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Proceedings Paper

Intelligent information extraction to aid science decision making in autonomous space exploration
Author(s): Erzsébet Merényi; Kadim Tasdemir; William H. Farrand
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Paper Abstract

Effective scientific exploration of remote targets such as solar system objects increasingly calls for autonomous data analysis and decision making on-board. Today, robots in space missions are programmed to traverse from one location to another without regard to what they might be passing by. By not processing data as they travel, they can miss important discoveries, or will need to travel back if scientists on Earth find the data warrant backtracking. This is a suboptimal use of resources even on relatively close targets such as the Moon or Mars. The farther mankind ventures into space, the longer the delay in communication, due to which interesting findings from data sent back to Earth are made too late to command a (roving, floating, or orbiting) robot to further examine a given location. However, autonomous commanding of robots in scientific exploration can only be as reliable as the scientific information extracted from the data that is collected and provided for decision making. In this paper, we focus on the discovery scenario, where information extraction is accomplished with unsupervised clustering. For high-dimensional data with complicated structure, detailed segmentation that identifies all significant groups and discovers the small, surprising anomalies in the data, is a challenging task at which conventional algorithms often fail. We approach the problem with precision manifold learning using self-organizing neural maps with non-standard features developed in the course of our research. We demonstrate the effectiveness and robustness of this approach on multi-spectral imagery from the Mars Exploration Rovers Pancam, and on synthetic hyperspectral imagery.

Paper Details

Date Published: 15 April 2008
PDF: 15 pages
Proc. SPIE 6960, Space Exploration Technologies, 69600M (15 April 2008); doi: 10.1117/12.782248
Show Author Affiliations
Erzsébet Merényi, Rice Univ. (United States)
Kadim Tasdemir, Rice Univ. (United States)
William H. Farrand, Space Science Institute (United States)

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

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