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Rover controlled from space using 'internet'


Rodrigo Cokting
Staff writer

Friday, August 15, 2014, 5:21 PM - August 7th was an important day for the future of space exploration.

German astronaut Alexander Gerst test-drove a new rover, Eurobot but under slightly different circumstances. While Eurobot was on Earth, Gerst was 400 kilometres above—in the International Space Station—commanding the rover through a series of complication motions using a new "space Internet."

The 90-minute trial involved Gerst and Eurobot teaming up to follow a series of complex moves and even take a couple of pictures. Gerst controlled the robot using a laptop and relied on data that the rover beamed back to the ISS. It's the first time Eurobot has been controlled from such a distance. The trial was the second in a series of experiments that are testing the communication and operation technologies available for human exploration. This type of "space internet" would be necessary to control similar explorers on the Moon, Mars or even farther. The network link can store commands as date in case of dropped connections and then send the commands once a connection has been restored. In 2012, NASA astronaut Sunita Williams was part of the first trial for the network.

The test-drive could prove to be a momentous occasion for space exploration. "Space Internet" could be one of the most valuable tools we have to prepare ourselves for joint human-robotic exploration missions.


SEE ALSO: How does NASA's Curiosity rover take such incredible pictures?


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