Remember the floating training remote
in Star Wars? Some people have done DIY versions of the remote
that can levitate
on your desktop. However, leave it to NASA to create the real thing and call it SPHERES: Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites
: robotic bowling balls (OK, 18-sided polyhedron satellites
) with autonomous propulsion, power, avionics, software, communications, and metrology subsystems, that fly freely
in the ISS
. First tested in 2006, they have been upgraded
with Android smartphones
, which makes them (for now) the less terrifying item in Google's growing robotic arsenal
posted by elgilito
on Aug 3, 2014 -
Swarming spacecraft to self-destruct for greater good.
"Future space probes that operate in cooperative swarms must commit hara-kiri if they begin to fail and risk damaging their comrades, says a recent patent application
The agency foresees a day when space missions are undertaken not by one large spacecraft but by swarming formations of much smaller, cheaper ones
. Such craft could collectively provide a "floating optics" system for a space telescope comprising separate craft flying in formation, for instance.
However, should one spacecraft in such a swarm begin to fail and risk a calamitous collision with another, it must sense its end is nigh and put itself on a course that takes it forever away from the swarm – for the greater good of the collective."
posted by Fizz
on Sep 6, 2010 -
"We have water
," said William Boynton of the University of Arizona, lead scientist for the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer, or TEGA
. "We've seen evidence for this water ice before in observations by the Mars Odyssey orbiter and in disappearing chunks observed by Phoenix last month
, but this is the first time Martian water has been touched and tasted."
posted by finite
on Aug 1, 2008 -