A close partnership between people and partially autonomous machines has enabled decades of space exploration. But to further expand our horizons, our systems must become more capable... Increasing the nature and degree of autonomy - allowing our systems to make and act on their own decisions as directed by mission teams - enables new science capabilities and enhances science return. The 2011 Planetary Science Decadal Survey (PSDS) and on-going pre-Decadal mission studies have identified increased autonomy as a core technology required for future missions. However, even as scientific discovery has necessitated the development of autonomous systems and past flight demonstrations have been successful, institutional barriers have limited its maturation and infusion on existing planetary missions. Consequently, the authors and endorsers of this paper recommend that new programmatic pathways be developed to infuse autonomy, infrastructure for support autonomous systems be invested in, new practices be adopted, and the cost-saving value of autonomy for operations be studied. read more

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