project Lead: Jeremy Frank
We prototyped observation scheduling and flight planning techniques for the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) airborne observatory.

Automation For Operations
Project Lead: Jeremy Frank
(Note: formerly Spacecraft Autonomy for Vehicles and Habitats, led by Ari Jonsson).
The Automation for Operations (A4O) developed advanced mission operations technology for Constellation, NASA’s plan to return to the Moon in response to the President’s Vision for Space Exploration (VSE). A4O developed an evolvable mission operations architecture to automate the operations of manned space vehicles, unoccupied space vehicles, surface assets, and robotic systems. The architecture consists of a small number of modular, interoperable and reconfigurable components, clear component definitions, and interfaces for information exchange. The main components include automated planners, plan execution systems, customizable user interfaces, and integrated verification and validation (V&V) services. Accomplishments included demonstration of peer-to-peer crew, power and stowage planning and automation of human spaceflight procedures to the Mission Operations Directorate at JSC, and robotic systems and habitat automation as part of several analog field tests. Participating centers included NASA Ames, JPL, JSC and LaRC.

Automated Planning Technology (APT)
Project Lead: Brad Clement (JPL)
As part of the Autonomous Systems and Avionics project, we seek to reduce the gaps between models used for high-fidelity simulations and those used for automated planning. We are developing tools and interfaces to extract, modify, and verify high-level plans using simulation models.

Project Lead: Leslie Keely
Viz is a data visualization tool that provides scientists, robot operators, and mission planners with powerful, interactive 3D displays of remote environments. Viz was originally developed for Mars Polar Lander (2001), and has been used for the Mars Exploration Rover (2003) and the Phoenix Lander (2008).

UAVs in the National Airspace
Project Lead: Javier Barreiro
Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) are increasingly being used by government and the private sector to perform tasks in earth science, disaster monitoring and recovery, transportation and many others. The FAA is leading an effort to streamline UAS access to the National Airspace (NAS). Our group is contributing expertise for nominal and contingency planning to the creation of a Concept of Operations for regular UAS operations in the NAS over the next decade.


Group Lead
Jeremy Frank

Group Members
Alfredo Bencomo
John Bresina
Michael Dalal
Minh Do
Chuck Fry
Michael Iatauro
J. Benton
Leslie Keely-Meindorfer
Elif Kurklu
Paul Morris
Robert Morris
Christian Plaunt
David Smith

Andrew Bachmann
Bob Kanefsky
Tristan Smith
Brian Yu
Javier Barreiro
John Chachere
Tania Bedrax-Weiss
Matt Boyce
Keith Golden
Kevin Greene
Bobby Grewal
Ari Jonsson
Dhananjay Joshi
Melissa Ludowise
Conor McGann
Nicolas Meuleau
Nicola Muscettola
Bob Nado
Kanna Rajan
Sailesh Ramakrishnan
David Rijsman

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