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Automation and process improvement enables a small team to operate a low thrust mission in orbit around the asteroid Vesta

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dc.contributor.author Weise, Timothy M
dc.date.accessioned 2013-01-14T22:46:53Z
dc.date.available 2013-01-14T22:46:53Z
dc.date.issued 2012-06-11
dc.identifier.citation SpaceOps 2012, Stockholm, Sweden, June 11-15, 2012 en_US
dc.identifier.clearanceno 12-1823
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2014/42595
dc.description.abstract NASA’s Dawn mission to the asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres launched September 27, 2007 and arrived at Vesta in July of 2011. This mission uses ion propulsion to achieve the necessary delta-V to reach and maneuver at Vesta and Ceres. This paper will show how the evolution of ground system automation and process improvement allowed a relatively small engineering team to transition from cruise operations to asteroid operations while maintaining robust processes. The cruise to Vesta phase lasted almost 4 years and consisted of activities that were built with software tools, but each tool was open loop and required engineers to review the output to ensure consistency. Additionally, this same time period was characterized by the evolution from manually retrieved and reviewed data products to automatically generated data products and data value checking. Furthermore, the team originally took about three to four weeks to design and build about four weeks of spacecraft activities, with spacecraft contacts only once a week. Operations around the asteroid Vesta increased the tempo dramatically by transitioning from one contact a week to three or four contacts a week, to fourteen contacts a week (every 12 hours). This was accompanied by a similar increase in activity complexity as well as very fast turn around activity design and build cycles. The design process became more automated and the tools became closed loop, allowing the team to build more activities without sacrificing rigor. Additionally, these activities were dependent on the results of flight system performance, so more automation was added to analyze the flight data and provide results in a timely fashion to feed the design cycle. All of this automation and process improvement enabled up the engineers to focus on other aspects of spacecraft operations, including spacecraft health monitoring and anomaly resolution. en_US
dc.description.sponsorship NASA/JPL en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.publisher Pasadena, CA : Jet Propulsion Laboratory, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2012. en_US
dc.subject ion propulsion en_US
dc.subject ground system automation en_US
dc.subject Vesta en_US
dc.subject Ceres en_US
dc.subject asteroid en_US
dc.title Automation and process improvement enables a small team to operate a low thrust mission in orbit around the asteroid Vesta en_US
dc.type Preprint en_US
dc.subject.NASATaxonomy Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration en_US


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