August 22, 2022- December 2, 2022
Johnson Space Center- Metaverse Project
Final Goals of your Project/s:
NASA aims to travel farther and stay longer in space as we identify the Artemis program, bringing us from the Moon to Mars by establishing a sustainable presence on the Moon to be ready for missions to Mars. Virtual environments are essential for prospective space exploration as we will no longer be capable of relying on persistent connectivity with an asset nor be in the loop for on-demand human intervention in the occasion of an anomaly. The building blocks of these ‘metaverse’ environments are digital twins. The concept of a “Digital Twin” was born at NASA in the 1960s. In response to Apollo 13’s oxygen tank eruption, NASA utilized numerous simulators to assess the failure and extended a physical model of the vehicle to contain digital components. Fast forward half a century, and NASA, along with its partners in the Aerospace industry, continues to develop and employ high-fidelity digital models of physical systems and components as well as extreme environments in which they operate. NASA’s Metaverse/Digital Twins project seeks to digitize and simulate the scale, ordinality, and non-deterministic nature of prospective space exploration assets.
Describe what you did during the internship:
During my internship, I was assigned to model and virtualize the Human Exploration and Research Analog (HERA) facility. HERA employs a crew of four people in a 650 sq. ft. facility for a minimum of 7 days up to 45 days. The crew is researched on a variety of real-world scenarios that can happen in lunar and martian environments, including isolation, confinement, privacy, etc. These scenarios are vital for Artemis as we establish base on the Moon and Mars. In addition to this, I also tested the Mars XR Operational Support System (XOSS). In XOSS, we had the ability to step into the Martian Metaverse and simulate real-world conditions that astronauts would experience on Mars. In collaboration with the Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog (CHAPEA), we were given a set of tasks to do, and we would simulate these environments using high-fidelity XR lenses and full-motion treadmills.
Did you achieve your goals? What were the results?:
As I’m not familiar with battery science, the Starliner project was a good introduction to how batteries operate, blow up in thermal runaway, and why safety is a significant factor when designing battery packs. Mentions of this test have been in ongoing discussions in meetings with us and Boeing, trying to figure out a better design for Boeing’s battery, scheduled to be finish Summer of 2023.
The Iver/M3/FTRC were the most challenging aspect of my internship, as I learned heavily about the ESTA documentation process and had to be on my feet to troubleshoot a variety of unforeseen problems that sprung up during the tests. Overall, the tests performed well and the data was processed into useful information for the Navy. The FTRC test was performed without our full-time mentor/coworkers onsite. As we all were not too familiar with the small details that it takes to run the test, we can proudly say we successfully ran the test independently, troubleshooted unforeseen problems, and discussed with Boeing engineers who came onsite to witness the tests. From the time of writing this document, there is still data to post-process and runs to complete. With more and more runs, we efficiently ran, assembled, and disassembled the FTRC as teamwork grew.
Through talking with my mentor and other NASA Engineers, the scope of this project, and by extension its design, evolve with each conversation. I have learned how to better utilize Creo to generate a 3D mockup of the design, a better mindfulness for manufacturing of parts, and the process of purchasing pre-made/custom parts. So far, the project parts are quoted and ready to be purchased and assembled in the future.
Describe positive lessons learned:
Being an intern at NASA gave me the opportunity to work with some of the world’s brilliant minds and was an incredible experience. For the first time, I participated in and applied engineering and software to one of the agency’s most significant and influential projects. I learned a lot of technical skills regarding 3D modeling and photogrammetry, as well as refining my teamwork skills. I realized the importance of simulated environments and got a preview of how these will detrimentally affect future programs that follow Artemis.
Describe negative lessons learned:
The only negative experience from this internship is how hot and humid Houston is, but overall this was an amazing experience, and excited to see what the future holds for the agency and Artemis.