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ISS Update: Interviews (Feb. 25-March 1, 2013)
Interviews: International Space Station Update

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ISS Update: Improving Crews’ Efficiency With CRUISE – 02.27.13
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Aboard the International Space Station, Commander Kevin Ford recently participated in a European Space Agency study known as the Crew User Interface System Enhancement , or CRUISE, which is aimed at improving crew efficiency and autonomy during long-duration spaceflight.

Mikael Wolff, CRUISE lead and co-investigator, joined ISS Update commentator Pat Ryan by phone Wednesday to explain more about this technology demonstration.

One component of the CRUISE study is a voice-activated procedure viewer to provide astronauts a more efficient method for consulting directions during complex in-flight maintenance tasks. This enhancement will be of great benefit to future crews, because as Wolff points out, "The user interface that is provided today for the astronauts is not ‘task transparent’ enough, which means that the user interface often gets in the way."

ISS Update: SPHERES-VERTIGO – 02.26.13
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Since 2003, a trio of bowling-ball-sized free-flying satellites known as Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES, have been operating aboard the International Space Station in a variety of demonstrations to test techniques that could lead to advancements in automated dockings, satellite servicing, spacecraft assembly and emergency repairs. To date, these robots have relied upon special ultrasonic beacons to determine their position within the station. Now the SPHERES are being fitted with their own “goggles” – a computer and stereoscopic camera setup named the Visual Estimation and Relative Tracking for Inspection of Generic Objects, or VERTIGO -- to demonstrate critical technologies for relative navigation based on a visual model.

Brent Tweddle, a member of the MIT Space Systems Laboratory SPHERES-VERTIGO experiment team, recently spoke with ISS Update commentator Pat Ryan to discuss the technology behind these tests taking place aboard the station and its applicability for future spaceflight.

Commenting on the appearance of the VERTIGO hardware, Tweddle remarked, “It’s sort of funny the way that fell out. I mean, we weren’t trying to make it look like anything, but a lot of people have commented it kind of looks like a WALL-E figure. But it really just fell out of the requirements.”

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