A joint research team from Institute for Systems and Robotics (ISR-Lisboa), Instituto Superior TĂ©cnico (IST), and from the Space Systems Laboratory from MIT (SSL-MIT), was responsible for an experiment aboard the International Space Station (ISS) that took place in August 17th, 2018.


This experiment was developed under two MIT-Portugal Seedling projects, coordinated by Prof. David Miller from MIT and involving both institutes. The experiment, called ReSwarm, involved the evaluation of two methodologies for formation control of the NASA SPHERES free-flying robots, in microgravity. This is the first of (at least) two sessions, where more complex scenarios are planned. From ISR-Lisboa, the research work is coordinated by Prof. Rodrigo Ventura and Prof. Pedro U. Lima, both faculty at IST, together with the researchers Pedro Roque (currently at KTH in Stockholm) and Duarte Dias (currently at EPFL in Lausanne). From the SSL-MIT side, the research is coordinated by Prof. David Miller, faculty at MIT, and Danilo Roascio, postdoc at SSL-MIT.

The first session, performed in August 17th, was overall quite successful, allowing for the collection of a significant amount of data, currently being thoroughly analysed. The team was supported by astronauts Cmd Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold on ISS, who helped not only setting up the robots, as well as replacing batteries and the CO2 bottles that provide thrust to the robots.

Article written by Rodrigo Ventura