Japan's floating space drone offers a window into the ISS
As it stands, crew aboard the Japanese module Kibo on the International Space Station spend around 10 percent of their time capturing photos and video. But they may soon find themselves with a little more spare time, thanks to a cute autonomous drone that has arrived to lighten the load.
The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency says the Int-Ball is the first camera drone that can record video while moving in space under remote control from the ground, which is handled at the Tsukuba Space Center in Japan.
Made from 3D-printed parts and current drone technology, it relays its video and image captures back to flight controllers and researchers on Earth, who cast an eye over them before feeding them back to the crew.
Int-Ball arrived at the International Space Station on June 4, and is undergoing initial verification. The hope is that it will not only eventually handle all of the crew's photography tasks, but bridge the gap between them and ground researchers, allowing them to watch on in real time from the crew's perspective as they carry out experiments.
The first ever images captured by Int-Ball aboard the International Space Station can be seen in the videos below.