LEE Revalidation Effort

Congratulations to the Robotics, Simulation, and Graphics Support (RSGS) Team on completing the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) Latching End Effector (LEE) re-validation! The METECS RSGS Team has developed, maintained, and validated these LEE contact and mechanism simulation models for a number of years and continues to maintain/improve them. This LEE simulation model is used at NASA for both SSRMS analysis simulations as well as training simulations, which means that it is important that it behave just like the real system. This re-validation activity involved comparing the LEE model response to the expected response data provided by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) for several different test cases. When differences in the simulation response were detected, the RSGS Team worked closely with CSA to identify the root cause of the mismatch and make and/or coordinate the appropriate adjustments. Great work RSGS Team on completing this re-validation! 

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METECS Participates in the NASA JSC 42nd Annual Chili Cook-Off

Special thanks to Nick Davis who led the effort for a METECS team entry at the Johnson Space Center Chili Cook-off this year. There was even a special appearance by “Chili-bot” to stir the pot! 

Also a thank you to the many employees and family members that helped contribute to a great day. 

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METECS Contributes New “Big Board” Display for NASA Mission Control

NASA recently completed successful testing of a new Mission Control Center (MCC) Big Board display replacement named “New Development Distributed Earth Model Orbital System“ (NDDEMOS) which uses MCC telemetry and ephemeris real-time data to display elements such as the ISS, Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRS), ground sites, loss of signal locations, visiting vehicle information and other relevant telemetry data for the NASA Flight Control Room. This new web-based product is a replacement for the existing MCC DEMOS display which is reaching end-of-life with respect to maintainability. 

Congratulations to the METECS team members who have worked so hard to get NDDEMOS to this operational milestone. 

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More REALM-2 Astrobee Flights on ISS!

On December 6th 2021, the 3rd RFID Recon Science activity took place in the International Space Station. In this operation, METECS employees tested the advanced RFID homing capabilities that the Recon add-on RFID module gives the Astrobee freeflying robot. (You can read more about the Astrobee robot here: https://www.nasa.gov/astrobee

How did the activity go? RFID Recon Science 3 was a great success! Three homing attempts with the robot were performed, each better than the last. 

The first two attempts were performed with the target RFID tag starting in front of and above the Astrobee Freeflyer robot.  We ended within 15 inches of the target tag on both runs, with the second run ending closer than the first. 

The third attempt was performed with the target tag starting behind and above the robot.  Even though this starting configuration was more challenging than the scenario from the first two attempts, we autonomously homed in on the target so closely that the robot touched the tag! 

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Hand Controller Production Update

This year METECS went into production mode on our Orion and ISS Hand Controllers. METECS had previously delivered three sets of Orion hand controllers in 2020. This year we produced seven sets of these Orion hand controllers (a set being one translational HC and one rotational HC) and six of these sets were delivered to NASA. In April we also started design on the ISS variant of the hand controllers and by the end of July we delivered our first two sets of them to NASA. Overall, we also produced seven sets of the ISS variant this year and delivered six sets to NASA.  

As part of this project, we also developed two test rigs (one for each HC type) to document deflection/force curves for each HC unit that is delivered. In September we were asked by NASA to build one of these rigs for use on the Orion program to test actual engineering HC units against flight specifications. At the time, testing turnaround on the HCs was impeding the schedule and our test rig helped to reduce that time and speed up test iterations.  

It is also worth noting that this summer our interns designed a test rig to facilitate some materials testing research to determine the most suitable 3D printed material to be used in production of the hand controllers. We really appreciate their contribution to this project! 

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Happy New Year from METECS!

We know that the past year has been a turbulent one for many people, but we are celebrating our accomplishments in 2021 and the many opportunities for 2022. We are very grateful for our employees, our customers, and our exciting work and we are looking forward to a great new year. 

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Lunar Surface Simulation

The METECS team is responsible for building the lunar surface model for lander and rover simulations supporting the Artemis program, such as the NASA Exploration Systems Simulations (NExSyS) team. Starting with digital elevation models from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) our team then adds sub-resolution features to the terrain, such as rocks and craters. We also add in contact dynamics to support interaction between vehicles (such as rovers and landers) against this terrain. Using these high-fidelity terrain models, NASA is able to conduct studies such as lighting and navigation studies which help to characterize the challenges astronauts will face when we return to the Lunar surface!

There have been many recent demos of these lunar simulation capabilities to NASA management as well as other agencies such as JAXA. Congratulations to the METECS employees who have worked to move expand and demo these capabilities

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The METECS team supported NASA’s S.U.I.T.S. (Spacesuit User Interface Technologies for Students) project, as a part of NASA’s Artemis education outreach program. The 2021 challenge proved difficult for students and faculty alike due to on-site access restrictions and limitations to network resources. METECS worked directly with teams to gather their latest source, compile and deploy to their respective HoloLens and Leap Motion AR devices. The team additionally came up with innovative solutions to work with network limitations on test day and devised IoT-like deployments to serve student required data streams with minimal to no re-configuration. Furthermore, METECS has diligently documented and analyzed anomalies from the prior year, and has begun rearchitecting the telemetry stream and network to support multiple teams in a cost-effective manner. 

You can learn more about the NASA SUITS project here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SNCetZitZE

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METECS Systems Engineers Lunch Group

The METECS Systems Engineers Lunch Group had an extra fun meeting today. METECS catered lunch for the group along with cake to celebrate John Borland’s birthday!  The METECS Systems Engineers Lunch Group is an informal group of METECS employees who meet every few weeks during lunchtime to present and discuss Systems Engineering topics. Everyone in the group works on different projects at JSC, so they get to hear a lot of different perspectives on each topic that gets discussed at these meetings.  Happy birthday Mr. Borland!

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