Increased Space Situational Awareness through Augmented Reality Enhanced Common Operating Pictures

Jenkins, M., Catto, G., and Bird, L.

Presented at the Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference (AMOS), Wailea, HI (September 2018)

Support for space situational awareness (SSA) is required to enable military commanders and space operations center operators to maintain an advantage over our adversaries in the space enterprise. Well-designed visualization and human-computer interaction (HCI) technologies can be employed to allow them to perceive, reason about, explore, and act on timely intelligence, but current tools are lacking. A new generation of display modalities such as large-screen shared displays, touch-tables, and augmented reality (AR) can be used to power innovative visualization and data interaction capabilities, but these technologies must be implemented carefully in the context of potential operating environments. To apply novel display modalities and truly support operator needs in the context of space operations, Charles River Analytics is designing, developing, and validating a system for Space Operations Visualization Leveraging Augmented Reality (SOLAR). This paper provides an overview of our current prototype SOLAR application capabilities, with a focus on novel applications of augmented reality to promote SSA and shared awareness in a collaborative and dynamic mission-centric, high tempo, operations environment. We highlight unique integration points with traditional mission-centered displays where augmented reality is anticipated to add unique benefits, particularly for joint operations and situations where multiple operators must contribute different expertise, serve in different supporting roles, and make recommendations and/or decisions based on different levels of strategic and/or tactical understanding (e.g., due to differing information authorizations). The current SOLAR prototype has gone through four rounds of iteration with space operators. Consequently, we provide a summary of initial results acquired from actual space operators with respect to the demonstrated value SOLAR integrated augmented reality capabilities offer. Finally, we present conclusions focused on envisioned next steps based on the most recent feedback from operators to continue to advance the SOLAR prototype to a true value-add capability to improve SSA and enhance Space BMC2 execution.

This material is based upon work supported by the United States Air Force and DARPA under Contract No. FA8750-17-C-0170. Views and opinions are strictly those of the authors and should not be interpreted as an official stance of the U.S. Government or DoD. Distribution Statement "A" (Approved for Public Release, Distribution Unlimited).

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