8 NASA Robots That Will Study The Mysteries Of Space

8 NASA Robots That Will Study The Mysteries Of Space

Narrator: In February of 2011, the International Space Station
was home to six astronauts and one Robonaut. Not to be mistaken for a
spaghetti-legged member of Daft Punk, NASA’s Robonaut
2 was actually the first humanoid robot ever sent to space. Clip: And are you sure this
guy isn’t related to Hal? Narrator: It spent about four
years on the space station before it had a hardwire
malfunction in 2015, and then another three years
lying broken and creepy until NASA retrieved it in 2018. After a round of repairs,
it’s set to return to the space station later this year, but it might not be alone, NASA has a full slate of
other wonderfully weird robots it wants to send to
space in the near future, and luckily none of the rest
participated in a beefcake photo shoot no one asked for. This is Dragonfly. The first
multirotor vehicle from NASA that will ever set foot,
er, ski, on another planet. Part robot, part space
drone, Dragonfly will make the 759,000-mile eight-year
journey to Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. Rivers, lakes, and seas
across its surface are filled with not water, but
liquid methane and ethane. Titan is the only place in
the solar system besides Earth with standing bodies of
liquid. But there are places along the surface that contain
evidence of past liquid water and the complex molecules
key to producing life, that’s what Dragonfly is after. During a 2.5 year mission,
the rotorcraft will land in the Shangri-La dune
fields and make its way to the Selk impact crater
where scientists believe the ingredients for the
recipe for life once existed. The coolest part? Titan
has the capacity for life as we know it, and life as we don’t. The evidence of water
shows habitable conditions for life-forms similar to those on Earth, but the liquid methane and
ethane could also be home to life, just nothing
we’ve ever seen before. Dragonfly will focus on both
in order to better understand the origin of life in the universe. It’s set to launch in 2026
but won’t arrive until 2034. LEMUR is more like the mother
of robots than its own thing, but we’re counting it anyway. LEMUR stands for Limbed Excursion
Mechanical Utility Robot, it’s got four limbs and
was originally conceived as a repair robot for the
International Space Station. It uses 16 fingers covered in
hundreds of tiny fishhooks, plus a sprinkle of artificial intelligence to scale walls and avoid obstacles. The original project ended in 2019, but technology from LEMUR is
being used in other robots that still have the
potential for space travel. The Ice Worm could be the
name of a terrible superhero, but in this case it’s a
little squiggly robot. It’s derived from a single
LEMUR limb and it moves by scrunching and un-scrunching,
just like an inchworm. It’s part of a family of
projects in development to explore Saturn’s and
Jupiter’s icy moons. The worm drills into the
ice, end over end in order to climb or stabilize itself
while collecting samples. It also inherited its mama’s
AI, which helps it navigate by learning from past slipups. Another LEMUR kid is the RoboSimian. Originally designed as
a disaster-relief robot, this humanoid bot has the
same four limbs as LEMUR, but its feet are a little different. Instead of grippy feet, the
robot, nicknamed King Louie, has wheels made with piano
wire that help it roll over uneven ground. That’s especially helpful
in icy environments like Saturn’s moon Enceladus,
which is what it’s being developed for now. RoboSimian can walk,
crawl, inch, and even slide on its belly like a penguin.
All to meet the challenges presented by silty, breakable ground. Some micro-climbers use
LEMUR’s fishhook technology to cling to rough surfaces;
others use gecko-like adhesive to climb smooth walls. All of them are pocket-sized
vehicles strong enough to survive 9-foot drops. The gecko-inspired tech relies
on van der Waals forces, which are basically what
happens when you stick a balloon to your head with static electricity, but on a molecular level. NASA hopes to use these little
guys to repair spacecraft or explore hard-to-reach
spots on the moon, or Mars, or anywhere really. Arguably the most famous
robot on its way to Mars is the Mars 2020 Rover. It’s about the size of a car:
10 feet long, 7 feet tall, and 2,314 pounds of pure robot. It’s based on Curiosity,
the NASA rover that landed on Mars in 2012. Relying on a proven system
cuts down on costs and risks. The new rover will continue
to search for past and present habitable conditions and signs of life. But it’s bringing to the table a new drill that can bore holes in the
surface and store the soil and rock samples for later use. Potentially a transport
from Mars back to Earth so they can be studied in labs, but the rover won’t be roving all alone. Inside the Mars Rover
will be a little MOXIE, or the Mars Oxygen In-Situ
Resource Utilization Experiment. Its job is to prove it
can make oxygen on Mars for fuel and breathing – like
a happy little robot plant. Mars’ atmosphere is made up
of about 96% carbon dioxide, no good for humans. This car-battery-sized version
of MOXIE will only be able to produce about 10
grams of oxygen per hour. Future oxygen generators will
need to be about 100 times larger for manned missions. Introducing the Mars Chopper. The small, solar-powered
helicopter will, fingers crossed, be the first in history to
prove heavier-than-air vehicles can fly on other planets,
and that’s basically its sole purpose. Just like MOXIE, it will
act as a proof of concept for future missions. The challenge is that Mars’
atmosphere has 1% the density of Earth’s, making it nearly impossible for helicopters to fly at all. So far it’s passed a
number of important tests that give scientists
hope that they’ll be able to defy the laws of physics. But even if it can’t fly,
the chopper will basically be the parrot to the Mars Rover’s pirate. Engineers are developing grippers
that will allow the copter to cling to cliffsides, a lot like a bird perches on a branch, and surprise, it’s another LEMUR baby. Its feet use the same fishhook technology as the four-limbed bot. There’s one more robot already up in space that needs to “bee” included. It’s called Astrobee, and I
think that’s reason enough for why we have to mention them. There are three Astrobees: Honey, Queen, and Bumble, obviously. Bumble and Honey shot up to the
Space Station in April 2019, and Queen followed regally in July. The free-floating cubes were designed to alleviate some of
the more routine tasks that astronauts complete daily, like taking inventory or moving cargo. But they’ll also be competing with Robonaut 2 for the title of Weirdest Robot in the
International Space Station.

92 Replies to “8 NASA Robots That Will Study The Mysteries Of Space”

  1. The only weird one is that thing named Robonaut, the first one shown, the other ones dont give uncanny valley feels and looks practical enough.

  2. Titan isnt 759,000 mi. from Earth. All you would have to do is drive 260 mi./day for eight years…hopefully they got something faster!

  3. Космоса не существует, НАСА не существует, планета земля этот миф

    it's just a joke booooi

  4. well… as of curiosity. if Titan has methane. and its inflamable. so it'll need a single match to burn up a whole planet? lolz

  5. That’s how you know Black people are not from this planet, there Hair stands straight up even living on a planet with a gravitational pull

  6. Dragonfly isn’t the first multi rotor from NASA to go to another planet, the helicopter thing on Mars 2020 will be, it has two rotors. And Titan is not a planet.

  7. I wonder if NASA ever sent a machine into space on a multi decade mission and completely forgot about that thing it sent to space years ago.

  8. 1:19 “759,000 mile journey”

    So Titan only twice as far away as the moon is? Damn, I thought it was like hundreds of millions of miles away orbiting Saturn but I guess it’s not.

  9. If spaceX wanted to invest their time into space robots, it would get done 10x faster then Nasa and be 5x more effective then Nasa

  10. Scary problems that can happen to Dragonfly: the rotors can malfunction before take off or if in mid-air, falls down an get destroyed on the ground or get a splashy fall into the ocean

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