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Smart “SPHERES” Demonstrates Smartphone Vision-Based Navigation Flying Established Routes Onboard the International Space Statio
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Smart “SPHERES” Demonstrates Smartphone Vision-Based Navigation Flying Established Routes Onboard the International Space Statio

On Thursday, September 4, 2014, the International Space Station (ISS) crew used the Human Exploration Telerobotics (HET) project’s modified Google Project Tango smartphone to map the inside of the ISS. The crew used the smartphone’s InfraRed (IR) projector and wide-angle camera to scan the interior of the US Orbital Segment (USOS), including an Augmented Reality (AR) code that was mounted in the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) to provide a reference point and coordinate system for the smartphone. After the session, the data was downlinked and a 3D map of the ISS USOS constructed on the ground. The map will then used to plan routes for HET’s subsequent Smart Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) demonstration that will use the smartphone’s vision-based navigation. The smartphone launched on Orb-2 and is now onboard the ISS.

BACKGROUND: The purpose of the Human Exploration Telerobotics (HET) project is to demonstrate and assess remote operation of advanced robots that will increase productivity, reduce cost, and mitigate risk for future deep-space human exploration missions. The HET Smart Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) project explores how we can use free-flying robots to augment and support crew activities. The free flying SPHERES are volleyball-sized satellites with power, propulsion, computing, and navigation equipment. The Google Project Tango smartphone acts as an embedded computing platform and integrated sensor package that includes an IR projector, IR camera, Red/Green/Blue (RGB) camera and a wide angle camera. For the HET Smart SPHERES tests, the smartphone is connected to the SPHERES through a communication cable and a wireless network connection to the ISS provides the data path to the ground. The integrated SPHERES smartphone will be remotely operated by crew and ground controllers to perform such tasks as visual inspections and environmental surveys.

TEAM: Terry Fong, Jason Lum, Zack Moratto, Chris Provencher, Ernie Smith, Vinh To, Jay Torres (JPL), and DW Wheeler

COLLABORATORS:

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: Technology Demonstration Missions (TDM) program, Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD)

Contact: Chris Provencher

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