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OceanWATERS Project Presents at 2021 ASCE Earth and Space Conference
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OceanWATERS Project Presents at 2021 ASCE Earth and Space Conference

On April 22nd, 2021, Damiana Catanoso represented the Ocean Worlds Autonomy Testbed for Exploration Research and Simulation (OceanWATERS) project team at the 2021 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Earth and Space Conference. The paper, "An Autonomy Software Testbed Simulation for Ocean Worlds Missions", by Edwards et. al., was presented at Symposium 2: the Exploration and Utilization of Extra-Terrestrial Bodies, which focused on methodologies, techniques, instruments, concepts, missions, and system-level designs associated with exploration and utilization of solar system bodies, with emphasis on the Moon, Mars, ocean worlds, and asteroids, and covering both robotic and human exploration. The paper provides a complete overview of the modular, extensible, multi-process autonomy testbed simulation tool based on the Robot Operating System (ROS), the robot simulator software Gazebo, and the PLan EXecution Interchange Language (PLEXIL).

As described in the paper, we simulated an exercise of an ocean worlds mission to the Jovian moon Europa. Europa's terrain was modeled to include hills, valleys, craters, blocks, penitentes (snow formations), and crevasses. Lander lights, direct sunlight, indirect Jovian light, starlight, and terrain-reflected light were the modeled illumination sources. A simplified Europa lander body was modeled to include a stereo camera, four landing stabilizers, a battery pack, a 2-Degrees Of Freedom (DOF) antenna, and a 6-DOF robotic arm with two end effectors to grind and scoop surface material. The Robot Operating System (ROS) MoveIt was used to plan for determined primitive arm motions: stowing and unstowing the arm, guarded arm moves, grinding, linear and circular digging, and delivering and discarding samples. Accurate dynamic feedback from the terrain to the scoop, while collecting the sample, was quantified by incorporating discrete element method simulation data through a ROS plugin. An electrochemistry-based analytical model provided a reliable end-of-discharge prediction under different operating conditions. Finally, the PLEXIL-based autonomy module was incorporated in OceanWATERS to exercise the system and provide an example of interfacing to the simulator via its Application Programming Interface (API).

BACKGROUND: OceanWATERS is an autonomy software testbed simulator that will spur the development and maturation of autonomy technologies to enable increased science operations productivity for ocean worlds surface missions; in particular, autonomy that enables “fail-active” operations (continued operations without ground control intervention in the presence of sub-system failures) is of primary interest and promises to substantially increase mission productivity. The OceanWATERS project began in late 2018. Using the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s (JPL) 2016 Europa Lander Study as a reference, OceanWATERS was developed and released open source on GitHub in summer 2020. A University of South Carolina research team and Honeybee Robotics were the first funded users of this software with four more research teams to follow later this year.

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: Planetary Exploration Science Technology Office (PESTO), Science Mission Directorate (SMD)

TEAM: Anjan Chakrabarty, Michael Dalal, Chetan Kulkarni, Lanssie Ma, Ussama Naal, Thomas Stucky, and Terence Welsh. PAST MEMBERS: Mark Allen, John Bresina, Damiana Catanoso, Larry Edwards, Jeremy Frank, Chuck Fry, Jason Fugate, Leslie Keely, Molly O’Connor, Arno Rogg, Mark Shirley, Antoine Tardy, Orkan Umurhan, Hans Utz, and Uland Wong. PESTO: Carolyn Mercer, Manager.

POINT OF CONTACT: Damiana Catanoso,

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