SPHERES stands for Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient Experimental Satellites. This type of NASA Robot mainly consists of 3 miniaturized satellites that can work in extreme climates and environments. These satellites have 8-inch diameters and were originally used in the International Space Station (ISS).
The SPHERE was developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Space Systems Laboratory along with Aurora Flight Sciences with high end funding from the Department of Defense and several NASA centres. They wanted to provide the US Air Force and NASA with a long term, renewable, and upgradable platform for formation flight. The main purpose of such a robot is to work in high risk conditions, metrology, and autonomy technologies.
Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient Experimental Satellites (SPHERES)
Structure and Design of SPHERES
- The robot has 3 satellites which are micro-sized.
- These satellites are used to control the relative positions and orientations.
- It was made compatible for a 2-D laboratory platform, NASA’s KC-135, and the International Space Station.
- The robot is battery powered and during initial testing the device could fly within the ISS cabin using carbon dioxide to fuel 12 thrusters.
Launch of SPHERES
Initially, 3 SPHERES vehicles were designed and delivered to the ISS in 2006. The first vehicle had the least amount of equipments and was considered only for testing purposes. The second robot had more equipment and was sent along with Space Shuttle flight STS-121. The last vehicle was delivered to the station on Space Shuttle flight STS-116.