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ISRO to Build Centre to Monitor and Protect High Value Space Assets

Space Situational Awareness & Management (SSAM) has become an internationally significant area due to the ever growing manmade space debris population

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ISRO, Space, Assets
K. Sivan, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), laid the foundation stone for the Space Situational Awareness Control Centre in Peenya, Bengaluru, on Friday. Pixabay

The Indian space agency on Saturday said that the foundation stone for a centre to monitor and protect high value space assets from space debris has been laid.

K. Sivan, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), laid the foundation stone for the Space Situational Awareness Control Centre in Peenya, Bengaluru, on Friday.

“Space Situational Awareness & Management (SSAM) has become an internationally significant area due to the ever growing manmade space debris population and the increased collision threat with operational spacecraft,” ISRO said in a statement.

“ISRO has set up a Directorate of Space Situational Awareness and Management aiming at protecting high valued space assets from space debris close approaches and collisions. To carryout systematically all activities related to SSAM, a control centre is being established at Bengaluru,” the space agency said.

ISRO, Space, Assets
The Indian space agency on Saturday said that the foundation stone for a centre to monitor and protect high value space assets from space debris has been laid. Pixabay

According to ISRO, the control centre would facilitate the intensified activities foreseen for SSAM, in view of the increasing debris population and operational space assets.

The control centre would host a range of activities pertaining to protection of Indian space assets from inactive satellites, pieces of orbiting objects, near earth asteroids and adverse space weather conditions.

It would assimilate the tracking data of inactive satellites from indigenous observation facilities and generate useful information from bare observations through analysis.

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For sustainable use of space, the control centre would enable research activities pertaining to active debris removal, space debris modelling and mitigation, the ISRO said. (IANS)

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Robot Equipped with Emotion-Sensing Heads to International Space Station

Emotion-sensing Robot Heads to Space Station to Help Astronauts

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Robot
Bret Greenstein, IBM Global Vice President of Watson Internet of Things Offerings, holds a clone of an artificial intelligence bot named CIMON, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. VOA

An intelligent robot equipped with emotion-sensing voice detectors was headed to the International Space Station after launching from Florida on Thursday, becoming the latest artificial intelligence-powered astronaut workmate in orbit.

The Crew Interactive Mobile Companion 2, or CIMON 2, is a spherical droid with microphones, cameras and a slew of software to enable emotion recognition.

The droid was among 5,700 pounds (2,585 kg) of supplies and experiments aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, whose midday launch had been delayed from Wednesday because of high winds.

Create a companion

“The overall goal is to really create a true companion. The relationship between an astronaut and CIMON is really important,” Matthias Biniok, the lead architect for CIMON 2, told Reuters. “It’s trying to understand if the astronaut is sad, is he angry, joyful and so on.”

Based on algorithms built by information technology giant IBM Corp and data from CIMON 1, a nearly identical prototype that launched in 2018, CIMON 2 will be more sociable with crew members. It will test technologies that could prove crucial for future crewed missions in deep space, where long-term isolation and communication lags to Earth pose risks to astronauts’ mental health.

Robot companion
The overall goal of creating this robot is to create a true companion. (Representational Image). Lifetime Stock

While designed to help astronauts conduct scientific experiments, the English-speaking robot is also being trained to help mitigate groupthink — a behavioral phenomenon in which isolated groups of humans can be driven to make irrational decisions.

“Group-thinking is really dangerous,” Biniok said. In times of conflict or disagreement among astronauts, one of CIMON’s most important purposes would be to serve as “an objective outsider that you can talk to if you’re alone, or could actually help let the group collaborate again,” he said.

Inspired by Professor Simon, HAL

Engineers have said CIMON’s concept was inspired by a 1940s science fiction comic series set in space, where a sentient, brain-shaped robot named Professor Simon mentors an astronaut named Captain Future. CIMON 2 also parallels HAL, the sentient computer in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” film.

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SpaceX is the first private company to fly to the space station, a $100 billion project of 15 nations. Along with CIMON 2, the cargo aboard its 19th resupply mission to the orbital research lab included 40 live mice that will show scientists how muscles change in the microgravity of space. (VOA)