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MSLICE Planning and Scheduling Software Keeps Curiosity on Track

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission is supported by the Ensemble tool, MSLICE (Mars Science Laboratory InterfaCE, pronounced “em-slice”), which provides the mission with science data visualization and analysis, roundtrip data tracking, scheduling of integrated activity plans, modeling, simulation, and validation of activity plans. Engineers in both the Intelligent Systems and Human Integration Divisions contributed to the aspect of MSLICE that both schedules Curiosity’s integrated activity plans and sequences the actions of Curiosity.

MSLICE ensures that mission scientists can work closely with both rover and instrument engineers to create plans that maximize scientific research and insure that tasks are safe for Curiosity to perform. Joy Crisp, Deputy Project Scientist said, “Each day, scientists and engineers are under time pressure to make sense of the data that is sent back from the rover and to plan what the rover should do the next day on Mars. MSLICE is the collaborative software tool that enables our team of hundreds of scientists and engineers to view data products from Mars, select targets, and prepare rover activities and command sequences that meet all of the constraints that we have. We are relying on this tool heavily.”

BACKGROUND: MSLICE is a collaborative effort between Ames Research Center and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Ames engineers in the Intelligent Systems and the Human Systems Integration Divisions contributed to the design and development of the aspect of MSLICE that focuses on the process that plans Curiosity’s activities, e.g., how long activities will take to perform, what instruments to use, and what resources the activities will consume. MSL’s overarching science goal is to assess environmental conditions favorable to microbial life, both habitability and preservation.

Contact: Alfredo Bencomo

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