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Biological Visualization, Imaging and Simulation(Bio-VIS) at NASA Ames Research Center: Developing New Software and Technology for Astronaut Training and Biology Research in SpaceThe Bio- Visualization, Imaging and Simulation (BioVIS) Technology Center at NASA's Ames Research Center is dedicated to developing and applying advanced visualization, computation and simulation technologies to support NASA Space Life Sciences research and the objectives of the Fundamental Biology Program. Research ranges from high resolution 3D cell imaging and structure analysis, virtual environment simulation of fine sensory-motor tasks, computational neuroscience and biophysics to biomedical/clinical applications. Computer simulation research focuses on the development of advanced computational tools for astronaut training and education. Virtual Reality (VR) and Virtual Environment (VE) simulation systems have become important training tools in many fields from flight simulation to, more recently, surgical simulation. The type and quality of training provided by these computer-based tools ranges widely, but the value of real-time VE computer simulation as a method of preparing individuals for real-world tasks is well established. Astronauts routinely use VE systems for various training tasks, including Space Shuttle landings, robot arm manipulations and extravehicular activities (space walks). Currently, there are no VE systems to train astronauts for basic and applied research experiments which are an important part of many missions. The Virtual Glovebox (VGX) is a prototype VE system for real-time physically-based simulation of the Life Sciences Glovebox where astronauts will perform many complex tasks supporting research experiments aboard the International Space Station. The VGX consists of a physical display system utilizing duel LCD projectors and circular polarization to produce a desktop-sized 3D virtual workspace. Physically-based modeling tools (Arachi Inc.) provide real-time collision detection, rigid body dynamics, physical properties and force-based controls for objects. The human-computer interface consists of two magnetic tracking devices (Ascention Inc.) attached to instrumented gloves (Immersion Inc.) which co-locate the user's hands with hand/forearm representations in the virtual workspace. Force-feedback is possible in a work volume defined by a Phantom Desktop device (SensAble inc.). Graphics are written in OpenGL. The system runs on a 2.2 GHz Pentium 4 PC. The prototype VGX provides astronauts and support personnel with a real-time physically-based VE system to simulate basic research tasks both on Earth and in the microgravity of Space. The immersive virtual environment of the VGX also makes it a useful tool for virtual engineering applications including CAD development, procedure design and simulation of human-system systems in a desktop-sized work volume.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Smith, Jeffrey (NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
March 11, 2003
Subject Category
Man/System Technology and Life Support
Meeting Information
IEEE Computer Society Virtual Reality 2003 Conference(Los Angeles, CA)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.