This Adorable Robotic Camera Is the Latest Member of the International Space Station

Jessica Miley

Japan just released photos of their cute resident robot in the International Space Station. The released photos and footage from inside the ISS shows the super cute orbital robot which can be controlled from earth. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) explains the Internal Ball Camera or Int-Ball captures footage and data on board which is then shared with the ground staff for interpretation before being fed back to the astronauts in space.  

This Adorable Robotic Camera Is the Latest Member of the International Space Station

[Image Source: JAXA]

The spherical robot camera was made using 3D printing technology and it uses drone technology to ‘float’ and move around. The camera lenses look like eyes, giving it a pet-like appearance.  

Small robot with a big job

JAXA explains Int-Ball can move around the station at any time using autonomous flight and can record images from all angles. It weighs just 1 kg and has a diameter of 15 cm. 12 propellers push the robotic camera ball around.  

Critically the Int-Ball gives the ground crew a look inside the station at the same angle as the crew. This assists the team in communication about maintenance and research onboard the spacecraft.

Int-Ball helps out the crew

The Int-Ball works alongside the Japanese crew during their work and saves them time by sending photographs of research and equipment back to ground control that would normally have been taken manually. JAXA estimates astronauts on the ISS have reduced their workload by 10% since the introduction of the helpful drone

The Int-Ball was delivered to the Japanese module of the ISS “Kibo” in early June. The friendly ball is still undergoing verification but results so far look good for the robot to be able to become a permanent addition to the staff. JAXA have high hopes that Int-Ball can be further developed to provide even more assistance to crew.

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Japan continues to make huge contributions to ISS

Kibō, which is Japanese for hope, is the largest laboratory of the International Space Station. It is used to do research across a variety of disciplines including material design, medicine, biotechnology and Earth observations. Kibo has been essential in many exciting space related research breakthroughs. Most notably was in August 2011, when the MAXI observatory attached to Kibo. The MAXI uses the orbital movement of the ISS to image the whole sky. This project captured the moment when a star was swallowed by a black hole.

The ISS’s first component was launched in 1988 and continues today as the largest human-made body in low Earth orbit. The cost of the ISS was extraordinary in 2010, the budget topped at $150 billion. With a $5 billion contribution from Japan. The spacecraft can regularly be seen from earth with the naked eye.

Sources: TheVerge, JAXA

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