USC and UA students develop AR interface to notify lunar astronauts of location and vital signs – USC Viterbi

In front of the statue of alumnus Neil Armstrong, a student tests out augmented reality to help future astronauts walk on the moon

Students from USC and the University of Arizona are taking the Star Trek holo-deck to a whole new level, designing augmented reality interfaces that astronauts can use on the lunar surface. The USC/UA team was one of ten teams selected by NASA under the Spacesuit User Interface Technologies for Students (SUITS) program to design forward-looking information displays in augmented reality environments for future lunar missions. .

As part of the Artemis lunar program, NASA is exploring new ways to use augmented reality in spacesuit design to enable greater human autonomy (and increased exploration) on the lunar surface. The NASA SUITS challenge aims to address some of the most difficult aspects of lunar exploration by improving the flow of information to astronauts. The USC/UA team hopes to develop a display to provide information to lunar astronauts who are on the surface of the moon and need to constantly track information such as their own location and that of the rover (without access to GPS ) and their own vital signs. including oxygen level and heart rate.

The joint USC/UA team known is known as Team Aegis. Team founder and Darlene Villicaña, a graduate student in visual anthropology at USC and co-lead of this project, says, “Our team approaches the challenge from an interdisciplinary perspective. We have a team of passionate Astronautical Engineering, Computer Science, Geology and Anthropology students who creatively apply different methodologies to solve the engineering problem.

The team conducts user research to inform the design by interviewing astronauts with the help of USC’s own resident Space Suitor Emeritus (former NASA astronaut) and USC Professor of Practical Astronautics, Garrett Reisman.

“Through actual experience in a suit outside of the ISS, I can attest that having an augmented display capable of providing information and communications would not only make it safer for the next generation of astronauts, but would also expand their exploration capacity,” says Reisman.

Leading the technical teams that design the various software user interfaces and behind-the-scenes data transfer, Evan Cooper, USC project manager and master’s student in astronautical engineering, is very excited about the possibility of translating the results into applications. other fields, stating, “Space exploration has a rich tradition of bringing scientific breakthroughs from the stars back to Earth. Augmented reality is one such area that has incredible potential for innovations in accessibility, exploration, and expanding our sense of community.

Responsible for the geology of the Aegis team at UA and 3rd Zoe Wilbur, a PhD student in planetary sciences, also sees great potential: “Our ideas for integrating geology into an AR interface will make the scientific process of sampling more efficient, and data from sample collection will be accessible to generations. future. This work will be applicable to all forms of exploration, whether here on Earth, in low Earth orbit, or on the Moon.

Working from their institutions across the country, selected SUITS teams complete designated tasks, achieve milestones, and collaborate with other teams. Among other teams, USC/UA Team Aegis is actively designing its user interfaces for use with a Microsoft HoloLens 2 augmented reality headset, overlaying digital information onto a real environment. The culmination of their designs and hard work will be put to the test in May at the Rock Yard, located at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

The team’s academic advisor, David Barnhart, who is director of the Space Engineering Research Center (SERC) to USC Institute for Information Science and as a professor of astronautical engineering at USC, supports the USC/UA student team with access to SERC. “Merging NASA’s advanced design challenges with hands-on technology development here at USC’s SERC makes space not only fun and exciting for students, but super cool for faculty to be a part of!” said Barthart.

The submissions were reviewed by NASA technical experts and the selected submissions move on to the next phase of the NASA SUITS Challenge, which consists of hands-on demonstrations at Johnson Space Center in May of this year.

Finalist students will compete at the Johnson Space Center on May 19and.

To learn more about USC and the UA Aegis team, visit For more information on NASA SUITS and other Artemis-related programs, please

Posted on April 28, 2022

Last updated on April 28, 2022

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