Kiss of the Space Spiders... Dec 14, 2005 22:01:31 GMT -6
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Dec 14, 2005 22:01:31 GMT -6
Spider Robots And The Space Web
The concept is known as a Furoshiki satellite after the Japanese word for a cloth used to wrap up possessions. It could revolutionise satellite-based applications such as telecommunications, navigation and Earth observation using radars, by providing cost effective large antennas in space that can be launched on relatively small rockets.
The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is planning to test a Furoshiki spacecraft in January 2006. Assisted by ESA's Advanced Concepts Team, it has chosen the robotics institute of the Vienna University of Technology to develop the small robots. The Vienna team is led by Prof. Kopacek, who is known for his world championship victories in robot soccer!
The experiment will be launched in a compact configuration aboard a Japanese sounding rocket. Once in space, the mother satellite will deploy three 'daughters'. These will pull out a woven net into a triangle, leaving the mother satellite at the centre. Once the net is deployed, two palm-sized robots will 'crawl' along the net into prearranged positions.
Because the test is only taking place on a sounding rocket, the satellites will not actually go into orbit around the Earth. Instead they will be placed on a suborbital trajectory that will loop up into space before falling back and burning up in Earth's atmosphere. The experiment will experience around 10 minutes of weightlessness.
During that time, the 40-metre-long triangular net will take between 3–5 minutes to deploy and then the robots will take a further 3–5 minutes to crawl out from the mother satellite to prearranged positions.
More here: www.physorg.com/news9031.html