May 23, 2023
A&A’s Chris Hayner awarded NASA fellowship to develop a trajectory planner for planetary landing missions.
A&A PhD student Chris Hayner received a NASA Space Technology Graduate Research Opportunities Fellowship (NSTGRO). This highly competitive award supports students who show significant potential to contribute to NASA’s goal of creating innovative new space technologies for our nation’s science, exploration and economic future.
This Fellowship will support Hayner in developing a perception-aware trajectory planner for autonomous planetary landing missions. He explains that, “Autonomous landers must be capable of safely landing in unseen and hazardous environments by reasoning about uncertainty and swiftly adapting its desired landing location.”
There are three key research thrusts that Hayner will focus on. The first is developing an approach to actively monitor potential landing sites and replan to new locations if the current site is deemed unviable. The second is constructing a principled approach to prioritizing landing sites that balance safety considerations with proximity to scientific points of interest(s). And lastly, implementing these methods on existing quarotor testbeds to validate the effectiveness of the proposed perception-aware planning algorithm and demonstrate its real-time capabilities.
Hayner currently works in the A&A’s Autonomous Controls Laboratory and the Control and Trustworthy Robotics Lab. Over the next four years, he will have access to NASA internships at the Johnson Space Center or Jet Propulsion Laboratory. And NASA will match him with a technical mentor, who will serve as a research collaborator.