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Mars Rover Simulation: Astronaut Controls Machine from Space

May 02, 2016 11:54 AM EDT
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With less than a month remaining for his space duty, Tim Peake has performed another feat inside the International Space Station. A few weeks ago he joined the London Marathon from the ISS. Last April 29, he was able to control the Mars Rover from space.

The British astronaut from the European Space Agency (ESA) has successfully performed a daunting task, that is to remotely control the Mars rover from the International Space Station. The experiment was conducted to prepare astronauts for upcoming journey to Mars.

In a report by BBC, they said that Peake commanded the robot rover on Earth and drove it using a program which allows him to control it remotely from an out-of-this-world distance.

The rover was manned to drive across a big sandpit in Stevenage, near London which was designed to mimic the surface of Mars.

According to ESA, they developed a network called "internet in space" which Peake used to send commands and to control the rover.

Based on ESA's report, Tim Peake drove Bridget, the robot rover. It is part of ESA's Meteron umbrella project for future explorations in Mars, the moon and even beyond.

Meteron or the Multipurpose End-To-end Robotics Operations Network is a joint project by ESA, NASA, Roscosmos and the German Aerospace Center DLR.

Its task is to basically develop and master the communications and robotic strategies of infrastructures and remotely operated machines in great distances. According to ESA "Operational considerations such as which tasks are robotic and which human, and what data are needed to support the monitoring and control of assets, will feed directly into plans for future exploration initiatives and the design of mission systems. A variety of ground-based and flight-based tests have been performed with different rovers, communication paths and operations concepts."

The exercise proved to be complicated, Peake had to endure delay in the network and glitches within the program but he was able to finish the experiment successfully. BBC said the exercise involved "finding a series of painted targets in a darkened room that had been set up to represent a cave on the Red Planet."

Airbus Defense and Space, a partner of ESA in this project, said in their video that "the future of exploration is based on robotics" that's why they're investing knowledge and funds to further develop this technology.

In the video, they showed and explained how Tim's hands and eyes are controlling the rover. Despite the obstacles, the rover was able to tackle the cave, locate targets and cross obstacles in two hours.

According to a statement by ESA's operations centre in Germany "That was great driving." Tim responded, "Thanks for everyone's help and support. It was an awful lot of work on everyone's behalf to get this up and running, but it was great to see, and I'm really happy everything went so smoothly."

The Meteron is only a fraction of the huge preparations being done by different agencies to prepare for mankind's biggest exploration project yet, the Journey to Mars.

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