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设计机器人宇航员

Building Robot Astronauts

50多年的太空探索经验告诉我们
If there’s anything we’ve learned from more than 50 years of space travel, it’s
太空中也存在危险
that space can be dangerous.
为了规避一些危险,人们引进了机器人
Which is why we have robots to help us deal with some of those dangers.
NASA上周邀请了几支队伍参加一场机器人制造比赛
Last week, NASA invited teams to sign up for a competition to build some of the most advanced
目标机器人都属当前最先进的太空机器人
space robots yet.
这场比赛叫做太空机器挑战赛,奖金累计达一百万美金
It’s called the Space Robotics Challenge, and the prizes add up to a million dollars.
NASA目前拥有一款人形机器人,名为宇航机器人(Robonaut),也叫瓦尔基里(Valkyrie)
NASA’s already built a humanoid robot, called Robonaut 5, or Valkyrie.
在挑战者,各队伍将各自建造一个模拟瓦尔基里程序
For the challenge, teams will program a virtual version of Valkyrie.
第一轮为资格赛,各队的瓦尔基里程序需完成一些基本任务
First, there’s a qualifying round, where a simulation of Valkyrie has to complete basic
如辨识彩灯闪烁模式,或是通过一扇门
tasks like identifying a pattern of colored lights or walking through a doorway.
过门听上去很简单,但事实并非如此!
Which sounds easy, but it is not!
通过资格赛的队伍才能进入正式比拼
The teams that pass that round will advance to the official competition, which involves
比拼内容为先挺过一场模拟火星沙尘暴,再完成三项任务
performing three tasks after a computer-simulated dust storm on Mars.
火星上每年都发生许多次大型沙尘暴,所以未来的太空机器人
Large dust storms happen several times a year on Mars, so a future space robot would probably
都需要有相应的自我修理能力
have to make these kinds of repairs all the time.
三项任务如下:1. 机器人抓住通讯接收器的天线
First, the robot will have to grab the handles on a communications dish and adjust it to
调整接收器与目标的角度,误差需在5度以内
within five degrees of the target.
2. 到指定漫游机器人处收集一块太阳能板,并安装到现有太阳能板方列中
Next, it’ll walk to a rover, collect a solar panel, and install it into an existing array.
3. 瓦尔基里需到达指定建筑,登上楼梯进入房子
Finally, Valkyrie will walk to a habitat, climb the stairs to get inside, and use a
使用气体泄漏探测器找到一处气体泄漏点
leak detector tool to find an air leak.
最终按下修理装置上的按钮排除泄漏
Then it’ll press a button on the virtual repair tool to stop the leak.
上述任务完成后,机器人返回到达终点线
Once all that’s done, the simulated robot will head over to the finish line.
每队都需重复五轮任务
Each team’s simulation will need to complete five rounds of the tasks, with the positions
每轮物体的指定地点都会有所不同
of the objects changing every time.
每轮比赛有时间限制,任务难易决定时间长短
And there’s a time limit, too: depending on the task, Valkyrie will have between 30
时间范围在30分钟到2小时
minutes and 2 hours to finish.
最终模拟程序位列前四的队伍将保存瓦尔基里两周的时间
The top four teams of the virtual challenge will be awarded time with a real Valkyrie
这段时间里,他们可以在瓦尔基里上进行本队程序的运行试验
for at least two weeks, where they can put their code to the test and prepare for a real-life,
并为2017年末的实体运行挑战做准备
physical version of the challenge in late 2017.
事实上,NASA希望未来瓦尔基里这样的人形机器人可以代替人类前往火星
Eventually, NASA hopes humanoid robots like Valkyrie will assist human crews traveling
完成一些简单的任务或是修理工作
to Mars with basic tasks and repairs.
这种机器人在在地球上也是有用的,比如救灾
These robots will also be useful here on Earth, for things like disaster relief and industrial
或是经济作物维护
plant maintenance.
如果你对前面提到的比赛有兴趣,这里有链接
If you’re interested in competing, there’s a link to the competition website in the description.
祝你好运!
Good luck!
与此同时,天文学家们探索的距离越来越远
Meanwhile, astronomers are discovering new things much farther from home.
《自然》杂志本周刊登了一项研究,研究人员宣布
In a study published this week in the journal Nature, researchers announced that they’ve
他们最新发现了休眠新星的证据
discovered the first direct evidence for hibernating novas.
新星与超新星有所不同。当超新星展现出剧烈爆炸的壮观景象时
Novas are different from supernovas, those beautiful, powerful explosions that happen
它正在衰减
when a star is dying.
新星的爆炸相对小很多,星体也通常不会消亡
Novas are much smaller explosions, and the star usually doesn’t die in the process.
只有在双星系统中,定期新星才能存在
Regular novas happen only in binary star systems, where a white dwarf and another small star
这样的系统多由一颗白矮星与一颗其它小行星相伴环绕而成
orbit their center of mass.
白矮星带走伴星的氢,氢逐渐累积
