ESA Advanced Alarm Management System (AAMS)

Currently space system operators at ESOC get alerted when certain system parameters exceed pre-set threshold values. These out-of-limit (OOL) alarms are simple in nature, each referring to a single parameter, and may not necessarily offer insight into a system’s overall condition just by themselves. Operators can be repeatedly alerted of the same condition, as currently only basic filtering and prioritization of alarms are available.

Remote (standby) mission operators get alerted to possible problems when the Mission Control System detects such system conditions, using mobile phone messages (SMS). Due to the limited nature of SMS and the lack of contextual information, it can be difficult for operators to quickly determine the relative importance of these notifications. They then have to remotely connect to the mission system using their laptop to investigate the issue.

The main idea behind the AAMS is to improve on this situation and enable advanced remote monitoring of operations by performing a technology push with two approaches:

  1. Introduce intelligence to the alarm generation and notification processes by performing advanced processing of the alarm data using Complex Event Processing technologies.
  2. Exploit the powerful capabilities offered by modern smartphone devices to present alarms together with contextual information about the monitored system.

During the AAMS activity, the main functions of the AAMS product were consolidated to include:

  1. Retrieval of data from ESOC operations systems, ESA SSA systems, and providers outside the Agency (e.g. CNES data products), or the general internet (e.g. Twitter).
  2. Processing the above data using Complex Event Processing to correlate, filter, aggregate, etc. events and generation of notifications customized for different users.
  3. Delivery of the notifications to users using a smartphone app. The system should provide users with customized contextual information, explaining the reasons for the notification raised and aiding troubleshooting.

The simultaneous need for a system that is easily extensible to processing data from multiple sources and obeying strict ESOC network security rules led to a modular design with only minimal presence near operational systems.

A software prototype implementing the main identified use cases was built as part of the activity. This is connected to two data sources: an EGS-CC instance in the ESOC DEVLAN to receive simulated spacecraft telemetry, and Twitter. The prototype integrated a Complex Event Processing engine, allowing custom rules to be flexibly defined by end users to perform a variety of operations on the data received. This has turned changes to the notification setup into a configuration process as opposed to a software development or scripting process.

Example rules created generate alarms when detecting:

  • a complex event, inferred when multiple EGS-CC parameters have specific values within a time window (a capability not currently available at ESOC)
  • lack of data received (e.g. to actively monitor for communication dropouts); ordinary mission control system alarms (demonstrating forwarding of existing alarms)
  • more than 3 tweets with the hashtag “#fireball” within 1 minute (e.g. to monitor fireball sightings by the general public).

A mobile app software prototype was built for the Android platform to receive the generated alarms. The major functionality developed included:

  • receiving EGS-CC OOL and custom CEP alarms in realtime using push notifications (i.e. capable of notifying the user even when the app is running in the background)
  • displaying alarm details including the CEP rule that raised it and the involved parameter(s)
  • plotting the time series of the involved parameters and other parameters to provide context for the alarm.


You can download the Android application here:

(installation from ‘unknown sources’ has to be enabled on your device)

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