Human Interfaces for Space Situational Awareness

John D. Ianni

United States defense operations are greatly enhanced by satellites, however these key assets are vulnerable to perils such as space weather or acts of aggression. Unfortunately it is not only difficult to defend against such threats, it can be difficult to determine the cause from the ground. What may at first appear to be a routine system glitch may in fact be something much more serious. This situation is aggravated by the fact that Air Force satellite control centers use antiquated technology requiring multiple human controllers per satellite, each viewing alphanumeric displays that degrade situational awareness, increase crew workload and invite confusion during demanding wartime scenarios. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL/HECP) in conjunction with various organizations at Schriever Air Force Base are conducting research to increase situational awareness of the orbital battlespace by allowing operators to navigate through three-dimensional displays with voiceactivated commands. This speech interface to Satellite Tool Kit -- which will be discussed in this paper -- is intended to be an initial step at enabling operators to quickly gather information from satellites or constellations. Future research plans call for applying usability engineering techniques to the satellite attack identification and reporting process, and then applying the optimal configuration of human interface technologies.


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