Fuel Cache Site Selection for Polar Research: A Summary of Results

Date of Submission: 
November 19, 2009
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Scientists conducting polar research in Antarctica must contend with harsh environmental conditions that constrain their movements and raise their costs. One on going challenge is choosing cache sites for aircraft refueling. Given a data-gathering mission (e.g. set of flight destinations), aircraft fuel-consumption model, and infrastructure (e.g. base and cache-sites), the Fuel-Cache Site-Selection (FCSS) problem identifies the optimal use of cache sites to fulfill the mission. The FCSS problem is important for planning expeditions in infrastructure-poor areas for scientific or military purposes. However, the FCSS problem is computationally challenging due to interaction across different flight-routes. Related approaches from literature concerning routing are inadequate due to assumptions about the cost of providing infrastructure. This paper proposes heuristics and a filter-and-refine based exact algorithm, evaluation using analytical and experimental methods, and a case study with end-users, e.g. polar scientists.