Robotic Space Spiders To Crawl Sub-Orbital Web

Space 'spiders', small robots able to crawl along mesh webbing, will be tested during a joint mission with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, the European Space Agency and the Vienna University of Technology. The Furoshiki satellite is scheduled to launch on January 18, 2006. To save on mission costs, the rocket carrying the satellite will have a sub-orbital trajectory; only about ten minutes of microgravity will be available before the satellite begins its descent.


(RobySpace Junior Robot)

The first part of the mission involves the deployment of three small satellites, which will stretch out a triangular net with a side length of about twenty meters. The mother ship is positioned at the center of the net; onboard cameras will confirm that the web remains steady and untangled. Each daughter satellite will know the locations of the others by exchanging radio signals. Using this information, they will line themselves up with tiny jets.

Next, two small spider bots, RobySpace Junior 1 and 2, will climb out of the mother satellite and crawl along the net towards the daughter satellites. The robots are able to cling to both sides of the mesh net to keep from floating off into space. Microgravity tests aboard planes have verified that the technique works. The prototype space spiders were built by ESA and Vienna University of Technology engineers.


(RobySpace Robot Test)

A variety of uses for space spiders have been imagined by engineers:

  • Vast solar panels could be built to beam solar energy back to Earth (one square kilometer of panel could generate a billion watts of electricity).
  • Large communications satellites and other structures could be built by ground control on an initial lattice structure.
  • Space spiders could build shields to protect existing satellites from orbiting space junk.
Science fiction writers imagined space spiders and their uses a quarter-century ago. In 1978, Arthur C. Clarke wrote about a spider used to test the cables of a space elevator in The Fountains of Paradise. Spinnerettes were used to handle and dispense continuous pseudo one-dimensional diamond crystal in building the cables.

Author Charles Sheffield also wrote about a machine he called a Spider in his 1979 novel The Web Between the Worlds; these devices were able to extrude cable in a manner similar to the way real spiders spin their webs.

Read more about spider robots and their space web mission at the ESA site (here and here); the Institute for Handling Devices and Robotics has more materials on the robots. Thanks to Fred at The Eternal Golden Braid for the tip and author references.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/14/2005)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

Gather Ye Moonrocks While Ye May
'The law of filing on newly discovered asteroids was definite.' - Nat Schachner, 1941.

An Ocean On Ceres
'We sailed gently forward, hull down to the asteroid's surface... A little sea was now beneath us.' - Ray Cummings, 1931.

Habitability Of Galactic Bulge - Good News For Foundation Fans
'Toran resigned himself to days of careful plotting between Jumps.'- Isaac Asimov, 1955.

Lava Tubes On Mars And Moon May Be Huge
'Most of the stuff written about Bats' Cave gives a wrong impression.' - Robert Heinlein, 1957.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Beat Covid-19 With AIR By MicroClimate - At Last I Get My PAPR
More than just a bubble.

Mi TV LUX Transparent Edition OLED TV
The Look of Things To Come.

Metalenses Now Reconfigurable With Liquid Crystal
'Hufhuf oil held in static tension...'

'Alexa For Residential' A Landlord's Dream (Tenant's Nightmare?)
'...unseen mechanical entities... that are in our very midst. One of them following each of us.'

Gather Ye Moonrocks While Ye May
'The law of filing on newly discovered asteroids was definite.'

InMotion V11 Electric Unicycle Gets Air (Video)
'A tumblebug does not give a man dignity...'

Rid Thyself Of Ads On The Newsbox
'Can't we scramble that commercial?'

A.I. Jesus Proclaims Machine Gospel
'... he crossed the waiting room to the Padre booth; inside he put a dime into the slot and dialed at random.'

Google's Remixed 'Your News Update' ala Heinlein, Clarke, Pohl
'Perhaps we had better use the soundtrack and let it hunt.'

iSphere Plastique Fantastique Face Mask Alternative
'Among these were some clad in the insulated space-suits, with their transparent glassite helmets.'

Inkjet-Printed Wearable Solar Cells
Ultra-thin wearable organic photovoltaic material.

NDB Nuclear Waste Battery Lasts A Lifetime
'Trillions of units of power could be compressed thus into an inch-square cube of what looked like blue-white ice.'

Neuralink Will Land A Chip In Your Brain
'What are you talking about? Do you mean a neural lace?'

EPR Is Quick, Temporary Biostasis
'The cold-pack was being sucked out greedily by plastic suction tendrils...'

It's Time For Robots With Soft, Sensitive Skin
Sure, solid metal skin robots looked great once - like in science fiction movies of the 1920's.

An Ocean On Ceres
'We sailed gently forward, hull down to the asteroid's surface... A little sea was now beneath us.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.