'Floating Brain' Headed to ISS on SpaceX Cargo Run

01 Juillet, 2018, 15:00 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Phil McAlister

Live coverage of the rendezvous and capture will air on NASA Television and the agency's website beginning at 2:30 a.m. PDT (5:30 a.m. EDT) Monday, July 2. This means that, while its functionality may be limited at first, its feature set could expand dynamically over time depending on the needs of ISS crew members.

Called CIMON, or Crew Interactive MObile companioN, the floating orb uses artificial intelligence to listen for commands and then display experiment or fix instructions. Alexander Gerst, a German astronaut now aboard the ISS, helped design CIMON's screen prompts and vocal controls.

Hovering at the astronauts' eye level, its front camera can detect if the person in front of it is indeed Gerst, or someone else.

As intriguing as identical space siblings and turbo-charged space coffee may be, it's the German robot - named Cimon, pronounced Simon, after a genius doctor in science fiction's "Captain Future" - that's stealing the show.

For more than 17 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space.

The robot should be able to guide Gerst through various science procedures, showing videos or pictures as needed. Gerst can also ask CIMON questions about those experiments on which he will work.

Once toggled to "offline", Gerst can be sure nothing he is saying is streamed down to the IBM server on Earth.

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The climb to space went smoothly and the Dragon capsule was released to fly on its own nine-and-a-half minutes after launch.

Among the hundreds of pounds of hardware flying to the space station is a spare Canadian-built Latching End Effector (LEE).

Faclon 9 also bears an earth science instrument called ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS) to measure and check how plants respond to the water availability in the outer space.

Another experiment aims to help scientists learn how cells that line blood vessels grow in space in order to inform a novel cancer treatment.

"Right now our main mission is to support the astronauts with their daily tasks to save time, because time is the most valuable and most expensive thing on the ISS [international space station]", Biniok said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.

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