by Janice Hamilton
When the next generation of Canadian satellites and interplanetary space
probes are launched, technology developed at Concordia could be on board.
This is an ambitious project, but it is feasible, Khorasani
said. We have a good team, and the members complement each other
This project is quite multidisciplinary in nature, and covers a
wide variety of issues, Khorasani said. The challenge is to
put these areas of expertise together in order to look at the problem
of diagnosis and intelligent control in a holistic manner.
The idea is to develop on-board autonomy for the system. The satellite
does all the diagnostics, or identification of problems, on its own, and
comes up with solutions to rectify the problems. But you are dealing with
an uncertain environment, and there are many things you cannot plan in
advance, so you have to use artificial intelligence systems and techniques
to be able to plan and schedule remedies if there is a problem.
Space vehicles have low-level sub-systems and components, such as sensors,
actuators and propulsion systems, that do individual tasks, as well as
high-level systems responsible for planning and scheduling.
Khorasani gives the analogy of an institution in which low-level employees
carry out tasks and managers supervise. When a problem with one task causes
problems in other areas, managers may have to re-allocate tasks to maintain
performance. Similarly, high-level controllers in autonomous space vehicles
have to supervise the interaction of low-level components.
In this project, Sinha, Khendek and Hashtrudi Zad will deal with high-level
issues, while the other team members concentrate on low-level issues.
Then everything has to be put together as a complete and integrated system.
The four-year project, which got underway in October, will involve the
training of 20 students at the masters, PhD and post-doctoral levels.
These students, now being recruited, will have the opportunity to work
with people at the Canadian Space Agency and see how missions are conducted.
Aircraft engine manufacturers are also interested in using these diagnostic tools in their engines to do in-flight data diagnosis.