Students create space app simulating life on the ISS

Ordinary Czechs can now experience the life of astronauts on the ISS space station. Students of the Czech Technical University have developed a virtual reality application, which simulates a space flight, everyday life in orbit, as well as some of the problems that astronauts may face.

The “life in space” application was created by David Sedláček, head of the Virtual and Augmented Reality Laboratory at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering of the Czech technical University, together with a team of students.

Source: FEL ČVUT

In order to make the station as authentic as possible, the team collaborated with Jan Spratek from the Prague Planetarium. At the station we can see all the essential tools and devices that astronauts use- incubators for conducting cell culture and other biological experiments, microscopes or a centrifuge that rotates while processing samples. David Sedláček says it’s a very realistic experience.

David Sedláček | Photo: Petr Neugebauer,  FEL ČVUT

"All the things that you see around you and that you interact with are devices that can be found on the ISS, because we were inspired by the European Columbus module. You get to touch everything, operate the devices, and move from one task to the next. You are in a state of weightlessness, so you are not walking, you are flying. The way astronauts move around there is by grabbing on to things in their surroundings, and they're literally bouncing and springing to where they need to send themselves."

The app is designed for three players at a time. They do what astronauts normally do on a space station, carry out various scientific experiments, perform research tasks, for example, but also grow crops in space or exercise to keep fit.

Source: FEL ČVUT

Progressing through the game is not easy because the players are not informed if they're doing it correctly. But that is to simulate reality, because astronauts also don’t get feedback until much later.

In the game's more advanced scenario, the educational space mission starts to turn into an escape game with dramatic and adventurous elements.

Source: FEL ČVUT

The players experience a solar storm, for example, in which high-energy particles that can endanger their lives are thrown at them, or else their station is hit by roving space debris and they have to evacuate.

In an emergency, participants must work together because some tasks cannot be solved individually. So the game is also a test of their mental resilience, teamwork, or ability to solve problems in crisis situations. But Jan Spratek says the primarily aim is to arouse their curiosity and sense of adventure.

Jan Spratek | Photo: René Volfík,  Czech Radio

“We have found that Czech students are very ill informed about space research and space missions – about the possibilities opening up in this field in Czechia. And we hope that, having had this experience, they will be inspired to find out more. “

The app is mainly intended for high school students, but will also be accessible to visitors to the Prague Planetarium as soon as the building in Holešovice opens to the public after a major renovation. That should be exactly a year from now.

Authors: Daniela Lazarová , Karolína Burdová | Source: Český rozhlas
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