An expert system for fault management assistance on a space sleep experiment.

A. Atamer, M. Delaney, L. R. Young


The expert system, Principal Investigator-in-a-box, or [PI], was designed to assist astronauts or other operators in performing experiments outside their expertise. Currently, the software helps astronauts calibrate instruments for a Sleep and Respiration Experiment without contact with the investigator on the ground. It flew on the Space Shuttle missions STS-90 and STS-95. [PI] displays electrophysiological signals in real time, alerts astronauts via the indicator lights when a poor signal quality is detected, and advises astronauts how to restore good signal quality. Thirty subjects received training on the sleep instrumentation and the [PI] interface. A beneficial effects of [PI] and training reduced troubleshooting time. [PI] benefited subjects on the most difficult scenarios, even though its lights were not 100% accurate. Further, questionnaires showed that most subjects preferred monitoring waveforms with [PI] assistance rather than monitoring waveforms alone. This study addresses problems of complex troubleshooting and the extended time between training and execution that is common to many human operator situations on earth such as in power plant operation, and marine exploration.

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