The Chandra X-ray Observatory (CXO), NASA's latest "Great Observatory", was launched on July 23, 1999 and reached its final orbit on August 7, 1999. The CXO is in a highly elliptical orbit, approximately 140,000 km × 10,000 km, and has a period of approximately 63.5 hours (≈2.65 days). Communication with the CXO nominally consists of 1-hour contacts spaced 8-hours apart. Thus, once a communication link has been established, it is very important that the health and safety status of the scientific instruments as well as the Observatory itself be determined as quickly as possible.
In this paper, we focus exclusively on the automated health and safety monitoring scripts developed for the Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer (ACIS) during those 1-hour contacts. ACIS is one of the two focal plane instruments on-board the CXO. We present an overview of the real-time ACIS Engineering Data Web Page and the alert schemes developed for monitoring the instrument status during each communication contact. A suite of HTML and PERL scripts monitors the instrument hardware house-keeping electronics (i.e., voltages and currents) and temperatures during each contact. If a particular instrument component is performing either above or below pre- established operating parameters, a sequence of email and alert pages are spawned to the Science Operations Team of the Chandra X-ray Observatory Center so that the anomaly can be quickly investigated and corrective actions taken if necessary. We also briefly discuss the tools used to monitor the real-time science telemetry reported by the ACIS flight software.
The authors acknowledge support for this research from NASA contract NAS8-39073.