Asynchronous Wikis/2018 NASA JSC ICA Grant Proposal


The NASA JSC Innovation Charge Account (ICA) is an annual grant focused on "Leading Human Exploration" and "Doing Things Differently". The proposal submitted for asynchronous wikis will be submitted for "Leading Human Exploration" because such technology would directly support NASA Technology Area Roadmap items 7.5.1 Crew Training and 5.3.1 Disruption-Tolerant Networking and Human Space Flight Architecture Team (HAT) performance target needs 4.7.a Crew Autonomy Beyond LEO and 7.5.a Mission Control Automation Beyond LEO.

Project Idea: Mobile Offline Wiki Sync

Idea Summary[edit]

For a long-duration mission where communication between Mission Control and the crew may be infrequent and delayed, we need to develop better resources to support crew autonomy. Currently, for ISS operations, we provide detailed procedures for specific scenarios. This is not enough to support a mission to Mars. We need to empower our crew with the development history and background rationale behind our procedures because there will be situations that require their engineering judgment. Throughout the duration of the crew's mission, Mission Control will continue developing new procedures, training materials, and other supporting information that will need to be synchronized with the crew's knowledge management system when communication is available. The Mobile Offline Wiki Sync project will address this issue by creating a software extension and mobile app to support offline functions of an existing knowledge management system.


Work would be done between May 14, 2018 and August 31, 2018.

Goals investigated by the project[edit]

Mobile offline sync of an entire knowledge management system empowers crew with the required resources to make real-time engineering decisions in situations where communication with Earth-based MCC is infrequent and delayed. Providing an efficient, evolving repository of reviewed data at the crew’s fingertips mitigates risk for outdated and incorrect information.

Crews on long-duration missions far from Earth are not the only potential users of this new technology. Instructors, flight controllers, engineers, and crew at NASA centers could use a mobile knowledge base capable of offline synchronization in support of classes and technical discussions when they are not connected to the NASA network. Wi-Fi coverage is improving, but does not cover every area used for training and technical meetings. Personnel on travel could also use this technology on planes or other vehicles without internet and VPN access. This would also provide backup functionality for mission operations support during server down-time.

How do you intend to investigate your idea?[edit]

The Extravehicular Activity (EVA) group in the Flight Operations Directorate at JSC has been using Mediawiki at the core of its knowledge management solution for 6 years. Through custom extensions and integration with existing databases, we provide a single-source solution with a flexible semantic data model allowing for explicit data to be tied together with the tacit knowledge of the group.

This project will develop a new extension allowing users to download a mobile, offline copy that can be periodically synchronized. Instructors in the EVA group will use their mobile copies in classes and meetings, providing them with their entire knowledge base. When they regain Internet access, they can synchronize their local copy of the wiki with any changes made to the "master" wiki.

What is the intended product of your ICA activity?[edit]

The first product will be an extension to the Mediawiki software that automates a process to export a copy of the entire EVA wiki every day. The second product will be a mobile app (smart phones, tablets, etc) that supports offline use of a copy of the EVA wiki. This app will also have a synchronization feature to determine what changes have been made to the "master" wiki since the last sync and download those changes.

How do you propose to further develop your idea following completion of this initial ICA effort?[edit]

The initial system will export a daily dump of the entire wiki, available for users to synchronize to their mobile copies. Further development will investigate methods to eliminate the need to export dumps of the entire wiki and instead synchronize mobile wiki copies with the "master" wiki on an individual page and file basis. This will make the synchronization process more efficient. The long-term plan is to investigate synchronization methods allowing for changes made on remote copies to be incorporated into the master wiki, but this would require an intelligent conflict-resolution method.

Technology Readiness Levels[edit]

See NASA TRL Definition.

  • Start: 3
  • Finish: 4

Supporting Illustration[edit]