by Kim Newton for Marshall Space Flight Center
Huntsville, AL (SPX) Dec 22, 2011
In November, a free-flying robot on the International Space Station successfully gathered and delivered motion data to its astronaut handler for the first time via a new smartphone controller.
The Human Exploration Telerobotics project, one of NASA's new, high-value Technology Demonstration Missions, equipped the compact, free-flying satellites - known as Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES - with a Samsung Nexus S handset that features Google's open-source Android platform.
Each volleyball-sized SPHERES has its own onboard power, propulsion, computing and navigational software. Adding the smartphone transforms the satellite into a free-flying robot, or "Smart SPHERES" - complete with a compact, low-power, low-cost embedded computer and built-in cameras and sensors to enhance and expand robotic operations.
Minor modifications were made to the smartphones, including removing the GSM cellular communications chip to avoid interference with station electronics, and replacing the standard lithium-ion battery with AA alkaline batteries. Otherwise, the smartphone is identical to the off-the-shelf consumer device.
The ongoing experiment demonstrates how the Smart SPHERES can serve as remotely operated assistants for astronauts in space. In coming months, these compact assistants will conduct interior station surveys and inspections, capturing mobile camera images and video.
NASA also plans to simulate external free-flight excursions and in time will test whether the robots can handle other, more challenging tasks.
"The tests that we are conducting with Smart SPHERES will help NASA make better use of robots as assistants to and versatile support for human explorers - in Earth orbit or on long missions to other worlds and new destinations," said Terry Fong, project manager of the Human Exploration Telerobotics project and Director of the Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.
The Nexus S phone is the first commercial smartphone certified by NASA for use on the space station. Each smartphone is connected to a SPHERES free-flyer via a cable. A wireless network connection (Wi-Fi) to the space station's computers provides the data path to the ground. NASA anticipates using other types of smartphones on the station in the future.
SPHERES at NASA
Station at NASA
Station and More at Roscosmos
S.P. Korolev RSC Energia
Watch NASA TV via Space.TV
Space Station News at Space-Travel.Com
Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.
Russia sends multinational crew to ISS
Baikonur, Kazakhstan (AFP) Dec 21, 2011
Russia on Wednesday sent a multinational crew of three astronauts to the International Space Station on a Soyuz rocket from its Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, US NASA astronaut Don Pettit and Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers blasted off aboard a Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft at 1316 GMT in a spectacular night-time launch from the Kazakh steppe. The launch, w ... read more
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|