For this challenge, we are developing an augmented reality (AR) interface to assist astronauts with accomplishing tasks on the lunar surface such as terrain sensing, navigation, lunar search and rescue, and geology sampling. We aim to be selected by NASA to travel to the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in May to have our designs tested by NASA engineers.
We are developing our interface using the Microsoft HoloLens 2 headset shown below:
Figure 2. NASA SUITS Challenge participant using the Microsoft HoloLens 2 at the NASA Johnson Space Center
The development of this interface has been a multidisciplinary approach spanning science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM). Our graphics designers develop the menus and icons, our software engineers program those concepts to life, and our hardware engineers develop external devices to interface our HoloLens with the external lunar environment.
Our team includes students from across Virginia Tech, including members majoring in graphics design, creative technologies, computer science, computer engineering, and electrical engineering.
By competing in the SUITS challenge, we are fostering and developing technical and teamwork skills amongst our members, all while conducting educational outreach to the K-12 students of the New River Valley, the Virginia Tech community, and the general public. By doing so, we are preparing our members for professional careers in STEAM while inspiring the next generation of students to follow in their footsteps.
Last semester we participated in the Virginia Tech Science Festival, where we educated approximately 50 gifted students from Salem City Schools about the SUITS challenge, AR, and NASA's mission.
This semester, we will participate in outreach events like the Student Engineer's Council Freshman Major Mixer and Hokie for a Day. We also are actively seeking new outreach opportunities!
NASA is returning to the Moon in 2024 as part of the Artemis program. The goal of Artemis is to land the first woman and person of color on the Moon, and establish a long-term lunar presence. For this program, NASA is developing a new extravehicular activity (EVA) space suit called the exploration EVA (xEMU). This suit will have a heads-up display (HUD), and NASA has developed the SUITS challenge as a way of gaining inspiration for that HUD, as well preparing the future NASA workforce and educating the public.
Figure 4. Former NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine with NASA's new xEMU space suit
Why We Need You:
Your support is critical to help push us over the finish line. We're counting on the generosity of Hokie Nation to give to our project so that we can continue to buy the hardware we need to build our device. We also need funds to continue outreach to the greater Virginia Tech community as well as fund the travel, lodging, and food expenses when we travel to Johnson Space Center for onsite testings. Gifts of any size will help and we hope you'll support us to make our $10,000 goal a reality!
Figure 5. The 2018-2019 Hokienauts at the NASA Johnson Space Center!
Our Timeline and Progress:
Letter of Intent Submitted: 9/28/21
Letter of Intent Approved by NASA: 9/29/21
Proposal Submitted: 10/28/21
Proposal Approved by NASA: 12/1/21
Software Design Review to NASA: 4/6/22
Selection by NASA for Onsite Testing at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC): 4/7/22
Onsite Testing at NASA JSC: 5/19/22 - 5/24/22
Choose a giving level
$15 can support the purchase of stickers, mission patches, pins, and other materials we can share at K-12 demonstrations for students of the New River Valley. By making a gift of $15 or more, we'll add you to our donor page on our website, hokienauts.vt.domains, and with your permission, recognize your contribution with a tagged post across all of our social media platforms!
By contributing $30 or more, we'll list your name on our research poster that we'll take to the NASA Johnson Space Center for the SUITS Challenge, as well as on a poster that we will carry to outreach events. You will be listed on our website as a donor and be given a tagged shoutout across all of our social media accounts!
A gift of $90 or more will earn you a digital picture of yourself wearing NASA's next generation space suit: the exploration extravehicular mobility unit (xEMU) while standing on the Moon. With your permission, this picture will also be shared across all of our social media platforms along with a thank you message and you will be tagged!
A gift of $350 would help cover our remaining hardware costs. On top of all previous gift rewards, a donation of $350 or more will allow you to pitch one name for our interface! Names must be appropriate but can be as creative or silly as you please! Before travelling to Houston, our team will randomly select one of the donor-submitted names. Once this name is chosen, the winner will be announced across our social media platforms with the donor that picked the name being tagged and congratulated!
This gift can help fund the travel, housing, and food for approximately one student for our trip to the NASA Johnson Space Center. On top of all previous gift rewards, a donation of $500 or more will allow you to attend an in-person or Zoom meeting/training session with our team members, try out our HoloLens device, and receive a behind-the-scenes look at the development of our interface! With your permission, these events will be documented and shared across our social media platforms!