Hey! what is latest news from International Space Station

Sitting in the space station, ESA astronaut remotely drives lunar rover collecting rock samples

This method will help future astronauts to stay in the safety of the spacecraft while controlling the rover.

An astronaut in space took control of ESA's lunar rover, Interact, on Earth and drove it around successfully. It even picked up a rock sample as a test. These preliminary tests were conducted to ascertain that the space agency could replicate this method on the moon or Mars.

This was the first test in a series of tests to check if the technology developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) actually worked. The entire series of tests are called Analog-1.

In this test, astronaut Luca Parmitano took control of the prototype lunar rover, which was situated in the Netherlands, from the International Space Station where he is currently working. He then drove it around an obstacle course in the testing facility and picked up a rock sample from a sampling site.

The astronaut used two laptops and a Sigma7 ‘force-feedback’ joystick with six degrees of motion to operate the rover. The joystick allows the astronaut to feel what the robot feels and adjust his grip accordingly.  The test was supposed to last one hour but the Italian astronaut completed it in half an hour.

ESA wants to build a rover that can work hand-in-hand with human beings. The agency believes that robots can go to places and do things that human beings are not able to. However, they are not as adaptive and quick like human beings.

ESA project manager Kjetil Wormnes said in a statement, “A rover on Mars would have taken weeks to do the same work Luca and the Analog-1 rover did in half an hour.”

If all goes well with this rover, ESA will be able to send astronauts into orbit around other planets without taking the risk of landing them. They will be able to control the rover while orbiting around the planet.

Jessica Grenouilleau, Meteron project lead at ESA’s Exploration Systems Group said in a press release, “Even on the Moon preparing an astronaut for a sortie takes hours just to get into a suit and prepare the airlock. By giving astronauts the possibility to control the robots nearby in the safety and comfort of their base or orbital spacecraft, much more can be achieved. This first test indicates an excellent adaptation between the crew and the robotic system, making this combination better at a wide range of tasks.”

Since this test was a success, Parmitano will go ahead with other tests. In the next test, he will drive the rover around the test facility to three different sites to collect rock samples.

ISS astronauts are fixing a particle physics detector in space

Astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) are attempting to fix an unserviceable instrument that could provide insights into the nature of dark matter and many other cosmic questions. The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer was installed in 2011 and was only supposed to last for three years, so it was never designed to be serviced by astronauts. But the instrument proved so valuable that the ISS crew are taking on the challenge of fixing its cooling system anyway.

Last week, Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency and NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan completed a first six-hour spacewalk to begin repairs on the instrument which is located on the outside of the ISS. They positioned materials, removed a debris cover, and installed the all-important handrails which will allow astronauts to grab onto structures while making repairs.

Then, on Friday, the same pair took another shift to begin the next phase which involves a first for a spacewalk: Cutting and reconnecting fluid lines. On this six-hour spacewalk, they cut eight stainless steel tubes and prepared a power cable for the new cooling system. The repairs will continue over the next few months, with a raft of spacewalks scheduled.

Despite its rather rickety cooling system, the AMS is still being used for scientific experiments and this week a new piece of research using the instrument has been published. Researchers from CERN and other institutes used the AMS to investigate the properties of cosmic helium isotopes, which are abundant in cosmic rays.

Helium-4 (4He)is an isotope created by nuclear fusion within stars and which can be accelerated to high energies by the explosion of a supernova. Helium-3 (3He), on the other hand, is typically produced when Helium-4 interacts with other cosmic materials. The AMS is able to differentiate between Helium-4 and Helium-3 and see how the ratio of these isotopes changes. The researchers found that the isotopes usually vary together over time, but at high enough energies this relationship changes.

“We were also able to see that the solar activity is able to affect the 3He and 4He spectra in a different way, a result that has never seen before,” Alberto Oliva, one of the researchers, said to These findings will help future astrophysicists to understand more about how cosmic rays are created and how they move through the universe.

Luca Parmitano tells us why doing repairs in space is a lot like open-heart surgery

The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer sits outside the space station. The thermal control system onboard the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer has failed and the astronauts will be going outside to fix it, using a series of spacewalks.

Parmitano explains the task ahead, We’re going to open up the system, we’re going to cut the current tubes just like you do when you’re doing a heart transplant - and then we’re going to take the new pump the new 'heart and then we will take new tube and install those tubes on to the ones that exist and start circulating the cooling system that we brought up from space. So, in a way, it’s open-heart surgery in space on a very complex system.

Magnetic spectrometers are hard to fix on the ground and Parmitano and Morgan have the added challenge of doing it in space, wearing restrictive and pressurized spacesuits. They'll also be carrying four or five big bags of tools that they'll be using during the repair.

Morgan said, it is very much like open-heart surgery. I'm not a heart surgeon but I am a physician, so I thought there's a lot of interesting analogies here.

One of Morgan's roles is to be managing all these tools while Parmitano does most of the cutting and swaging.

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