Virtual and Augmented Reality for Space Science and Exploration Virtual and Augmented Reality for Space Science and Exploration

Virtual and Augmented Reality for Space Science and Exploration

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Hameetman Auditorium - Cahill Building
California Institute of Technology - Pasadena, CA 91125

Please register for this free event here:

The emerging technologies of Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR) are promising to change dramatically the ways in which we perceive information and interact with it. VR/AR offer a natural, intuitive, and highly effective way for a collaborative data visualization and visual exploration. We will focus on two area of space science and exploration where these technologies can have a major impact: mission planning and operations, and data visualization of high-dimensionality abstract data spaces.

This symposium is sponsored and organized by the Keck Institute for Space Studies and by the Caltech-JPL Joint Initiative on Data Science and Technology.

The symposium is open to all interested faculty, researchers, technologists and students in the Caltech-JPL community. Attendance is free, and coffee breaks and the lunch will be provided.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018 - Hameetman Auditorium, Caltech

Virtual and Augmented Reality for Space Science and Exploration

8:30 - 9:00 Registration, coffee
9:00 - 9:10 Welcome and Logistics S. George Djorgovski, Scott Davidoff, Emily  Law, Michele Judd
9:10 - 9:30 VR/AR as a Scientific and Educational Platform S. George Djorgovski
9:30 - 10:00 The Challenges and Opportunities of Interacting With N-Dimensional Data in Immersive 3D Wolfgang Stuerzlinger
10:00 - 10:30 Visual Analytics by Demonstration for Interactive and Immersive Data Analysis Alex Endert
10:30 - 11:00 Coffee
11:00 - 11:30 Experiential Analytics:  When to Walk Inside Your Data Dan Keefe
11:30 - 12:00 Immersive Analytics Beyond Visualization Doug A. Bowman
12:00 - 12:30 Panel: Data Visualization in VR/AR S. George Djorgovski, Wolfgang Stuerzlinger, Alex Endert, Dan Keefe, Doug A. Bowman
12:30 - 1:30 Lunch
1:30 - 2:00 Visual Analytics as Force Multiplier for Space Exploration Scott Davidoff
2:00 - 2:20 Visualizing and Designing Spacecraft Trajectories in VR Emine Basak Alper Ramaswamy
2:20 - 2:40 Virtual Heritage: Knowledge Management in VR Charles White
2:40 - 3:10 Panel: VR/AR for Mission Design and Ops Emily Law, Scott Davidoff, Emine Basak Alper Ramaswamy, Joel W. Burdick
3:10 - 3:40 Coffee
3:40 - 4:10 Panel: A View From the Industry and Tech Transfer Michael Amori, Eduardo Siman, Jonathan Fay, Shayna Skolnik
4:10 - 5:00 Wrap-up and intro to demos Jonathan Fay, Ciro Donalek, Santiago Lombeyda
5:00 - 6:30 Demos; Wine & Cheese for all participants
6:30 - 8:30 Invited speakers and panelists dinner at the Ath

Symposium Speakers:

Michael Amori is a co-founder and the CEO of Virtualitics, a Caltech-JPL startup on the intersection of data visualization, analysis, and Virtual/Augmented reality. He is a Former Managing Director and head of a quantitative trading group focused on insurance markets at Deutsche Bank. He designed the group's data science and risk management systems, and was the lead author in published paper on insurance markets. He is a speaker at various industry seminars/conferences. Previously he was interest rates derivatives trader at various large banks. He was a researcher in nanotechnology at Caltech, where he contributed to two papers and one patent. He is interested in science education, especially for early childhood, as a way to reduce inequality. He is a member of the Board of Caltech's Finance and Economics Department, judge at the LA County Junior High Physics Science Fair, member of the Board of an early childhood STEM school in Los Angeles. He has an MBA from Harvard, an MS in Applied Physics from Caltech, and a BS in Physics from Columbia University.

