NASA to use Space Age 'droid' satellites

Jul 11, 2006

NASA scientists say they are ready to test "smart" satellites that can fly in precision formation and are relatively inexpensive to make and operate.

David Miller, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Space Systems Laboratory, says such satellites might be used for such tasks as building giant space telescopes and closely monitoring Earth.

The shuttle Discovery last week delivered the second of three satellite test "droids" that are undergoing experiments at the International Space Station.

"I rented the first 'Star Wars' movie and showed (a) class the scene where Luke is practicing the use of the Force with a floating droid," Miller told the Christian Science Monitor. "I said: 'I want three of those. How do we start doing this?'"

The results came in the form of 9-pound spheres the size of bowling balls, each crammed with computers, sensors and thrusters that allow the satellites to maneuver individually and en masse with precision.

A third satellite is to arrive at the ISS in December.

The project is funded by NASA and the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: NASA picks Boeing and SpaceX to ferry astronauts

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA HS3 instrument views two dimensions of clouds

3 hours ago

NASA's Cloud Physics Lidar (CPL) instrument, flying aboard an unmanned Global Hawk aircraft in this summer's Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel, or HS3, mission, is studying the changing profile of the atmosphere ...

Europe's new age of metals begins

Sep 11, 2014

ESA has joined forces with other leading research institutions and more than 180 European companies in a billion-euro effort developing new types of metals and manufacturing techniques for this century.

Study maps 15 years of carbon dioxide emissions on Earth

Sep 11, 2014

World leaders face multiple barriers in their efforts to reach agreement on greenhouse gas emission policies. And, according to Arizona State University researchers, without globally consistent, independent ...

Solar storm heads Earth's way after double sun blasts

Sep 11, 2014

Two big explosions on the surface of the sun will cause a moderate to strong geomagnetic storm on Earth in the coming days, possibly disrupting radio and satellite communications, scientists said Thursday.

Recommended for you

Video: MAVEN set to slide into orbit around Mars

6 hours ago

A NASA mission to Mars led by the University of Colorado Boulder is set to slide into orbit around the red planet this week after a 10-month, 442-million mile chase through the inner solar system. 

Dawn operating normally after safe mode triggered

6 hours ago

(Phys.org) —The Dawn spacecraft has resumed normal ion thrusting after the thrusting unexpectedly stopped and the spacecraft entered safe mode on September 11. That anomaly occurred shortly before a planned ...

Repaired Opportunity rover readies for 'Marathon Valley'

6 hours ago

With a newly cleared memory, it's time for Opportunity to resume the next stage of its long, long Martian drive. The next major goal for the long-lived rover is to go to Marathon Valley, a spot that (in images ...

Image: Rainbow aurora captured from space station

10 hours ago

Auroras occur when particle radiation from the Sun hits Earth's upper atmosphere, making it glow in a greenish blue light. ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst has one of our planet's best views of this phenomenon, ...

Experts: Mystery fireball was Russian satellite

13 hours ago

People from New Mexico to Montana saw the bright object break apart as it moved slowly northward across the night sky. Witnesses described it as three "rocks" with glowing red and orange streaks.

User comments : 0