Since the early days of space exploration robots are used a key
tool to collect data and perform experiments in outer space. From lunar rover to mars rover, space agencies like NASA, ROSCOSMOS etc. used them
for collecting samples from the lunar or martian surface and analyze them to know more about them as well as our solar system. Today we are
gonna know about some of the future robots that are preparing themselves for lift off and explore the space in distant future. So, let’s start.
Chandrayaan 2 is India’s second lunar mission. Before that India
successfully completed Chandrayaan 1 mission. Chandrayan 1 had two module; one was Chandrayaan orbiter and another is Lunar Impact Probe.
Chandrayaan 1 was launched on 22 October 2008. On 14 November 2008 the impact probe detached from Chandrayaan 1 orbitar and touched the lunar
surface near south pole which was later named Jawahar point. Thus India became the fourth country to place its flag on moon also India became the
first country to discover water on moon’s south pole.
Chandrayaan 2 (Vikram Lander & Pragyan Rover)
After successfully completing Chandrayaan 1 India is now
preparing for Chandrayaan 2. Chandrayaan 2 will have three module an orbiter, Vikram (Snaskrit meaning ‘Valour’) lander (named after Dr. Vikram
Sarabhai the father of Indian space program), and Pragyan Rover (Snaskrit meaning ‘Wisdom’).
Pragyan rover has six wheel kinetic traction control which
will enable the rover to negotiate the rough lunar terrain using independent steering provided on four of its wheels. Each 6 wheels has
independent motors, total 10 motors will be used for kinetic traction and steering. The main payload of the rover is Laser induced Breakdown
Spectroscope (LIBS) from Laboratory for Electro Optic Systems (LEOS), Bangalore and Alpha Particle Induced X-ray Spectroscope (APIXS) from
PRL, Ahmedabad which makes the rover capable of analyzing samples of lunar surface.
Next generation CANADARM
When we talk about CANADARM you have to consider the legacy that
it built. International Space Station (ISS) would not have been there if there were no CANADARM. After CANADARM and CANADARM 2, sciencetist of Canadian
Space Agency is working on a next generation version of CANADARM.
Like its ancestor, CANADARM 2 the new CANADARM will be 15 meter
reach but light in weight and more compact for smaller spacecraft. The arm's retractable, telescopic sections allow it to fold up for storage
in less than 5 cubic metres, which would make it compatible with the designs of most new space capsules and vehicles. Having six degrees of
freedom it will be able to perform camturing, docking of large spacecraft for repairing and refueling.
A smaller 2.58 meter reach version of CANADARM is also under
development with its own set of sophisticated tools to repair satellites in space. Outfitted with specialized tools, the robot can perform a
variety of intricate tasks including: removing and installing components (orbit replaceable units), removing the protective blankets that cover
satellites; cutting wires; opening and closing fuel valves, and transferring propellant between servicer and client spacecraft.
The smaller Canadarm can be controlled either manually or
automatically and can be carried to various workstations much the same way as Dextre is transported on the end of Canadarm 2.
When it comes to space exploration NASA comes on top our mind.
NASA send a series of moon and mars rovers including Curiosity, Spirit & Opportunity etc. The latest robot that NASA engineers are working on
is nicknamed as PUFFER.
The Pop-Up Flat Folding Explorer Robot (PUFFER) in development
at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, was inspired by origami. Its lightweight design makes it capable of flattening itself,
tucking in its wheels and crawling into places rovers can't fit.
It's designed to skitter up 45-degree slopes, investigate
overhangs and even drop into pits or craters. Several PUFFER microbot flattened like cards and stacked on top of other in big rover are meant
to assist the rover where the rover can not get in. Equipped with scientific equipments PUFFER will explore the surface of mars and probably
BRUIE, the Buoyant Rover for Under-Ice
Exploration. This robot can float in the water and roll its wheels along the underside of an icy surface, all while taking pictures and
Scientists hope to someday use a robot like this to search
for signs of life on icy bodies elsewhere in the solar system and beyond. For example, the underground oceans of Jupiter’s moon Europa or
Saturn’s moon Enceladus.
This spiky cube of a robot is being developed by NASA with
Stanford University and MIT. Hedgehog is designed to explore small bodies, such as asteroids or comets; objects with microgravity where it is
risky to send a conventional rover. Instead of rolling, Hedgehog hops and tumbles to move.
What if it lands upside-down? No big deal. It can operate on
any of its sides. It could even get itself out of a deep crater using a tornado-like maneuver that launches the robot into the air.
NASA’s R5 aka Valkyrie was designed and built by the Johnson
Space Center (JSC) is designed to be a robust, rugged, entirely electric humanoid robot capable of operating in degraded or damaged
human-engineered environments. Valkyrie’s head sits atop a 3 DOF neck, a simplified humanoid hand, with 3 fingers and a thumb, with two legs that
actually can walk like human. Although R5 will never make it to space but her later versions will perform a key role for making human colony
outside in space.
Fedor is a Russian humanoid robot which will be sent to the
International Space Station to assist Russian cosmonauts. It is an anthropomorphic rescue robot developed by the Android Technology R&D Company
as well as the Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects. It is handed over to ROSCOSMOS. One of its shocking ability is that these
robots can shoot guns with both of its hand simultaneously.
Besides having the ability to shoot guns, Fedor also has a range
of other skills. It has already been trained to walk upright, lift weights, do push-ups, operate a drill, screw in a light bulb, open a door,
insert a key into a lock, and even drive a car. Standing 6 feet tall and weighing about 233 pounds, the robot can lift objects weighing up to 44
pounds. It can work autonomously, respond to voice commands, and can be controlled remotely. It will be sent to the International Space Station to do
tasks considered too dangerous to be done by humans in space.
Data Sources: https://www.isro.gov.in/gslv-mk-iii-chandrayaan-2-mission