Doug A. Bowman is the Frank J. Maher Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Center for Human-Computer Interaction at Virginia Tech. He is the principal investigator of the 3D Interaction Group, focusing on the topics of three-dimensional user interface design and the benefits of immersion in virtual environments. Dr. Bowman is one of the co-authors of 3D User Interfaces: Theory and Practice. He has served in many roles for the IEEE Virtual Reality Conference, including program chair, general chair, and steeering committee chair. He also co-founded the IEEE Symposium on 3D User Interfaces (now part of IEEE VR). He received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation for his work on 3D Interaction, and has been named an ACM Distinguished Scientist. He received the Technical Achievement award from the IEEE Visualization and Graphics Technical Committee in 2014. His undergraduate degree in mathematics and computer science is from Emory University, and he received his M.S. and Ph.D. in computer science from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Joel Burdick is the Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering at Caltech, and a Jet Propulsion Laboratory Research Scientist. His research focuses on robotics, kinematics, mechanical systems and control, including: robotic locomotion, sensor-based motion planning algorithms, multi-fingered robotic manipulation, applied nonlinear control theory, neural prosthetics, and medical applications of robotics. He was one of the leads of the KISS study "Space Science Opportunities Augmented by Exploration Telepresence".

Ciro Donalek is a co-founder and the CEO of Virtualitics, a Caltech-JPL startup on the intersection of data visualization, analysis, and Virtual/Augmented reality. He is a former Computational Scientist at Caltech where he successfully applied Machine Learning techniques to many different scientific fields, co-authoring over a hundred scientific and technical publications (e.g., Nature, Neural Networks, IEEE Big Data, Bioinformatics). He has also pioneered some of the uses of Virtual Reality for immersive data visualization and machine learning, leading the iViz project at Caltech. He has been awarded several research fellowships, served as reviewer for numerous major scientific journals, and has given many invited talks on Machine Learning, Virtual Reality and Data Visualization. He also has a Minor Planet named after him, and has been part of the group that built the Big Picture, the single largest real astronomical image in the world (152-feet-wide, 20-feet-tall), currently installed at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. Dr. Donalek has a PhD in Computational Science (University Federico II of Naples, Italy) and a MS in Computer Science/Artificial Intelligence (University of Salerno, Italy).

Alex Endert is an Assistant Professor in the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he has been on the faculty since 2014. Endert is a recognized researcher in areas of visual analytics, information visualization, and human-computer interaction, publishing at venues such as IEEE Visual Analytics Science and Technology (VAST), IEEE Information Visualization (InfoVis), ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (CHI), IEEE Transactions on Computer- Human Interaction (TVCG), and others. His research group (the Visual Analytics Lab) develops ways to empower people with interactive data interfaces to make sense of data. The developed visual analytic systems help people explore, analyze, and discover insights into a broad set of domains. He has served on the Program Committees for IEEE VAST and InfoVis, and on the Organizing Committees for IEEE VIS. In 2015, he was inducted into the Science Advisory Guide for Emergencies for the Department of Homeland Security and Technology Directorate. In 2013, his work on Semantic Interaction was awarded the IEEE VGTC VPG Pioneers Group Doctoral Dissertation Award, and the Virginia Tech Computer Science Best Dissertation Award.

Jonathan Fay is a software developer who writes software for astronomy, imaging and visualization. He is the Principal Software Developer for WorldWide Telescope in the Microsoft Research Next Media Group. He was Lead Developer for Microsoft Image Composer and other imaging products at Microsoft. He has patents and patent applications in imaging, visualization and information security. He joined Microsoft in 1993 working for Microsoft Consulting Services. In February 2006 he joined the Microsoft Next Media Research group led by Curtis Wong. The two collaborated with the renown computer scientist Jim Gray, astronomer Alex Szalay and astronomer Alyssa A. Goodman to create the first version of the WorldWide Telescope, a sky browser with many educational applications, which Fay also ported to VR. He contributed to the ASCOM standard for control of astronomical equipment. He designed, built and operates Bear Creek Observatory in Woodinville, Washington. The observatory was designed as a proving ground for observatory automation as well as an astronomy education outreach resource.

