Johnson’s EVA Data Integration System Works to Integrate ISS Data Systems

Johnson’s EVA Data Integration System Works to Integrate ISS Data Systems

4-minute read

Johnson Space Center developed the Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Data Integration (EDI) system, which allows seamless search and data correlations, integration and analysis across multiple data sources and assurance systems for the International Space Station (ISS) Program.

The system, developed in collaboration with the NASA Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) Data Management team, Ames Research Center, Marshall Space Flight Center and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), is currently used to capture and link safety data and hardware processing data for Johnson’s EVA office. The EDI development team is now working on the next phase of the system, which will provide analysis in addition to search and integration.

After the EVA water intrusion mishap in 2013, OCIO tasked Johnson’s EVA office with consolidating data systems for the entire EVA community to improve the safety of future EVA missions. Prior to the development of the EDI system, safety and reliability documents, such as Failure Modes and Effects Analyses and Critical Items Lists (FMEA/CILs), hazard reports, Items for Investigation (IFIs), and Problem Reporting and Corrective Action (PRACA) records, were captured as paper reports in three separate, unlinked databases. The separate databases were not only inconvenient but left engineers vulnerable to missing information of a different system.

“There wasn’t a place where I could go to search for previous history: history that I’ve already predicated to see if my controls are valid,” Nguyen said. “Up until this year, we had three different tools, and I had to look across them to catch those kinds of things manually.”

Developing the System

The EDI system is an electronic system developed using open-source software that allows users to access the three independent ISS safety tools (FMEA/CILs, IFIs and PRACA databases ), as well as other EVA data systems, through a single search engine. The system is hosted on a secured government cloud server provided by Amazon and managed by NASA OCIO at Headquarters. Accessing these data systems through a single search was a monumental task that required Johnson’s EVA office to collaborate with the OCIO Data Management team, JPL, Ames and Marshall. 

“At the EVA office, we only know how to build spacesuits; the OCIO Data Management team is the data and architecture expert,” Nguyen said. “We collaborated with JPL because it has expertise in search. It is the keeper of all of our robot exploration mission data, and it is constantly transmitting between our ground station and our spacecraft. It is an expert in analyzing search for data."

The EVA office also collaborated within the data integration system, working with the OCIO Data Management team on data architecture: how to capture and collect data from an authoritative source, how to index it and how to organize and make sense of it.

"We collaborated with Marshall for security: how the systems can communicate with each other in a secure way," Nguyen said. "My system is talking to Amazon to Johnson to Ames to get data for us. But now we want more. We want to be able to analyze data, and we want to be able to predict and avoid future mishaps.” 

The integration of multiple sources of information relevant to reliability and safety in a single searchable system will improve decisions about suit design and EVA planning. According to John Evans, Office of Safety and MIssion Assurance (OSMA) Reliability and Maintainability program manager, this activity is very relevant to OSMA’s move toward Risk-Informed Decision Making and an integrated view of Risk Management by building evidence for a safety case. Overall, the model-based environment enables defining data relationships.

“This and the other technologies supporting Nguyen’s efforts have the potential to greatly enhance assurance functions, thereby improving the robustness of all types of NASA systems,” Evans said. “We look forward to collaboration with the OCIO Data Management team in this important endeavor.” 

Looking Ahead 

The team is looking for more than just a “Google-like search” with the EDI system. It is working on a new version of the tool that will provide data analysis along with search results. 

“The system correlates data among the three ISS safety systems automatically,” Nguyen said. “It is no longer looking at a particular failure mode but instead is looking at the failed control that is supposed to prevent that failure mode. That is a paradigm shift."

Currently, the safety tools allow users to search for the documents, but analyzing data is still manual. Going forward, the EDI system will analyze the data and show previous documented failures. The system engineers will have time to focus on the control that went wrong instead of the failure mode that went wrong.

In other words, the system will help engineers focus on why something went wrong instead of just what went wrong. 

The enhancement to the tool is scheduled for completion at the end of September 2016. 

“Every project has requirements to track hazard, failure mode and failure history, yet no one has requirements to integrate those documents,” Nguyen said. “That’s the job of an SMA (Safety and Mission Assurance) engineer: to look across these three systems. Hopefully, this system will help bridge the gap between the requirement systems and the way we operate. The technology is just now catching up to what we want it to do.” 

The team hopes the system will benefit other offices and organizations beyond the EVA office. 

Learn more about the EDI system and its benefits in this video: