leveraging mobile VR to help NASA engineers and scientists better collaborate

NASA JPL Europa Mission

SpaceTalk is a Google Daydream VR application that allows NASA scientists and engineers better communicate complex engineering data contextually in 3D space. It is designed for the 2020 Europa Clipper Mission.

*This is a current project! We are are currently designing our final concept and prototype. Below is a product preview.




Eugene Meng
Brian Orlando
Edward Payne Roberts

Project Timeline
22 weeks

My Role

Interaction Model
User Research
Usability Testing
Final Presentation Deck


product preview 




user flow








"design A data visualisation prototype in augmented or virtual reality with the goal of aiding scientists and engineers to better collaborate for the Europa Clipper Mission."



process overview

Current stage at Process

Currently, we are transitioning from the Define phase into Ideation.




research methods

  1. Semi-structured Interviews
  2. Activity: Iterative Journey Mapping
  3. Activity: Card Sort Activity

Based on the profile of our interviewee, we paired each semi-structured interview with one of the above activities to uncover a different set of data. 

Since most of our interviewees live outside of Seattle, we had to conduct our interviews via Skype / Google Hangouts. Therefore, we used Mural to conduct the Iterative Journey Mapping activity (left) and OptimalSort for the Card Sort activity. We found these methods to be very effective. 


From our 17 semi-structured interviews along with 2 activities (12 users and 4 experts), our team came up with around 1200 individual codes on individual post-it's. In order to ensure that we each have the same understanding of our research insights, we individually coded the top 7 more important interviews and then paired the rest of the interviews. 

We did 5 rounds of affinity mapping to sort the 1200 codes into clusters, then moved into organising them into themes. 



insights and design principles

Our team ended up with 90 themes (the blue post-it's in the photo). From those themes, we distilled them into 38 insights, which we then refined into 13. From our 13 insights, we defined our 8 design principles

For the sake of brevity, our design principles and associated insight(s) are presented on the same slide below.




Our team also developed 4 diagrams to distill our research findings from our qualitative interviews and interview activities. 


about the mission

A decade of planning is made for around 45 8-hour flybys. This diagram represents the time-critical moments during the mission and when we expect both scientists and engineers to have the highest stress. 

journey map during the mission 

The journey map maps out the highly complicated collaboration nature of an orbital mission like Clipper. Our team has identified pain points (represented in the darker outlines) and areas where we could potentially intervene. This map is the result of our iterative journey map activity done during our interviews. 


The Personnel Map summarises the interrelationships of the mission from a sociological lens. It highlights (in green and white) positive relationships and (in red) pain points in certain relationships that our team needs to consider when we design. 

CARD sort activity findings

Through our card sort activity, we identified that the data prioritisation during orbital mission is highly contextual. Based on the scenario (from Safe Mode to New Discovery), scientists and engineers have a different protocol in how they can advance scientific discovery balanced with needed engineering data


From looking at the user flow and externalising our learnings with one another, our team has identified 3 key areas of opportunities. 


opportunity area #1

Science Data Collaboration


Understanding past, present, and future states of the mission

opportunity area #2

Instrument Scientists and
Orbital Engineers Collaboration



feedback on our research

"You guys have uncovered things that took me 6 months to learn at NASA - and you guys are remote!"
- Data Visualisation Specialist @ NASA JPL

"You have both shown me new insights about [NASA JPL] and affirmed my hunches."

- Lead User Interface Developer @ NASA JPL



idea generation + refinement

We did 2 rounds of Crazy 8's for each problem area and generated over 90 concepts. After voting our top ideas, we independently stretched those ideas based on our design principles. 


concept generation + refinement

Taking our top ideas into account, we pivoted back to narrowing down our top use cases to generate more refined concepts. We ended with 4 top concepts and created a storyboard for each. After receiving feedback from our advisors and classmates, we narrowed into on concept through:

  1. Comparing our concepts to our Design Principles
  2. 2x2 matrices on 4 axes (Decision Making vs. Collaborative, Immersive vs. Feasibility)

Stay tuned! 

We will share our final concept and prototype in Google Daydream soon!