The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity is the most complex rover NASA has ever sent to Mars. Each day, mission personnel will be under time pressure to make sense of new and exciting data from Mars and plan rover activities before the rover starts its daily operations.
This requires hundreds of scientists and engineers to agree on what the rover will do, while ensuring that Curiosity will have enough power, data bandwidth, and other resources. MSLICE (MSL InterfaCE) is the collaborative software system that enables scientists and engineers to accomplish these challenging tasks.
The Human-Computer Interaction Group at NASA Ames Research Center led the design and development of MSLICE's planning component. The software allows scientists to understand how long Curiosity's activities will take to perform, how instruments can be used, and what resources the activities will consume. Scientists can then focus on data analysis and activity planning, instead of complex instrument details.
The resource modeling engines provided by MSLICE allow instrument and rover engineers to understand resource impacts early on in the planning cycle. The collaborative capabilities of MSLICE ensure that mission scientists can work closely with rover and instrument engineers to create a plan. These features enable rapid re-planning, allowing the mission to respond to new discoveries while ensuring the rover gets the plan by the start of its day. MSLICE is a collaborative effort between NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, California.