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Space autonomy as migration of functionality: the mars case

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Author: Grant, T. · Bos, A. · Neerincx, M. · Soler, A.O. · Brauer, U. · Wolff, M.
Source:SMC-IT 2006, 2nd IEEE International Conference on Space Mission Challenges for Information Technology, 17-20 July, 2006, Pasadena, CA, USA, 2006, 195-201
Identifier: 280105
ISBN: 9780769526447
Article number: No.: 1659551
Keywords: Electronics · Computer architecture · Information technology · Project management · Ubiquitous computing · Autonomy requirements · Manned planetary exploration missions · Mission Crew Execution Assistant (MECA) · Space autonomy · Interplanetary spacecraft


This paper develops Grandjean and Lecouat's insight that spacecraft autonomy can be seen as the migration of functionality from the ground segment to the space segment. Their insight is extended to manned planetary exploration missions and applied to an IT-based crew assistant for supporting manned and unmanned Martian operations. The Mission Crew Execution Assistant (MECA) system is seen as a distributed, personal ePartner in a ubiquitous computing environment, designed to amplify the cognitive capacities of human-machine teams during planetary exploration missions to cope autonomously with unexpected, complex and potentially hazardous situations. The paper shows that the autonomy requirements have implications for the MECA system's architecture and functionality. The research reported here has been performed by a consortium led by TNO Human Factors (NL) in Phase 1 of the MECA project funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) under contract number 19149/05/NL/JA. © 2006 IEEE.