Dan Keefe is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota. His research centers on scientific data visualization and interactive computer graphics. Keefe’s recent awards include the National Science Foundation CAREER award; the University of Minnesota Guillermo E. Borja Award for research and scholarly accomplishments; the University of Minnesota McKnight Land-Grant Professorship; and the 3M Non-tenured Faculty Award. He shares multiple best paper awards with his students and collaborators, and his research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative, the US Forest Service, and industry. In addition to his work in computer science, Keefe has also published and exhibited work in top international venues for digital art. Before joining the University of Minnesota, Keefe did post-doctoral work at Brown University jointly with the departments of Computer Science and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and with the Rhode Island School of Design. He received the Ph.D. in 2007 from Brown University’s Department of Computer Science and the B.S. in Computer Engineering summa cum laude from Tufts University in 1999.

Santiago Lombeyda is a Senior Scientist at the Center for Data-Driven Discovery, and a Lecturer in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science at Caltech. His research interests focus around the creation of visually striking media, paradigms, and novel tools to allow users to engage and explore scientific data. He has collaborated with research groups around Caltech including Biology, Geo-Physics, Planetary Science, Fluid Dynamics, Aerospace, and more. He co-teaches a class in Data Visualization every spring at Caltech. He is also a co-mentor on the summer Data Visualization Internship program, a joint effort between Caltech, JPL, and Art Center. He received his BSc in Mathematics and Computer Science at TCU in 1996, and his MSc in Computer Science at Drexel in 1998.

Emine Basak Alper Ramaswamy is a data visualization developer at JPL. She investigates mission tools and processes that can benefit from interactive visualizations and develops prototypes to enhance them. She also conducts UX research and design for the Mars2020 mission. She holds a PhD from UC Santa Barbara in visualization and human-computer Interaction. Her doctoral work was centered on integrating 3D and 2D graphics methods and display technologies to enhance visualization of both spatial and non-spatial data sets.

Eduardo Siman is the Director of Information Technology at Intradeco Apparel, a leading apparel manufacturer. In this role, he is in charge of all strategic IT initiatives across the enterprise, including: data visualization, business intelligence, software development, cybersecurity, and cloud migration. He is a tech blogger and VR evangelist, who has been recognized as a top 100 influencer in the areas of augmented reality and big data. Prior to Intradeco, he held multiple positions in the technology and financial sectors. He worked as a private banker for Goldman Sachs in both New York and Miami and as a Senior Consultant for Deloitte Consulting, where his primary client was the US Department of Defense. Eduardo holds a degree in Political Science, with a minor in Mathematics, from the University of Miami and an MBA from Columbia Business School. Additionally, he completed executive training courses at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and The Center for Creative Leadership.

Shayna Skolnik is co-founder, CEO, and creative mastermind of Navteca, a technology company headquartered in Greenbelt, Maryland. Navteca's core focus is creating practical applications based on new and emerging technology, such as cloud and virtual reality (VR). Navteca has been invited to SXSW Eco to showcase their VR Earth content and was selected for the Top 10 VR Video Exhibit by the Newseum in Washington, DC. Navteca has been an early leader in pioneering the use of next-generation VR technology for science and was honored by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center to be named the Small Business Subcontractor of the Year in 2016. Shayna has presented VR for science and done VR data visualization demos at the US Capitol, the American Geophysical Union (AGU), Supercomputing (SC16), Emerging Technology Puerto Pico (EMTEC), NASA, NOAA, the UK MetOffice, and the Naval Research Laboratory, among others. Shayna co-leads a VR/AR for Science group at the Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) and she led a study on scientific applications of the technology for the NASA Earth Science Technology Office. Recently, Shayna was selected for the Oculus Launch Pad program and is creating a mashup of 360 video and Earth data for a project that she hopes will raise awareness about climate change.

Wolfgang Stuerzlinger is a Professor at the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at the Simon Fraser University, where he is the director of the VVISE lab. He graduated with a Doctorate in Computer Science from the Technical University in Vienna, Austria in 1993 and worked at the Johannes Kepler University of Linz until 1998. At that time, his research interests focused on various areas of computer graphics, distributed, and high-performance systems. Wolfgang then served on the faculty at York University and remains an adjunct in the Centre of Vision Research at York. His work aims to find innovative solutions for real-world problems and is often inter-disciplinary. Current research projects include better interaction techniques for spatial applications, the characterization of the effects of 3D technology on human performance, an investigation of human error behaviors when interacting with unreliable technologies, user interfaces for versions and alternatives in visual analytics, and new virtual reality hardware and software.

