Right now, 10 percent of their time is spent taking pictures and recording video of their work and equipment.
The Int-Ball also enables flight controllers and researchers on the ground to check the ISS team from the same viewpoint as the crew, which will help to maximize results of experiments.
Japan's space agency has for the first time released photos and videos taken on the International Space Station by its resident robot drone, which can be remote-controlled from Earth. Striving to further improve Int-Ball's performance, enhance its functions, and promote the automation and autonomy of extra- and intra-vehicular experiments, while seeking to acquire the robotics technology available for future exploration missions. And while the whole idea might seem novel to those of us who don't understand the intricacies of a space station's operation, this footage can provide crucial feedback to both the controllers on the ground and even the astronauts in space.
The drone uses existing drone technologies, but the outer shell and inner structures were created through 3D printing.
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The official name for the rather cute looking robot is the "Internal Ball Camera" drone, and it was sent specifically to document missions in zero G. The Int Ball can fly autonomously around the spaceship and, as you'd expect, it's nearly entirely made using 3D printing.
The Int-Ball was delivered to the Japanese module "Kibo" on the ISS in early June. As Int-Ball is so small and lightweight, it is able to move anywhere throughout the ISS, and record footage from any angle.
The device, which measures almost 15cm in diameter, will allow mission controllers to closely monitor conditions inside the space station, freeing the crew to focus on more important tasks, such as conducting experiments and making repairs. This allows it to move or orient itself in zero gravity. The robot drone also has a built-in camera that looks for pink "3D Target Markers", which remind it where it is positioned.