NASA fits ‘robot hotel’ to International Space Station- NASA News
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ISS may be home to six astronauts, but many may be surprised how the orbiting space laboratory also houses a huge range of robots. The US-based space agency NASA is attaching a “robot hotel” to the outside of the International Space Station with the upcoming launch of the Robotic Tool Stowage (RiTS), a protective storage unit for critical robotic tools. RiTS launched on yesterday aboard the 19th SpaceX commercial resupply mission. The first residents of the storage space will be two Robotic External Leak Locators (RELL).Outfitted with mass spectrometers capable of “sniffing” out the presence of gases such as ammonia, these robotic tools are used to detect potentially hazardous leaks from the space station. Two RELL units are on board the station right now: the first RELL launched in 2015, and proved such a success that a backup RELL was launched earlier this year. READ MORE: NASA astronaut captures stunning ‘spider web’ London pictureAdditionally, the process of deploying RELL takes much longer when the tool is not externally stored. RELL is a robotic tool operated remotely by mission controllers on the ground, created to help ISS repairs, but requires crew schedule and airlock availability to bring RELL outside the station with the use of station’s Dextre robotic…