Robot Spheres Compete In Zero Gravity
January 10, 2013

Students To Compete In Zero Gravity Robot Games On The Space Station

April Flowers for - Your Universe Online

On the International Space Station this Friday, January 11, a squadron of mini satellites will wake up to obey remote commands from students across Europe. Space enthusiasts can watch a live broadcast as teams make the droids compete in a space game called RetroSpheres.

The students have been running their code in a virtual world until this point, but the high school finals will be held this Friday using the real thing: robotic droids on the International Space Station. The RetroSpheres scenario this year involves using the Spheres, which move using jets of compressed gas, to push simulated space debris out of orbit. Students from Italy, Germany, Spain and Portugal, grouped into six alliances, will confront each other and see their computer code operate robots in space for the first time.

European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Andre Kuipers will be providing commentary from ESTEC — ESA's space research and technology center — in the Netherlands. NASA's Kevin Ford and Tom Mashburn will set up the games on the Station. Andre will be with approximately 130 students at ESTEC to learn more about robotics and run their code on the Spheres floating in the Space Station.

You can follow this event via ESA web-tv, Friday from 8:30 am to 11:30am EST (14:30 to 17:30 CET).