As we strive to create space systems that are more capable and conduct manned and unmanned missions further from Earth, pre-mission planning will be insufficient to handle uncertainty in operations. This is further exacerbated by communications limitations coupled with the absence of human mechanics onboard to handle issues that may arise over the course of a mission. These realities compound mission risks. In particular, mission control may not have accurate enough situational awareness to be able to provide timely decision support. To address such risks and account for the uncertainty of extended-duration operations, NASA needs robust and explainable fault management solutions that incorporate machine forethought, where the platform responds appropriately to situations that can impact platform health and mission reliability.
Metron proposes to develop a full-system fault management solution for autonomous space platforms. Our solution will address the technical challenges of providing short-term fault mitigation that evaluates long-term platform considerations, preemptively planning fault mitigation procedures, and properly responding to faults when mission goals and fault mitigation procedures come in conflict. Our fault management solution fuses fault detection, diagnosis and mitigation with current mission primitives, priorities, and platform capabilities. It will respond to system degradation, faults, and lost platform capabilities in such a way that preserves mission-relevant capabilities by leveraging an expert system ontology for self-assessed capability analysis, adaptive search techniques for fault mitigation, and statistical and symbolic fault detection and identification. This solution will provide high-level functions normally performed by human operators, such as determining the ideal machinery plant alignments to facilitate a given mission, fault diagnosis and recovery, and reconfiguring of the machinery plant alignment for increased performance.
The fault management solution we are developing would expand the operational envelope of NASA space environment research by enabling faults to be accurately detected, identified, and mitigated, potentially saving lives and infrastructure. Within NASA’s projects this work would contribute to the Lunar Gateway, Artemis, the ISS, or habitats on the Moon or Mars as a full-system fault management solution.
The commercial need for our fault management solutions for unmanned maritime systems has been clearly and publicly highlighted by both defense and the oil and gas industry. Specifically, in the maritime and offshore energy industries there are thousands of highly complex, unmanned, fixed and mobile platforms hosting an array of systems that can benefit from extensions of this SBIR technology.