Exploring the Universe with Immersive Virtual Reality

Lecture / Panel
For NYU Community

Speaker: Scott Davidoff, NASA Jet Propusion Laboratory

To explore distant environments, NASA scientists have to rely entirely on remote sensors. Their entire experience of alien environments is mediated by technology. I describe a number of research projects that explore the ways in which immersive virtual reality is considered as a tool to help scientists explore the universe. First, I describe efforts to tele-operate a dexterous manipulator. We find that reduced degrees of freedom performs better than direct manipulation. Second, I describe efforts to develop hypotheses of alien geology. We find that scientists understand the environment better when immersed than using current state-of-the-art stitched panoramic images.


Dr. Scott Davidoff is the Human Interfaces Manager at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab. He is responsible for design and implementation of all end-user facing software used to command and control JPL spacecraft. Dr. Davidoff is principal investigator for NASA's Space Networking and Mission Automation program, and co-founder of the JPL / Caltech / Art Center Data-to-Discovery program. He serves on steering committees for NASAm the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, and the Association for Computing Machinery. Across his over 18 years of experience, he has introduced numerous lightweight prototyping methods that have become standard practice.

Dr. Davidoff received Masters degrees in Computer Science and Human-Computer Interaction, and PhD in Human-Computer Interaction, all from Carnegie Mellon.