New Graduates of Team Space Enabled


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The Space Enabled research group celebrates the graduation of six team members in June or September 2020. Each of these scholars completed a Masters Degree at MIT, and they will continue to study for their Doctoral Degree in Space Enabled or another research group at MIT. Congratulations to all!

David Colby Reed

Graduating with Masters Degree from Program in Media Arts and Sciences, MIT Media Lab

Masters Advisor: Prof Danielle Wood

Title: Designing for Voice in the Vacuum: Property in Citizenship for Democratic Equality for Future Spacefarers

Abstract: The hostile environments of space will require that human life beyond Earth be mediated by many advanced technologies and the many operationally prescriptive systems needed to manage them. Such sociotechnical systems will be characterized by hierarchy, routine, and continuous monitoring. Any humans living in space will spend the entirety of their time under conditions characterized by such systems. Under constant surveillance, totalizing hierarchy, and circumscribed routines, the prospects for democratic social relations appear dim. I offer up several frames that can be used to consider social relations among future spacefarers. By considering perspectives on technology studies, group psychological processes, and legal institutions I explore the question of democratic equality in space from multiple perspectives. I suggest that contemporary discussions of designs for future spacefaring society should center on how those designs will influence democratic equality, and I offer some preliminary sketches of what this might look like. I view my contributions as synthesis and reframing. My hope is that this work begins to bring subject matter experts who do not typically apply their expertise to space to do so.

Prathima Muniyappa

Graduating with Masters Degree from Program in Media Arts and Sciences, MIT Media Lab

Masters Advisor: Prof Danielle Wood

Title: SCRIBE: Crowdsourcing Indigenous Knowledge

Abstract: The Ethnosphere is woven into the matrix of the biosphere as a simultaneous duality, and yet cartographers of disciplinary territories raise boundaries to dis-entangle the dialectic dualities: Nature from culture, scientific knowledge from indigenous knowledge and the form from the formless. The project of modernity with its predilection for organizing knowledge into disciplinary silos served to render the boundary between nature and culture impermeable. Myths, folklore ,language and heritage are animating phenomena for the human experience of mediating matter ,establishing networks that permeate boundaries between life-non life, human- other than human, form and the formless. This research will journey through the overt but out-of-sight ecosystem transformations that are instigated from historically muted indigenous tribes and will develop a method of conservation of indigenous knowledge that is in-situ, espouses a critical conservation approach, engages with the issues of indigenous self representation and offers defensive intellectual property protection. It explores the design of a tool called SCRIBE to crowdsource and document oral histories, ecological memory and indigenous knowledge and practices relating to ecosystem management using new media. The tool can be used to spatially correlate such media alongside earth observation data and scientific studies on resource conservation emerging from the same geographies. Re-positioning two ontologies: the scientific and indigenous, in juxtaposition with one another, dismantles the false divide between these two categories and presents an opportunity to combine two sets of data sources that are rarely ever combined, and privilege vastly different ways of knowing. In crystallizing process into product and research into a technology that can be used for conservation, the thesis will seek to dwell deeply on devising the methodology of interaction with the communities, on the co-creation of a structure of engagement, of humbling learning from both their knowledge and their ontologies. This will inform the design principles for a tool that can address the complex questions of justice that underlie the politics of knowledge conservation.

Miles Lifson

Graduating with Dual Master of Science Degree from MIT Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics and the Technology Policy Program

Masters Advisors: Prof Richard Linares and Prof Danielle Wood

Title: A Study of Emerging Space Nation and Commercial Satellite Operator Stakeholder Preferences for Space Traffic Management

Abstract: The near-Earth space environment is a finite, shared resource. Trends including reduced launch costs, electronics miniaturization, and preference for resilient, disaggregated architectures are driving significant growth in the orbital population. Existing systems to coordinate and manage space traffic do not scale to this higher level of utilization or promote the efficient and equitable use of space. There is growing need for both new technical space traffic management (STM) systems and policy regimes to coordinate activities going to, in, and returning from space. This thesis describes several contributions to developing this integrated corpus. A literature review of proposed STM architectures highlights gaps in understandings of emerging space nation STM perspectives and commercial operator attitudes on data sharing. Based on United Nations documents and interviews with emerging space nation representatives, a set of four recommendations is developed for future international STM development efforts. These recommendations stress affordability, achievable technical requirements for participation, inclusive system design, and careful consideration of satellite control allocation. Through a review of operator U.S. regulatory filings and new interviews with operators and experts, operator attitudes are traced successively through 1) potential STM domains and functions; 2) per function data requirements; 3) concerns about data sharing; 4) attitudes towards data protection mechanisms; and 5) influence on potential STM system design. Key insights include the importance of operator perceived self-benefit from data sharing, and significant heterogeneity in operator data sharing attitudes.

M. Regina Apodaca M.

Graduating with Masters Degree from MIT Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics

Masters Advisor: Prof Paulo Lozano

Title: Ionic Liquid and Lithium Salt Mixtures as Ionic Sources

Abstract: Ionic liquids (ILs) are molten salts that are used in electrospray thrusters as the source for the ionic emission. The total current of the emitted ions is proportional to the conductivity and the surface tension of the ionic liquid. Since the thrust of the propulsion system is dependent on the current, we try to maximize the total current emitted. However, the production of new ionic liquids is very challenging and thus this thesis explores the use of mixtures as an alternative ionic source. This thesis studies the relationship that exists between temperature, conductivity and surface tension with the concentration of ๐ฟ๐‘–๐ต๐น4 salt in the ๐ธ๐‘€๐ผ๐ต๐น4 ionic liquid. The solvent was selected given it is one of the most commonly used ionic liquids in electrospray propulsion. The salt, on the other hand, was selected because of its small and simple positive ion ๐ฟ๐‘–+ and its matching negative ion, ๐ต๐นโˆ’4 to that of the IL. From measurements at a concentration of 27๐‘ค๐‘ก% time of flight spectrometer, an increase in the percentage of the beam that was single ๐ธ๐‘€๐ผ+ from โˆผ 50% to โˆผ 70%. This lead to an increase in efficiency of โˆผ 2% and specific impulse of โˆผ 27%. It was found that the surface tension of the mixture decreases as the concentration increases. Likewise, the conductivity tends to decrease as the weight percentage of salt is increased, except for a local maximum around 15๐‘ค๐‘ก%.

