[Dprglist] Navigation Software of MERS Spirit and Opportunity

Murray Altheim murray18 at altheim.com
Sat Apr 10 03:40:26 PDT 2021


I've been digging around the subject of Mars rovers for awhile now, and
recently came upon a JPL paper that goes into quite a lot of detail about
the software controlling the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER), Spirit and
Opportunity*, the two rovers that landed on Mars in 2004 and ran until
2010 and 2018 (resp.), a very long time past their planned mission of
90 days. I thought there might be some interest here, as this is
probably the most detailed description I've found of a NASA rover's
software. There's also a related chapter in a book, described below.

    The Mars Exploration Rover Surface Mobility Flight Software: Driving Ambition
    Jeffrey J. Biesiadecki and Mark W. Maimone, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA USA
    https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/1655723  (if you are an IEEE member)

The paper's abstract is:

    In this paper we describe the software that has driven these rovers
    more than a combined 11,000 meters  over the Martian surface,
    including its design and implementation, and summarize current
    mobility performance results from Mars.


   1. Introduction
   2. MER Flight Software Architecture
   3. Mobility Manager Software
   4. Low-Level Driving
   5. Autonomous Driving
      Primary Autonomous Capabilities
      Terrain Assessment Overview
      Robust Stereo Image Processing
      Terrain Assessment

Another related document from the same team is Chapter 3 of "Intelligence
for Space Robotics":

   Surface Navigation and Mobility Intelligence on the Mars Exploration Rovers
   Mark Maimone, Jeffrey Biesiadecki, Edward Tunstel, Yang Cheng, Chris Leger,
   NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, USA

This also goes into the mechanics of the rocker-bogie suspension, use of
sensors, basic mobility and control modes, autonomous navigation, path
selection, etc.

I've been collecting my Mars Rover notes on the NZPRG wiki at:

   Mars Rover



* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Exploration_Rover
Murray Altheim <murray18 at altheim dot com>                       = =  ===
http://www.altheim.com/murray/                                     ===  ===
                                                                    = =  ===
     In the evening
     The rice leaves in the garden
     Rustle in the autumn wind
     That blows through my reed hut.
            -- Minamoto no Tsunenobu

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