From the operating room to the stars? NASA recruits John Hopkins to help with a telerobotic satellite fuel tanker.
A remote-controlled robot may stop satellites in space from running on empty.
As part of a NASA project, researchers at John Hopkins University have modified a robotics console normally used in surgery so it could be used to operate a filling station in space. By refueling aging satellites, their owners can get more useful life out of their expensive hardware. If it works, satellites can be repaired or refueled without having to send out human repair crews.
John Hopkins was tapped to address the problem of operating the fuel tanker in space from Earth because of its experience in robotically-enhanced surgery. To pump in more hydrozene fuel, a device would need to slice the tape that holds down an insulating blanket on satellites. After loading the fuel, the cut tape would need to be reapplied to secure the blanket–steps that are similar to performing surgery with robots. […]
The above excerpt from CBS News comes on the heels of the recent launch of ‘Curiosity,’ the newest Mars Rover. ‘Curiosity,’ besides being a resilient little robot, employs sensors from AIA member e2v and motion technology to handle the most hostile conditions. Since there are no ‘do over’s in space, what sort of things should the John Hopkins team be mindful of as they adapt the technology?