Scientific Physical and Operational Characterization (SPOC) is a collaboration between NASA JSC and academic partners to study the physical and operation requirements for extravehicular activity (EVA) operations on planetary surfaces. Field demo of a SPOC deployment

At a glance

  • Who: Aerospace engineers, biomechanical researchers, and cognitive engineers
  • What: Studying field geologists to inform the kinematic and communication requirements for future planetary exploration
  • Where: NASA JSC, MIT, the University of Michigan
  • When: 2019 - present
  • Why: To inform the requirements for successful scientific exploration on the Moon and beyond
  • How: Inertial measurement units (IMUs) to study the biomechanics of field geology; audio/video equipment to study the communications and operations of field geology
Matthew Miller headshot

Matthew Miller

Dr. Miller is an Exploration Research Engineer within the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Sciences (ARES) division at NASA Johnson Space Center. His work focuses on advancing present-day tools, technologies and techniques to improve future EVA operations. He has over seven years of EVA flight operations and NASA analog experience where he has developed and deployed various EVA support systems and concept of operations. He received a B.S. (2012), M.S. (2014) and Ph.D. (2017) in aerospace engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. See his publications.

Leia Stirling headshot

Leia Stirling

Leia Stirling is an Associate Professor in Industrial and Operations Engineering at the University of Michigan, a Core Faculty in the Center for Ergonomics, and an Affiliate Faculty in the Robotics Institute. Her research quantifies human performance and human-machine fluency to assess performance augmentation, advance exoskeleton control algorithms, mitigate injury risk, and provide relevant feedback to subject matter experts across domains. She received her B.S. (2003) and M.S. (2005) in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and her Ph.D. (2008) in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT. She was a postdoctoral researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School (2008-2009), on the Advanced Technology Team at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering (2009-2012), then an Assistant Professor at MIT (2013 – 2019). She joined the faculty at the University of Michigan in 2019. See her group's website.

KJ Kim headshot

Trevor Graff

Trevor Graff is the Chief Scientist for Jacobs in the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) Division at NASA's Johnson Space Center. He is also the Project Manager of the Exploration Science Group within the Jacobs Science Department and manages the Spectroscopy and Magnetics Laboratory which conducts detailed analysis of astromaterials and planetary analogue materials. He was the Payload Uplink Lead for the Miniature Thermal Emission Spectrometers aboard NASA’s Mars Exploration Rovers, and was Project Manager for flight hardware on the Mars 2020 Rover. Trevor is actively involved in the science and mission teams for numerous analog field studies including Desert-RATS, NEEMO and more. He received a B.S. (1999) in Geology and in Earth Sciences from Youngstown State University, and a M.S. (2003) in Geological Sciences from Arizona State University. Additionally, Trevor has served over 16 years in the United States Army.

KJ Kim headshot

KJ (Kyoung Jae) Kim

Dr. Kim is a Human Performance Data Engineer, working for the H-3PO Laboratory at NASA Johnson Space Center. Dr. Kim performs research and provide operational expertise in several technical areas, including Exercise Physiology & Performance and Space Suits & Exploration Operations, to assess health and performance for astronauts on the International Space Station and for future human exploration missions. As a member of the Data & Software Team, he provides data analysis and software engineering support for tasks outlined in the Integrated Extravehicular Activity Human Research Plan and the Exercise and Performance Strategic Roadmap. See his publications.

Cameron Pittman headshot

Cameron Pittman

Cameron Pittman is a human spaceflight software engineer and researcher at Johnson Space Center (JSC) under the Exploration, Integration and Science Directorate. He designs and develops decision support systems to augment the safety and efficiency of EVA crew and operators. His past work includes the decision support systems used by astronauts and scientists at BASALT Hawaii 2016, NEEMO 22, NEEMO 23, and various VR EVA analogs on-site at JSC. Cameron's technical areas of expertise include web-based platform development, autonomy and decision making algorithms, cloud networking, and general Linux hacking. In his spare-time, Cameron is studying AI at MIT. He holds a masters in teaching (2011) from Belmont University and a bachelors in physics (2009) from Vanderbilt University.

Rachel Vitali headshot

Rachel Vitali

Rachel Vitali is an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Iowa. Prior to her appointment, she was a NASA-funded TRISH postdoctoral fellow in the Industrial & Operations Engineering Department at the University of Michigan, where she also received her B.S.E. in 2015, M.S.E in 2017, and Ph.D. in 2019 from the Mechanical Engineering Department. Her research interests include computational and analytical dynamics with applications to wearable technology for analysis of human motion in a variety of contexts ranging from warfighters to astronauts. In addition to her engineering work, she also has an interest in engineering education research. See her group's website here.

Tim McGrath headshot

Tim McGrath

Tim McGrath is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT. His research focuses on human performance, injury risk modeling, and the use of wearable inertial measurement units (IMUs) to estimate human skeletal kinematics; other interests include sports analytics, applied probability, and software development. He holds a B.S. (2015) in Aerospace Engineering from Mississippi State University and an M.S. (2017) in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT. See his publications.

Shows mappings between field scientists and astronauts, and field tools and space tools

Aim 1 will use audio/video data capture to unobtrusively track the actions, decision-making, and communication patterns exhibited in the field by expert scientists.

Aim 2 will use wearable motion sensors attached to the individuals to unobtrusively capture physical activity of the field scientists.

Aim 3 will use wearable motion sensors mounted on the tools with the audio/visual data capture to unobtrusively assess tool utilization for the determination of goal-oriented tool dependencies and tool strategies of individuals as aligned with science objectives.

Copyright 2020 SPOC team
Contact us: matthew dοt j dοt miller-1 at nasa dοt gov
This effort has been funded by a fellowship from the NASA Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) and Jacobs Innovation Funds. Algorithms implemented in this effort were developed with funding by the National Science Foundation Award IIS-1453141. The views expressed in the research effort and publications are not endorsed by the sponsors.
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