Purdue University Graduate School
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Machine Learning for Spacecraft Time-Series Anomaly Detection and Plant Phenotyping

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posted on 2023-12-01, 14:45 authored by Sriram BaireddySriram Baireddy

Detecting anomalies in spacecraft time-series data is a high priority, especially considering the harshness of the spacecraft operating environment. These anomalies often function as precursors for system failure. Traditionally, the time-series data channels are monitored manually by domain experts, which is time-consuming. Additionally, there are thousands of channels to monitor. Machine learning methods have proven to be useful for automatic anomaly detection, but a unique model must be trained from scratch for each time-series. This thesis proposes three approaches for reducing training costs. First, a transfer learning approach that finetunes a general pre-trained model to reduce training time and the number of unique models required for a given spacecraft. The second and third approaches both use online learning to reduce the amount of training data and time needed to identify anomalies. The second approach leverages an ensemble of extreme learning machines while the third approach uses deep learning models. All three approaches are shown to achieve reasonable anomaly detection performance with reduced training costs.

Measuring the phenotypes, or observable traits, of a plant enables plant scientists to understand the interaction between the growing environment and the genetic characteristics of a plant. Plant phenotyping is typically done manually, and often involves destructive sampling, making the entire process labor-intensive and difficult to replicate. In this thesis, we use image processing for characterizing two different disease progressions. Tar spot disease can be identified visually as it induces small black circular spots on the leaf surface. We propose using a Mask R-CNN to detect tar spots from RGB images of leaves, thus enabling rapid non-destructive phenotyping of afflicted plants. The second disease, bacteria-induced wilting, is measured using a visual assessment that is often subjective. We design several metrics that can be extracted from RGB images that can be used to generate consistent wilting measurements with a random forest. Both approaches ensure faster, replicable results, enabling accurate, high-throughput analysis to draw conclusions about effective disease treatments and plant breeds.


Lockheed Martin Corporation


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Electrical and Computer Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Edward J. Delp

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Fengqing M. Zhu

Additional Committee Member 3

Dr. Mary L. Comer

Additional Committee Member 4

Dr. Michael D. Zoltowski