Space Enabled Presents at the 2023 International Astronautical Congress (IAC)




by Danielle Wood

Oct. 2, 2023


Space Enabled Presents at the International Astronautical Congress, 2023

Title: The Zero Robotics Program Invites Youth to Program Robots on the International Space Station

Paper code: IAC-23,E1,2,2,x79547

Date: 2023-10-03

Time: 10:25

Order: 2

Room: HAC Museum GA

Session: 2. Lift Off - Secondary Space Education


Congress: IAC-23

Type of presentation: ten minute oral presentation

Authors: Prof. Danielle Wood, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States, Ms. Yiyun Zhang, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States; Scott Dorrington, MIT

Abstract: Zero Robotics is a programing competition in which youth write code for an autonomous robot aboard the International Space Station. Zero Robotics starts virtually with students using an online simulation to learn coding and test their strategy; finalists earn the unique opportunity to send their code to the International Space Station (ISS). During the live final event Astronauts host as student code is run on the Astrobee Robotic Platform. Students watch live and observe the performance of the robot. Zero Robotics has an impactful history of training secondary school students for over a decade. To date approximately 20,000 students have participated, including middle school students and their informal out of school time educators from 20 US states and from 30 US states and multiple countries. The original Zero Robotics competition used the SPHERES system as the robotic platform on the ISS. Recently the SPHERES system retired from the ISS and new researchers are invited to apply for robotic experiments on the Astrobee. The Astrobee system includes three robots that can regularly receive fresh code, navigate autonomously in the ISS and perform tasks such as searching for items and assisting astronauts with procedures. The Astrobee robots use fans for propulsion and visual navigation to locate themselves within the ISS. Through this funding, the Zero Robotics Program has achieved the first Middle School program to use Astrobee during June to September 2022. During the 2022 Zero Robotics session student were taught to write code that allowed Astrobee to trace the shape of letters. Student earned points for meeting all the geometric and timing constraints. The Zero Robotics team is co-led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Innovation Learning Center with support from many collaborators. The recent efforts have been funded in part by the NASA Minority University Research and Education Program and the Aerospace Corporation. With funds from the NASA MUREP program the Zero Robotics project seeks to improve opportunities for underrepresented students to participate in computer science and space robotics. Specifically, the Zero Robotics team is collaborating with the Navajo Technical University and California State University, Long Beach to improve the quality of service for indigenous and Hispanic students in the regions near the universities. The Zero Robotics team applies a Design Framework called Systems Architecture to analyze and design the program while considering the context and needs of stakeholders in indigenous and Hispanic communities

Title: Innovation Practices: Co-Creation in Tech Sectors in North American Cities


Date: 2023-10-03

Time: 16:30

Order 7

Room HAC Balcony 2

Session 3. Innovation: The Academics' Perspectives


Length of oral presentation, minutes 15

Authors: Dr. Katlyn Turner, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States; Ms. Kristi Acuff, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States; Prof. Danielle Wood, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States;

Abstract: The process of technology design and innovation directly shapes society and who benefits or is burdened by said technology. This project is a descriptive and explanatory research undertaking aiming to understand innovation practices in specific tech sectors–space sector, robotics, and urban energy–in two North American metropolitan areas: Greater Boston and the Detroit Metro. This study analyzes co-creation facilities and living labs in these technical and geographic domains and aims to understand what innovation practices these organizations are using, why they are using these practices, what their standards of success are, and why. The role of cultural embeddedness, geographical embeddedness, and technological embeddedness is examined in this project as well as that of inclusive innovation as a concept and practice. In order to address these research aims, a mixed methods approach is used for data collection–including stakeholder interviews, site visits, and technical analysis. Data is analyzed using a systems architecture and enterprise architecture framework. This paper focuses on a comparison between innovation practices observed in the Detroit Metro and Greater Boston, and in particular a comparison of innovation objectives and stakeholders, and how this informs the types of innovation practices used in these regions.

24th Workshop on Small Satellite Programmes at the Service of Developing Countries

Description: This workshop is organized jointly by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA). It shall review the needs that could be satisfied and results achieved by developing nations through using small satellites. National space plans and examples of application results and benefits shall be included. Small satellite programmes in Africa, Middle-East, and Central Asia would be of particular interest to the session. The workshop shall also review the results of international cooperation, technology transfer, lessons learned and the extent to which these efforts have contributed to the space maturity of developing countries.

