Multi-satellite swarms are becoming popular due to their low costs and short development time. Instead of large and costly monolithic satellites, small satellite swarms can be flown as distributed sensing applications for atmospheric sampling, distributed antennas, synthetic apertures among other exciting applications, delivering an even greater mission capability. This Phase-I project contributes to the development and demonstration of a mission operations system for robust, coordinated operation of mobile agent swarms in dynamic environments. Through a collaboration with the University of Hawai`i at Manoa, Intersetel Technologies’ Comprehensive Open-architecture Solution for Mission Operations Systems (iCOSMOS) will be enhanced to coordinate and control swarms of space vehicles and other assets. The proposed iCOSMOS-Swarm will enable motion planning for large numbers of agents in densely crowded areas and robust position estimation with built-in cooperative localization. The major tasks include (1) the development of a scalable multi-agent coordination module to coordinate large agent swarms, a multi-nodal software architecture for diverse (heterogeneous) assets, and a hierarchical cooperative localization module for robust inter-agent positioning, (2) enhanced system performance with improved data handling and nodal message passing and dynamic system configuration for node addition and removal, and (3) significantly enhanced simulation capabilities to support up to at least 100 simultaneous nodes, end-to-end simulation of 20 satellite nodes in real time or up to at least 1000x realtime, and full visualization of the mission plans before execution. The anticipated results include the software source code for iCOSMOS-Swarm and the results from a baseline benchmark mission with one microsat and 4~8 CubeSats to collect dynamic, multi-dimensional data sets over a wildfire outbreak event through the use of multiple detectors, spread out in time, space and spectrum.
iCOSMOS-Swarm will enable scalable mission control for multiple diverse assets simultaneously for terrestrial or planetary Earth, lunar, or Mars missions with diverse NASA assets including aerial, ground, subterranean, and underwater agents. Example missions include, but are not limited to, monitoring of large-scale dynamic events (e.g. wildfire outbreak) with convoy agents and following sensing agents or the formation and maintenance of leader-follower satellite constellation for volumetric remote sensing.
iCOSMOS-Swarm will also benefit other government agencies in space assets management, fast-growing startup companies in need of low-cost structures to control and support small satellites, academic institutes in supporting space technologies education at low costs, and mission control and management for open-access or shared robotics testbeds, warehouse robots, or other non-space applications.