Shuttle probe board includes IT in its plan

Shuttle probe board includes IT in its plan

The Columbia Accident Investigation Board has added IT to its design for investigating the crash, chairman Hal Gehman said at a press conference this afternoon.

Gehman said he had reviewed the investigation plan of the Challenger accident carried out after the 1986 shuttle crash "and overlaid IT on it." The board plans to compile a library of data generated during the investigation, Gehman said, in one of the first descriptions released about the role IT will play in the crash probe.

"We will use sophisticated methods of correlating and cross-checking data," he said. He noted that the large number of scientists working on the project adds to the need to ensure the accuracy and usefulness of the data, partly by using keyword searches.

"We are going to use IT systems to help brainstorm and make decisions among the group," Gehman said. He said decision assistance tools were not available during the investigation of the Challenger accident in 1986.

Gehman also said a piece of shuttle debris that officials earlier had thought could be one of the spacecraft's five general purpose computers'which help navigate the craft'was subjected to further analysis by the Mishap Review Team and found to be a radar control system.

Gehman said the investigation board would create a separate Web site through which individuals could submit information directly to the board. He outlined a structure for the investigation, which will include a two- to three-member "sub-board" to oversee technical and engineering analysis of the accident.

The accident board is overseeing the NASA investigation and has the authority to issue task orders to any part of the agency, he said. One task NASA is carrying out now is to create a 3-D image of the shuttle as it flew over California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas. Gehman said images submitted by the public have been helpful in creating the imagery mosaic.

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