Applied Information Systems Research (ROSES 2019)

Funding Agency:
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

The purpose of the Applied Information Systems Research (AISR) program is to evolve advances in computer and information science and technology to enhance science productivity of the Science Mission Directorate (SMD). AISR seeks innovative ideas for applying advanced information and related technologies to increase life cycle effectiveness and efficiency of SMD programs. The focus this year of AISR is Autonomous Robotics Research for Ocean Worlds (ARROW).

The robotic exploration of Ocean Worlds is fraught with many challenges. Extremely low temperatures as well as high-radiation levels pose significant problems for reliable and long-duration mission operations. Lengthy communication delays, limited bandwidth, and the difficulty of maintaining communications links prevent the use of pervasive ground control supervision from Earth. Although future orbital missions, such as Europa Clipper, may provide high-resolution remote sensing, data and knowledge of Ocean World surface environments (including topography, surface composition, etc) is extremely limited or unknown. Spacecraft power will be restricted to on-board systems (batteries, etc.), which limits avionics performance and places a premium on efficient use and management of power. 

Given these challenges, future Ocean Worlds lander missions will need to operate with significantly greater autonomy than the current state-of-the-art in robotic planetary surface exploration. In particular, autonomy that enables "fail-active" operation (continued operation without ground control intervention in the presence of sub-system faults, time-varying degradations, and unpredictable failures) is needed to achieve high productivity and to reduce risk.

To this end, ARROW specifically seeks functional and system-level autonomous capabilities for future Ocean Worlds lander missions that: a) increase the productivity of surface science operations; b) reduce the frequency of ground control contact and uplink/downlink command cycles necessary for surface science operations; and c) enable autonomous adaptation to spacecraft faults, degradations, failures or other unexpected conditions.


  • Mandatory Step-1 Proposals: Jan. 20, 2020
  • Step-2 Proposals: Mar. 20, 2020




Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences

External Deadline

January 20, 2020