Giant robotic arms work alongside each other for the first time on the International Space Station (ISS).
SpaceX's Dragon capsule delivered the latest cargo to the ISS on Jan. 12. The delivery included about two and a half tons of food, water and science experiments. The capsule also included the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS), which has been successfully installed on the outer portion of the Japanese Experiment Module.
The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) explains that CATS is a lidar remote-sensing instrument, which is designed to last from six months to about three years. The instrument is specifically meant to demonstrate a cost-effective and streamlined approach to developing science payloads on the ISS.
Even though CATS is an important instrument added to the ISS, its addition to the space station was outshined by the way it was installed. CATS was removed from the Dragon capsule by robotic arm controlled by NASA and then handed over to another arm controlled by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), which completed the installation.
NASA reveals that it was the first time that two robotic arms on the ISS controlled by two different space agencies worked together to install an instrument.
"The Japanese-controlled arm installed the instrument to the Space Station's Japanese Experiment Module, making CATS the first NASA-developed payload to fly on the Japanese module," per NASA.
NASA also revealed that this is the first time that two robotic arms were working in tandem on the space station.
"First time one robotic arm on station has worked in concert with a second robotic arm," added NASA.
NASA explains that CATS is meant to collect data regarding tiny particles in the air, clouds and volcanic ash plumes. The data collected from CATS will help scientists to have a better understanding of cloud interaction and aerosol. The latest instrument on the ISS will also enable scientists to enhance the accuracy of the Earth's climate change models.
The latest space delivery also included flatworms and fruit flies. They will be experimented to test how the human body battles infections and heals tissues that are damaged. Flatworms are known to regenerate damaged organs and tissues. Some of these worms had their heads or tails removed prior starting their space journey.