In this episode, Audrow Nash speaks with Janet Vertessi, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Princeton, on her book Seeing Like a Rover: How Robots, Teams, and Images Craft Knowledge of Mars. The book is written about her experience living and working with NASA’s Mars Rover team, and includes her observations about the team’s leadership and their relationship with their robot millions of miles away on Mars. She also gives some advice from her findings for teams.
In a time of “America First,” the benefits of space travel are clouded by the smoke of hyperbole. In reality, there has been over 2,000 inventions courtesy of NASA that are making our lives better here on Earth. Every day, we benefit as much from the journey as from the destination. These innovations include new medicines developed in zero gravity; faster autonomous transportation technologies; and groundbreaking advances in computing (launched above the clouds).
NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and entrepreneurs aiming to jump-start human colonisation of space see the 3D printing of large scale objects, including entire habitations, as a major enabling technology for the future of space exploration.
Late morning, red skies over Mars, and the first human interloper emerges from her landing craft to review the dusty expanse. As she eases carefully down the ladder towards the alien earth, her mind spins with the words that, like Armstrong’s, will echo forever in the human conscious. She speaks and, when her signal reaches home just over three minutes later, 11 billion hearts skip a beat. It’s a powerful image, oft perpetuated in such media as the upcoming National Geographic “global event series” MARS. But below is another, far realer image: the crater left by Schiaparelli after its parachute jettisoned too early and it ploughed into the Martian surface, fatally. Images like this illustrate the truly difficult, dangerous and costly business of spaceflight.
Sarah Hensley is preparing an astronaut named Valkyrie for a mission to Mars. It is 6 feet tall, weighs 300 pounds, and is equipped with an extended chest cavity that makes it look distinctly female. Hensley spends much of her time this semester analyzing the movements of one of Valkyrie’s arms.
In Darmstadt, Germany, European Space Agency (ESA) teams are scrambling to confirm contact with the Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module (EDM), Schiaparelli—the spectre of Philae still haunting the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC). Whether or not ESA ever speak to Schiaparelli again, the risky business of space robotics is once more laid bare.
NASA may be known for sending men to the moon, establishing the International Space Station, and planning for a base on Mars—but apart from astronauts, its best-known spokesmen aren’t men at all—they’re robots.
Rovers like Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity, and landers like Viking and Philae, make the perfect ambassadors into hostile, freezing, and nearly airless environments. Not only do these explorers bring back valuable scientific data from Earth’s planetary neighbors, they also make perfect showcases for practical robotics.
During an experiment performed on board of the International Space Station (ISS) a small drone successfully learned by itself to see distances using only one eye, reported scientists at the 67th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Guadalajara, Mexico.
In this episode, Ron Vanderkley interviews Jürgen “Juxi” Leitner, a researcher at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Robots Vision in the Queensland University of Technology in Australia. Leitner speaks about a system being developed for the Google Lunar XPrize, called LunaRoo.
After five years of competition by more than 40 different teams from around the globe, NASA’s Sample Return Robot Challenge has reached its final stage. The top seven teams will compete for the $1.36 million prize purse on the campus of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Massachusetts, Sept. 4-6.
Every few weeks, Robohub will post a roundtable chat and discuss an engaging topic relating to robotics. In this edition, we looked at how can robotics can be part of space exploration. Privatisation has certainly been a boon for companies, like SpaceX. What can we expect in the future? We strongly encourage our Robohub readers to chime in and be part of the conversation!