ImageThe Inductive Monitoring System (IMS) is a new computer program that monitors gyroscopes that keep the International Space Station properly oriented in space. IMS detects warning signs that precede a gyroscope's failure. Engineers will add the new software to a group of existing tools to identify and track problems related to the gyroscopes. If the software detects warning signs, it will quickly warn the space station's mission control center. David Iverson developed the software at NASA Ames.

NASA Tech Briefs: How long have been with NASA and what were some of the projects you worked on prior to getting involved with the Inductive Monitoring System?

David Iverson: I started with NASA as a co-op student back in 1985, so I've been here a while. I spent a lot of that time working in health monitoring, automated diagnosis, artificial intelligence, things like that. And I've been involved, on and off, in space applications. I did some space shuttle payload monitoring applications a while back. Aeronautical applications, looking at helicopters and some of the jet aircraft that NASA has, and mission control types of applications. A little bit of everything that NASA is involved with that might benefit from system health monitoring.

NTB: How does the Inductive Monitoring System work?

Iverson:It's a tool that's supposed to help, say, a mission controller or someone who's in charge of making sure that something is running properly. It keeps track of how well things are working. It lets them know if something is not working as expected. The Inductive Monitoring System is actually a tool that looks at archived data, saved data from your system, and analyzes that to build up an idea, or a model, of how we expect the system to behave. It characterizes what normal behavior looks like based on what it sees in that data.

After that you can feed IMS real-time data coming from the system or look at other archived data and compare it to the model or characterization that you've built. IMS will give you an indication – hey, this looks like it has before, the system behavior hasn't changed, or it might deviate somewhat from what you've seen before. You can think of the output from the IMS as a sort of a distance from what we expect to see from a normally operating system. A small distance means your system is looking like what we expect from the training data. If that distance number increases you're moving farther and farther away from what you expect, from what you've seen before, and that could be an indication that something is not working quite right in your system and you should probably check things out.