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Studying the effects of microgravity on remotely controlled robot control mechanisms and mechanical devices to determine the feasibility of using robots to complete tasks in a microgravity environment, where the only force to overcome is friction.

Customer Name: Fremont Christian High School
Research: Micro Robotics
NanoRacks Facility: NanoLab Platform
Mission Duration: 03/2013 – 05/2013
Mission Status: Complete
More Info: From NASA website

Fremont Christian High School-Micro-Robot is a NanoLab project studying the effects of microgravity on remotely controlled robot control mechanisms and mechanical devices. The Fremont Christian School Micro-Robot is named PI, for Programmable Intelligence.

Research Overview

  • Fremont Christian High School Micro-Robot (NanoRacks-FCHS-Robot) helps determine if autonomous robots can perform tasks that are unsafe for crewmembers.
  • The micro-robot operates on randomly-activated 15 mm x 15 mm fans to move the robot in a microgravity environment using a pre-determined manner.
  • The goal is to check the feasibility of robot operation in a microgravity environment. This project is an initial step in that process.


The robot translates within the volume of its Experiment Module Assembly and images are stored of its operation. A control cable connects the robot module with the microcontroller board. The fans push the robot module in two axes for robot motion (there is no z-axis translation). Again, this is contained within the module – crew does not interface with any internal module components.

The students of Fremont Christian School in Fremont, California program the fan propelled robot to move in an x/y plane. The rate of travel and the total amount of travel is measured by analyzing photos. The rate of travel and total distance should be greater in microgravity, because the friction between the robot and supporting x/y rails should be minimal.

Space Applications

Determining how robots function remotely in microgravity is essential to advancing the space program beyond low earth orbit. Robots play a key role in the space program as they have the potential to complete tasks that would otherwise take up valuable crew time as well as withstand the harsh environment of space.

Earth Applications

The students of Fremont Christian School are gaining an invaluable educational experience by completing this investigation. Many of the advancements in robotics on Earth have come from technologies designed, tested, and flown in the space program.

Operational Requirements

NanoRacks Module-16 is completely autonomous and only requires installation and removal. NanoRacks Module–16 returns to earth via a Russian Soyuz return capsule.
Operational Protocols

Crew interaction with Module-16 is limited to transferring the NanoRacks locker Insert from the launch vehicle to the ISS, installation and activation of the NanoRacks Frames into the EXPRESS Rack Locker, cleaning of the air inlet filter (as necessary), and data retrieval (as needed) during the mission.

Read more at the NASA website

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