MEXAR2 - An Operational Tool for Continuous Support to Mission Planning

Cesta, A., Cortellessa, G., Fratini, S., Oddi, A. and Policella. N

In Proceedings of the 5th International Workshop on Planning and Scheduling for Space, IWPSS-06, 2006

This paper describes MEXAR2, a software tool that is currently used to synthesize the operational commands for data downlink from the on-board memory of the MARS EXPRESS spacecraft to the ground stations. The system generates from a two steps effort. A first study, performed before the launch of MARS EXPRESS, has produced a formalization of the memory dumping problem and developed the MEXAR prototype. This first result shows the feasibility of using an artificial intelligence constraint-based approach to solve the problem. A second effort has studied the real data flow during actual Mars operations, integrated more sophisticated solving algorithms and produced MEXAR2 which is successfully inserted in the overall mission planning process. The tool has been in daily use by the Mission Planning Team of MARS EXPRESS at the European Space Agency since February 2005. Goal of this paper is to present a complete overview of how the planning and scheduling problem has been addressed, a complete application customized and put into context in a challenging application environment.