Maintenance of the International Space Station (ISS) can get hectic for astronauts. So NASA found a way to help astronauts with their jobs. Astrobee, a free-flying robotic system assistant, is NASA’s new addition to the ISS. The robot is supposed to take over routine tasks so that astronauts have enough time for humane tasks such as scheduling and planning. A recently published social media post from ISS shows the AstroBee. In the photo, NASA astronaut Megan McArthur poses with the robot in the ISS’s Kibo laboratory module.
The AstroBee is a cube-shaped machine and is almost the size of a toaster at 12.5 inches wide. The caption reads: “The cube-shaped, toaster-sized AstroBee is being tested for its ability to assist astronauts with normal maintenance and surveillance functions in the orbit laboratory.”
We can find out more about this device on NASA’s website. According to this, AstroBee can work autonomously or remotely by astronauts, air traffic controllers or researchers on the ground. There are currently three such robots on the ISS.
The main tasks of these robots include tasks such as taking stock and documenting experiments by astronauts. The robots can do these tasks with their built-in cameras. Astrobee can also be used to move cargo through the station if necessary.
They can also act as a research platform. Astronauts can equip and program the robots to conduct experiments in a microgravity environment.
The robots use electric fans to help them fly freely through the weightlessness of the station. The robots also have a “squat arm” with which they can grip station handrails. In this way you can switch off the drive fan and save energy.
The robots are modular and can be upgraded, giving scientists room for improvement.
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