Charles White is JPL’s Knowledge Management Specialist for the Office of the Chief Engineer, and is also known in certain circles as the Space Pope (don’t ask). His career at JPL began in 1987 and he has worked on numerous space missions directly and indirectly through institutional support program offices, bringing many information technology changes to the institution. He has used innovative (and sometimes controversial) technology to explore unique solutions like the computer game Second Life to bring outreach, and facility design. He began his Knowledge Management career change in 2007 as the Cognizant Engineer and Software Product Lead for the spacecraft Problem Reporting System (PRS); a web-based application used to track all spacecraft anomalies and emergencies that are in space, on the launch pad, or under development. The PRS is a critical part of the mishap investigation process and it is also a key component of the NASA Lessons Learned system. By special request of the Department of Defense, he was assigned special duty as a knowledge management advisor to the U.S. Air Force Space Missile Command to help the Independent Readiness Review Team (IRRT) create a controlled process for all Air Force launch approvals. Additionally, he aided the U.S. Navy Mine Warfare Data Model Working Group where he developed the Navy’s first Mine Warfare Taxonomy.

Symposium Co-organizers:

S. George Djorgovski is a Professor and Executive Officer (Dept. Chair) for Astronomy, and the Director of the Center for Data Driven Discovery at Caltech. He received his Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of California, Berkeley, and was a Harvard Junior Fellow prior to joining the Caltech faculty. His research encompassed a broad variety of topics, including structure and dynamics of globular clusters, fundamental properties of galaxies and their evolution, gamma-ray bursts, early phases of galaxy and structure formation, distant quasars, dark energy, and exploration of the time domain in astronomy. He has led several large digital sky surveys, and is one of the founders of the Virtual Observatory framework, as well as the emerging discipline of Astroinformatics. He was the Chair of the National Virtual Observatory Science Definition Team, the director or the Meta Institute for Computational Astrophysics (the first professional scientific institution based in virtual worlds), among many other leadership roles. His principal scientific interests are in the ways in which information and computation technologies are changing the ways we do science and scholarship in general, and the emergence of a new scientific methodology for the computationally enabled, data rich science in the 21st century. He has earned numerous recognitions, including the Presidential Young Investigator Award, the Dudley Observatory Award, the NASA Group Achievement Award, and first prize in the Boeing-Griffith Science Writing Contest, as well as fellowships with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Institute for the Advancement of Engineering, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The asteroid 24421 Djorgovski is named in his honor.

Scott Davidoff manages the Human Interfaces Group at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he leads design and development of the user interfaces that command all JPL spacecraft. He also leads the team that created Virtual Mars. He researches new ways to explore the Universe using Virtual and Augmented Reality, and to visualize high dimensional scientific and engineering data. He is also the creator of numerous lightweight prototyping methods that now form part of Design and Human-Computer Interaction curricula. He was awarded both the Voyager and Mariner Prizes from the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, as well as best papers from ACM’s Designing Interactive Systems (DIS), and the Design and Emotion Society (D&E). He has helped steer the discipline, serving on program committees that include the ACM's Conferences on Computer-Human Interaction (CHI), and Tangible and Embedded Interfaces (TEI). Prior to JPL, he taught Human-Computer Interaction at Carnegie Mellon University, and earlier was Principal Designer at Scott Davidoff Design. He has a Ph.D. in Human-Computer Interaction, an MS in Computer Science (Research), and an M.HCI in Human-Computer Interaction (Practice), all from Carnegie Mellon.

Emily Law is a Deputy Program Manager, Data Systems and Technology, ay JPL. For over 20 years, Emily has provided leadership and management in the architecture, development, technology and operations of highly distributed data intensive systems for planetary exploration and earth science. In addition to being the Deputy Program Manager, Emily also serves as the Planetary Data System Operations Manager and the Solar System Treks Project Manager, as well as the President of Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP). She holds a B.S. Degree in Math and Computer Science and a M.S. Degree in Computer Engineering.

Symposium Participants:

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