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Proceedings Paper

Intelligent systems for the autonomous exploration of Titan and Enceladus
Author(s): Roberto Furfaro; Jonathan I. Lunine; Jeffrey S. Kargel; Wolfgang Fink
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Paper Abstract

Future planetary exploration of the outer satellites of the Solar System will require higher levels of onboard automation, including autonomous determination of sites where the probability of significant scientific findings is highest. Generally, the level of needed automation is heavily influenced by the distance between Earth and the robotic explorer(s) (e.g. spacecraft(s), rover(s), and balloon(s)). Therefore, planning missions to the outer satellites mandates the analysis, design and integration within the mission architecture of semi- and/or completely autonomous intelligence systems. Such systems should (1) include software packages that enable fully automated and comprehensive identification, characterization, and quantification of feature information within an operational region with subsequent target prioritization and selection for close-up reexamination; and (2) integrate existing information with acquired, "in transit" spatial and temporal sensor data to automatically perform intelligent planetary reconnaissance, which includes identification of sites with the highest potential to yield significant geological and astrobiological information. In this paper we review and compare some of the available Artificial Intelligence (AI) schemes and their adaptation to the problem of designing expert systems for onboard-based, autonomous science to be performed in the course of outer satellites exploration. More specifically, the fuzzy-logic framework proposed is analyzed in some details to show the effectiveness of such a scheme when applied to the problem of designing expert systems capable of identifying and further exploring regions on Titan and/or Enceladus that have the highest potential to yield evidence for past or present life. Based on available information (e.g., Cassini data), the current knowledge and understanding of Titan and Enceladus environments is evaluated to define a path for the design of a fuzzy-based system capable of reasoning over collected data and capable of providing the inference required to autonomously optimize future outer satellites explorations.

Paper Details

Date Published: 15 April 2008
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 6960, Space Exploration Technologies, 69600A (15 April 2008); doi: 10.1117/12.777643
Show Author Affiliations
Roberto Furfaro, Univ. of Arizona (United States)
Jonathan I. Lunine, Univ. of Arizona (United States)
Jeffrey S. Kargel, Univ. of Arizona (United States)
Wolfgang Fink, California Institute of Technology (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6960:
Space Exploration Technologies
Wolfgang Fink, Editor(s)

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