We’ve recently written a new position paper titled
Agoric Architectural Styless for Decentralized Space Exploration. It’s been submitted to the
2004 Workshop on Self-Managing Systems (WOSS’04) to be held at FSE-12 in Newport Beach. it was originally based on some notices of intent (NOIs) for a NASA Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) on innovative Human & Robotic Technologies (H&RT) for future space exploration missions.

Abstract: This position paper discusses an architectural approach to managing decentralized space exploration missions. Developing control applications in this domain is complicated by more than just the challenging computing and communication constraints of space-based mission elements; future exploration missions will depend on ad-hoc cooperation between independent space agencies’ elements. Currently, the frontier of interoperability is providing communication relays, as shown in by recent Mars missions, where NASA rovers relayed data via ESA satellites.

Future mission planning envisions more extensive autonomy and integration. Examples include: taking advantage of excess storage capacity at another node, multicasting messages along several paths through deep space, or even scheduling concurrent observations of an object using several instruments at different locations. An architectural style for developing mission control applications that does not depend on positive ground control from Earth could provide (a) increased margins for space-based computing systems, (b) increased reusability by an effective build-it-for-autonomy-first strategy, and (c) avoid the single-point of failure bias in standard distributed system design approaches.

In particular, we propose combining an architectural style for decentralized applications based on the Web (ARRESTED) with agoric computing to apply market discipline for allocating resources dynamically among coalitions of mission elements in space. Similar approaches may have applicability in other domains, such as crisis management or battle management.