18

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 previous sol's images. In fact, in the rover planning tool, the waypoints are displayed as actual lawn darts. The plan is executed about a meter at a time, heading ...


15

MER uses brushed motors, Curiosity brushless. They both have a gear box on each motor with a fixed, very high gear ratio (a few thousand) for low speed and very high torque. The current to each motor is independently controlled and monitored.


13

I think the major obstacle is the level of autonomousness required for a full-fledged lander mission. The communication delay between Earth and Jupiter is between half an hour and an hour (depending on the time of year), one way (so the real delay is twice as long), but intelligent decisions have to be made real-time during the landing, and especially ...


13

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 to look at a hole in a sheet of plastic covering the base, take a roll of duct tape and glue the hole closed within 30 seconds since the breach, unless you ...


11

There are currently two "humanoid robots" on board the international Space Station (ISS). One was built by NASA with the help of various other government and non-government organisations and goes by the name of Robonaut 2 and is "a humanoid robot designed to work side by side with humans, or go where the risks are too great for people." On 22nd of August ...


11

In November 2010, Secure World Foundation (SWF) published their X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle Fact Sheet (PDF) that is a conjecture on the purpose of the two Boeing built X-37B OTV (Orbital Test Vehicles) currently operated by U.S. Air Force. It also gives a background on vehicles, their known technical characteristics, and describes official objectives they're ...


10

It really depends on what stage the satellite is in. If the satellite still functions at a reduced capacity, then likely everything except the batteries, and fuel, is salvageable. Some of the transmitters, instruments, etc could also work, although it really depends on why the satellite failed. If the satellite isn't functioning, then some components may ...


10

To add on to what Rory Alsop said about machines lacking problem solving capability: At least the rovers we have sent to Mars so far are not fully autonomous - they are not controlled at all time either, but are queued up with a set of plans. But if something unexpected does happen, it is not easy for a person to take the wheel, so to speak. Depending ...


10

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 itself. All based on pre-defined priority rules. The auto-targeting software component is called AEGIS. Previously tested and enabled autonomous driving ...


10

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: all satellites have adequate hard points on them from launch, usually in the form of a launch vehicle adaptor ring a harpoon will create secondary debris even on ...


9

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 operators to a deposit and drilling holes through the deposit on a predetermined grid pattern. The drill cuttings or core (depending on the type of drill used) ...


8

As well as the political and outreach benefits, we also have: Machines still do not have our problem solving capability, so if something outwith their programming happens, they may well fail to respond appropriately We can learn skills and techniques to help us prepare for migrating off this planet (yep, long term, but is likely to be needed at some point)


8

If you mean within the next 10 years, with 2015 as a starting date, then it is not outside the realm of possibility. The advent of cheaper launches does appear to be upon us. SpaceX is very close to recovering a first stage. Whether they can refly it cheaply is the key question. They are close to launching a Falcon Heavy, again if they can succeed and also ...


8

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 the elbow joint angle nears 180 degrees; the degree of freedom lost is the ability to translate the end effector away from the shoulder joint. The relationship ...


7

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 several sturdy things to hold on to already. No. Satellites are generally not built to be serviced on orbit, so they don't have fittings that can be reliably ...


6

A few things I come to think of: Heat radiators for cooling a power source. Physical structure needed in-space but not during launch. Maybe for example such needed to spin a spacecraft for simulated gravity. (Once that kind of stuff has been standardized) A memory chip with petabytes of science and engineering data stored on it, to be collected and soft ...


6

As far as autonomous control is concerned, much of this has already been developed. It had to be given the long time delays between Earth and even "nearby" destinations such as Mars. The Mars rovers, for example, are able to navigate to nearby locations on their own (Curiosity article). This is extremely limited in comparison to the autonomous vehicles ...


6

ARM Option B hardware could be useful in deflecting an asteroid, but probably not by the methods you propose or the current Option B mission profile. First of all: Picking up 50 ton boulders is going to have a minute effect on an asteroid massing 1,000,000 tons. Placing the boulders somewhere else on the asteroid will move the centre of mass (by a tiny ...


5

It has been attempted, but is very difficult. The ISEE-3 mission was put into a hibernation mode where it made a close Earth approach last year. When that close approach happened, it was determined that the spacecraft's thruster did not work, which resulted in a failure to anticipate. More practically, such missions are not usually attempted because ...


5

YES and NO The Yes part Many meteors have been traced back to their parent bodies. We have done very detailed analysis of both mineral and elemental composition. By comparing the spectrum of the bodies we have samples of (e.g. Vesta), we can determine what the composition of many other bodies possess. Based upon that we have a good idea of the total ...


5

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 autonomously to go into deep sleep. When a low power fault is triggered, the rover will automatically switch to a low-power mode and stay there until its batteries have ...


5

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 failure analysis on those. I assume ADC is Attitude Determination and Control, but it doesn't say so in the paper. Source


4

Even if everything is dead and cannot be repaired or salvaged. A momentum exchange tether could be used to throw it into the atmosphere and applying momentum to something useful.


4

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 Space Shuttle. (reference) As far as I know, the only MMS-based satellite that was actually repaired by a Shuttle mission was the Solar Maximum Mission. This ...


4

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, but none with wheels. The closest thing to a rover that is probable to see the light of the day currently would be TALISE (not yet approved), a boat-probe ...


4

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 Xenon, you can at least prevent it from reacting chemically with the landing site, but it will still disturb surface features. In a low gravity situation with ...


3

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 that could be used to fill the tanks again. They need to cut away the insulation to get to the pipe, and then will probably use some variant of a vampire tap to ...


3

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 attitude maneuvres using small rocket engines and are required to keep an end-of-life fuel reserve for de-orbiting, GEO stationary satellites are required to be moved ...


3

Spacecraft are designed for a mission: "We want to measure X, Y and Z". The spacecraft is designed to fulfill this objective. For many missions, once you've completed that, the mission is over and there's little point in doing it again. E.g. if the objective is to provide a surface map, photographing the entire surface once is enough, doing it again won't ...


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