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36 votes

Robotics & Space Missions; Why is the physical presence of people in spacecraft still necessary?

Between them, Spirit and Opportunity spent the equivalent of 22 years performing geology fieldwork on Mars. In that time, they managed a scientific output comparable to what a single geology grad ...
Mark's user avatar
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32 votes

Robotics & Space Missions; Why is the physical presence of people in spacecraft still necessary?

One of the most important reasons is that robots don't make great interview partners. A significant part of space missions is outreach and inspiring people. Another important part is giving people a ...
Jörg W Mittag's user avatar
32 votes

Why aren't there any robotic missions on Europa or Enceladus?

ThereĀ are probably many answers, but for guesstimating hypothetical missions a look at delta-V/subway maps like this are highly informative in terms of problem scale. Working from that getting into ...
GremlinWranger's user avatar
23 votes
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Why aren't there any robotic missions on Europa or Enceladus?

@GremlinWrangler's answer sums up several important points; Getting a low mass rover from Earth all the way to landing on the surface of one of those Moons requires much much more rocketry (delta-v) ...
uhoh's user avatar
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22 votes
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Why do Ingenuity's legs differ?

I asked one of the copter's engineers, Matt Keennon, what the hole in that one leg's foot was for. He replied that it's only for stowage. ... because of the odd way the copter is held in place under ...
Camille Goudeseune's user avatar
21 votes
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How much can the Mars rover Curiosity do autonomously, after four years of operation?

AutoNav is simply given a set of waypoints, which the software then has to, on its own, plan and execute a route. You can imagine the waypoints as lawn darts on the 3D terrain map built from the ...
Mark Adler's user avatar
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14 votes

Mining Helium-3 on the Moon and sending it to Earth?

On Earth, before a mineral or petroleum resource is mined/extracted, the deposit is delineated and evaluated. Briefly, the process involves sending a some geologists and some drill rigs and their ...
Fred's user avatar
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13 votes
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Why would humans travel to Mars before machines have built a colony?

One reason is that we don't have robots as versatile as humans. We have machines capable of high speed, high precision, reliability and endurance not possible for a human, but no robot is good enough ...
SF.'s user avatar
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10 votes

How much can the Mars rover Curiosity do autonomously, after four years of operation?

Not only has it autonomous driving capability, just very recently in 2016 it acquired new features for 'autonomously' targeting ChemCam and autonomosly re-schedule some of the science observations by ...
kert's user avatar
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10 votes
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Harpooning satellites? Is this really the best way to get them under control?

This answer responds to the title question "Harpooning satellites? Is this really the best way to get them under control?". I've studied this problem, the answer is "no", based on this rationale: ...
Puffin's user avatar
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8 votes
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What are robot arm singularities in the context of the Space Shuttle and/or ISS?

A singularity in this context is simply a configuration of the manipulator system in which a degree of freedom is lost. For example, for the Shuttle and ISS arms, the elbow singularity occurs when ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
8 votes

Why aren't there any robotic missions on Europa or Enceladus?

The motive for the exploration of Enceladus and Europa is different from that of Mars. The primary motive for exploration of the two moons is the possibility of finding an independent instance of ...
Vince 49's user avatar
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7 votes

Harpooning satellites? Is this really the best way to get them under control?

The RemoveDebris mission is a low-cost, small mission to demonstrate 4 key technologies needed for removal of large space debris (i.e. defunct satellites). Surely large modern spacecraft have ...
Hobbes's user avatar
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7 votes

Is Landsat-7's propellant resupply port "robot-ready"? (Restore-L mission)

My reading of the Aviation Week article on this seemed to suggest that while Landsat-7 was not designed to be refueled, when they looked at its design, they found a fuel line, they could patch into ...
geoffc's user avatar
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7 votes

Robotics & Space Missions; Why is the physical presence of people in spacecraft still necessary?

