Italian-Astronaut Personal Eye (I-APE) is a demonstration test created for the development of an autonomous micro-vehicle which will be used to support ISS crew IVA (Intra-Vehicular Activity) and EVA (Extra-Vehicular Activity) operations. The micro-vehicle can be powered by lithium ion batteries and controlled by a microprocessor receiving inputs from IMUs (Inertial Measuring Units), based upon measurements obtained from gyroscopes (devices used for measuring or maintaining orientation).Principal Investigator(s)
G&A Engineering Srl., Oricola (AQ), , Italy
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)Sponsoring Organization
Italian Space Agency (ASI)Research Benefits
Information PendingISS Expedition Duration
March 2011 - September 2011Expeditions Assigned
27/28Previous ISS Missions
ENEIDE (Esperimento di Navigazione per Evento Italiano Dimostrativo di EGNOS), a related experiment, was previously performed on the ISS in 2005. Increment 23/24 is the first planned increment for the I-APE investigation.
The I-APE experiment foresees the construction of a micro-aircraft for space application, usable both inside and outside of orbiting vehicles. The project is ambitious, as it is to be realized by employing technologies and solutions proprietary of the company using specialized components standard on the market. In particular, the micro-aircraft employs gyroscopic microsensors in MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) technology and micro-engines with "low-power" management, based upon a microcontroller and rechargeable battery elements of the last generation. Some of the parts that will be used have already been successfully tested on the ISS during the ENEIDE mission with the EST (Electronics Space Test) project. The micro-aircraft development has already been the subject of researchers by the GEA (Genetic and Evolutionary Algorithms) Research Center, which studies algorithms to be used for digital management of the attitude control loop for three axes. The I-APE experiment, which applies criteria of prudence, requires experimentation on orbit in three distinct logical phases:
The I-APE investigation provides the availability of space micro-aircraft for intra- and extra- vehicular operations as aid for the astronaut corps, as well as allows the reuse of knowledge pertaining to attitude control. The I-APE investigation employs technologies and solutions proprietary of the company using specialized components standard on the market; therefore, it is a low-cost solution for space.Earth Applications
The I-APE experiment (especially in the last phase when it will be a complete micro-vehicle) could be used for educational purposes and to inspire future generations to pursue a career in the development of autonomous micro-vehicles which will be used to support ISS operations.
Before returning the APE sample to the ground, a video recording of the APE experiment is required to better correlate the data.Operational Protocols
The I-APE hardware should not be switched to the "on" position for calibration purposes until it is stably attached to a panel using Velcro, so that it is stationary without vibrations. The crewmember has 30 seconds to take the I-APE hardware and let it free float in the experimental area, with a residual roll velocity less than 20 degrees per second. The crewmember should check to see when the "blue" LED light turns off; when this happens, the de-tumbling will begin and the I-APE hardware should stop its rotation on the roll axis (using a fuselage marker as reference). After about 10 seconds, the "blue" LED light should appear on again, and the "lock" will be activated; the roll angle locks by the IMU feedback. The "green" LED light activation shows a lock error less than 1 degree. The crewmember will check to ensure that the lock will last for 20 seconds, I-APE will perform some controlled rotations and some locks on angles of +/-90 degrees.