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Our Assistant In Space: Robotic Arms

A robot arm is a programmable mechanical arm with multiple joint parts. It is effective in reducing the cost and error margin and increasing efficiency in tasks performed by reducing human effort.

Working Principle of the Robot Arm

The working system of a robot arm primarily consists of a control system, sensors, power sources, and mechanical connections. Mechanical connections consist of various axes and joint parts. Through these connections, the arm can rotate on its axes and perform desired movements. Electric motors, hydraulic, and pneumatic (operating with gas pressure) systems enable these movements. Servo motors, which provide precision, are commonly used in industrial robot arms. In applications requiring high power, hydraulic and pneumatic systems are preferred. In addition to mechanical connections and power systems, robot arms also have various sensors such as position, force-torque, and imaging. Microcontrollers and computers process the data from these sensors, controlling the robot arm. These systems determine how the robot arm will move for the specified tasks, ensuring optimal operation.

Applications of the Robot Arm in Space Studies

Space presents conditions that can be challenging for humans, and robotic arms prove highly beneficial in reducing risks in manned missions, performing tasks that are impossible for humans, and enhancing efficiency in space. Some of these applications include maintenance and repair work on space stations, arms used in exploration robots sent to planets, and their use in space mining. Dextre and Canadarm, robotic arms on the International Space Station (ISS), are designed for the maintenance, assembly, installation, and replacement of cameras and battery blocks. Dextre, previously controlled by astronauts, can now be operated from Earth . Moreover, the ongoing development of Dextre has enabled it to accomplish the capture and release of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft.

Dextre robotic arm

What is Northern Lights?

It is a natural phenomenon that occurs in regions near the poles of the world. Its scientific name is Aurora Borealis. Also known as Aurora. If viewed from a location close to the North pole, it is called Northern lights, and if viewed from a location close to the South pole, it is called Southern lights.

So how do these light shows occur?

Highly energetic particles breaking off from the sun gain energy as a result of their collision with the particles of oxygen and nitrogen gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. As these particles return to their normal energy level, they emit many photons, which appear as a light show. When these collisions occur in billions, the emitted photons become visible to us. They also contain high amounts of radiation because they are associated with solar flares, but the earth’s magnetic field defends the particles and they don’t harm us directly.

How do different colors occur in the northern lights?

It can be produced as red or green light as a result of its amplitude from the sun colliding with oxygen molecules, and as blue and violet light as a result of its conflict with nitrogen molecules.

Different Values of Auroras

Generally, they appear in three different ways.

Arc Shaped Aurora: This type of Aurora extending from north-east to north-west occurs where the Auroral activity is slower and calmer. It is found in high latitudes.

Strip Shaped Aurora: This type of Aurora with curved patterns speeds up when the Aurora intensity increases and slows down when it decreases, and it looks like it is dancing.

Column Shaped Aurora: These are colored columns of light rising towards space. Increased mobility often occurs due to auroral activity. It occurs at low geomagnetic latitudes.

The northern lights can be observed in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Greenland and Canada. So why can’t we watch them from Turkey?

These particles, broken off from the sun, enter the Earth’s gravitational field and encounter its magnetic field instead of reaching the surface. Since this magnetic field prevents the particles from reaching us like a shield, the particles change direction under the influence of that magnetic field and become able to move freely in the direction of the magnetic field, that is, the magnetic field captures these particles and the particles begin to spiral along the lines, in this context, only the atmosphere of the world reaches the poles. It becomes accessible in nearby areas.

However, due to the Earth being hit by a very strong geomagnetic (solar) storm at G3 level recently, the Northern Lights were observed in several regions of Turkey. These lights, which illuminate the sky in some parts of Southern England, were also observed in Van, Kırklareli and Ordu provinces in Turkey. It was seen by a fisherman in the Kıyıköy town of Kırklareli’s Vize district. Berkay Yatkın, a resident of Kıyıköy town who watched the Northern Lights, said, “We went fishing from Kıyıköy to Kastro around 08.10 in the morning. That’s when I noticed red lights visible in the sky. I took pictures because I didn’t know what it was. People who were fishing off the coast of İğneada also called me. “They also saw the Northern Lights,” he said.

