Mixed-Initiative Planning in Space Mission Operations

  • John L. Bresina
  • Paul H. Morris


The MAPGEN system represents a successful mission infusion of mixed-initiative planning technology. MAPGEN was deployed as a mission-critical component of the ground operations system for the Mars Exploration Rover mission. Each day, the ground-planning personnel employ MAPGEN to collaboratively plan the activities of the "Spirit and "Opportunity rovers, with the objective of achieving as much science as possible while ensuring rover safety and keeping within the limitations of the rovers' resources. The Mars Exploration Rover mission has now been operating for more than two years, and MAPGEN continues to be employed for activity plan generation for the Spirit and Opportunity rovers. During the multiyear deployment effort and subsequent mission operations experience, we have learned valuable lessons regarding application of mixed-initiative planning technology to mission operations. These lessons have spawned new research in mixed-initiative planning and have influenced the design of a new ground operations system, called M-SLICE, that is baselined for the Mars Science Laboratory mission. In this article, we discuss the mixed-initiative aspects of the MAPGEN system, focusing on the task, control, and awareness issues.