PI-in-a-Box: A Knowledge-Based System for Space Science Experimentation

  • Richard Franier
  • Nicholas Groleau
  • Lyman Hazelton
  • Silvano Colombano
  • Michael Compton
  • Irving Statler
  • Peter Szolovits
  • Laurence Young


The principal investigator (PI)-IN-A-BOX knowledge based system helps astronauts perform science experiments in space. These experiments are typically costly to devise and build and often are difficult to perform. Further, the space laboratory environment is unique; ever changing; hectic; and, therefore, stressful. The environment requires quick, correct reactions to events over a wide range of experiments and disciplines, including ones distant from an astronaut's main science specialty. This environment suggests the use of advanced techniques for data collection, analysis, and decision making to maximize the value of the research performed. PI-IN-A-BOX aids astronauts with quick-look data collection, reduction, and analysis as well as equipment diagnosis and troubleshooting, procedural reminders, and suggestions for high-value departures from the preplanned experiment protocol. The astronauts have direct access to the system, which is hosted on a portable computer in the Space Lab module. The system is in use on the ground for mission training and was used in flight during the October 1993 space life sciences 2 (SLS-2) shuttle mission.
How to Cite
Franier, R., Groleau, N., Hazelton, L., Colombano, S., Compton, M., Statler, I., Szolovits, P., & Young, L. (1994). PI-in-a-Box: A Knowledge-Based System for Space Science Experimentation. AI Magazine, 15(1), 39. https://doi.org/10.1609/aimag.v15i1.1078