Add the Micro to Gravity!
Information for Students
The Personal Satellite Assistant (PSA) is a small
round robot that is being designed to float in the microgravity environment
of the International Space Station (ISS) and help the astronauts with
their chores. If you are not familiar with the PSA, go to the PSA
Education web site to research information on this robot.
Here are the basic requirements for the challenge:
- Use a tennis ball for the PSA, with an approximate diameter of 6.5 cm
and mass between 55 and 60 grams. The tennis ball can be new or used
- The PSA must be suspended by some device and stay in the
suspended position without being held by a person.
- You must be able
to move the PSA (manually or mechanically) 3 inches up or down to
a new position and have it remain in that new position.
Your PSA cannot roll.
- You must be able to push or pull the PSA and
have it keep moving (after you have finished pushing or pulling it)
for 3 seconds.
Follow these steps:
- Discuss each of these requirements
with your teammates and write the problem in your own words.
and discuss your ideas.
- Pick one or more ideas to test. Keep in
mind that there is no perfect solution, and part of the design process
is figuring out
how to minimize
the disadvantages of a particular solution.
- Share your tests
and results. You can use the forum/chat room to discuss your solution
and ask for advice. Another team may
and may be willing to share their solutions. Sometimes it is
helpful to simply see what did not work for others and why.
Then come up
with changes to your solution.
- Take a digital picture of
your solution. Include a written description of how the problem was
approached, the tests that
out, the modifications that were made, and why the eventual
Your teacher can help you with each of these steps.
Learn more about microgravity >>
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