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OceanWATERS Project to Begin New Collaborations Under COLDTech Program
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OceanWATERS Project to Begin New Collaborations Under COLDTech Program

The Ocean Worlds Autonomy Testbed for Exploration Research and Simulation (OceanWATERS) project, funded by the Planetary Exploration Science Technology Office (PESTO) under the Science Mission Directorate (SMD), is developing a software simulation to evaluate autonomy-enabling technologies for future missions to ocean worlds such as the Jovian moon Europa, and the Saturnian moons Enceladus and Titan. In late March, PESTO held a review for the "Concepts for Ocean Worlds Life Detection Technology" (COLDTech) Program. PESTO selected four proposals from research teams in industry and academia across the nation to receive two-year grants to develop AI technologies to test on the OceanWATERS software testbed. Autonomous Systems and Robotics (ASR) staff participated in this panel as both reviewers and panel leads. The new projects will begin in summer 2021.

BACKGROUND: The OceanWATERS project began in late 2018. Using the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s (JPL) 2016 Europa Lander Study as a reference, a software testbed featuring the Robot Operating System (ROS), the robot simulator software Gazebo, and the PLan EXecution Interchange Language (PLEXIL), was developed from scratch and released open source on GitHub in summer 2020. The first funded users of this software, a University of South Carolina research team and Honeybee Robotics, began their work in 2020 and 2021, respectively, under grants from the Autonomous Robotics Research for Ocean Worlds (ARROW) Program. Similar to ARROW, the goal of the COLDTech Program is to support the development of spacecraft-based technology for surface and subsurface exploration of ocean worlds such Europa, Enceladus, and Titan.

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, Arno Rogg, Mark Shirley, Antoine Tardy, Orkan Umurhan, Hans Utz, and Uland Wong. PESTO: Carolyn Mercer, Manager

POINT OF CONTACT: Michael Dalal,

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