Sep 09 2015

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Putting a round peg in a round hole never looked so cool

Slam Dunk for Andreas in Space Controlling Rover on Ground. I am pretty critical of the claims that the ISS is there to help us get ready for missions to Mars, because

  1. The ISS was in operation long before Mars became an objective of NASA, and
  2. Very little in the daily activities on the ISS expands our knowledge of living in space while on the way to or on Mars.
  3. I mean, short of the “we can operate in LEO with the protection of the Earth’s magnetosphere for 6 months or a year at a time”, what does the ISS accomplish? That’s one of the reasons why NASA is looking to hand over ISS operations to the commercial sector after 2024.
  4. If the ISS were so critical to learning about missions to Mars, why would NASA be looking to get out of the ISS business in 2024 when their Mars missions are planned for the early 2030s?

Anyways, there are some experiments the involve the ISS that do further our knowledge and experience for long-duration missions and exploration, like the year-long mission involving Scott Kelly (and his Earth-bound twin Mark) and Russian Mikhail Kornienko.

Remotely controlling a rover on Earth from the ISS is another.

The real challenge was achieving meaningful force feedback despite the distance the signals had to travel: from the Station, hurtling around Earth at 8 km/s, up to satellites almost 36 000 km high and then down to a US ground station in New Mexico, via NASA Houston and then through a transatlantic cable to ESTEC – and back. It added up to a round-trip of more than 144 000 km.

The inevitable two-way time delay approaches one second in length, but the team used sophisticated software based on a dedicated control method termed ‘model mediated control’ to help compensate for this lag, incorporating sophisticated models to prevent the operator and arm from going out of sync.

Very, VERY cool! And Congrats!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.newspaceraces.com/2015/09/09/putting-a-round-peg-in-a-round-hole-never-looked-so-cool/

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