A paper discusses techniques for protecting against faults in spacecraft designed and operated by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The paper addresses, more specifically, faultprotection requirements and techniques common to most JPL spacecraft (in contradistinction to unique, mission specific techniques), standard practices in the implementation of these techniques, and fault-protection software architectures. Common requirements include those to protect onboard command, data-processing, and control computers; protect against loss of Earth/spacecraft radio communication; maintain safe temperatures; and recover from power overloads. The paper describes fault-protection techniques as part of a fault-management strategy that also includes functional redundancy, redundant hardware, and autonomous monitoring of (1) the operational and "health" statuses of spacecraft components, (2) temperatures inside and outside the spacecraft, and (3) allocation of power. The strategy also provides for preprogrammed automated responses to anomalous conditions. In addition, the software running in almost every JPL spacecraft incorporates a generalpurpose "Safe Mode" response algorithm that configures the spacecraft in a lower-power state that is safe and predictable, thereby facilitating diagnosis of more complex faults by a team of human experts on Earth.

This work was done by Paula Morgan of Caltech for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Information Sciences category.

The software used in this innovation is available for commercial licensing. Please contact Karina Edmonds of the California Institute of Technology at (626) 395-2322. Refer to NPO-42900.


This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Protecting Against Faults In JPL Spacecraft

(reference NPO-42900) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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This article first appeared in the July, 2007 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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