Liftoff to Learning: Let's Talk Robotics
|Video Title: Let's Talk Robotics
Video Length: 14:41
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Description: This video program examines some of NASA's robotic
research and how robots are used in space exploration. Classroom scenes
show robot study at the intermediate and high school level.
Subjects: NASA's use of robotics in space exploration.
Science and Technology
-Abilities of technological design -Understandings about science
Universals Of Technology:*
- Utilizing Technological Systems
- Determining and Controlling the Behavior of Technological Systems
- Designing and Developing Technological Systems - Nature and Evolution
- Physical Systems
*Technology standards are under development.
Table of Contents
The word robot comes from the Czech word robota which means forced or
repetitive labor. Czech playwright Karel Capek coined the term for his
1920 play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots). In the play, the human-like
robots take over the world.
Today's robots usually look very different from humans. They are found
in manufacturing, research, medical treatment, entertainment and space.
NASA uses robots to explore Earth and the other planets, to manipulate
payloads on the Space Shuttle, and plans to use several robot arms on
the International Space Station.
The definition of what a robot is varies with the source referenced.
Generally, robots are machines that operate by computer controls. In terrestrial
applications, robots are most often used for dangerous, dirty, or dull
jobs. Examples include painting and welding robots in automotive assembly
lines and robots used to dismantle old nuclear power plants. In NASA-sponsored
experiments, walking robots were used to explore active volcanoes in Alaska
and the Antarctic.
In this video, several of NASA's robotic applications are explored. Viewers
will learn about the Pathfinder robot that landed on Mars in 1997 and
released a microrover spacecraft (Sojourner) to explore the nearby Marscape.
Viewers will also learn about the 15-meter-long Remote Manipulator System
arm that Space Shuttle astronauts use to handle payloads in space and
assist in space construction and satellite repair operations. Research
being done to test robot arms for the International Space Station and
a free-flying camera robot will also be seen.
Articulated - Jointed arm.
End Effector - Device at the end of a robot arm that is used
to grasp or engage objects.
Degrees of freedom - Each plane in which a robot can maneuver.
Robot - Mechanical device that performs human tasks, either
automatically or by remote control. (From the Czech word robota.)
Robotics - Study and application of robot technology.
Telerobotics - Robot that is operated remotely.
Robot Arm and End Effector
Materials: Wooden craft sticks, drill, small brass paper fastener,
Background: One of the important objectives in the development
of robots is to enable robots to interact with their environment. Interaction
is often accomplished with some sort of arm and gripping device or end
Procedure: Drill holes through the craft sticks as shown in the
diagram. Each student will need four drilled sticks and four brass paper
fasteners. Dampening the sticks before drilling can reduce cracking the
wood. Have students assemble robot arms as shown in the illustration above.
Tell them to try to pick up a pencil or some other object with the arm.
They will find the task difficult. Next, tell the students to design some
sort of end effector for the end of the arm that will enable them to pick
up the object. Students should make their end effector and attach it to
the ends of the arm with glue. Evaluate their work by having them demonstrate
picking up the object. Ask students what other objects they can pick up
with the arm. Would the arm and end effector have to be modified to pick
up sediment and pebbles on Mars?
Design a Microrover for the Moon
Paper, art supplies, assorted materials (plastic food containers, styrofoam
packaging, spools, broken toys, etc.), glue, and tape
NASA has shifted its planetary exploration strategies from complex and
expensive "do-everything" spacecraft to simpler and less expensive
spacecraft that do only a few jobs. A good example of this operational
change is the Sojourner microrover robot spacecraft that explored small
areas of the Martian surface in 1997. Microrovers are easier to design
and construct than the larger complex craft and several can be constructed
for the same price. If a major malfunction should take place in one rover,
others can be deployed to replace it. Recent studies of the Moon by the
robot Lunar Prospector spacecraft have confirmed that water, in the form
of ice, exists at the Moon's South Pole. The water is found in depressions
that are forever shielded from the Sun's heat. The discovery of water
means that future human explorers of the Moon can use the water for drinking,
for production of breathing oxygen, and for production of rocket fuel.
Challenge students to design a microrover spacecraft for exploring the
Moon's South Pole region. The purpose of the rover is to map the extent
of water ice found there. The robot will have to have some sort of transportation
system, sensors, power, scientific instruments, and a communication system.
Have students sketch their robot design or construct a model of the robot
from assorted materials. Have students write a description of how their
robot works or present an oral report.
Crew Biographies STS-85, STS-87
Curbeam, Jr. (Lieutenant Commander, USN)
K. Robinson (Ph.D.)
Jan Davis (Ph.D.)
Lindsey (Major, USAF)
To obtain biographic information, click on highlighted names