Date 2023-10-03

Time 10:15

Room BCC A2

IPC members

Co-Chair: Dr. Sias Mostert, Space Commercial Services Holdings (Pty) Ltd, South Africa;

Co-Chair: Ms. Nathalie RICARD, United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, Austria;

Co-Chair: Dr. Taiwo Raphael Tejumola, International Space University, France;

Rapporteur: Prof. Danielle Wood, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States;

Rapporteur: Mr. Pierre Molette, France;

The Feasibility Study of Building a Sustainably National Space Technology through EOS THEOS-3 Mission


Date: 2023-10-04

Time: 10:55

Order: 5

Room: BCC A2

Session 4. Small Earth Observation Missions


Length of oral presentation, minutes 10

Authors: Mr. LIKHIT WARANON, Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (Public Organization), Thailand; Mr. Phat Jotikanbukkana, Thailand; Mr. Atipat Wattanuntachai, Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA), Thailand; Ms. Paripat Pairat, Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA), Thailand; Prof. Danielle Wood, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States; Dr. Pornthep Navakitkanok, Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA), Thailand;

Abstract: Since collaboration between GISTDA and Airbus through THEOS-2 programme is that being developed Thai space industry ecosystem rather than looking for the Earth observation satellite replacing to THEOS which has been operating more than 15 years. The THEOS-2 programme delivers very highresolution satellite that it’s fully built by Airbus in Toulouse, France and THEOS-2A (high-resolution small satellite) is co-developed with SSTL in Surrey, United Kingdom through KHTT programme. Both is scheduled launch within 2023. In this regard, 22 Thai engineers are earned satellite build knowledge along with initiation of building space parts in Thailand to global supply chain. Moreover, in the meantime the National Assembly Integration and Test (AIT) was prepared and now being tested with THEOS-2A. To maintain long term goal of sustainable Earth Observation Satellite (EOS) data and Thai space ecosystem, GISTDA aims to continue reusing the resource from THEOS-2 to extend more capability. THEOS-3 is one of the many parts that GISTDA have been pushing through. The THEOS-3 programme is designed to emphasize i) the building satellite in Thailand and scale of small satellite 100-150kg ii) select instruments and mission to meet the current national issues and requirements iii) the human capacity by building new local engineers which transfers knowledge from 22 Thai engineers and iv) the opportunity for Thai manufacturer to build local content serving THEOS-3 and meet the national space roadmap is at least 10 percentage of value within 5 years. The methodology to analysis and validate information which gathered from GISTDAs’ stakeholders regarding the selection of the mission and instrument that is framed by Environment-Vulnerability-Decision-Technology (E-V-D-T) method. The result of feasibility study will include the prioritization of satellite instruments and missions to serve national agenda trading with encouraging local space technology and overview design of THEOS-3 satellite including future plan. .

Title: The Political and Legal Landscape of Space Debris Mitigation in Emerging Space Nations


Date: 2023-10-04

Time: 15:30

Order: 3

Room: BCC Auditorium Balcony

Session 4. Assuring a Safe, Secure and Sustainable Environment for Space Activities


Length of oral presentation, minutes 15

Authors: Dr. Minoo Rathnasabapathy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States

Prof. Danielle Wood, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States;

Mrs. Jackie Smith, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States;

Abstract: The issue of space debris and its impact on space sustainability is a growing concern that requires collective action from all nations. Over the past decade, the number of spacefaring nations have increased, as evidenced by the number of satellites launched by emerging space nations and by an increase in the number of applications for COPUOS membership from emerging member states. More recently, there has been an uptick in emerging space nations stating their commitment to join the COPUOS LTS 2.0 Working Group, as well as nations who have opted to join as signatories to initiatives such as `Net Zero Space' (e.g. Azercosmos, Egyptian Space Agency, GISTDA), and the Artemis Accords (e.g. Nigeria and Rwanda). These initiatives share a common goal of promoting the sustainable and responsible use of space to ensure the long-term sustainability of space activities, including: 1) the recognition of the need for sustainable practices; 2) the importance of promoting cooperation in long-term sustainability between all nations; 3) the support of international guidelines and best practices; and 4) the recognition of the increasing role and contribution of emerging space nations. Given the rapid diversication of the space sector, and in accordance with Part C International Co-operation, Capacity-Building and Awareness of the COPUOS LTS guidelines, many emerging nations continue to face challenges in implementing space debris mitigation and removal measures. The aim of this paper is threefold: 1) showcase examples of emerging space nations who are actively supporting the support and sustained use of space at a national, regional, and international level, which includes complying with existing binding requirements concerning space debris within the national laws; 2) provide an analysis of political, legal and institutional challenges faced by emerging space nations in implementing space debris mitigation and removal measures including limited  nancial resources and incentives, and limited institutional capabilities; and 3) provide an analysis using the Space Sustainability Rating (SSR) for two mission types commonly launched by emerging space nations (university Cubesats and Earth observation missions). The study aims to identify potential challenges and opportunities in the adoption of the SSR by emerging space nations, and dispel the perception that sustainable design, operations and implementation of the LTS guidelines is a barrier for emerging space nations. The selection of nations chosen for the analysis of this paper will aim to ensure a representative sample of diverse space market sizes and maturity, with particular consideration given to geographic diversity.

