Actuators in Outer Space

what is an actuator in satellites and outer space

Actuators are present even out in the far(ish) reaches of space!

In the past few years, the United States has rolled back on its roll in manned-spaceflight. Since they’ve done a great job at taking the astronaut out of the spaceship, we expect that actuators and space automation will take on a larger role in space travel. They already have a significant role, and without them, satellites wouldn’t be able to perform some of the tasks they do.

Solar Panels

Solar energy is currently the best possible way to provide any spacecraft with a steady stream of energy. When satellites and other spacecraft take off from Earth, the solar panels are retracted. Once they are safely outside the atmosphere, those solar panels can be extended to capture the rays of the sun for energy.

Using these devices for solar panels isn’t just a trend for spacecraft. They can also be used to build a solar panel tracking system for your own home.

The Arms

If it weren’t for the arms used to pick up various soil samples on other surfaces, like our moon and Mars, we know a lot less about our stellar neighborhood. And when I say a lot less, I mean ‘a few hundred warehouses of data’ less. The Mars Rover uses actuators to interact with the surface, so it can analyze the samples and send the information back to Earth where it can be disseminated.

Lights, Camera, Action!

Arms can be used for more than just picking up and analyzing material. They are used for lighting and for cameras on spacecraft as well. The dark side of the moon is pretty pitch dark, and until we install some streetlamps, it’ll remain that way. Actuators can be used as part of the lighting system to help it achieve different angles and heights.

Camera arms work in the same fashion. Some of the stunning images that we’ve seen come from the folks at NASA have been grabbed with the help of linear actuators. Actuators can help changed the angle and height of the camera, providing a better shot.

Electric Technology

If you’re visiting outer space in a craft and you need some actuators, electric are going to be the best bet. In relation to other types of actuators, they can be powered using the energy of the sun very easily. Not only are they easily powered, but they’re easily installed onto a system. Components that use electric power have less components and can fit into tighter spaces.

For the foreseeable future, it looks like the Buzz Aldrins of America are going to stay relatively grounded. Sorry kids. Until we send people to the furthest reaches of space, we’ll have to settle for unmanned flights, and actuators will play a significant role for the foreseeable future.

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