ESSA Program

The Environmental Science Services Administration (ESSA) satellite program was initiated as a continuation and complement to the TIROS program with the aim of providing cloud cover photography to the United States National Meteorological Center. Its first satellite was launched on February 3, 1966.

Over a period of about 4 years, ESSA satellites provided thousands of images to Earth, enabling weather stations to predict weather conditions, including hurricanes. Due to advancements in technology, the amount of information collected during the ESSA program more than doubled. When the program’s sixth satellite, ESSA-6, was decommissioned by NASA, the images it provided reached over 300 receiving stations in more than 45 countries worldwide.

The images provided by ESSA satellites were of higher quality and more comprehensive compared to the TIROS 9 program. The success of the program prompted for further development of space-based weather forecasting and monitoring devices, such as the ATS and NIMBUS series.

In total, 9 satellites were launched as part of the program. With each launch, the satellites improved, taking over the roles of their predecessors. The last launched satellite, ESSA-9, was launched on February 26, 1969. The satellite had 18 sides, a diameter of 42 inch, and a height of 22 inch. Its surface was made of aluminum alloy and stainless steel, covered with 10020 solar panels. The cylindrical part of the satellite had two cameras placed 180 degrees apart. The satellite remained active until November 15, 1972, completing its active mission.

What is a Neutron Star?

The neutron star, which has the strongest gravity after the black hole, is almost the size of Istanbul. When this massive star reaches the end of its life, it explodes in an event called a supernova. What causes this is the exhaustion of fuel for the nuclear fusion event that ensures the stability of the star. In other words, there is a certain amount of “ancestral” matter inside stars, and the continuous nuclear fusion event in the core of stars, on the one hand, ensures the formation of heavier elements, and on the other hand, prevents the star from collapsing in on itself under the influence of gravity. However, when this substance, which serves as fuel, runs out, a huge explosion may occur, depending on the mass of the star. We call this explosion supernova.

Depending on the mass of an exploding star, the star may turn into a black hole or a neutron star. These are stars approximately 15-20 times larger than the Sun. Just like black holes, neutron stars are born after the “death” of supermassive stars (stars 8-15 times more massive than the Sun). They are stars with high density. If you were to take a single teaspoon of the material that makes up a neutron star, you would have a mass of 900 billion kilograms!

How Are Neutron Stars Formed?

These celestial bodies are the product of a dance between gravity and nuclear fusion. Thanks to gravity, matter is pulled towards each other and tries to cause gigantic celestial bodies to collapse on themselves. If the mass is below a certain level, planets form. If the mass is above a certain level, nuclear fusion, a thermonuclear process, begins.

What’s Inside Neutron Stars?

Although the main material that makes up a neutron star is neutrons, scientists think that there is an iron core within a neutron star that is approximately 1.5 kilometers thick. The bottom of this nucleus is largely filled with neutrons and they can take place in different forms. Contrary to popular belief, neutron stars do not emit heat and light, they only emit the light and heat left over from the parent star that caused their formation, and they also have an enormous gravitational force. If you were to fall on a neutron star, you could disintegrate into subatomic particles under the influence of gravity! In addition, it is very difficult for an object that enters the gravitational field of a neutron star to escape.

This Week in Our Art Corner

Passengers (2016)

The spaceship Avalon is on a 120-year journey to take more than 5,000 people to a far-off colony called Homestead II. Departing people are put to sleep in specially designed “sleeping capsules” so that they can continue their lives in a healthy way at the end of this journey. However, due to a technical problem, mechanic Jim Preston’s (Chris Pratt) capsule opens earlier than it should, so he opens Aurora Dunn’s (Jennifer Lawrence) capsule. They left alone on the ship and fall in love with each other and they still have a 90-year journey ahead of them.