A Mission Control Architecture for robotic lunar sample return as field tested in an analogue deployment to the sudbury impact structure

John E. Moores, Raymond Francis, Marianne Mader, G. R. Osinski, T. Barfoot, N. Barry, G. Basic, M. Battler, M. Beauchamp, S. Blain, M. Bondy, R. D. Capitan, A. Chanou, J. Clayton, E. Cloutis, M. Daly, C. Dickinson, H. Dong, R. Flemming, P. FurgaleJ. Gammel, N. Gharfoor, M. Hussein, R. Grieve, H. Henrys, P. Jaziobedski, A. Lambert, K. Leung, C. Marion, E. McCullough, C. McManus, C. D. Neish, H. K. Ng, A. Ozaruk, A. Pickersgill, L. J. Preston, D. Redman, H. Sapers, B. Shankar, A. Singleton, K. Souders, B. Stenning, P. Stooke, P. Sylvester, L. Tornabene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


A Mission Control Architecture is presented for a Robotic Lunar Sample Return Mission which builds upon the experience of the landed missions of the NASA Mars Exploration Program. This architecture consists of four separate processes working in parallel at Mission Control and achieving buy-in for plans sequentially instead of simultaneously from all members of the team. These four processes were: science processing, science interpretation, planning and mission evaluation. science processing was responsible for creating products from data downlinked from the field and is organized by instrument. Science Interpretation was responsible for determining whether or not science goals are being met and what measurements need to be taken to satisfy these goals. The Planning process, responsible for scheduling and sequencing observations, and the Evaluation process that fostered inter-process communications, reporting and documentation assisted these processes. This organization is advantageous for its flexibility as shown by the ability of the structure to produce plans for the rover every two hours, for the rapidity with which Mission Control team members may be trained and for the relatively small size of each individual team. This architecture was tested in an analogue mission to the Sudbury impact structure from June 6-17, 2011. A rover was used which was capable of developing a network of locations that could be revisited using a teach and repeat method. This allowed the science team to process several different outcrops in parallel, downselecting at each stage to ensure that the samples selected for caching were the most representative of the site. Over the course of 10 days, 18 rock samples were collected from 5 different outcrops, 182 individual field activities - such as roving or acquiring an image mosaic or other data product - were completed within 43 command cycles, and the rover travelled over 2200 m. Data transfer from communications passes were filled to 74%. Sample triage was simulated to allow down-selection to 1 kg of material for return to Earth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1666-1686
Number of pages21
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 15 2012


  • Analogue missions
  • Mission control
  • Moon
  • Sample return
  • South Pole-Aitken Basin


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