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20 September 2020 Enabling and assuring autonomy in small satellite missions
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Abstract
Craft Prospect and partners are enabling smarter, more responsive small satellite operations through the development of components which enable on-board data processing and information extraction and mission autonomy. Small satellite operations are currently highly reliant on the processing of captured data and telemetry and the creation of command schedules by human operators on the ground. Our responsive operations work involves the transfer of these activities, in part or in full, from the human ground operators to the satellite itself. We present our approach to enabling this assured autonomy in small satellite missions. We have defined a reference architecture for integrating autonomy-enabling components into mature, existing flight software. These components perform a variety of functions, including goal-based planning, dynamic scheduling, real-time and offline data processing, communications management, and autonomy supervision. Autonomous activities enabled by this architecture can be considered as either data autonomy or mission autonomy, with runtime supervision of autonomy supporting rigorous development-time verification and validation to provide mission assurance. Some example remote sensing use cases are presented, and the benefits of onboard autonomy to these use cases highlighted and related to new operations concepts. These use cases can see improvements in data coverage, timeliness, quality and value through the transfer of analysis and decision making from the ground to the satellite.
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Murray Ireland, Peter Mendham, Steve Greenland, Phil Karagiannakis, and Frank Hogervorst "Enabling and assuring autonomy in small satellite missions", Proc. SPIE 11530, Sensors, Systems, and Next-Generation Satellites XXIV, 1153011 (20 September 2020); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2574612
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