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Add the Micro to Gravity!

Information for Students

The Personal Satellite Assistant (PSA) is a small round robot that is being designed to float in the microgravity environment of the International Space Station (ISS) and help the astronauts with their chores. If you are not familiar with the PSA, go to the PSA Education web site to research information on this robot.

Here are the basic requirements for the challenge:

  1. Use a tennis ball for the PSA, with an approximate diameter of 6.5 cm and mass between 55 and 60 grams. The tennis ball can be new or used and of any color.
  2. The PSA must be suspended by some device and stay in the suspended position without being held by a person.
  3. You must be able to move the PSA (manually or mechanically) 3 inches up or down to a new position and have it remain in that new position. Your PSA cannot roll.
  4. You must be able to push or pull the PSA and have it keep moving (after you have finished pushing or pulling it) for 3 seconds.

Follow these steps:

  1. Discuss each of these requirements with your teammates and write the problem in your own words.
  2. Brainstorm and discuss your ideas.
  3. Pick one or more ideas to test. Keep in mind that there is no perfect solution, and part of the design process is figuring out how to minimize the disadvantages of a particular solution.
  4. Share your tests and results. You can use the forum/chat room to discuss your solution and ask for advice. Another team may have solved your problem and may be willing to share their solutions. Sometimes it is helpful to simply see what did not work for others and why. Then come up with changes to your solution.
  5. Take a digital picture of your solution. Include a written description of how the problem was approached, the tests that were carried out, the modifications that were made, and why the eventual solution was chosen.

Your teacher can help you with each of these steps.

Helpful Links

Learn more about microgravity >>


<< Main Challenge page



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