Authors: David Perez
Press Release: March 2021
(NORTHRIDGE, March 16, 2021) — Students at the Autonomy Research Center for STEAHM (ARCS) at the California State University, Northridge (CSUN) have been invited to participate in the NASA Spacesuit User Interface Technologies for Students (SUITS) Artemis Student Challenge. The team of students is one of 20 teams advancing to the next phase of the SUITS 2021 Challenge. Students will spend the next several months coding their augmented reality-based prototypes and preparing to share their finished work with NASA personnel.
SUITS is a software design challenge that tasks undergraduate and graduate students from across the United States with developing spacesuit information displays within augmented reality environments to assist astronauts in conducting extravehicular activities (EVAs), also known as spacewalks, more effectively. This challenge tackles key aspects of NASA’s Artemis missions, which will land the first woman and next man on the Moon and provides students the opportunity to work hands-on toward contributing real solutions for NASA. Upon successful testing, each of the proposed user interface displays will have the potential to help astronauts on lunar explorations for the Artemis program.
CSUN’s Team Navi, is building an augmented reality heads-up display system to assist NASA’s Artemis astronauts as they explore the surface of the moon. NASA’s Artemis mission, which aims to establish a sustainable human presence on the moon in the next decade, will require modern and efficient information systems as opposed to the paper checklists, wristwatches, and constant communication with mission control that Apollo astronauts previously used to complete their tasks. To this end, NASA has created the SUITS design challenge, in which students must create new visual display systems using commercial, augmented reality displays.
Sarkis S. Mikaelian, a computer science student at CSUN and Research Fellow at ARCS, said, “Our team was able to complete a technical design proposal for the project and establish a nimble and collaborative remote-work framework using different software tools to adapt to the challenging circumstances inflicted by COVID-19.”
This unique opportunity allows students to have the opportunity to contribute to real missions and gain invaluable skills in engineering collaboration teamwork towards work that will flow into the Artemis lunar system. The work is essential to create an effective infrastructure where astronauts can use enhanced displays and controls using software applications to make crewmembers more efficient and effective in their tasks throughout their mission using integrated sensors.
CSUN’s participation in this National Challenge marks a new milestone for many STEM departments at the institution. The team is under the guidance and supervision of Principal Investigator Dr. Nhut Ho from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Faculty Supervisor Dr. Thomas Chan from the Department of Psychology at CSUN, and Human Factors and Simulation Engineer Jason Holland’s mentorship from NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC). Through the NASA SUITS project, ARCS students are able to explore their full potential and practice their skills to support the next generation of technology necessary for future planetary explorations.
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The Autonomy Research for STEAHM Center
The Autonomy Research Center for STEAHM (ARCS) is a NASA-sponsored, chartered, Center of Excellence. Their mission is to combine multidisciplinary, university-wide knowledge and talent from faculty, students, and NASA scientists to conduct convergence research and collaboration using increasingly autonomous systems (IA).