Title: Systems architecture as a tool for developing decision support systems: Angolan drought


Date 2023-10-05

Time 11:45

Order 10

Room BCC B1

Session 5. Earth Observation Societal and Economic Applications, Challenges and Benefits


Length of oral presentation, minutes 10

Type of presentation oral

Authors: Dr. Katlyn Turner, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States; Dr. Zolana Joao, Angolan National Space Program Management Office (GGPEN), Angola; Dr. Yusuke Kuwayama, Resources for the Future, United States; Prof. Dara Entekhabi, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States; Ms. Catherine Lu, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States; Prof. Danielle Wood, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States;

Abstract: This project seeks to develop a Drought Decision Support System to inform the response to drought and floods in southern Angola. Angola experiences periodic drought, particularly in the southern part of the country in the Cunene province. This periodic drought can be severe and has a great impact on the country’s ability to provide services and infrastructure to its citizens, as well as on Angola’s economic impacts. The Drought Decision Support System seeks to improve the use of satellite-based Earth Observation data, the social vulnerability index, and systems architecture analysis in order to support the government of Angola’s decisions for drought intervention, planning, aid, and mitigation. Specifically, the government of Angola needs to make decisions to evaluate the effectiveness of three categories of interventions to determine if these interventions are delivered to the regions in which residents face high vulnerability based on their sensitivity, exposure and adaptive capacity to drought hazards. The three interventions include: 1) Emergency food and water storage and transport; 2) Providing funding, equipment and personnel to improve boreholes; and 3) Investing in long term infrastructure improvements in the Cunene River to allow catching and pumping of water during rainy periods. In addition, the Angola Drought Decision Support System contributes to a capability for the Government of Angola to organize information about the various entities that provide drought relief (included national government, regional government and non-profit entities such as UNICEF) and determine whether the combination of drought response efforts is delivered collectively to the regions with high vulnerability. The Drought Decision Support System will ultimately combine geospatial data and analysis with social science data and analysis to support a decision-making framework for the short- and long-term mitigation of the hazards of drought in southern Angola. This paper focuses particularly on the socioeconomic data collection, analysis, and modeling process using a systems architecture framework. In the early stage of this project, systems architecture is used to engage with stakeholders in the Drought Decision Support System to determine the kinds of objectives and requirements needed to develop a Drought Decision Support System for Angola. This paper discusses this overall project with particular focus on the preliminary systems architecture analysis and stakeholder engagement as a tool to develop decision support systems.

Title: Lab-based Testing of a Passive Regolith Sampler in Preparation for Lunar Surface Operations


Date: 2023-10-06

Time: 14:55

Order 8

Room BCC B3

Session: 2C. Moon Exploration – Part 3


Length of oral presentation, minutes 10

Authors: Dr. Scott Dorrington, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States; Dr. Javier Stober, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States; Dr. Sebastian Els, Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), United Arab Emirates; Ms. Dinuri Rupasinghe, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States; Dr. Hamad AlMarzooqi, Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), United Arab Emirates; Prof. Danielle Wood, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States;

Abstract: The Emirates Lunar Mission is an initiative by the United Arab Emirates to land a rover on the lunar surface. The Rashid rover, developed by the Mohamed Bin Rashid Space Center, was designed to land late April 2023. Amongst the rover’s scientific payloads, are a collection of experiments hosted on the wheels, aiming to investigate interactions with lunar regolith (the Material Adhesion/Abrasion Detection experiment). The Space Enabled research group of the MIT Media Lab contributed two experiments to this collection. The Passive Regolith Sampler (PRS) is a simple device containing an aluminium tray with an array of holes, that uses the action of the wheels pressing into the surface to collect and retain regolith. The Passive Wax Thermometer (PWT) comprises samples of wax with differing melting temperatures. Each sample undergoes temperature-dependent changes in opacity, providing a method for inferring temperature via image analysis. Both devices provide low-complexity, lightweight sensors that may be added to future planetary rovers. During lunar operations, we will use the rover’s mast camera to image the experiments as it traverses the lunar surface. We will process these images to determine the phase of the PWT wax samples (solid/liquid) and the fill-state (empty/filled) of the PRS holes. The image quality and hence image processing performance, are expected to be dependent on the viewing geometry and illumination conditions. To aid in preparation for surface operations and image processing workflow, we created a ground-based experimental setup to replicate images we expect to receive from the rover. The setup consists of replicas of the rover wheel and PRS and PWT devices, an adjustable LED lamp to control lighting direction, lunar regolith simulant, and a camera matching the rover viewing geometry. This paper details the design of this experimental setup, and a test procedure to generate example images of the experiments under a range of solar azimuths/elevations, and rover attitudes. We evaluate the lighting conditions under each setting, to identify constraints to the rover heading that ensure favourable image qualities. These results may be used to inform path planning in preparation for surface operations. We further detail the design and testing of the image processing workflow aiming to infer the fill fraction of PRS holes and temperature of the PWT. We generated labelled images of the experiments under known conditions to use as training data in supervised classification models. Preliminary results show these methods are effective in distinguishing between empty/filled holes.

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