SuperLimbs:The exoskeleton for lunar missions

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The SuperLimbs exoskeleton, created by researchers at MIT, is designed to support future explorers during their missions on the Moon, relieving physical strain and facilitating their mobility on lunar terrain.

Can you imagine an exoskeleton that not only gives superhuman strength to soldiers or helps people in wheelchairs walk, but also allows astronauts to work and move easily on the Moon? This is what a team at MIT is achieving with their innovative SuperLimbs project, designed for NASA's upcoming Artemis missions.

The Apollo missions and the Challenges of lunar gravity

The Apollo missions left us with unforgettable images of astronauts jumping on the Moon, but those trips were not always so easy. There are lesser-known recordings that show the falls and difficulties they faced on lunar terrain. With future astronauts spending more time on the Moon, there will be a greater need for assistance in getting around and working. This is where SuperLimbs comes into play.


What is SuperLimbs?

SuperLimbs, developed by Harry Asada, Erik Ballesteros, and their team at MIT, is an exoskeleton that provides two additional robotic limbs. Unlike other exoskeletons that amplify the strength of human limbs, SuperLimbs acts more like an extra support system, like Spiderman's famous Doctor Octopus. The device is worn like a backpack, which houses the controllers and motors that move the two robotic arms.

Adapting the exoskeleton for the moon

On Earth, SuperLimbs have been used in industries such as aeronautics and shipbuilding, helping technicians hold heavy parts and perform precise tasks. Now, the MIT team has decided to adapt this device so that it can help astronauts on the Moon. Lunar gravity, lower than Earth's, and the constraints of the spacesuit make moving and working a challenge. This exoskeleton could provide the support needed to maintain balance and make it easier to work in the harsh lunar environment.

How does SuperLimbs work?

The team studied how people lift themselves off the ground, with and without weight, to develop a controller to assist in this movement. "About 80% of humans stand up in much the same way," Ballesteros explains. This knowledge made it possible to design software that generates the exoskeleton's movement trajectory, helping astronauts to get up after a fall and reduce fatigue in their daily tasks.

Future applications of the lunar exoskeleton

The plan is to integrate these robotic arms into spacesuits and test them in low-gravity simulations. Eventually, they hope SuperLimbs will not only help on the Moon, but also on future missions to Mars.

Ballesteros describes the feeling of using SuperLimbs as "wearing a backpack and having someone lift you over the top." Over time, the use of this device becomes natural, providing extra help that can be crucial for astronauts on their missions.

Into the future of space exploration

Development of SuperLimbs continues at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where the team is working to optimize the design and reduce weight using advanced materials. This technology promises to be an essential tool for the next generation of space explorers, making the dream of living and working on the Moon and beyond a reality.

Thus, the SuperLimbs exoskeleton is shaping up to be a revolutionary breakthrough that not only supports astronauts but also represents a major step into the future of space exploration.



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Superlimbs, el ambicioso exoesqueleto para astronautas: será clave para las misiones de exploración de la Luna | Omicrono- El Español | Retrieved May 24th, 2024, from:

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