New technology would allow robots to climb the walls of the International Space Station.
According to Tech Times, NASA has begun to design a new type of robot. While the agency has of course used different types of robots over the years, this new robot stands above the rest. This is because it will be possible for them to climb the walls of the International Space Station. These robots would use grippers, modeled on those in the feet of gecko lizards, which use a strong adhesive.
Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, are making an adhesive system, which could allow robots to climb and repair the exterior of the space station, as well more tasks in Earth orbit. A video explaining the gecko space robot concept was released by NASA on Wednesday.
According to JPL engineer Aaron Parness, “We might eventually grab satellites to repair them, service them, and we also could grab space garbage and try to clear it out of the way”.
This technology is not adhesive like glue, or tape, but rather relies on a phenomenon known as van der Waals force. This describes the way millions of small hair-like protrusions, present on the feet of geckoes, become strongly adhesive when bent.
Parness described the lizards’ ability to activate this adhesive force by bending the small “hairs” on their feet. According to him, “This is how the gecko does it, by weighting its feet”.