Humanoids In Space Exploration
As humanity moves forward with space exploration, we should prepare for risky and extremely hazardous endeavors such as manned missions to Mars and asteroids. Having fully operational robotic help ready to assist in every dangerous task would be of the utmost importance during long-lasting journeys beyond Earth. NASA is seriously considering this subject matter, ushering new humanoid robots, expected to be space pioneers that could offer astronauts a helping hand in future expeditions.
There are more than 5100 + man-made satellites that are there in designated orbit as of 2019 With multiple functions. The list below is only approximate numbers as of September 2019 since the number of satellites is increasing day by day, Though as of now only 9 countries that have orbital launch capability. These are Russia, The United States, France, Japan, China, India, Israel, Iran, and North Korea. These 9 countries have the ability to build and launch an orbit capable vehicle. There are a few organizations capable of launching Satellites such as European space agency, SPACE X, etc
Satellites depending on functions are as follows
- Communications: 777 satellites.
- Earth observation: 710 satellites.
- Technology development/demonstration: 223 satellites.
- Navigation/Positioning: 137 satellites.
- Space science/observation: 85 satellites.
- Earth science: 25 satellites.
Although, it should be noted that some of the satellites have multiple purposes
The four categories of users in the previous section show that:
- 848 satellites are listed as having commercial users
- 540 with government users
- 422 with military users; and
- 147 with civil users.
Humanoids in space explorations
A humanoid robot is a robot with its body shape built to resemble the human body. The design may be for functional purposes, such as interacting with human tools and environments, for experimental purposes, such as the study of bipedal locomotion, or for other purposes. In general, humanoid robots have a torso, a head, two arms, and two legs, although some forms of humanoid robots may model only part of the body, for example, from the waist up.
Some humanoid robots also have heads designed to replicate human facial features such as eyes and mouths. Androids are humanoid robots built to aesthetically resemble humans. Humanoid robots are now used as research tools in several scientific areas. Humanoid robots, especially those with artificial intelligence algorithms, could be useful for future dangerous and/or distant space exploration missions, without having the need to turn back around again and return to Earth once the mission is completed.
Why do we replace humans with humanoids for space exploration?
We can send robots to explore space without having to worry so much about their safety. Of course, we want these carefully built robots to last. We need them to stick around long enough to investigate and send us information about their destinations. But even if a robotic mission fails, the humans involved with the mission stay safe.
Sending a robot to space is also much cheaper than sending a human. Robots don’t need to eat or sleep or go to the bathroom. They can survive in space for many years and can be left out there—no need for a return trip!
Plus, robots can do lots of things that humans can’t. Some can withstand harsh conditions, like extreme temperatures or high levels of radiation. Robots can also be built to do things that would be too risky or impossible for astronauts.
Scope of robotics in space exploration
The Space Robotics Technical Committee has two main areas of interest: Microgravity and Planetary Robotics. Microgravity Robotics includes manipulation and mobility for scenarios such as the International Space Station (ISS) operations and satellite servicing. Planetary Robot systems address scenarios such as Mars and lunar exploration using manipulation or mobility on or near the surface. Some scenarios, such as asteroid and comet exploration, have environments with low gravity which may blur the distinctions between these categories.
For Microgravity Robotics the space environment (radiation, contamination sensitivity, thermal extremes, etc.) poses unique challenges to robot and robot algorithms. Despite this, it is expected that the robotics discipline will find increasing importance in the coming years, particularly as the opportunities for human-robot and robot-robot cooperation arise in space exploration. Priority areas for this technical committee include:
- Electromechanical design and control.
- Microgravity locomotion.
- Machine vision for inspection and assembly, including compensation for stark lighting, glare, glint, and deep shadows.
- Command and control interfaces, including teleoperated modes.
- Power sources and consumable recharging techniques.
- Radiation hardening and effects on processing throughput.
- Thermal considerations in space robot design.
For Planetary Robotics, the surface environment also poses unique challenges. These include Microgravity Robotics’ issues during the cruise phase, or if an atmosphere is not present. Further, there is usually the greater uncertainty of interacting with an unexplored natural terrain instead of man-made structures. Planetary Robotics technical topics include:
- Sensing and perception for planetary exploration, including terrain-relative precision position estimation.
- Above-surface, surface, and sub-surface planetary mobility, possibly from novel vehicle design concepts.
- Command and control with limited bandwidth, often precluding teleoperation and requiring autonomous surface operations, with natural terrain navigation and manipulation.
- Planetary rovers systems engineering.
- Testing and qualification, including field tests on Earth and Mars.
- Human-Robot system design and development.
Future prospects of humanoids in space exploration
Although space exploration spending has declined since the ’60s, NASA is investing in space robots that could provide scientists with new insights into the Solar System and beyond. Recently, the organization announced a partnership with nine U.S. aerospace companies to send small robots to the Moon. On the other side of the world, the Russian Space Agency wants to send a humanoid robot to the International Space Station.
Looking even further ahead, it’s hard to imagine what the space robots of the future will be able to achieve. Or what they will look like. However, they will continue to help scientists and astronauts with their space missions.
As technology advances, could space robots replicate drones and fly over other planets? Or become as intelligent as humans? Perhaps. Some people think that self-replicating robots could soon be a real thing, too. “One space-exploring robot or drone may one day be able to create an army of similar exploring robots while it is in space,” says science and tech news. Space robots might not be able to conquer planets or communicate with aliens just yet, but they are far from science fiction. Without robots, scientists and astronauts can’t complete their day-to-day tasks. What will the future hold?
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