Swarm SPHERES In Space

MIT and NASA have sent a bunch of robotic spheres to the space station for a test. The small robots use thrusters with compressed air to maneuver along with sensors and a wireless connection to tell them where they are.

Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) are bowling-ball sized spherical satellites. They will be used inside the space station to test a set of well-defined instructions for spacecraft performing autonomous rendezvous and docking maneuvers. Three free-flying spheres will fly within the cabin of the Space Station, performing flight formations. Each satellite is self-contained with power, propulsion, computers and navigation equipment. The results are important for satellite servicing, vehicle assembly and formation flying spacecraft configurations.

Using these experiments as a basis, they hope to make autonomous docking and re-supplying easier.

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