Mars Sample Return (MSR) is a jointly planned mission with NASA and the European Space Agency that will collect scientific samples from Mars for closer study on Earth. The mission relies on closely coordinating multiple instrumented robots and landers on Mars, and is constrained by the available relay communications windows between Earth and Mars.
The coordination team has created a tool called MARMLADE to generate optimal and resilient relay pass allocations for the entire mission. However, each allocation involves thousands of passes. The results are therefore illegible for engineers in their day-to-day operations without either a strong pre-existing familiarity with the context, or tedious manual inspection.
We created MarsIPAN, a companion tool to intuitively see MARMLADE allocations. Through carefully crafted panels that represent the allocation at multiple scales (the full year / 34 days / 3 days), stakeholders can quickly discover patterns in the pass structure and operational efficiencies. This display shows why a given asset cannot operate with full decisional information on a given day, and enables nuanced comparison of different threat scenarios as played out by MARMLADE. Sharing this narrative with clear visual support, MarsIPAN can build trust in the output of the MARMLADE tool.