Activity Planning for the Mars Exploration Rovers

John Bresina, Ari K. Jonsson, Paul H. Morris, and Kanna Rajan

Operating the Mars Exploration Rovers is a challenging, time-pressured task. Each day, the operations team must generate a new plan describing the rover activities for the next day. These plans must abide by resource limitations, safety rules, and temporal constraints. The objective is to achieve as much science as possible, choosing from a set of observation requests that oversubscribe rover resources. In order to accomplish this objective, given the short amount of planning time available, the MAPGEN (Mixed-initiative Activity Plan GENerator) system was made a mission-critical part of the ground operations system. MAPGEN is a mixed-initiative system that employs automated constraint-based planning, scheduling, and temporal reasoning to assist operations staff in generating the daily activity plans. This paper describes the adaptation of constraint-based planning and temporal reasoning to a mixed-initiative setting and the key technical solutions developed for the mission deployment of MAPGEN.

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