Why is the physical presence of people in spacecraft still necessary? Because robotics and AI aren't so developed as to totally replace humans (who are very versatile). Having said that, there are ...
RonJohn's user avatar
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6 votes
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Besides HST, JWST and stations, are there any examples of satellites designed for service in space?

A family of spacecraft in the 1980s were designed around the Multi-mission Modular Spacecraft (MMS) bus. This bus was designed specifically to allow for retrieval and repair of the spacecraft by the ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
6 votes

Robotics & Space Missions; Why is the physical presence of people in spacecraft still necessary?

Necessity Why is anything "necessary"? Who gets to define that? The biological imperative, if you will, is to survive, reproduce, and exploit every niche. Look all over the planet, and ...
Lawnmower Man's user avatar
6 votes
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Can robots take the jobs of humans in space?

The role/rationale of human spaceflight has been a constant debate since the dawn of spaceflight. People way back in the 1970's were having debates about this exact topic, and it's very complicated. ...
Dragongeek's user avatar
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5 votes

What propulsion system would not pollute the surface when landing on a pristine celestial body?

Any spacecraft that uses reaction mass for propulsion (pretty much everything that isn't theoretical) is going to somewhat contaminate the landing area. If you're using an inert fuel such as Helium or ...
Justin Braun's user avatar
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5 votes
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How do the Mars rovers sleep through the night on Mars?

For the MER rovers: Normal sleep is commanded by the operations team, usually as a sequence (do science operations X, Y and Z, then go to sleep). More details below. The rovers can decide ...
Hobbes's user avatar
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5 votes
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What have been the most common causes of mishaps or failures with various cubesat mechanisms & components?

This graph shows the common failure modes experienced during the first 100 cubesat missions. Note the large fraction of failed missions that never made contact with the ground after launch; no ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
5 votes
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Why is 90 sols a standard mission duration for robotic spacecraft on the surface of Mars?

I believe I might have found an answer to this question in this interesting paper, which reviews the origin of duration and distance requirements for planetary mobility systems. It appears the 90 sol ...
Armadillo's user avatar
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5 votes
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Why don't robotic spacecraft have "general purpose" companions?

General purpose repair robots do not yet exist because the costs have not fallen below that of just launching new (upgraded) satellite that you can test and repair on the ground. The first challenge ...
GremlinWranger's user avatar
4 votes
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Are there any planned non-lunar, non-Mars rovers?

No. Nothing approved or on track for approval in foreseeable future. There's a bunch of missions that will have landers, sample return, impactors and other interesting activities at different bodies, ...
SF.'s user avatar
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4 votes
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Microscopes in space?

There are a couple, at least, on the ISS. The main one seems to be the Light Microscopy Module (PDF). Light Microscopy Module (LMM) is housed within and used in conjunction with the glovebox in the ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
4 votes
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Chang'e 4 lunar rover movement

I grabbed a couple pix from SkyAndTelescope which may help. On a macro scale, you can see that the path is chosen to avoid craters and whatnot: This next one is a better version of what you posted, ...
Carl Witthoft's user avatar
4 votes

Why does NASA now call its rovers "robotic scientists?"

Answer merged into one larger one.
Paul McErlean's user avatar
4 votes

Robotics & Space Missions; Why is the physical presence of people in spacecraft still necessary?

Even if robots were still used for most of the fieldwork (which I think is likely even with a human presence because spacesuits, and the humans inside them, are fragile and expensive), having a human ...
Crazymoomin's user avatar
4 votes

Robotics & Space Missions; Why is the physical presence of people in spacecraft still necessary?

Why is the physical presence of people in spacecraft still necessary? The physical presence of people on most spacecraft is not necessary, not even those rated to carry passengers. Having humans ...
Ken Fabian's user avatar
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3 votes

What typically ends a satellite's life?

Your question is What typically ends a satellite's life? and the answer is, as often, "it depends". In the nominal case, lifetime is limited by fuel. All satellites need to perform orbit and ...
user25560's user avatar

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