Tim Peake was able to successfully drive a remote robot from the International Space Station (ISS), giving hope that astronauts can someday control systems remotely in other worlds.

On April 29, the British astronaut performed a challenging task of driving a robot rover named Bridget across a sandpit that resembles the Martian surface. The interesting thing is, the big sandpit is located on Earth, in Stevenage, near London to be exact.

Although Peake encountered some problems during the experiments, he was able to attain his goals.

The Project

The Project called Multi-Purpose End-To-End Robotic Operation Network (Meteron) supports the operation of space Internet, such that it aims to direct surface robots in real time with the controller up in orbit.

Part of the experiment is to look for painted targets in a dark room that looks like one of the caves on Mars.

Peake's Difficulties

Peake was able to drive the robot and explore the simulated cave for two hours before looking for the targets. However, it was not a completely smooth ride as the astronaut encountered obstacles along the way.

The biggest problem Peake encountered was time as his commands had to be transferred back to Earth and go through numerous other communication channels before they finally reach the robot. This means that each and every direction coming from Peake faced some forms of delay.

Aside from that, Peake's transmission link was said to have dropped out several times. He also had some technical problems with his laptop.

Despite such obstacles, Peake was able to successfully drive Bridget around and find the UV-lighted targets.

"Not only did @astro_timpeake find four confirmed targets, he parked Bridget neatly next to the Brian rover!" tweets the European Space Agency (ESA) Operations.

Success, Overall

Personnel at ESA Operation in Germany told Peake that all of the ground staff are proud of him and that he was able to find the targets, with one even marked twice due to software reboot.

Peake thanked everyone for the support, acknowledging the amount of work that many people put into this. He was glad everything went fairly smoothly.

The experiment marks the possibility that someday an astronaut in orbit may stay above the Red Planet and guide a surface rover in areas where engineers usually avoid.

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