Progress and Development Trend of Space Intelligent Robot Technology

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Journal profile

Open Access journal Space: Science & Technology, published in association with BIT, promotes the interplay of science and technology for the benefit of all application domains of space activities. It particularly welcomes articles illustrating successful synergies in space programs and missions.

Editorial board

Space: Science & Technology’s editorial board is led by Peijian Ye (China Academy of Space Technology), and it includes experts who have been carefully selected to include all domains of sciences and technologies covered by space missions of different types.

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Research Article

Autonomous Assembly Method of 3-Arm Robot to Fix the Multipin and Hole Load Plate on a Space Station

Using space stations for a large number of observation, exploration, and research is a necessary way to fully develop space technology. It is a necessary means of space experiment to install the extravehicular experimental load by using the load plate. However, the extravehicular environment is full of danger, which poses a threat to the health and even safety of astronauts. Using robots to replace astronauts to complete this task can effectively reduce the threat to astronauts. Aiming at the problem that the configurations of existing space robots have difficulty in balancing the contradiction between complexity and dexterity, our previous work proposes a 12-DOF 3-arm robot and preliminarily explores the feasibility of its large-scale ability. This paper focus on the 8-DOF redundant dexterous manipulator composed of 2 of the robot arms. In view of the difficulties in solving the inverse kinematics of the redundant manipulator, the challenges of complex environmental lighting, and difficulties of matching multiple groups of holes and pins in the load plate assembly task, the research on the autonomous assembly of the load plate is carried out. The main work is as follows: (a) A variable D-H parameter inverse kinematics solution method is proposed, which lays a foundation for humanoid dexterous operation planning of the robot. (b) An autonomous operation method based on visual guidance and variable parameter admittance control is proposed. Finally, the safety and robustness of the robot in the autonomous assembly of the load plate with multipins and holes are successfully verified by experiments.

Research Article

Ballistic Range Testing Data Analysis of Tianwen-1 Mars Entry Capsule

A typical blunt body such as Tianwen-1 Mars entry capsule suffers dynamic instability in supersonic regime. To investigate the unstable Mach range of flight and to confirm the design of aerodynamic shape and mass properties, a ballistic range test was carried out aiming at capturing supersonic dynamic characteristics of Tianwen-1. Aerodynamic coefficients of free-flight scaled models were derived by modified linear regression method based on position and attitude data, while the dynamic coefficients were established under the assumption of small angle linearization. The static moment coefficients and dynamic derivatives were identified thereafter. Results show that models in untrimmed configuration are dynamically unstable at certain Mach numbers, whereas models in trimmed configuration are dynamically stable at other Mach numbers tested. Both trimmed and untrimmed configurations are statically stable in all testing cases.

Research Article

Thermal Environment and Aeroheating Mechanism of Protuberances on Mars Entry Capsule

Mars has only thin atmosphere composed mainly of carbon dioxide that differs significantly from the atmosphere of Earth in terms of characteristics of reentry flows. To connect with the orbiter, the Mars entry capsule is provided with titanium pipes and other units installed on the heat-shield. These units will create significant local interaction flow on the surface of the capsule and cause additional heating on the surface of the shield during the entry of the capsule. With a view to interaction thermal environment issues for the surface of the shield, in this paper, the characteristics of protrusion interaction flow on different location of the shield were studied by means of numerical simulation. Heating mechanisms of protuberances on different location were derived by analyzing characteristic parameters such as local flow velocity, pressure, and Mach number. The results show that the interaction thermal environment of protuberances in the windward area is smaller than that of protuberances in the leeward area, mainly because subsonic flow dominates in the windward area, and the interaction is weak, while in the leeward area, the direction of flow intersects with protuberances to form a boundary layer shear flow, which results in a stronger interaction before the protuberances.

Review Article

Orbit Design Elements of Chang’e 5 Mission

The three key orbit design technologies employed in the Chang’e 5 mission are identified and discussed in this paper: orbit design for lunar orbit rendezvous and docking, orbit design for precision lunar landing and inclination optimization, and orbit design for Moon-to-Earth transfer. First, an overview of the Chang’e 5 mission profile is presented, which is followed by detailed discussions of the three key orbit design technologies, including an introduction of the tracking-based orbit design methodology. Flight data are provided to demonstrate the correctness of the designs.

Research Article

Developing Prototype Simulants for Surface Materials and Morphology of Near Earth Asteroid 2016 HO3

There are a variety of applications for asteroid simulants in asteroid studies for science advances as well as technology maturation. For specific purpose, it usually requires purpose-specialized simulant. In this study, we designed and developed a set of prototype simulants as S-type asteroid surface materials analogue based on H, L, and LL ordinary chondrites’ mineralogy and terrestrial observations of near-earth asteroid 2016 HO3, which is the Chinese sample return mission target. These simulants are able to simulate morphology and reflectance characteristics of asteroid (469219) 2016 HO3 and, thus, to be used for engineering evaluation of the optical navigation system and the sampling device of the spacecraft during the mission phase. Meanwhile, these prototype simulants are easily to modify to reflect new findings on the asteroid surface when the spacecraft makes proximate observations.

Research Article

Decentralized Distributed Deep Learning with Low-Bandwidth Consumption for Smart Constellations

For the space-based remote sensing system, onboard intelligent processing based on deep learning has become an inevitable trend. To adapt to the dynamic changes of the observation scenes, there is an urgent need to perform distributed deep learning onboard to fully utilize the plentiful real-time sensing data of multiple satellites from a smart constellation. However, the network bandwidth of the smart constellation is very limited. Therefore, it is of great significance to carry out distributed training research in a low-bandwidth environment. This paper proposes a Randomized Decentralized Parallel Stochastic Gradient Descent (RD-PSGD) method for distributed training in a low-bandwidth network. To reduce the communication cost, each node in RD-PSGD just randomly transfers part of the information of the local intelligent model to its neighborhood. We further speed up the algorithm by optimizing the programming of random index generation and parameter extraction. For the first time, we theoretically analyze the convergence property of the proposed RD-PSGD and validate the advantage of this method by simulation experiments on various distributed training tasks for image classification on different benchmark datasets and deep learning network architectures. The results show that RD-PSGD can effectively save the time and bandwidth cost of distributed training and reduce the complexity of parameter selection compared with the TopK-based method. The method proposed in this paper provides a new perspective for the study of onboard intelligent processing, especially for online learning on a smart satellite constellation.