What is a remote agent and what is one doing on DS1?

A remote agent is a computer program aboard a spacecraft that controls the spacecraft. DS1 is testing one of these computer programs called "Remote Agent." (Creative name, huh?) Remote Agent uses artificial intelligence to make decisions about how to accomplish the tasks of the mission, makes sure those tasks are carried out, and fixes any unexpected problems along the way. This makes a spacecraft more autonomous, able to operate without help from Earth, which has many benefits for future space exploration. Remote Agent can perform many of the duties that are performed by astronauts and ground controllers on other space flights. It can control most aspects of the mission, from designing plans to accomplish the mission goals to identifying and fixing problems with the spacecraft's many systems and components. Such a program is one of the most important technologies of future space exploration.

In previous space missions, even in manned space flight to a large extent, all decisions were made by people on Earth at Mission Control and radioed up to the spacecraft. This meant that each decision made in space flight took a lot of people and money to make it reality. It also meant that decisions couldn't be made immediately. When a problem or interesting opportunity arose, it was radioed to Earth, and then people on Earth decided what to do and radioed back. All this took time. Remote agents in general will have an enormous impact on the future of space exploration, by making spacecraft more autonomous--and DS1 gets to test the first one out!

Ask any question below to learn about remote agents.

What does "agent" mean?
What is artificial intelligence?
Is Remote Agent like the robots in science fiction movies?
What happens to a ship when its remote agent "dies?"
How does Remote Agent improve space exploration?
How are remote agents used?
How does a remote agent work?

What are the distinguishing characteristics of agents as opposed to a normal program?
How does Remote Agent enable missions to take advantage of unexpected science opportunities?
How does Remote Agent help cut costs?
What does it mean to be autonomous?