The bowling-ball-sized free-flying satellites called SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites)
are being fitted with their own “goggles” — a computer and stereoscopic camera setup named the Visual Estimation and Relative Tracking for Inspection of Generic Objects, or VERTIGO — to demonstrate critical technologies for relative navigation based on a visual model.
Brent Tweddle, a member of the MIT Space Systems Laboratory SPHERES-VERTIGO experiment team, recently spoke with ISS Update commentator Pat Ryan to discuss the technology behind these tests taking place aboard the station and its applicability for future spaceflight.
Commenting on the appearance of the VERTIGO hardware, Tweddle remarked, “It’s sort of funny the way that fell out. I mean, we weren’t trying to make it look like anything, but a lot of people have commented it kind of looks like a WALL-E figure. But it really just fell out of the requirements.”