Philae Spacecraft Lands on a Comet

November 13th, 2014 | Space
Philae Spacecraft Lands on Comet

The first image taken from the Philae Spacecraft on the surface of the comet

The European Space Agency succeeded in putting a spacecraft on the surface of a comet yesterday! This is a wonderful achievement for mankind! The robotic probe, Philae, reached 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (what a name?!) on the back of the Rosetta satellite on a 10-year, 6.4 billion-km journey. The descent to the surface took approximately 7 hours, and it wasn’t without its fair share of suspense. The 2 harpoons which were meant to stabilize the probe failed to launch, and the spacecraft actually bounced a few times on the surface before reaching its final resting place.

Philae Landing Zone

The main problem with the current position is that the lander is suffering from a lack of sunlight to power all of its tools. Philae is only receiving about 1.5 hours of illumination during every 12-hour rotation of the comet (much less than the agency had hoped for). The Europeans would love to power up Philae’s on-board drill and analyze the comet’s composition, but at the moment, they are worried that the drill’s rotational forces will destablize the probe and send it off into space. Regardless of future plans, this is already a tremendous achievement. Any time you accomplish something that has never happened in the history of humanity, I’d say it was success!

Why did they attempt this mission?

Many scientists believe that comets brought organic molecules to Earth, helping give rise to our oceans and atmosphere, and maybe even the seeds of life. So, learning more about comets’ materials in space could help us discover how life began at home.

A little known fact is that here at RobotSpaceBrain, we actually launched a manned-mission to 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko around the same time, and we are HAPPY TO REPORT, THE MISSION WAS A RESOUNDING SUCCESS! We even stuck the landing:

:) Needless to say, this is one of those really exciting moments in space exploration!


Karate Kid Robot by Boston Dynamics

November 11th, 2014 | Robot

Karate Kid Robot Atlas

The Karate Kid Robot was designed by Boston Dynamics (now owned by Google) and programmed by the robotics lab at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC). The robot stands at 6 ft 2 in tall and weighs in at 330 lbs! And now that we’re teaching it how to do karate, this robot is truly becoming a fighting machine.

Here’s a bio from Boston Dynamics:

“Atlas (the trade name) is a high mobility, humanoid robot designed to negotiate outdoor, rough terrain. Atlas can walk bipedally leaving the upper limbs free to lift, carry, and manipulate the environment. In extremely challenging terrain, Atlas is strong and coordinated enough to climb using hands and feet, to pick its way through congested spaces.
Articulated, sensate hands will enable Atlas to use tools designed for human use. Atlas includes 28 hydraulically-actuated degrees of freedom, two hands, arms, legs, feet and a torso.
An articulated sensor head includes stereo cameras and a laser range finder. Atlas is powered from an off-board, electric power supply via a flexible tether.
Several copies of the Atlas robot are being provided as Government Furnished Equipment for the DARPA Robotics Challenge program with delivery scheduled in the summer of 2013.”

Ian competed in the US Government’s Robot Olympics, and was apparently able to walk, carry a fire hose, and get in a car and drive it. I’m impressed! The robot only came in second, so I was terribly curious to find out who won!?

It was SCHAFT, from Japan (no surprise). Here’s the Shaft “highlight reel,” so to speak:

Now, we just need to see Atlas and SCHAFT fight in a death match.

The singularity is near…


GoPro in a Water Bubble in Space

November 6th, 2014 | Space

GoPro in Water in Space Station

I’m pretty sure I would never get tired of playing around in zero gravity. Here’s another video of the astronauts of the International Space Station testing out a crazy idea… underwater video in space.

From NASA: “During Expedition 40 in the summer of 2014, NASA astronauts Steve Swanson and Reid Wiseman — along with European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst — explored the phenomenon of water surface tension in microgravity on the International Space Station. The crew “submerged” a sealed GoPro camera into a floating ball of water the size of a softball and recorded the activity with a 3-D camera.”

I need to get up there…


UV Paint, a Wind Tunnel, and a Ferrari

October 28th, 2014 | Robot

Fabian Oefner californiat 2 UV Paint Fabian Oefner californiat 1

We’ve featured Fabian Oefner’s work here on the blog before. He’s a photographer, videographer and a self-proclaimed “curious investigator, photographer and artist, whose work moves between the fields of art and science.” We can certainly appreciate that sentiment at RobotSpaceBrain. His new collaboration with Ferrari is another wonderful fusion of art and science.

Wind tunnels are often used in aerodynamic research to study the effects of air moving past solid objects. In the automobile industry, the tunnel can be used to measure the aerodynamic forces and pressure distribution to optimize a car’s design. In this project, Fabian sprays UV paint into the wind tunnel with a black California T Ferrari and captures the scene in it all its glory.

The artwork is certainly commercial, but I appreciate it just the same. After all, artists have to make money too…

Fabian Oefner californiat 3

Fabian Oefner californiat 4

Fabian Oefner californiat 5 UV Paint

Fabian Oefner californiat 6

You can find more from Fabian, at his website.


1920’s Project by Jakub Rozalski

October 17th, 2014 | Robot

Jakub rozalski - 1920s project

Jakub Rozalski is a Polish artist who wields a graphics tablet to mix early 20th century artwork with futuristic machine warriors. It’s quite surreal to witness manual laborers, cavalrymen and foot soldiers working alongside gigantic robots… And he somehow makes it all look very natural.

Interesting note: the piece above titled “Into the Wild,” is a tribute to the bear ‘Wojtek‘, who fought with the Polish army in Africa and at Monte Casino.
rozalski - 1920s project Winter Soldier

Jakub rozalski - 1920s project 2 rozalski-warlord Jakub rozalski - 1920s project 3 rozalski - 1920 - before the storm

To find more from Jakub, check out his concept art and illustrations at his tumblr.


LED Glow Skiers

October 16th, 2014 | Space

LED Glow Skiers 5 LED Glow Skiers 4 LED Glow Skiers 3 LED Glow Skiers 2

You may remember this sweet Snow Surfer video that Jacob Sutton created back in 2012. Well, now it’s the skiers turn to shred the powder in ethereal LED glowing suits.

This is even what I wrote back in 2012:

“The film is haunting.  I like to imagine this is what snowboarding in the future will look like — sculpture in motion.  I hope a skiing video is soon to follow.”

Well, thank you Philips TV and Atomic Skis for making my wish a reality.

From the creators:

“From the depth of the creative visuals to the groundbreaking, never-been-done-before scale of the shoot, Afterglow is being hailed as one of the most cinematically profound ski movies ever made. Deep pillows and Alaskan spines, all filmed at night, with massive lights, custom made LED suits, and a national governments worth of logistics, planning, and civil engineering.”

On October 19th, you can find the full 12 minute video here.


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