Meet Int-Ball: The New Drone in Space

This is Int-Ball, the new drone in space.Astronauts at the International Space Station have a new robotic drone companion to play around with. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has released the first images shot by the “Int-Ball,” this is a spherical camera that floats around alongside the rest of the crew.

Features of Int-Ball

Int-Ball, measures 15cm in diameter, is a three-axis control unit. The cube-shaped brain converses with 12 fans positioned near the surface of the robot, which adjust its position in zero gravity. A navigation camera looks out for pink “3D Target Makers,” which serve as reference points on board the ship.

Int-Ball can move around autonomously or be controlled by operators back on Earth. The images are then transferred in real-time in order to allow JAXA staff to quickly evaluate problems and offer possible solutions to ISS residents.Int-Ball is a floating, ball-shaped Japanese drone that gives an insight into the inner workings of the International Space Station (ISS)—and this makes life easier for the astronauts on board.

About JAXA

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, is Japan’s national aero-space agency. Through the merger of three previously independent organizations, JAXA was formed on 1 October 2003. JAXA is responsible for research, technology development and the launch of satellites into orbit, and is involved in many more advanced missions, such as asteroid exploration and possible manned exploration of the Moon.

According to Engadget, The Int-Ball could make astronauts more efficient on the ISS. JAXA says crew members spend 10 percent of their working hours with a camera in hand, photographing work or equipment that requires further evaluation. A floating camera drone could, in theory, alleviate the crew of that responsibility, giving them more time to conduct experiments and carry out repairs.

The Int-Ball was delivered to the ISS on June 4th, using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and, for the first time, a reused Dragon cargo capsule. It now lives inside the station’s “Kibo” science module.

The recording camera, meanwhile, is located between the two eyes so that astronauts can easily identify what it’s looking at. JAXA says it’s focused now on improving the Int-Ball’s capabilities so that it can be more helpful and autonomous on the station.

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