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The GVIS Lab's visualizations allow people to interact with science and environments in an interactive and intuitive way.

The GVIS Lab continually works on a variety of data visualization and interactive technology projects ranging from data analysis to Martian surface simulations.

Explore some of the Lab’s visualizations below.

International Space Station Visualization

Computer image of two hands reaching for red blocks.The International Space Station (ISS) visualization allows the user to virtually explore a model of the ISS. This is accomplished through a combination of technologies including Leap Motion, Xbox and virtual reality. With these technologies, the user is able to navigate the ISS environment as if they were in space. The visualization also includes a game in which the user interacts with and stacks 3D blocks inside the ISS’s Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG). The Leap Motion infrared sensor on the front of the VR Oculus headset tracks the person’s hand down to the individual fingers allowing them to move and stack the 3D blocks without the aid of a controller.

This visualization was created by a GVIS Lab intern over a period of two internship sessions and is used to help demonstrate what is possible with experimental VR technology.

Urban Air Mobility Project

A man uses 3D glasses and a controller in front of a screen with an aircraft displayed on it.The Urban Air Mobility (UAM) task within the Unmanned Aircraft Systems in the National Airspace Command and Control Subproject attempts to identify the communications challenges associated with UAM operations. At NASA Glenn, the UAM team has developed a concept of operations for command and control of UAM, which the GVIS Lab has modeled as a 3D simulation that can be run in various VR environments.

The UAM visualization is currently run in the GRUVE Lab’s Cave Automatic Virtual-Reality Environment (CAVE)—a three-walled virtual reality space. Here, users wear stereo shutter glasses and walk around the CAVE to observe full-scale models of concept drones up close and watch them fly in a virtual airport. Viewing the UAM in this way helps researchers identify design challenges that are not easily determined by other methods. Additionally, this simulation in the CAVE can be viewed by individuals or large groups making it an accessible and immersive experience.

Quiet Supersonic Transport (QueSST) X-59 Aircraft

Computer image of an annotated aircraft.Can we make a supersonic plane that is quieter? This is the question that NASA and the QueSST visualization explores. Supersonic aircraft is fast and convenient, but it is also loud due to the supersonic boom created by the exceptionally fast speed in which it travels. If a supersonic aircraft could be quieter, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would allow it for commercial use over land and residential areas.

This virtual reality visualization gives the user three ways to examine and fly a concept Quiet Supersonic Transport (QueSST) X-59 aircraft. Through the visualization, the user can explore the QueSST flight test model in Glenn’s 8×6 wind tunnel. They can also examine and learn about the aircraft as it flies over Cleveland. Lastly, the user can experience what it is like to fly as they ride in the cockpit.

This simulation gives NASA a portable and interactive tool to show researchers, partners, government officials and the public the capabilities of Glenn’s facilities and the goals of the QueSST project in an engaging and accessible way.

3D Model Viewer

A holographic display of the X-59 X-Plane.NASA has a large collection of 3D models of aircraft, space vehicles, satellites and more. The 3D model viewer created by the GVIS Lab uses a hologram display, Leap Motion, and touch screen technology to provide a simple interactive viewer to examine a wide variety of these 3D models. The user navigates through the list of models and chooses one to display. The Leap Motion sensor can then be used to move and spin the model to further examine it.

Boundary Layer Ingestion Testing

A computer image showing windflow out of a turbine.One of the ways to improve aircraft efficiency is to reduce the drag on the aircraft using the aircraft’s own engines. Engineers at Glenn are testing a new kind of propulsion system using a principle called Boundary Layer Ingestion (BLI). Analytical studies have shown that this new technology has the potential to reduce the aircraft fuel burn by as much as 8.5% compared to aircraft flown today.

This interactive virtual reality visualization demonstrates the testing conditions, tunnel modifications, design elements and challenges of the BLI test performed in Glenn’s 8×6 Supersonic Wind Tunnel. The user controls a few simple facility parameters to visually demonstrate their effects on the BLI condition and fan engagement.

HoloAero–NASA Concept Vehicles

A holographic aircraft hovers over a parking lot.The HoloAero application is a HoloLens app that lets the user see three NASA concept aircraft in the context of their current environment. For example, the user can display an aircraft model in the room they are in making it appear as if the aircraft is floating in that room. The users can walk around the aircraft, scale it, spin it, and have it fly, all with voice commands. There are three models shown by the application:

Titan Submarine Simulation for COMPASS Lab Concept

Computer image of a submarine in water.The Titan Submarine VR simulation puts users in control of the Titan submarine concept vehicle while it floats on the surface of Kraken Mare, an ocean on one of Saturn’s moons called Titan. While on the surface, audio feed plays actual recorded sounds from the Huygen’s Titan Probe (It is one of the only sound recordings taken from another planetary body.) Users can then take the submarine under the surface of the ocean and navigate down to the sea floor.

The GVIS Lab created this simulation in partnership with Glenn’s Collaborative Modeling and Parametric Assessment of Space Systems (COMPASS) Lab in order to visualize what exploring Saturn’s oceans might entail. In the end, another concept was chosen to move forward, but the GVIS Lab still uses the simulation as an educational tool for both the capabilities of the Lab and for Titan.

Augmented Reality Fluid Flow Table

Airflow direction around the silhouette of a snow man.The Augmented Reality Fluid Flow Table lets users put physical objects onto a table and have a computer predict the flow past the object in real time. The colors represent the rotation of the flow with green being laminar flow from left to right, blue being clockwise rotation and red indicating counter-clockwise rotation. The arrow shows the force vector on the object due to the flow.

The table is mostly used for educational purposes and discovery of principles of fluid flow but similar technology has been used by researchers, engineers and doctors to explain everything from airfoils, vascular systems, wind tunnels and kayak oars.

Volcanic Ash Ingestion Visualization

The ingestion of volcanic ash by commercial aircraft engines is a safety issue that, until recently, hadn’t been studied in a controlled way. Volcanic ash forms glass in the hot sections of engine—reducing flow and clogging cooling holes—as well as erodes compressor blades and other parts of the engine. The NASA Vehicle Integrated Propulsion Research (VIPR) tests studied these effects by sending volcanic ash through an airplane engine under controlled conditions.

The GVIS Lab created a stereoscopic 3D visualization of the test, in order to demonstrate the equipment used during testing and to explain the risks posed by volcanic ash ingestion. The user is placed on a tarmac next to an Air Force C-17 cargo plane where a rig similar to the one used in the VIPR test is positioned to blow ash into one of the aircraft engines. With the engine running and the ash being ingested, the user is presented with a cross-section of the engine, where they can see the location of probes used in the actual test. Zooming in on the rotor stages show the compressor blades being eroded by the ash. Likewise, zooming into the section just aft of the combustion area shows the accumulation of ash “glass”. This visualization provided a valuable way to explain both the effects of volcanic ash ingestion on engines as well as the work being done by NASA to study it.


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Need to reach us? You can directly send an email to the GVIS Team or the Team Leader, Herb Schilling

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