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Calling Voyager: Interface Design for NASA’s Deep Space Network

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Krys Blackwood
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Overview
NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) is one of its oldest and longest running projects. Without the DSN, we can’t talk to the legendary Voyager Spacecraft, or even Curiosity on Mars. The DSN is monitored and controlled by a steadfast group of unsung heroes who face situational awareness and vigilance challenges every day, and for whom change always introduces risk. Krys will talk about the DSN itself, and describe how the JPL Human Interface Group is using participatory and ethnographically inspired methodology to approach the challenges of innovation in a risk-averse, well-established culture.

Objective
This talk will introduce you to the Deep Space Network and its operators, and share techniques NASA JPL is using for user centered design, as well as design for change-resistant users.

Target Audience
People interested in innovation at NASA, or in gentle design for change-resistant users.

Five Things Audience Members Will Learn
What the DSN is
What type of people run the DSN
Some of the design techniques NASA uses for Situational Awareness
Some of the design techniques NASA uses for Vigilance Tasks
Techniques for designing for change-resistant users

Published in: Design
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Calling Voyager: Interface Design for NASA’s Deep Space Network

  1. 1. Calling Voyager User Experience Design for NASA’s Deep Space Network © 2017 California Institute of Technology. Government sponsorship acknowledged. @shodoshan
  2. 2. Once I thought I knew a lot. Then I was sure I knew a little. Now, I know that I know nothing. -Private Dowding
  3. 3. Setting the Scene What is the DSN?
 WHO is the DSN? Change is inevitable Designing for change: What didn’t work Designing for change: What worked What we’re planning
  4. 4. Setting the Scene What is the DSN?
 WHO is the DSN? Change is inevitable Designing for change: What didn’t work Designing for change: What worked What we’re planning
  5. 5. An Intriguing Design Challenge Old and new technologies combined 60 years of history Designs need to last 20 years 40 years of human habit
  6. 6. https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/juno/images/index.html https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/apollo/apollo11.html https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/images/index.html
  7. 7. Getting On With It What is the DSN?
 WHO is the DSN? Change is inevitable Designing for change: What didn’t work Designing for change: What worked What we’re planning
  8. 8. Operator Persona Mostly male Mostly older Highly technical – but not IT people Highly educated – 40 years ago
  9. 9. Situation Awareness
  10. 10. The Good Old Days
  11. 11. Three Cultures
  12. 12. *Dramatic Music* What is the DSN?
 WHO is the DSN? Change is inevitable Designing for change: What didn’t work Designing for change: What worked What we’re planning Photo credit: http://www.michaelmedved.com/column/dems-gloom-may-seal-their-doom/ Photo credit: https://hoopsonvs.blogspot.com/2015/08/the-end-is-nigh.html
  13. 13. Photo credit: https://www.videoblocks.com/video/earth-from-space-showing-sunrise-over-the-americas-elements-of-this-render-furnished-by-nasa-wjva9qd
  14. 14. Three Links Per Operator + + =HARD
  15. 15. Three Links Per Operator + + =MUCH HARDER
  16. 16. Three Links Per Operator + + = the wild, wild west
  17. 17. Charge Boldly Forward What is the DSN?
 WHO is the DSN? Change is inevitable Designing for change: What didn’t work Designing for change: What worked What we’re planning to credit: https://www.askideas.com/baby-girl-making-angry-face-funny-image/
  18. 18. How to Incite Revolution Big changes with no user research Drastic changes without good reason Changes with good reason that are too drastic. “User Acceptance Testing”
  19. 19. Embrace the “slow blink” What is the DSN?
 WHO is the DSN? Change is inevitable Designing for change: What didn’t work Designing for change: What worked What we’re planning
  20. 20. Evolution, Not Revolution Involve early, involve often Build trust Iterations Slow and steady wins the race … plus these techniques:
  21. 21. #ProTip 1: Observations Watch them do what they do, where they do it. Observe normal and non-normal situations Watch, don’t get involved Take notes; ask questions later
  22. 22. #ProTip 2: Experiential Research Do. The. Thing.
  23. 23. #ProTip 3: Paper Prototypes They’re cheap They’re quick They’ll get you 80% of the way there
  24. 24. #ProTip 4: Participatory Design Directional, not prescriptive Great for hierarchy of info Great for seeing how they think
  25. 25. #ProTip 5: Paper Dolls
  26. 26. #ProTip 6: “What changed” Tests
  27. 27. #ProTip 7: Cultivate Ambassadors Make friends with your users Not just the happy ones Close the loop when they give you feedback
  28. 28. #ProTip 8: Banana Bread I’m just sayin’
  29. 29. The Future of Deep Space Ops What is the DSN?
 WHO is the DSN? Change is inevitable Designing for change: What didn’t work Designing for change: What worked What we’re planning
  30. 30. How Far Can We Evolve? Modern technologies – but not too modern Automation PR and Goodwill Training Photo credit: https://mars.nasa.gov/news/a-mixed-reality-trip-to-mars/ Photo credit: http://bit.ly/2ENkJDy
  31. 31. Your Turn Questions? Thank you! @shodoshan Krys.Blackwood@jpl.nasa.gov Want More? DSN: deepspace.jpl.nasa.gov Human Interfaces Group: hi.jpl.nasa.gov

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