Golda Nguyen

Graduating with Masters Degree from MIT Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics

Masters Advisor: Prof Leia Stirling

Title: Quantification of Compensatory Torso Motion in Post-Stroke Patients using Wearable Inertial Measurement Units

Abstract: Occupational Therapy (OT) tasks performed in home or remote environments cannot be observed or assessed by a clinician. For such environments, wearable sensor technologies could provide quantitative assessment of movement strategies to support clinical evaluation via telemedicine. This work presents an algorithm for estimating torso  orientation and metrics of compensatory torso motion for upper extremity OT tasks using an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) worn on the sternum. Two poststroke male participants with hemiparesis and two healthy age-matched male participants were evaluated while completing a series of OT evaluations and tasks, including assessments of active range of motion, pinch strength, standing balance, the Moberg pick-up test, Nine-hole peg test, and a custom peg board grasp task. Torso orientation was estimated by decomposing sternum IMU orientation into angles (pitch, roll, yaw) in each anatomical plane (sagittal, coronal, transverse) and referenced against a standing balance posture. Orientation was measured as the participants completed tasks with their unaffected and affected sides (for stroke participants) or dominant and non-dominant sides (for healthy participants). Estimations of sternum IMU orientation were also compared against estimations from a Vicon optical motion capture system, and differences in estimations were not found to be operationally significant. IMU sensitivity to sensor to torso alignment was also evaluated and demonstrated the interaction between pitch and roll estimation. A threshold of nominal torso motion for each participant was created from the variance in torso orientation for tasks where the participant used their dominant or unaffected arm. A metric of percentage of time out of the range of natural variation was defined to assess operationally relevant differences that could inform clinical decision making. These case studies support the use of wearable IMUs to quantitatively assess compensatory torso motions and convey operationally relevant information about movement strategy to a clinician without the use of visual observation.

Seamus Lombardo

Graduating with Masters Degree from MIT Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics

Masters Advisor: Prof Leia Stirling

Title: Evaluating the Effect of Spacesuit Glove Fit on Functional Task Performance

Abstract: As the number of suited operations per mission increases with exploration beyond low Earth orbit (LEO), it is essential that crewmembers conduct suited activities in a manner that enables acceptable performance and minimizes the risk of injury. Currently, knowledge gaps exist in how to define optimal suit fit, how to more effectively incorporate fit into the suit design process, and how fit is related to performance. While it is understood that fit influences suited performance, the relationship between fit and performance has not been quantified. This research effort investigates the effects of spacesuit glove fit on tactile, dexterous, cognitive, and technical flight performance. This study adapted functional performance tasks from the literature and developed novel tasks to assess performance. Through these tasks, the hypothesis that static fit (as derived from glove and human anthropometry dimensions) is related to performance in spacesuit glove was evaluated.

Subjects wore prototype gloves, developed by David Clark Company, Incorporated (DCCI). These gloves are similar to the DCCI Orion Crew Survival System intravehicular activity (IVA) gloves that will be utilized on NASAโ€™s Orion spacecraft. Participants completed a battery of functional assessment tasks in a glovebox vacuum chamber (4.3 psid). The subjectโ€™s prescribed fit within the DCCI glove sizing scheme specific to this design was determined using their anthropometry. The subjects then conducted the tasks in gloves one size below their prescribed fit, their prescribed fit size, and gloves one size larger than their prescribed fit in both a pressurized and unpressurized state.

To evaluate general tactility, blindfolded subjects attempted to detect bumps of different widths (0.59 in, 0.39 in, 0.20 in) and heights (0.05 in, 0.20 in,0.39 in) while the correct detection was recorded. An operationally-relevant tactility task was also designed. A mock spacecraft control panel was created in consultation with subject matter experts and designed to NASA specification. Blindfolded subjects then actuated a pre-defined sequence of these controls on the switchboard. The accuracy and completion time of the sequence was recorded. To evaluate general dexterity, subjects completed a pegboard task, which required moving and rotating pegs between locations on the board. Dexterity was also measured using a functional tool task where subjects attached and detached an extravehicular activity (EVA) tether hook to fixtures designed to NASA specification. For both dexterity tasks completion time was recorded. The Draper real-time performance metrics workstation lunar landing simulator was used to assess technical flight performance and mental workload (through a secondary task response time measure).

It was found that direct measures of static fit derived from hand length and glove length had a significant relationship to performance on the switchboard tactility task. Additionally, it was found that in the unpressurized case, subjects performed significantly better on the switchboard task when wearing the glove size larger than the prescribed fit as compared to small and prescribed fit. No consistent significant relationships with respect to glove sizing were found for the dexterity tasks or the lunar landing simulator task. This study also reaffirms tactile and dexterous performance decreases with a spacesuit glove pressurization, with tactile performance also decreasing with the addition of unpressurized gloves over barehanded conditions.


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