The white dwarf pulls hydrogen away from its partner star, and eventually, the gas builds
造成星体上聚变反应失控
up and causes a runaway fusion reaction in the white dwarf.
在反应中,大量氢聚变成为高质量元素
In this reaction, tons of hydrogen is fused into heavier elements, which makes the star
最终导致形体塌缩,释放大量光和热
erupt with a huge amount of heat and light.
砰!—一颗新星就此诞生!
Boom – a nova!
新星爆炸在银河系中极为常见,凭肉眼便可观察
Novas are the most common explosions in the galaxy, and they’re usually visible to the
因此我们对新星并不陌生
naked eye, so we’ve known about them for a while.
尽管如此,目前我们对新星的了解仅停留于其诞生于双星系统
But we’re only now finding the first direct evidence of nova systems going through cycles
且可以发生多次爆炸
and exploding multiple times.
2003年,波兰华沙大学一组天文学家开始观测一颗新星
In 2003, a team of astronomers from the University of Warsaw in Poland began monitoring a nova
这颗新星距地球两万光年,叫做人马座新星2009
over 20,000 light years from Earth that we now call Nova Centauri 2009.
得名于其2009年的一次爆炸
As its name suggests, the nova erupted in 2009.
在之前的六年里,观测小组记录了
But because the team had been monitoring it for six years before the explosion, they were
这个双星系统的进化史
able to study exactly how the system evolved.
他们发现,该系统的质量迁移率(白矮星从伴星带走氢的速率)
They found the mass-transfer rate of the system — that is, the rate the white dwarf takes
并不稳定!
hydrogen from its partner — isn’t constant.
刚开始观测的时候,迁移率相对较低
When the astronomers began monitoring the system, it had a relatively low mass-transfer
说明白矮星并未带走太多氢
rate, meaning that not a lot of hydrogen was moving to the white dwarf.
虽然如此,氢的迁移量依旧足以引起一场爆炸
But it was enough to cause an explosion.
第一次爆炸之后,质量迁移率迅速升高
Right after the eruption, though, the mass-transfer rate went way up.
2011年,该值达到爆炸前的800倍!
In 2011, it was 800 times higher than before the explosion!
如此现象恰好印证了新星休眠假说
This kind of behavior almost exactly matches what’s known as the nova hibernation hypothesis,
成为证明该假说的第一条直接证据
and it’s the first direct evidence we have to support it.
休眠假说认为新星的一生具有周期性:爆炸期、活跃期
The idea is that novas go through a kind of life cycle, exploding, staying active for
休眠期、爆炸期,循环往复
a while, then hibernating before they wake up and explode again.
如果假说成立,则爆炸后双星系统的质量迁移率会迅速升高
If the hypothesis is correct, then the mass-transfer rate of a nova system should increase dramatically
并在几百年内保持高迁移率
right after an explosion and stay high for hundreds of years.
随后的几千年到百万年的时间里,速率逐渐下降
Then the rate should decrease for thousands or millions of years.
双星系统进入休眠期,此时质量迁移率较低
The system enters hibernation, where the mass-transfer rate is low.
但最终新星又会开始快速累积氢
Eventually, the nova should start collecting hydrogen more rapidly, leading to another
引发又一轮爆炸,进入下一轮循环
explosion, and starting the process all over again.
在人马座新星2009身上,我们看到了一些发展步骤
With Nova Centauri 2009, we’ve now seen a few of these steps.
这个系统表现与新星休眠假说唯一不同的地方在于
The only difference between this system and what the hypothesis predicts is that Nova
其可能从未完全休眠过
Centauri 2009 may have never entered total hibernation.
人马座新星2009可能因为太小而无法完全休眠
This system is probably too small to go into complete hibernation — instead, the mass-transfer
在两次爆炸期之间只存在质量迁移率下降的现象
rate just decreases between explosions.
而大的新星则可以进入休眠期,再复苏进入新一轮爆炸期
Larger novas would go into hibernation and then wake up before exploding.
目前我们还不知道新星为什么能复苏
We don’t yet know why novas wake up.
只知道休眠期结束的很仓促
But we do know that their naptimes have very dramatic endings.
感谢收看本期科学秀之太空篇(Scishow-Space News)
Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow Space News and thanks especially to our patrons
感谢Patreon的赞助人,因为有你们,才有了我们的节目
on Patreon who help make this show-and this whole channel- possible.
如果你想帮助我们的节目制作,请登陆patreon.com/scishow
If you want to help us keep making episodes like this, just go to patreon.com/scishow.
欢迎登陆youtube.com/scishowspace收看节目并订阅!
And don’t forget to go to youtube.com/scishowspace and subscribe!

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视频概述

NASA举办太空机器人模拟比赛。 华沙大学科学家发现新星休眠假说新证据

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