- Extreme Environments
- Space Science
In this activity, students build a replica of the end effector on Canadarm 2 out of foam cups, string and tape.
Canada’s contribution to the International Space Station (ISS) (a research laboratory that orbits the Earth) is the Mobile Servicing System (MSS): a three-part robotics system that built and now maintains the ISS. Because of the MSS, scientists from Canada, the United States, Japan, Russia and Europe can work together to conduct research in space.
There are three parts to the MSS: the Mobile Base, the Canadarm 2 and the Dextre. The Mobile Base is a platform that stores equipment and slides around the outside of the space station, taking the Canadarm with it. You may have already heard about the Canadarm 2. It is a 17m long robotic arm. The Canadarm can carry a large payload, an astronaut on a spacewalk, or Dextre (a.k.a. the “Canada Hand”). Dextre is a robotic “handyman” that performs tasks like changing batteries and replacing cameras that would otherwise have to be done by an astronaut. The combination of the Mobile Base and the long reach of the Canadarm allow maintenance and repair work to occur at all parts of the ISS.
The end effector is a relatively simple but very important part of the Canadarm. Think of the end effector as the Canadarm’s “wrist”… with a twist. The wrist on your body attaches your hand to your arm, but the end effector can attach to the Canada Hand (Dextre), or grasp objects like a payload, an astronaut or the ISS itself. Its simple 3-wire design means it is both effective in safely holding onto a variety precious cargo as well as being easy to fix if it ever becomes damaged.