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'Cute' Japanese Drone Sends Back Photos From Space.

While the advanced space equipment developed by space agencies around the world do not have aesthetic values, the (http://iss.jaxa.jp/en/kiboexp/news/170714_int_ball_en.html) Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agen cy (JAXA) has developed a unique new drone - JEM Internal Ball Camera,  also known as Int-Ball - that is rather "cute".

The one-of-its-kind drone has been designed to take photographs and videos of astronauts while they are in the space. The black and white round machine with a blue eye6like feature has cameras installed in it. The drone can send real time footages to the JAXA Tsukuba Space Center on the Earth.

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It weighs only 2.2 pounds and can be controlled by scientists sitting on the ground. The Japanese space agency released the first images of the Int-Ball.

In the first video released by the Japanese space agency, the Int-Ball can be seen taking pictures of experiments and other regions in its vicinity. In one of the video clips, NASA astronaut Jack D. Fischer is seen taking pictures of the drone.

The drone was delivered to Kibo, the Japanese Experiment Module on the International Space Station, by U.S. Dragon spacecraft June 4.

The Japanese space agency said the camera in the device can move automatically in the space and record still as well as moving videos as commanded by a remote control at JAXA Tsukuba Space Center.

The images can be checked in real time and can then be fed back to the crew onboard. The members of the space agency feel this will increase the cooperation between the scientists at the International Space Station (ISS) and the scientist on earth.

JAXA said the Int-Ball uses technology that has already been tested on drones in the past. The ball's exterior and interior were fully 3D-printed on the ground.

According to the Japanese space organization, the scientists in the space spent 10 percent of their total time on clicking photographs and sending them to the Earth. With the Int-ball in place, they will now be able to save a lot of time, which in turn will boost their productivity.

The Japanese space agency said one of its objectives is to "acquire the capability to move anywhere at any time via autonomous flight and record images from any angle."

The Kibo module where the drone has been sent is Japan's first manned experiment facility and is the largest experiment module on ISS. Kibo has two experimental facilities - the Pressurized Module (PM) and the Exposed Facility (EF).

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In the PM, astronauts can move around in plain clothes. Experiments related to micro gravity environment and cosmic rays are carried out in the PM. The EF is directly exposed to space and enables long term experiments in open space.

Experiment devices can be moved from PM to EF and vice-versa through an airlock by manipulating Kibo's robotic arms. According to JAXA, PM was assembled in June 2008 and the EF came into operation in July 2009.
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Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Date:Jul 19, 2017
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