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Follow instructions
10-08-2016 03:52 PM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Follow instructions

The life of an astronaut in space consists of following many step-by-step procedures. We’ve all wished we had an extra arm when following the instructions to self-assembly furniture and for astronauts it is no different – except their procedures, instructions and hardware are more complex as well as their lives often depending on following the instructions correctly.

ESA has developed a system that improves on the basic step-by-step procedures used on the International Space Station that are displayed on a computer. The current system requires constant floating back and forth from the computer to the workplace to check the next step, and mission control cannot easily follow progress.

The mobile procedure viewer or ‘mobiPV’ is a wearable system that displays each step in a task, synchronises between the astronaut, ground control and third parties, automatically logs steps and communication and allows for video conferencing, note-taking and text chat.

In this image, ESA’s Matthias Maurer is testing the system during a simulated space mission 20 m underwater off the coast of Florida, USA, during NASA’s Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO).

The main part of the equipment is the smartphone and camera on a 3D-printed wrist-band. mobiPV can display the procedure on a separate tablet to see more information. Here Matthias has connected a third device for testing – all three screens are synchronised.

Versions of mobiPV have been tested during NEEMO before and even in space during ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen’s ‘iriss’ mission last year. This version, branded mobiPV++, uses a redesigned system and tests the device without a head-mounted display.

The NEEMO crew used mobiPV to run a new way of sampling water that shows promise for use on the International Space Station, called Aquapad. The procedure was displayed on the tablet with ground control following from the coast and the mobiPV team watching from ESTEC, ESA’s technical heart in the Netherlands. The astronauts and NEEMO crew were very positive with the results.

The mobiPV team is continuing to refine the system and hope to have a second test on the International Space Station with ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet during his six-month Proxima mission starting later this year.

Credit: NASA

Multi-layer insulation blankets
10-08-2016 01:49 PM CEST

europeanspaceagency posted a photo:

Multi-layer insulation blankets

Blankets of multi-layer insulation (MLI) are used to cover satellite surfaces to help insulate them from orbital temperature extremes. These are the reason that satellites often look as though they’ve been covered in shiny Christmas wrapping.

MLI blankets are made up of multiple layers of very thin, metal-coated plastic film, with low-conducting ‘spacer’ material placed in-between such as silk, nylon or glass-fibre netting. Alternatively, MLI is sometimes deliberately crinkled to minimise any contact between layers.

In the airlessness of space, objects can be hot and cold at the same time, especially if one side is in sunshine and another is in shade. In such conditions, thermal radiation is the main driver of temperature change (rather than convection or conduction), and reflective MLI serves to minimise it.

Thermal control specialists aim to maintain the temperature of the satellite within set limits, to keep electronic and mechanical parts working optimally and to prevent any temperature-triggered structural distortion.

Placing MLI blankets on a satellite body is a skilled art in itself, with complex shapes needing to be created to fit around around edges or joints.

Credit: ESA–G. Porter

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