Why are Robots useful in space?
Robots are especially valuable to space exploration. Space is an environment that is hostile to humans. There is no air to breathe, and no atmosphere to protect people from extreme heat, cold, or harmful rays. This is where robots are very useful.
Robots are cheaper to operate, because they require no life-support system, and can be left behind after the mission. Everything they have found can be sent back to Earth, by radio.
Before astronauts were sent to the Moon, a series of Surveyor spacecraft soft-landed on the lunar surface between 1966 and 1968. Surveyors transmitted thousands of images back to Earth, and analysed solid samples gathered with an extendible claw.
How have Robots helped in exploring the Moon?
The first lunar exploration vehicles of the 1950s were primitive pioneers. In January 1959, a small Soviet sphere bristling with antennas, dubbed Luna 1, flew by the Moon at a distance of some 5,900 kilometres, but did not touch the surface of the Moon.
This unmanned spacecraft was not a robot, as such, but had on board computers that gave it some measure of self control. The first robots on the Moon were sent by the Soviet Union which successfully landed two robotic rover vehicles in the early 1970s. The robots were called Lunokhod, and were a part of Russia’s Luna programme for exploring the Moon.
These robots took thousands of photographs from hundreds of samples, which were sent back to Earth.
What is a Robotic spacecraft?
A manned mission to another planet is still some time away- and some planets are too hostile for humans to land on, and explore.
In such cases, a robotic spacecraft is used. A robotic spacecraft is one which has no humans on board, but is controlled robotically. It is also called a space probe.
Each robotic spacecraft is designed specifically for its mission, whether it is intended to go into orbit around its target, or land on the surface.
The advantages of using robotic spacecraft are that they are less expensive, and less risky than a manned mission.
They can collect close up data on planets, moons. asteroids and comets, drill beneath a planet’s surface, or take radar measurements from orbit. Robotic spacecraft have brought samples of rock from the Moon, dust from a comet, and the solar wind back to Earth.
Types of space Robots
Two types of robots are used for space missions. They are known as ROV and RMS.
ROV stands for Remotely Operated Vehicle. It can be an unmanned space vehicle that orbits a planet, or one that lands on it.
Some of those that land operate from a stationary position, while others move around the terrain. RMS stands for Remote Manipulator System. It is a crane-like device or robotic arm which can serve as a grappler, or a remote assembly device. It is also used to position and anchor astronauts working in space.
Which are the famous space Robots?
Space pace robots have played an important role in space missions, especially in those to the planet Mars.
Some of them have circled the planet, others have landed on it. The Russians were the first to use space robots. The most famous robots in space are the series of orbit ers, rovers, and landers that have been sent to Mars. The first orbiter was the Mariner 4, which flew past Mars on July 14th, 1965, and took the first close up photos of the planet.
The Russians landed Venera 7 on Venus. It was the first Man-made vehicle to successfully land on another planet, and to transmit data back to Earth.
Nanokhod is the robotic rover used by the European Space Agency which is famous for its amazingly small size.