Dr Aaron Parness
Engineer at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Asteroid Anchors, Rock Climbing Robots, Gecko Grippers, and Other Ways to Stick in Space
The ability to rove the surface of Mars has revolutionized NASA planetary missions. With more advanced mobility, new targets like cliff faces, cave ceilings, and the surfaces of asteroids and comets could be explored. This talk will present the work of JPL’s Robotic Rapid Prototyping Lab. This includes grippers for NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission, which plans to extract a 15-ton boulder from the surface and alter the asteroid’s orbit, a method that could prevent future impacts to the Earth. The talk will also present gecko inspired adhesives currently being tested on the International Space Station, miniaturized robots that can drive across surfaces in zero gravity, and rock climbing robots traversing giant lava tubes in New Mexico. We will discuss not only the projects, but the new tools and techniques (3D printers, computer-aided-design software, miniature electronics) that allow us to build and iterate robots more quickly than ever before.