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Watch the first human/humanoid handshake in space!

Yesterday, after almost a year onboard the International Space Station, NASA's tweet-happy automaton astronaut (dubbed Robonaut 2 by its creators) did something no robot has ever done in space: it shook a human's hand. You're looking at what could go down as one of the most iconic grip-and-grins in history — human or otherwise.


The helper droid has been stationed onboard the ISS since February of last year. In that time, it's spent much of its stay boxed up in hibernation, only being powered on every few months to run it through various performance tests.


Yesterday, the Agency's helper bot was put through it paces one again; and in a series of checkouts designed to assess its range of motion and ability to sense various levels of force, it reached out and shook hands with space station commander Dan Burbank — the first man/machine grip and grin to ever take place in space.

"For the record, it was a firm handshake," Burbank said. "Very nice. Nice job on the programming and all the engineering. Quite an impressive robot."

According to NASA, Robonaut 2 has since been powered down and will be kept boxed away until further notice. With any luck, it won't be long before R2 has completed enough performance reviews to start helping the ISS crew out full time, as it was originally designed to do.


[Via NASA]

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I was watching this live, and when they showed R2's POV, I was saddened by all the white spots all over the image, which weren't there 3 months ago when they did the first movement tests.

Over the years, downloading all the coolest images from Shuttle missions to the ISS, I'd notice those spots on pics taken by the Expedition crews, and suspected that it had some'n to do with cosmic rays or some such doing a number on the CCDs over time. But I never researched it until just now.

Turns out I was right: According to an article on [] (the link to which Gawkerkraken won't let me post)...

"Can gamma radiation kill pixels of digital cameras? Absolutely. This has been known for a long time. NASA’s been using Nikon digital cameras in space for years.

A NASA spokesperson has said, "The space environment (both inside the vehicle and on spacewalks) is tough on the electronic cameras. The radiation damages pixels on the sensor."

That being said, there is a world of difference, in radiation exposure, at the altitudes travelers fly in commercial jets, even on long distance flights, compared to flying in the Space Shuttle, or the International Space Station."

I sure hope GM planned for this, and made those image sensors replaceable!