NESTA: NASA Engineering Shuttle Telemetry Agent

  • Glenn S. Semmel
  • Steven R. Davis
  • Kurt W. Leucht
  • Dan A. Rowe
  • Kevin E. Smith
  • Ryan l O'Farrel
  • Ladislau Boloni


The Electrical Systems Division at the NASA Kennedy Space Center has developed and deployed an agent-based tool to monitor the space shuttle's ground processing telemetry stream. The application, the NASA Engineering Shuttle Telemetry Agent (NESTA), increases situational awareness for system and hardware engineers during ground processing of the shuttle's subsystems. The agent provides autonomous monitoring of the telemetry stream and automatically alerts system engineers when predefined criteria have been met. Efficiency and safety are improved through increased automation. Sandia National Labs' Java Expert System Shell is employed as the rule engine. The shell's predicate logic lends itself well to capturing the heuristics and specifying the engineering rules of this spaceport domain. The declarative paradigm of the rule- based agent yields a highly modular and scalable design spanning multiple subsystems of the shuttle. Several hundred monitoring rules have been written thus far with corresponding notifications sent to shuttle engineers. This article discusses the rule-based telemetry agent used for space shuttle ground processing and explains the problem domain, development of the agent software, benefits of AI technology, and deployment and sustaining engineering of the product.