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Engineering Resilient Space Systems

Murray, Richard M. and Day, John C. and Ingham, Michel D. and Reder, Leonard J. and Williams, Brian C. (2013) Engineering Resilient Space Systems. . (Unpublished)

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Several distinct trends will influence space exploration missions in the next decade. Destinations are becoming more remote and mysterious, science questions more sophisticated, and, as mission experience accumulates, the most accessible targets are visited, advancing the knowledge frontier to more difficult, harsh, and inaccessible environments. This leads to new challenges including: hazardous conditions that limit mission lifetime, such as high radiation levels surrounding interesting destinations like Europa or toxic atmospheres of planetary bodies like Venus; unconstrained environments with navigation hazards, such as free-floating active small bodies; multielement missions required to answer more sophisticated questions, such as Mars Sample Return (MSR); and long-range missions, such as Kuiper belt exploration, that must survive equipment failures over the span of decades. These missions will need to be successful without a priori knowledge of the most efficient data collection techniques for optimum science return. Science objectives will have to be revised ‘on the fly’, with new data collection and navigation decisions on short timescales. Yet, even as science objectives are becoming more ambitious, several critical resources remain unchanged. Since physics imposes insurmountable light-time delays, anticipated improvements to the Deep Space Network (DSN) will only marginally improve the bandwidth and communications cadence to remote spacecraft. Fiscal resources are increasingly limited, resulting in fewer flagship missions, smaller spacecraft, and less subsystem redundancy. As missions visit more distant and formidable locations, the job of the operations team becomes more challenging, seemingly inconsistent with the trend of shrinking mission budgets for operations support. How can we continue to explore challenging new locations without increasing risk or system complexity? These challenges are present, to some degree, for the entire Decadal Survey mission portfolio, as documented in Vision and Voyages for Planetary Science in the Decade 2013–2022 (National Research Council, 2011), but are especially acute for the following mission examples, identified in our recently completed KISS Engineering Resilient Space Systems (ERSS) study: 1. A Venus lander, designed to sample the atmosphere and surface of Venus, would have to perform science operations as components and subsystems degrade and fail; 2. A Trojan asteroid tour spacecraft would spend significant time cruising to its ultimate destination (essentially hibernating to save on operations costs), then upon arrival, would have to act as its own surveyor, finding new objects and targets of opportunity as it approaches each asteroid, requiring response on short notice; and 3. A MSR campaign would not only be required to perform fast reconnaissance over long distances on the surface of Mars, interact with an unknown physical surface, and handle degradations and faults, but would also contain multiple components (launch vehicle, cruise stage, entry and landing vehicle, surface rover, ascent vehicle, orbiting cache, and Earth return vehicle) that dramatically increase the need for resilience to failure across the complex system. The concept of resilience and its relevance and application in various domains was a focus during the study, with several definitions of resilience proposed and discussed. While there was substantial variation in the specifics, there was a common conceptual core that emerged—adaptation in the presence of changing circumstances. These changes were couched in various ways—anomalies, disruptions, discoveries—but they all ultimately had to do with changes in underlying assumptions. Invalid assumptions, whether due to unexpected changes in the environment, or an inadequate understanding of interactions within the system, may cause unexpected or unintended system behavior. A system is resilient if it continues to perform the intended functions in the presence of invalid assumptions. Our study focused on areas of resilience that we felt needed additional exploration and integration, namely system and software architectures and capabilities, and autonomy technologies. (While also an important consideration, resilience in hardware is being addressed in multiple other venues, including 2 other KISS studies.) The study consisted of two workshops, separated by a seven-month focused study period. The first workshop (Workshop #1) explored the ‘problem space’ as an organizing theme, and the second workshop (Workshop #2) explored the ‘solution space’. In each workshop, focused discussions and exercises were interspersed with presentations from participants and invited speakers. The study period between the two workshops was organized as part of the synthesis activity during the first workshop. The study participants, after spending the initial days of the first workshop discussing the nature of resilience and its impact on future science missions, decided to split into three focus groups, each with a particular thrust, to explore specific ideas further and develop material needed for the second workshop. The three focus groups and areas of exploration were: 1. Reference missions: address/refine the resilience needs by exploring a set of reference missions 2. Capability survey: collect, document, and assess