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Autonomous Systems
Deep Space Habitat Test with Hygiene Module Figure 1:
Deep Space Habitat
Cryogenic Test bed Laboratory at Kennedy Space Center Figure 2:
Cryogenic Test Bed Laboratory

The Autonomous Systems (AS) Project is developing software, sensors, and other technology to automate the operation of systems that will be needed for future NASA missions, such as spacecraft, habitats, and propellant loading systems. It is currently using two testbeds to evaluate this technology: the 2nd Generation Deep Space Habitat at Johnson Space Center (figure 1), and the Cryogenic Test bed Laboratory at Kennedy Space Center (figure 2). Currently, the International Space Station is controlled remotely by a large team of experts in Houston. For future missions to distant destinations such as Mars, there will be speed-of-light communication delays of up to 22 minutes each way, which will require the astronauts to make more decisions without the assistance of people on Earth, especially when responding to failures. AS is developing technology to help the astronauts make these decisions, including Integrated Systems Health Management software and sensors to automatically detect and diagnose failures in a spacecraft or other system, and software to automatically plan sequences of actions to accomplish mission goals.

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