A Guardian Angel AUGMENTATIon for Extravehicular Activities
As space exploration grows increasingly ambitious and commercial, we are faced with the reality that more people will be embarking on Extravehicular Activities (EVA’s) than ever before. As we expand beyond the boundaries of Earth’s orbit to distant places like the surface of Mars, these people will need to grow increasingly independent from their teams back on Earth. At the same time that we aim for such independence, our current EVA suit designs remain essentially the same as they were several decades ago. In planning intelligently for this future, how might we augment the suits for EVAs (the most dangerous in-orbit activity we can engage in) by bolstering astronaut agency and situational-awareness in the event of an emergency?
To answer this call from NASA, we developed Guardian Angel Mode as a Holo-Lens enabled augmented reality system that connects EVA astronauts with relevant content and procedures from a comprehensive database of expert information, surfacing bio-metric and suit information for the user and crew, and establishing orientational aids for translation in 360 degree micro-gravity environments. This capability aims to extend an astronaut’s awareness to the status of their fellow crew on spacewalks to potentially improve rapid response to an emergency.
Guardian Angel Mode is designed and developed by the following, absolutely amazing and incomprehensibly intelligent, people:
Implementation of an interface with Guardian Angel Mode not only has application to astronauts and our activities in space but can also find applications in remote and difficult missions on Earth
Testing with NASA at Johnson Space Center
In June of 2019, the team and I were invited to Johnson Space Center (of “Houston we have a Problem” fame) to test the feasibility of our system. We joined a highly talented group of students from universities all over the US for a week-long stay at the campus. In that week and those preceding it, Guardian Angel Mode was tested with EVA controllers, former NASA astronauts, aspiring NASA astronauts, EVA trainers, and more. We were able to verify the usefulness of our system and probe it’s flaws in this unique opportunity. We plan to compile/publish a paper documenting the lessons we learned in the coming months.
On behalf of everyone on the team, I would like to extend an enormous “Thank You” to everyone at JSC who participated in making our time at JSC the memorable, thriving, and collaborative time that it was.