ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrei Borisenko setting up the SPHERES droids for a test run in preparation of a live educational activity – at 30 times increased speed.
SPHERES – or Synchronised Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites – are volleyball-sized satellites that obey remote commands and can move around using their own power, propulsion, and navigation. They have been used to test satellite-docking mechanics, algorithms to calculate depth of field and even how satellite tethers behave in space.
SPHERES are also used in a worldwide competition for students, aged 14 to 20, with events held in USA, Australia and Europe.
The theme of this year’s tournament is ‘Space SPHERES’. Within the imaginary world of the game, the Earth is becoming uninhabitable, and humans must relocate to Mars. Students need to move their SPHERES around the Space Station to virtually build satellites that orbit Mars, to scout out locations for human inhabitation. Each ‘Zero Robotics’ student team has to compete against rival company ‘SPACE-Y’ to build a virtual satellite as quickly as possible.
This video shows the duo doing a test-run in the Kibo laboratory in preparation for the finals. More info here
Thomas is spending six months on the International Space Station as part of his Proxima mission. During Proxima, Thomas will perform around 50 scientific experiments for ESA and France’s space agency CNES as well as take part in many research activities for the other Station partners. The mission is part of ESA’s vision to use Earth-orbiting spacecraft as a place to live and work for the benefit of European society while using the experience to prepare for future voyages of exploration further into the Solar System.
Connect with Thomas Pesquet: http://thomaspesquet.esa.int