Greasing the Wheels of Exploration with Python

Summary

The control of the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) requires a complex set of coordinated activites by a team. Early in the MER mission the author automated in Python much of the task of one of the operation positions, the Payload Uplink Lead, for 7 of the 9 cameras on each rover. This talk describes the MER rovers, the operation tasks and that implemented system.

Description

The Mars Exploration Rovers (MER), Spirit and Opportunity, have been roaming the surface of Mars since January of 2004 leading to many discoveries about the nature and history of our sister planet. Each activity requires a complex set of coordinated activites by a team. Early in the MER mission the author automated much of the task of one of the positions, the Payload Uplink Lead, for 7 of the 9 cameras on each rover. The system, called AutoPUL, is written in Python and that has proven to be the excellent choice for the development and maintenance. In the talk I'll describe the Mars Rover mission and the operational activities and how AutoPUL and Python fullfilled those needs.