current efforts to develop capabilities and technology that could be used to address the documented needs, both inside and outside NASA 3. Architecture: analyze the impact of architecture on system resilience, and provide principles and guidance for architecting greater resilience in our future systems The key product of the second workshop was a set of capability roadmaps pertaining to the three reference missions selected for their representative coverage of the types of space missions envisioned for the future. From these three roadmaps, we have extracted several common capability patterns that would be appropriate targets for near-term technical development: one focused on graceful degradation of system functionality, a second focused on data understanding for science and engineering applications, and a third focused on hazard avoidance and environmental uncertainty. Continuing work is extending these roadmaps to identify candidate enablers of the capabilities from the following three categories: architecture solutions, technology solutions, and process solutions. The KISS study allowed a collection of diverse and engaged engineers, researchers, and scientists to think deeply about the theory, approaches, and technical issues involved in developing and applying resilience capabilities. The conclusions summarize the varied and disparate discussions that occurred during the study, and include new insights about the nature of the challenge and potential solutions: 1. There is a clear and definitive need for more resilient space systems. During our study period, the key scientists/engineers we engaged to understand potential future missions confirmed the scientific and risk reduction value of greater resilience in the systems used to perform these missions. 2. Resilience can be quantified in measurable terms—project cost, mission risk, and quality of science return. In order to consider resilience properly in the set of engineering trades performed during the design, integration, and operation of space systems, the benefits and costs of resilience need to be quantified. We believe, based on the work done during the study, that appropriate metrics to measure resilience must relate to risk, cost, and science quality/opportunity. Additional work is required to explicitly tie design decisions to these first-order concerns. 3. There are many existing basic technologies that can be applied to engineering resilient space systems. Through the discussions during the study, we found many varied approaches and research that address the various facets of resilience, some within NASA, and many more beyond. Examples from civil architecture, Department of Defense (DoD) / Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) initiatives, ‘smart’ power grid control, cyber-physical systems, software architecture, and application of formal verification methods for software were identified and discussed. The variety and scope of related efforts is encouraging and presents many opportunities for collaboration and development, and we expect many collaborative proposals and joint research as a result of the study. 4. Use of principled architectural approaches is key to managing complexity and integrating disparate technologies. The main challenge inherent in considering highly resilient space systems is that the increase in capability can result in an increase in complexity with all of the 3 risks and costs associated with more complex systems. What is needed is a better way of conceiving space systems that enables incorporation of capabilities without increasing complexity. We believe principled architecting approaches provide the needed means to convey a unified understanding of the system to primary stakeholders, thereby controlling complexity in the conception and development of resilient systems, and enabling the integration of disparate approaches and technologies. A representative architectural example is included in Appendix F. 5. Developing trusted resilience capabilities will require a diverse yet strategically directed research program. Despite the interest in, and benefits of, deploying resilience space systems, to date, there has been a notable lack of meaningful demonstrated progress in systems capable of working in hazardous uncertain situations. The roadmaps completed during the study, and documented in this report, provide the basis for a real funded plan that considers the required fundamental work and evolution of needed capabilities. Exploring space is a challenging and difficult endeavor. Future space missions will require more resilience in order to perform the desired science in new environments under constraints of development and operations cost, acceptable risk, and communications delays. Development of space systems with resilient capabilities has the potential to expand the limits of possibility, revolutionizing space science by enabling as yet unforeseen missions and breakthrough science observations. Our KISS study provided an essential venue for the consideration of these challenges and goals. Additional work and future steps are needed to realize the potential of resilient systems—this study provided the necessary catalyst to begin this process.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Technical Report)
Murray, Richard M.0000-0002-5785-7481
Group:Keck Institute for Space Studies
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190213-141617926
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:92895
Deposited By: Iryna Chatila
Deposited On:15 Feb 2019 22:47
Last Modified:21 Mar 2019 21:52

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