NASA has completed the first successful test in which an astronaut aboard the International Space Station was able to control a robot more than 400 miles away back on the surface of the Earth. According to Space.com, the June 17th test marks the first time astronauts were able to control a robot on Earth, an advancement that will hopefully pave the way for similar control over robots deployed on Mars or the moon. The simulated test consisted of astronaut Chris Cassidy controlling a K10 rover at the Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA; Cassidy successfully deployed a polymide-film antenna while dealing with simulated terrain via a real-time video feed.
"It was a great success... and the team was thrilled with how smoothly everything went," said Jack Burns, director of the NASA Lunar Science Institute's Lunar University Network for Astrophysics Research. The trial was a test for a potential deployment of radio antennas on the far side of the moon, a mission that would utilize the same sort of technology used in last month's trial. But more test are needed before such a deployment — the NASA says it'll conduct follow-up test communications between the rover and the ISS in late July and early August.