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Rover controlled from space using 'internet'

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?

One small step for Hello Kitty, one giant leap for toykind

The popular feline toy may have broken barriers for any future toy astronauts. Sanrio Co. Ltd, the company behind the popular Hello Kitty brand, distributed images of their popular feline in space, with a stunning view of our planet visible from behind. The toy was sent to space a couple of months ago in a small nanosatellite. The accompanying message on their website reads "Hello Kitty is standing by to deliver your messages from space!"

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