Upgrading the Space Station’s Cold Atom Lab With Mixed Reality
Previously we wrote about NASA’s use of Microsoft HoloLens to perform tasks on their own. NASA newest use case is the next evolution of Mixed Reality and HoloLens in space. The focus has shifted from self-paced tasks to real time collaboration between astronauts in space and engineers on Earth.
The first phase of this proof-of-concept features NASA’s Cold Atom Lab. The mini fridge size lab is the first physics laboratory in space. Cold Atom Lab is an important piece of machinery which allows scientist and physicists to conduct experiments at temperatures that cannot be reach on earth. These experiments explore “the fundamental nature of atoms”. In space with the Cold Atom Lab, atoms are cooled to absolute zero which is (the coldest temperature matter can reach). As atoms are cooled, they slow down and are easier for scientists and physicist to analyze them, their properties, and other complex scientific terms.
NASA’s Cold Atom Lab is vital to help scientist and physicists discover and learn more about this field of study. Maintance and upgrades on this piece of equipment is of top importance. As each new upgrade becomes available, this could mean learning something new about atoms and science. To improve efficiency and eliminate the need to send the lab back to earth. NASA has performed maintance in space with video calls split up into 8 days sessions.
Along came the HoloLens and everything changed. The HoloLens and Dynamics 365 Remote Assist enables the real time guidance from subject matters on Earth to astronauts in space. Cold Atom Lab is the first-time mixed reality technology has been used to repair a science equipment in space. The success has been a home run. The technology may be used for future upgrades to the Cold Atom Lab, without bringing the lab back to earth.
As you can imagine any maintance and upgrade done in space must be done right the first time. NASA and astronauts do not have the luxury to send an equipment or a subject matter expert to space overnight. Complex tasks done with real time guidance like maintance to Atom Cold Lab is showing NASA the future to transform the way they operate.