Software that allows the Mars rover Opportunity to perform autonomous data collection and research on portions of the Martian surface recently was named NASA’s “Software of the Year” for 2011. The award was a cause of celebration for several local JPL techies who worked for years on the software’s algorithms.
AEGIS, which stands for Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science, has been operating on the rover since December 2009, directing onboard cameras to hone in on scientifically interesting elements of the planet’s surface. For it be recognized as the best software being used throughout NASA’s 10 facilities is no small honor, according to Ben Bornstein, a senior member of JPL’s Machine Learning and Instrument Autonomy Group.
“There’s internal competition first, and that competition, in and of itself, is very stiff,” Bornstein said, describing how the team first had to win at JPL, then win among all the other facilities across the nation. “We were very happy to be represented.”