Human Exploration Telerobotics 2 (HET2)

Astrobee

The Telerobotics project develops, tests and demonstrates how astronauts in space, and flight controllers on Earth, can operate robots remotely during human exploration missions.


Astrobee

Artist’s concept of the free-flying robot arm. Credits: NASA

Forging a permanent human presence in space requires a great deal of groundwork to be laid — from deeper understanding of all our future destinations and their environments to extra sets of “eyes” and “hands” that help and protect our astronauts during their journeys in space and long-term expeditions on other worlds. To that end, NASA and its partners rely on a variety of highly capable, versatile and sophisticated robots to investigate worlds beyond our own, refine tools, technologies and systems, complement the work of human astronauts — and prepare the way for crewed missions to the farthest reaches of the solar system.

The Human Exploration Telerobotics (HET) Technology Demonstration Mission is demonstrating how telerobotics — remote control of a variety of robotic arms, rovers and other devices — can take routine, highly repetitive, dangerous or long-duration tasks out of human hands, and improve and hasten human space exploration missions to new destinations.

The team, led by NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., is testing robots remotely operated by controllers on the ground or by astronauts in space. One example is Astrobee.

The Astrobee project is developing a set of three free-flying robots that will operate inside the International Space Station (ISS) alongside astronauts. Astrobee’s primary objective is to provide a zero-g research facility for guest scientists. The Astrobees will replace the SPHERES robots that have been among the most-used facilities on the ISS since they arrived in 2006, hosting experiments on topics ranging from magnetic propulsion, to simulated satellite inspection, to studying the dynamics of tethers and fuel slosh in zero-g.

Astrobee will carry on the SPHERES tradition, while opening up new areas of research with its greatly expanded capabilities, which include improved autonomy, better support for guest science hardware add-ons, a built-in suite of cameras, and a robot arm.

RELATED LINKS

› This is Us: Terry Fong (YouTube)
› Remote Telepresence Fact Sheet (pdf)
› LUNAR Students Outfit K10 Rover
› More About Robonaut
› More About SPHERES

Principal Technologist Project Manager
Rob Ambrose (robert.o.ambrose@nasa.gov) Terry Fong (terry.fong@nasa.gov)

 


The Dark Side of the Crater: How Light Looks Different on the Moon

    Things look different on the Moon. Literally. Because the Moon isn’t big enough to hold a significant atmosphere, there is no air and there are no particles in the air to reflect and scatter sunlight. On Earth, shadows in otherwise bright environments are dimly lit with indirect light from these tiny reflections. That […]

Smartphone Advances Drive Smallsats

Terrestrial smartphone technology, based in part on government space research, is finding its way back into space as low-cost, rapidly evolving processors, cameras, GPS receivers and other gear used in bulk by the burgeoning smallsat movement. In California’s Silicon Valley, where the lifetime of a state-of-the-art smartphone is about one year, engineers at NASA’s Ames […]

Smart SPHERES Are About to Get A Whole Lot Smarter

Smart devices – such as tablets and phones – increasingly are an essential part of everyday life on Earth. The same can be said for life off-planet aboard the International Space Station. From astronaut tweets to Google+ Hangouts, our reliance on these mobile and social technologies means equipment and software upgrades are an everyday occurrence […]

Smartphone powers Star Wars-inspired NASA robot

t’s hard not to get freakishly excited when science fiction becomes scientific fact — especially when the origins of that science are rooted in Star Wars. Think back, young Jedis, to the scene where a fresh-off-Tatooine Luke Skywalker is honing his light saber skills under the tutelage of Obi-Wan Kenobi. A round, floating robot called […]

NASA’s next big thing is very small

We often think of NASA in grandiose terms — tackling the biggest problems with the biggest thinking, applying the grandest ideas that mankind can conceive. But now, NASA is thinking small in a big way, applying a DIY ethos to spaceflight, and using commercially available tools and technologies to get the job done. Instead of […]

NASA and TopCoder to issue Robonaut 2 ‘sight’ challenge

NASA Tournament Lab is launching two new competitions, this time to give Robonaut 2, the humanoid robot aboard the international space station, the gift of improved “sight.” The challenges are the latest offered by the Tournament Lab in conjunction with the open innovation platform TopCoder. The first competition calls on participants to figure out how […]

NASA – ‘Smart SPHERES’ Fly High Aboard the International Space Station

On Dec. 12 engineers at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., and Johnson Space Center in Houston conducted an experiment using small, free-flying robotic satellites called “Smart SPHERES” aboard the International Space Station. The Smart SPHERES, located in the Kibo laboratory module, were remotely operated from the International Space Station’s Mission Control Center at […]

NASA – ‘Smart SPHERES’ Fly High Aboard the International Space Station

On Dec. 12 engineers at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., and Johnson Space Center in Houston conducted an experiment using small, free-flying robotic satellites called “Smart SPHERES” aboard the International Space Station. The Smart SPHERES, located in the Kibo laboratory module, were remotely operated from the International Space Station’s Mission Control Center at […]

NASA Telerobotics Team to Demonstrate K10 Rover Sept. 22

Skywatchers and space enthusiasts across the globe will gather Sept. 22 to celebrate “International Observe the Moon Night” – but one group in Moffett Field, Calif., will get an added thrill: the chance to watch a next-generation NASA robot being put through its paces. NASA’s Surface Telerobotics team, part of the Human Exploration Telerobotics (HET) […]

NASA Channels “The Force” With Smart SPHERES

In an interesting case of science fiction becoming a reality, NASA has been testing their SPHERES project over the past few years. The SPHERES project (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites) involves spherical satellites about the size of a bowling ball. Used inside the International Space Station, the satellites are used to test autonomous […]