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The Space Vision System

An astronaut works on the new space station.Lloyd Pinkney's Space Vision System (SVS) represents a stellar breakthrough in space technology. Related to other Canadian space innovation such as the robotic arms Canadarm and Canadarm2, SVS is an eye in space, and will facilitate construction of the new International Space Station.

When building in space, not only is the lack of gravity a factor, but, in the black emptiness of space, there are also no points ofThe Space Vision System (SVS) uses black dots to determine speed and distance of objects in space. reference to judge the location and speed of objects being used in the construction. Space Vision System provides those critical reference points, and calculates and displays the location, orientation and speed at which the objects are moving in relation to the Canadarm, the space shuttle and the space station, as well as a view of what the Canadarm, attached to a space shuttle, is doing.

Imagine yourself floating in SVS displayspace, looking at the outside of the International Space Station. What you may first notice are numerous black dots. These dots are reference points for the SVS, which, attached to the Canadarm, extrapolate the distance to the circles or any other objects being moved. This is accomplished by taking sequential photographs of the objects every 33 milliseconds, with SVS further calculating the location and speed of the objects before the next photograph is even taken. A display screen located inside the space shuttle or the space station presents an image of the object in terms of its location, orientation and speed.

The Space Vision System, therefore, is enabling astronauts to use the Canadarm2 to construct most of the station in orbit and from within the space station itself. The Canadarm2, larger and more dexterous than its predecessor, is capable of moving an object the size of the space shuttle itself, and SVS makes it possible to maneuver these objects with extreme accuracy. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield often speaks of how, during trials, SVS gave him location information of the robotic arm and its payload to within a millimetre. For example, a The Canadarm2 installs the Quest Airlock on the Space Station. The black dots are used by the Space Vision System (SVS) to guide the arm.massive airlock was installed on the station using the arm and SVS without incident.

Astoundingly accurate, SVS is playing an essential role in the construction of the International Space Station. It also is one of Alberta's links to the study of space—Lloyd Pinkney was born in Blairmore in 1931 and later attending the University of Alberta where he studied engineering and physics. Following his studies, Pinkney joined the National Research Council.

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