IWPSS 2019 Schedule

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Invited Speakers

Monday 08 July 2019:

Automated Scheduling and Operation of a Heterogeneous Fleet of Satellites

Vishwa Shah

Planet, San Francisco, CA

Planet owns and operates the world's largest constellation of over 100 satellites in Low Earth Orbit. Planet’s heterogeneous fleet consists of satellites of different capabilities and masses, ranging from 5 to a 100 kg. Due to the large number of satellites in orbit, automation of the fleet is crucial to successful operations. Planet's mission planning and scheduling system enables the satellites carrying out their assigned tasks with minimal human intervention. The scheduler solves the large optimization problem using a commercial off the shelf Mixed Integer Linear Programming optimizer. Most of the effort is, however, focused on the problem formulation and creating a production system that functions without the need for supervision.


Vishwa Shah is one of the chief engineers for Mission Planning and Scheduling at Planet Labs Inc. He holds a BSc and an MSc in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His interests include optimization, dynamical systems theory, spacecraft trajectory optimization, and parallel computing.

Tuesday 09 July 2019:

Quantum computing and scheduling: a two-way street

Bryan A. O'Gorman

Quantum Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

Berkeley Quantum Information and Computation Center, University of California, Berkeley, CA

Quantum computers are on their way from theoretical constructs to industrial-scale processors. In the first part of this talk, I will introduce two models of quantum computation, quantum annealing and quantum circuits, and discuss the current state of the art. In the second part, I will discuss the application of quantum computation to planning and scheduling problems, such as air-traffic management and single-machine scheduling. Lastly, I will discuss how classical scheduling can be applied to the compilation of quantum computations, i.e. the mapping from an abstract algorithm to its concrete implementation on a physical device.


Bryan O'Gorman is a NASA Space Technology Research Fellow and PhD student in computer science at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is advised by Birgitta Whaley and Umesh Vazirani. He is also a member of the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at NASA Ames Research Center, led by Eleanor Rieffel. Previously, he received his AB in physics from Harvard College, where he worked in the group of Alán Aspuru-Guzik. His research interests are in the area of compilation for quantum computation, broadly defined. In particular, he has done work on applying near-term quantum computers to classical optimizations problems, particularly those related to planning and scheduling, and to quantum chemistry. More recently, he has been exploring the compilation of classical algorithms for simulating quantum computations.

Wednesday 10 July 2019:

The planning, and execution of the New Horizons flybys of Pluto and Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69

Karl Whittenburg

Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, MD

NASA’s New Horizons Mission, built and operated by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland and managed by Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, executed the successful Flybys of the Pluto system in July of 2015 and Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69 on January 1st of 2019. The planning and sequencing of these distant flybys presented the New Horizons Team with a number of challenges. We were to conduct a flyby of an object whose precise position held significant uncertainties in an environment which might hold hazards in the form of rings or unknown satellites. Onboard power constraints limited us from utilizing all the science instruments concurrently and onboard command space seemed insufficient to hold the commands necessary to sequence all the desired observations of Pluto and it’s lately discovered moons. These were to be the most distant flybys ever attempted to date, and we needed to ensure that the New Horizons Team and spacecraft were ready for any eventuality. I will summarize how these challenges were met and overcome.


As a senior member of the mission operations team at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, Karl Whittenburg guides NASA spacecraft from the Sun to Pluto and beyond.

Over the past three decades, Mr. Whittenburg has worked mission operations on the Hubble Space Telescope; the NEAR (Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous), CONTOUR (Comet Nucleus Tour), MESSENGER (Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging) spacecraft; the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt; and the Parker Solar Probe mission to "touch" the Sun. He currently serves as chief mission operations analyst for both New Horizons and Parker Solar Probe, as well as deputy mission operations manager for New Horizons.

Since joining APL in 1996, Mr. Whittenburg has led the design and development of efficient and reliable processes for generating and validating spacecraft command sequences. He has overseen the development of countless critical spacecraft command sequences for multiple missions, including the New Horizons flybys of Pluto and the Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69 – the farthest world ever explored.

Mr. Whittenburg earned a bachelor of science degree in physics, computer science and mathematics from Montclair State University New Jersey.